Academy Travel is delighted to introduce its new tour to Corsica and Genoa. This 12-day itinerary presents the region’s astounding heritage, from prehistoric archaeology to Romanesque architecture and Napoleonic history. The culture of the region is complemented by its magnificent setting: the rugged coastlines plunging into the jewel-like sea, stunning mountains and picture-perfect villages. The tour begins with a week in Corsica, exploring the island in depth, and continues to Genoa, with its long history of maritime trade and adventure. The tour is rounded out with the wonderful food and wine of these little visited regions.
Bonifacio, a citadel perched on southern Corsica’s precipitous limestone cliffs
Ajaccio, Napoleon’s birthplace, and the Musée Fesch, the extraordinary art collection acquired by his uncle
Scenic drives along the high mountains of central Corsica, as dramatic as the Swiss Alps
Visit Corsica’s most important prehistoric site, Filitosa, where a collection of extraordinary carved Bronze Age menhirs, or stone warriors, were discovered in 1946
Experience the picturesque village of Camogli, known for its colourful houses along the beach, which once helped guide the local fisherman safely to port
The fresh and distinctive food and wine of the regions
Days 1–2: Fly from Nice to Figari-Sud Corse in Corsica. Transfer to Bonifacio, enjoying a walking tour and lunch on the waterfront.
Days 3–5: Coach to Ajaccio via hilltop Sartène. Guided tour of the prehistoric site at Filitosa. Take a walking tour of Ajaccio with visits to the Fesch Museum, Chapelle Impériale and Calanques de Piana.
Days 6–7: Travel by coach to Bastia. Take a walking tour of the old town and Palais des Governateurs Museum.
Days 8–12: Ferry to Savona. Tour Genoa’s waterfront district, admire the medieval abbey of San Fruttoso and cruise to Portofino, marvel at the magnificence of Genoa’s Palazzi dei Rolli.
The tour begins and concludes at Nice airport. Emirates and Qatar airlines offer suitable connections into and out of Nice from most Australian cities. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Sunday April 11: Corsica
We meet at 4:00pm at Nice airport, from where we fly to Figari Sud Corse then transfer by private coach to our hotel in Bonifacio, on the southern tip of the island about 20 minutes away. After settling in to our hotel, we meet for welcome drinks and a light dinner. Overnight Bonifacio (B, D)
Monday April 12: Bonifacio
After a lecture this morning, we explore the history of Bonifacio, a town named for the Tuscan count who founded it in 828 CE. The location of the city, looking over the strait that separates Corsica from Sardinia, has made it strategically important for Mediterranean maritime empires. The Genoese established their presence here in 1187, the first Genoese empire’s first base on Corsica, and fought off attacks by Saracens, pirates, and Pisans for centuries. After a welcome lunch in a local restaurant, the afternoon and evening are free and there are several walks near the town that you might like to take, or a short cruise of the harbour and nearby islands. Overnight Bonifacio (B, L)
Tuesday April 13: To Ajaccio
Today we travel through the rugged south-west corner of Corsica to Ajaccio. Our coach tour across the region takes us to diverse sites, including the medieval town of Sartène and Filitosa, Corsica’s most significant prehistoric site. Here we view the 4,000-year-old anthropomorphic menhirs – stone warriors – which were discovered by Charles-Antoine Cesari as recently as 1946. We arrive in Ajaccio in the late afternoon. Dinner this evening is in a local restaurant. Overnight Ajaccio (B, D)
Wednesday April 14: Napoleon & Ajaccio
Napoleon Bonaparte is Ajaccio’s most famous son, and the city makes the most of this connection. This morning, after a lecture, we take a walking tour of Ajaccio and visit the Maison Bonaparte, Napoleon’s childhood home, now a museum dedicated to the Emperor and his family. We also visit the nearby Palais Fesch, an excellent museum of fine arts which houses the collection of Napoleon’s uncle, Cardinal Joseph Fesch. The cardinal was a major art collector, and many of his paintings are now to be found in the National Gallery, London and the Louvre. The collection in Ajaccio has masterpieces by early Italian Renaissance painters, as well as major works by the likes of Titian and Botticelli. Within the palace is the Chapelle Impériale, containing the tombs of several members of the Bonaparte family. Evening at leisure. Overnight Ajaccio (B)
Thursday April 15: Porto
Today we take a day trip to the Gulf of Porto, whose stunning landscape at the Calanches de Piana is one of the most impressive on Corsica and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Extending over several kilometres, the calanches are a series of red rock formations and cliffs that plunge over 200m into the crystal-clear Mediterranean below. We enjoy lunch at the marina before returning to our hotel. Evening at leisure. Overnight Ajaccio (B, L)
Friday April 16: Corte and the Central Mountains
Today we take the spectacular drive across Corsica’s central mountain range to Bastia. En route, we stop to enjoy the fine scenery: massive granite cliffs, oak forests and river valleys. But these landscapes at the geographic centre of Corsica are also intimately connected to the island’s struggle for independence in the 18th century and, more recently, with Corsica’s cultural identity. At Corte, we visit the Musée de la Corse which explores Corsica’s history and traditions, and then proceed to a lunch of traditional Corsican specialities. On arrival in Bastia, the evening is at leisure. Overnight Bastia (B, L)
Saturday April 17: Bastia
On our final day in Corsica we explore the old city of Bastia. After a talk in the hotel, we take a walking tour of city, including to the Genoese Bastion, after which the city was named and from which Elba, Napoleon’s island of exile, can be seen on a clear day. The afternoon is at leisure, to explore the town, its picturesque old port and elegant squares. Overnight Bastia (B)
Sunday April 18: To Genoa
