I was looking forward to the next stop on this cruise as we were headed to Corsica, a region of France I have never visited. Our ship would dock in Ajaccio on the west coast of the island. I had arranged to meet with Guide Olivier Chavaren from Coloratour who planned a day outside of this capital city and into the mountains for some authentic experiences.
We took a winding and curvy road about 30 minutes into the small village of Campo and stopped at the very pretty Chatelet de Campo, a recently restored and beautiful house converted into a bed & breakfast situated in the midst of the surrounding mountains.
I was greeted by the very hospitable owner, Elizabeth Herzet who after a tour around the B&B brought me into the kitchen where the table was full of local Corsican specialties including a freshly baked heart shaped cake that was made from chestnut flour, a very typical and characteristic ingredient here.
There also were all kinds of home made jams and local goat cheese that comes from nearby Corsican goats. While I hoped we would get to see the cheese making process in action, it turns out that the season was done so I would have to be satisfied with simply seeing the goats.
Little did I know that we would be hiking down a long hilly dirt path in the very hot sun to find ourselves in the midst of a field making strange noises to entice the goats to approach us. It was a bit strange, but I have to admit the goats did make an appearance and were pretty friendly.
I had a bit of time to cool off in the mini van before our next stop at the bee farm of Francois Andreucci. Before getting my lesson in beekeeping and honey making, I was met by the charming and gracious Sylvain Martinez-Ciccolini, who is one of the only saffron producers in Corsica. He explained how this delicate spice comes from a particular type of crocus flower that only blooms once a year and it’s a very fragile process to remove the dried stigma that is used. This explains why it is so costly.
With one more stop to go, we arrive at a small, rustic looking restaurant called Ferme Auberge U Taravu in the village of Zevaco that serves regional Corsican food. Olivier takes me downstairs where there is a shop selling all the local dried meats and sausages that are hanging up throughout the various basement rooms. It was quite a site and quite a smell too. We went back to sit in the dining room upstairs that was busy with locals having their lunches and we were served a fabulous plate of charcuterie, pate and some absolutely incredible cheeses.
It was a pretty and scenic drive back to the port in Ajaccio and our ship after a fun and informative day with Olivier.
Cheers and all the best,
onboard Holland America Line MS Oosterdam