This morning we explore the region around Bastia, which is home to many of Corsica’s iconic sites, including La Canonica, a church which is now a national monument and one of the most prominent medieval structures in Corsica. We then head to the hills to visit the magnificent Pisan Romanesque church of San Michele, and enjoy lunch at the coastal town of Saint Florent. In the afternoon, we transfer to the overnight ferry to Savona. Overnight Ferry (B, L, D)
Monday April 19: Genoa
With an early morning arrival, we make our way to the hotel for breakfast. We then explore medieval Genoa, once the capital of a maritime republic whose reach extended from Bruges to Byzantium. Our walking tour of the medieval city includes Castello, a fascinating neighbourhood formed around the medieval bishop’s castle, and the Romanesque Santa Maria di Castello, a church now housing many artworks commissioned by local noble families. We enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before checking into the hotel. In the later afternoon, there is a talk followed by an evening at leisure. Overnight Genoa (B, L)
Tuesday April 20: Palazzi dei Rolli
Today we explore more of Genoa, starting with a walking tour of Genoa, once the source of the city’s wealth and today a delightful area to visit with its pretty piazzas, narrow medieval streets and views across the Ligurian Sea. This afternoon we visit UNESCO World Heritage-listed Palazzi dei Rolli, a Renaissance extension of the city with exceptionally well-preserved baroque palaces. After touring this region, we walk the narrow streets of Genoa’s old town centre, known as the Caruggi. Evening is at leisure. Overnight Genoa (B)
Wednesday April 21: Camogli to Portofino
Today we explore the Ligurian coast. We begin by taking the train to visit the fishing village of Camogli, known for its colourful houses along the beach, which once helped guide the local fisherman safely to port. From here we take the ferry to visit the picturesque Abbey of San Fruttuoso, located in a small bay beneath a steep hill, where there is no road access: the abbey can only be reached by sea or hiking trails. We enjoy a farewell lunch on the island, before taking the ferry to Portofino, famed for its beautiful harbour and historical association with artistic visitors and celebrities. We return to our hotel for an evening at leisure. Overnight Genoa (B, L)
Thursday April 22: Depart
After breakfast, we check out of the hotel and transfer towards Nice airport. We will stop for lunch on the coast in a local restaurant en route. On arrival at Nice airport, check in for your onward journey. We recommend flights after 5pm. (B)
Dr Kathleen Olive
A literary and cultural historian with a PhD from the University of Sydney, with particular expertise in Italy, Spain and Japan.
Dr Kathleen Olive is a literary and cultural historian with close to 15 years’ experience leading tours to Italy, Spain, France, Turkey, Japan and the United States. She has a strong personal interest in the visual arts, interior design, fashion history and contemporary fiction.
Kathleen holds a BA with first class Honours and a PhD, both from the Department of Italian Studies at the University of Sydney. For a number of years she worked as a lecturer at the University of Sydney and the University of Technology, Sydney, teaching Italian language, literature and history. Kathleen continues to teach, as a national lecturer for the Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Society (ADFAS), and in adult education courses in Sydney. In 2015, her edition of the Codex Rustici (a 15th-century commonplace book that Kathleen worked on with Nerida Newbigin, for her doctoral studies and for publication) was presented to Pope Francis on his first official visit to Florence.
Kathleen’s historical and artistic knowledge stretches from the Middle Ages through to the early 20th century. In Italy she has led numerous tours focusing on the medieval and Renaissance periods. In Spain she has a particular concentration on the “Convivencia” of Islamic, Christian and Jewish cultures in the south, and on the medieval pilgrimage routes of the north. Her tours of the USA’s north-east have focused on American collectors and their Gilded Age reinventions of European glory days, and in Japan she is particularly interested in contemporary design, from fashion to architecture. Kathleen speaks fluent Italian, is conversant in Spanish and understands French.
Kathleen was first involved on a tour to Italy in 2003 and it sparked her passion for on-the-spot communication of art and history. Since 2010 she has worked exclusively for Academy Travel, leading 6 tours a year. She has designed a number of our popular tours, from the Florence residential, to surveys of the courts of Renaissance Italy and of central Italy’s villas and gardens, as well as “twin city” tours to Palermo and Naples and to Florence and Rome. Closer to home, Kathleen is leading Academy Travel’s inaugural tour to Japan and our popular tours to Tasmania.
We asked Kathleen, what do you enjoy most about leading a group tour?
“I really enjoy travelling with groups who share interests in the history, culture and even food of a destination. It means that those personal connections are there right from the beginning, just waiting to be made.”
“There’s nothing I enjoy more than finding out the particular interests of my fellow travellers – an artist, a dish they love eating, their memories of a particular place – and finding a way to make an experience happen for them. That might mean recommending a particular wine bar, directing them to a museum that features artists they already like, or suggesting the best time of day for a view over a town. It’s so satisfying to be involved in making these kinds of memories for people.”
“Many of the people I travel with comment on my passion for the places I visit. It’s not just that I know my names and dates – it’s that I really enjoy bringing out the connections between history and art, for example, or between landscape and food. I never grow tired of injecting this kind of life into ‘dry’ academic knowledge.”
Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate, taxis or public transport are also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required and when stated as included
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price?
Our tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity