- Food & Drink
- Design & Culture
- Cars, Jets & Yachts
By Chris | December 31 2012
Whether you’re seeking true extravagance or pure relaxation, we have chosen the perfect ten-day itinerary that has it all
Two islands, perfectly in the center of the West Mediterranean, have as much to allure elite travelers as their neighboring coastlines. On the shores of Corsica and Sardinia you will find chic beach clubs to rival those of Saint-Tropez, coastlines as impressive as Amalfi and offshore islands as empty as the Tuscan Archipelago. Culture, too, reflects mainland influences: Corsica, having been sold to Paris by Genoa in 1769 shows a degree of French influence, not only in language but also in cuisine and Sardinia, Italy’s largest island, is popular with holidaying Italian celebrities. But as much as mainland similarities can be drawn, these islands are also dramatically different and independent in their culture, cuisine and landscape.
Potter past Corsica’s wild west coastline and watch, from the deck of your yacht, the dramatic red cliffs that make the cruise as exciting as the destination. Ancient cliff-top towns and pretty fishing villages decorate the less dramatic parts of the coastline, and be sure to visit their local restaurants and sample Corsica’s mythical delicacies, such as wild boar, suckling pig, foie gras, endless cheeses and fresh daily catches. Cross the straights of Bonifacio, and its deserted islands, and find yourself in one of the most exclusive enclaves on the planet: the Costa Smeralda. This is yachting Mecca. Translated as the Emerald Coast, this northeastern corner of Sardinia has some of the Mediterranean’s finest beaches along with some of the slickest marinas, most iconic hotels and liveliest nightclubs.
These varied qualities and theatrical contrasts between the two islands make Sardinia and Corsica a yachting haven and a holiday to remember. Relaxation, hedonism and sightseeing have been combined here into an unforgettable ten-day itinerary.
➤ Arrive in Calvi, Corsica
Day 1: Calvi to Girolata
Day 2: Girolata to Ajaccio
Day 3: Ajaccio to Bonifacio
Day 4: Bonifacio to Porto-Vecchio
Day 5: Porto-Vecchio to Maddalena Islands
Day 6: Maddalena Islands to Baja Sardinia
Day 7: Baja Sardinia to Porto Rotondo
Day 8: Porto Rotondo to Cala Di Volpe / Porto Cervo
Day 9: Porto Cervo Day 10: Porto Cervo and disembark
ARRIVE IN CALVI, SAINTE-CATHERINE AIRPORT AND TRANSFER TO CALVI’S MARINA, PORT XAVIER, WHERE YOUR YACHT AWAITS
Calvi is a picturesque gateway to Corsica’s dramatic west coast.
At its center is the imposing citadel and its battle-scarred walls shelter the marina where you board your yacht. After you have unpacked, Calvi’s winding streets make for an attractive evening stroll; this seafaring town was the supposed birthplace of Christopher Columbus in 1451 and also the battleground where Nelson lost an eye in 1794. With many harborside restaurants serving award-wining cuisine, Calvi is also very much the culinary capital of north Corsica.
Cuisine: Mediterranean with Corsican influence
Style / Ambiance: La Table de Bastien’s recently acquired new chef, Sébastien Sevellec, has been a valuable asset to the venue, not only does he use only fresh and local ingredients but, in the process he has earned a Michelin star.
As well as Corsica’s finest meats, cheeses, wines and seafood, the restaurant also offers one of the finest views of Calvi, with a clear view of the citadel that is even more impressive when lit up at night.
+33 49 565 1010
Hôtel La Villa, Chemin Notre Dame de la Serra, Calvi, Corsica
If it comes as a surprise that Corsica is an island with great artistic talent, then Galerie Marie Ricco will astonish you even more.
Located in the center of Calvi, this gallery showcases a variety of pop art and hyper-realism from international players such as Arman and Robert Combas. To complement these are exhibitions from emerging artists from which you might buy a canvas as an alternative souvenir.
+33 49 539 4818 / +33 68 324 9458
3 Boulevard Wilson, Calvi, Corsica
This piano bar is not only Calvi’s coolest spot to listen to live music; it also has a legendary history.
Chez Tao literally means ‘the home of Tao’, and indeed it was Tao Kanbey de Kerekoff, a Russian emigrant, who founded this institution in a 16th century former bishop’s palace in the 1930s. The grand following that it once had has changed little in over 70 years and Chez Tao remains popular with locals and tourists who seek good cocktails and a lively music scene. For a memorable pre-cruise drink, arrive at Chez Tao early and grab a table on the terrace, undoubtedly Calvi’s finest spot for a sundowner.
+33 49 565 0073
Rue St François, Calvi, Corsica
28 nautical miles
As soon as Calvi’s citadel slips from view Corsica’s dramatic west coast begins to build and red rocks start to jut sporadically skywards out of the sea the further south you sail.
The crescendo surfaces in Scandola nature reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983 and home to some truly bizarre spectacles that could resemble the landscape of Mars. These rock formations are best seen from the water, but to explore more intimately, have the crew take you closer in the yacht’s tender. Just within the park is Girolata, a tiny village in a vast bay protected by cliffs of the same red rock. It is the perfect refuge on Corsica’s west coast and a safe anchorage in which to spend the night. In the evening have dinner alfresco so you can watch the sun go down and witness the dramatic red hues of the rocks that change with the light from the sunset.
30 nautical miles
Rather than sail directly from the remote bay of Girolata to Corsica’s capital, cruise gently down the west coast pausing, if you so wish, along the way.
The drama of the red granite continues as you pass Les Calanques de Piana, and then there are Îles Sanguinaires, four small islands in the Gulf of Ajaccio that are known as the ‘blood-red islands’, after the color of their rocks at sunset. Finally Ajaccio, the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte and Corsica’s laid back capital, is your elegant destination for the night.
Cuisine: Corsican gastronomic
Style / Ambiance: A joint combination between the chef de cuisine, Julien Allano, and the chef pâtissier, Philippe Riquier, earned Palm Beach a Michelin star in 2010.
Gastronomic cuisine is served, almost literally, on the beach where diners have prime view of the beautiful bay of Ajaccio and a spectacular sunset. Tasting menus make exotic use of Corsica’s traditional ingredients and are matched with some of the region’s finest wines.
Cuisine: Mediterranean gastronomic with Corsican ingredients
Style / Ambiance: One of the finest views of Ajaccio can be had from the terrace of Arbousier, restaurant of the Le Maquis hotel.
The views of Corsica’s jagged west coast are hard to beat but here they are surpassed by Arbousier’s gastronomic cuisine. Chef Gérard Lorenzoni puts great effort into the sourcing of his products, so expect such regional classics as spider crabs, rock lobster, wild boar, local berries and chestnuts, plus a variety of locally produced vegetables. Its not often that a chef can combine both the best game and seafood dishes on one gastronomic menu, but Lorenzoni manages to pull this off with dishes such as ‘orn young pigeon and truffle-flavored chestnut cream soup’ followed by ‘langoustines sautéed with virgin olive oil, served with brocciu cheese soufflé and clementine flavor’.
+33 49 525 2015 / +33 49 525 0555
Hotel Le Maquis, Porticco, Ajaccio, Corsicax
30 nautical miles
Bonifacio’s citadel, perched precariously on Corsica’s southern tip, is the island’s most iconic image and a spectacular sight from sea and cliff alike.
Below this citadel and barely visible through the crack in the limestone cliffs is Bonifacio’s sheltered little harbor. Once at anchor or moored to the quay, step ashore to explore this ancient town: inside the walled city a maze of narrow lanes wind their way up to the citadel that you saw from the sea. Leading down again to the sea is the Escalier du Roi d’Aragon, a sheer staircase built into the limestone cliff that is said to have been constructed by Aragonese troops who were attempting to take the town.
The appeal of Sperone and its distinction from many other coastal courses is twofold: it has been rated as one of Europe’s most challenging courses, and secondly the views stretching across the Bonifacio straits to Sardinia and the Maddalena Islands are some of the most phenomenal to be had from any fairway.
There are 18 holes in total and 11 to 17 give the course its challenging reputation – as perched on a cliff top the sea is an ever-present danger to stray golf balls.
Yves Tozzi, Director
+33 49 573 1713
Domaine de Sperone, Bonifacio
Cuisine: Mediterranean gastronomic
Style / Ambiance: You have to go a little way out of Bonifacio for gastronomic cuisine, but it is worth it as the stylish Jardin d’A Cheda is situated within its own herb and vegetable garden on a hill above the town.
Here, Chef Lionel Lebrun runs the restaurant according to his own rules; he is native to the region and has therefore, over the years, built up an address book filled with the best local food suppliers. Fish comes from the local fisherman Damien Catoire, fresh bread is brought daily from Boulangerie Faby, bulging and olives are supplied by Domaine de Marquiliani and organic veal is produced by L’altri Cari. Combined with Lebrun’s deep understanding of gastronomy these ingredients are combined into marvelous dishes, such as ‘local blue lobster with celeriac remoulade, apple granny and beetroot coulis’ and ‘confit of black pork cheek, foie gras with spices and red onion compote’.
Yannick Tetrel, Maître d’
+33 49 573 0382
A Cheda, Cavallo Morto, Bonifacio, Corsica
From your yacht’s deck you are sure to notice the glamorous crowd gathering on the quay outside Hotel La Caravelle towards dusk.
This is B’52, located within Hotel La Caravelle, it is one of Bonifacio’s liveliest lounges and it to visit it you need only step ashore and follow the crowds. Inside its cavern-like interior resident DJs play electric beats to a mixed dance floor of locals and visitors.
+33 49 573 0003
Quai Comparetti, Bonifacio, Corsica
26 nautical miles
Porto-Vecchio is one of the West Mediterranean’s great understated destinations; it is Corsica’s most fashionable town, its liveliest resort and its culinary hub with more Michelin stars than anywhere else on the island.
But its location on the island’s east coast means it also has some of the finest beaches – Palombaggia Beach is regularly voted as one of the Mediterranean’s finest. Head inland a little and the scene changes entirely as smart resorts are replaced with the Alta Rocca massif rising towards Corsica’s interior. The way of life in Corsica’s inland villages heralds back to another time and a short drive, hike or horseback ride to the 1,200 meter-high Col de Bavella pass leaves you with breathtaking views back across the Mediterranean.
Style / Ambiance: There is a good reason why all the best restaurants in Corsica strive to harness the best of the island’s seasonal flavors rather than import exotic recipes from the east or west.
As Chef Pascal Cayeux will tell you, the reason is that Corsica has some of the very best ingredients off its shores, on its farms and in its wildernesses. For the Michelin-starred Grand Hôtel de Cala Rossa’s restaurant, Cayeux therefore sources the finest red mullet, spider crab and crayfish from local fishermen, obtains the freshest wild game and boar from hunters and buys only traditional milk-fed lamb, veal and suckling pig.
Style / Ambiance: Executive Chef Davide Bisetto is no stranger to Mediterranean cuisine – before working at Casadelmar he spent over five years in restaurants in France and Italy.
His love of gastronomy was discovered at its home, in Paris where he was awarded his first Michelin star at the Carpaccio Restaurant. Bisetto now holds two Michelin stars at Casadelmar. This, he modestly claims, is partly down to the raw ingredients that are so readily available in Corsica, so expect the menu to have a strong seasonal influence and no shortage of fresh products. But it is the preparation of these ingredients that has earned Bisetto his two stars. The element of gastronomy is flawless in dishes such as absintheflavored foie gras, cherry-apricots and aniseed brioche, as a starter, or veal cheek braised in Prosecco and sweet potato cream with 50-year-old balsamic vinegar as a main course.
+33 49 572 3434
Route de Palombaggia BP 93, Porto-Vecchio, Corsica
Treatment and facilities: If the views from Hotel Casadelmar’s terrace over the gulf of Porto- Vecchio are not enough to put you at ease then the long menu of massages, essential oils and beauty therapies on offer at the hotel’s spa, Carita, are sure to do so.
Signature treatment: The beauty treatments, designed to rejuvenate and awaken the senses, are divided between the two main products that the spa uses: Carita and [Comfort Zone]. In addition there are a range of massages on offer, including the Duet Massage, which is especially designed for two in the spa’s new cabin overlooking the sea.
+33 49 572 3434
Route de Palombaggia BP 93, Porto-Vecchio, Corsica
Le Patio is all about understatement. You would never know that within Porto-Vecchio’s old quarter, through its cobbled lanes and terracotta roofs is one of the town’s most stylish bars.
This vodka bar is hidden away in its own courtyard; during the evening its candle lit tables provide a superb setting for light tapas and cocktails. But as the night progresses and the DJ steps up to his podium, Le Patio becomes alive with Porto-Vecchio’s party-ready crowd. Many who frequent Le Patio use it as stepping stone before heading to the more intense Via Notte.
+33 49 528 0699
2 Impasse Ettori, Porto-Vecchio, Corsica
Porto-Vecchio does not seem like the sort of town where you would find Europe’s biggest outdoor nightclub, but, set within its own complex, Via Notte outdoes its mainland rivals with seven bars, open air swimming pools, fountains, multiple lounges and a restaurant – not to mention the one enormous open-air dance floor.
By day the restaurant resembles a sprawling Roman villa, but in the hours of darkness brilliant lights and resident DJs transform this venue into hedonistic heaven.
+33 49 572 0212
Route de Porra, Porto-Vecchio, Corsica
30 nautical miles
Between Corsica and Sardinia the straits of Bonifacio act as a giant wind tunnel, supplying perfect sailing conditions to the Maddalena Archipelago.
On the way, visit the extraordinary Lavezzi Islands –these tiny islands have been sculpted by the winds into a semi-moonscape environment, where boulders rise sporadically out of turquoise lagoons. Moving on to the Maddalena islands, spend the night on the largest island, La Maddalena, or neighboring Santo Stefano, leaving the remaining seven islands and 55 ‘isolotti’ for further exploration the following day.
Cuisine: International and Mediterranean
Style / Ambiance: La Maddalena Hotel & Yacht Club was designed as the ultra modern host of Italy’s 2009 G8 summit.
However, despite the summit being moved out of sympathy to the earthquake-struck L’Aquila, La Maddalena Hotel & Yacht Club – a sleek glass and steel box overlooking the modern marina – remains an outpost of contemporary design in a very old town. Momento is the hotel’s restaurant where Mediterraneaninspired traditions and international cuisine are meticulously merged by the executive chef Fabrizio Crespi. Views here encompass La Maddalena’s most beautiful bays through large wrap-around glass walls.
Sonia Proietti, Director of La Maddalena Hotel & Yacht Club
+39 078 979 4273
La Maddalena Hotel & Yacht Club, Piazza Faravelli, Località Moneta, Isola La Maddalena, Sardinia
Style / Ambiance: Ottava Isola is a seafood restaurant with a dramatic difference – it is anchored, quite literally, in the habitat of its cuisine.
The venue is a converted fishing boat moored off the island of Santo Stefano in a perfect turquoise bay with views across to La Maddalena. Though the novelty of floating dining may have worn off, the cuisine offered at Ottava Isola will certainly surprise. With recipes passed down the generations of the Barretta family, traditional cuisine is nowhere more authentic. Among their secretly-guarded recipes is the lobster in salad ‘a la Ottava Isola’; it is so secret in fact that during its preparation the kitchen has to be emptied of all but Barretta family members.
Enzo Barretta, Ship Owner
+39 338 491 9198
Isola Santo Stefano, Sardinia
11 nautical miles
A yacht in the Maddalena Islands allows infinite possibilities of exploration – sail to the uninhabited island of Spargi and find pristine beaches such as Cala Soraya.
The northern islands of Budelli, Razzoli and Santa Maria offer a true Robinson Crusoe paradise where you can claim whole bays entirely to yourself. Budelli is famous for its beach, Spiaggia Rosa, which literally translates as ‘pink sand’, so called because of the faded pink color of the shore that featured in Antonioni’s movie Il Deserto Rosso. Eventually cruise south for an evening at Baja Sardinia, the gateway to the Costa Smeralda, Sardinia’s answer to the French Riviera. Anchor just off Phi Beach to have your yacht admired by the partygoers and celebrities who frequent this fashionable beach club.
Scattered among smooth granite rocks and white sands, Phi Beach is a beach club to rival any of those found in Saint Tropez.
Anchor off its shores amid a plethora of other superyachts and ferry ashore as the sun sets to join a crowd of celebrities and jetsetters. Come here for dinner and choose between dining in Bedouin tents, spread in between the rocks, or alfresco in Phi’s immaculate garden. As darkness falls the beach becomes brilliantly illuminated and the party scene ever more ostentatious: helicopters and yacht tenders arrive, magnum champagne bottles are passed around and famous DJs often make an appearance.
11 nautical miles
The seventh day’s cruise will take you from the beginning of the Costa Smeralda to the end.
Built almost entirely by the Aga Khan in the 1960s, it was designed as a yachting haven – and with a name that literally translates as ‘Emerald Coast’ and some of the Mediterranean’s finest beaches it is not hard to see what attracts celebrities and elite travelers back year after year. Indeed, with its Caribbean-quality beaches combined with European glamour some even go so far as to declare it the most beautiful corner of the Mediterranean. Spend the day stopping off at some of these legendary beaches: Liscia Ruja is the largest and the place to be seen, Spiaggia del Principe is apparently the Aga Khan’s favorite, and other classics include Romazzino, Spiaggia Pevero and Capriccioli. Anchor for the night in one of these coves or in Porto Rotondo, the Aga Khan’s purpose-built marina.
6 nautical miles
Days flow into each other when holidaying on the Costa Smeralda.
With little history or grandeur, there is much time left to simply relax in luxury amid beautiful surroundings. This day’s itinerary leaves little option to deviate from the previous: cruise up the coast stopping at emerald beaches, dining in exquisite restaurants and using the yacht’s onboard water sports equipment. With all this laid back glamour you may be tempted to spend the night in the quiet bay of Cala di Volpe or round the headland into the sleekest marina of them all, Porto Cervo.
Carved out of the rugged Costa Smeralda cliffs, the work of renowned designer Robert Trent Jones Sr, Pevero is a beautifully maintained par 72 course and its 18 holes will take you on a spectacular journey between the bay of Pevero and the bay of Cala di Volpe.
With many pools, bunkers and patches of rough to challenge even the professionals, this demanding course has won high acclaim among the golfing elite. Adding to this worldwide reputation are the memorable views back across the Costa Smeralda’s bays, beaches, and emerald waters.
+39 078 995 8000
Cala di Volpe, Porto Cervo, Sardinia
Style / Ambiance: Before sitting at your table, take a moment to explore Hotel Cala di Volpe’s iconic architecture – the pink colored walls and white stucco arches make a unique backdrop to the Cala Rrestaurant.
Executive Chef Franco Guardone delights in the fresh and the local: over a wood fire fresh fish is grilled to perfection, pasta is prepared daily and then there are the deserts: homemade gelatos, fruit compotes and cakes flavored with Sardinian honey and almonds.
Mario Lutzoni, Maitre d’
+39 078 997 6111
Costa Smeralda, Porto Cervo, Sardinia
At the very heart of Costa Smeralda lies Porto Cervo, a town designed for the sole purpose of hosting superyachts.
Every summer some of the largest and most extravagant yachts make their homage to this unique town built in rustic Sardinian style in the 1960s by the Aga Khan. It is like a purpose-built Monaco without the grandeur, or Saint Tropez with the celebrities but without the crowds. Yacht crews specially prepare their boats to be admired by spectators while their guests slip ashore to explore the town’s legendary fashion boutiques, gourmet restaurants and renowned nightclubs, which are never short of famous faces. During the day yachts, or their tenders, can whisk guests to neighboring beaches before returning for an evening spent enjoying Porto Cervo’s lavish night scene.
Cuisine: Classic traditional
Style / Ambiance: Gianni Pedrinelli is a name known to all who frequent Porto Cervo.
Having set up his restaurant on the headland overlooking Golfo Pevero nearly forty years ago, each summer from March to October more and more diners make their way to sample Pedrinelli’s brilliant cuisine. The large white restaurant sits overlooking a semi-tropical garden through large curtained arches. Modernity bedecks this interior while the garden, when lit up by candlelight during a summer’s evening, becomes a truly special place to dine. For further exclusivity there is a private dining room seating 50 people, and for those who wish to sample this unique Sardinian cuisine, but don’t have time to factor Pedrinelli into their itinerary, the restaurant can make deliveries onboard yachts and private jets.
Gianni Pedrinelli, Restaurant Owner
+39 078 992 436
Piccolo Pevero, Porto Cervo, Sardinia
Cuisine: Innovative Sardinian with spicy, eastern influences
Style / Ambiance: This recent addition to Porto Cervo’s restaurant scene, opened this year, is already one of the most fashionable places to have a table.
Aqua Lounge is managed by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) who ensure impeccable service and exclusivity. Its stunning pool terrace overlooking the marina is a popular place where yacht owners and guests can enjoy a cocktail while surveying their vessels below. The day scene is relaxed with a menu offering light brunches and lunches using simple and fresh ingredients. Tables overlooking the marina make a special setting for romantic diners, and then from about 8pm DJs turn the lounge into a lively summer party scene. Aqua Lounge also provides a catering service for those who want to dine on their yacht.
Antonio Pischedda, Maitre d’
+39 078 990 2294
Piazza Azzura, Porto Cervo, Sardinia
Porto Cervo is brand heaven and in such a beautiful town it is no hassle simply to stroll from your yacht into a few of the famous designer boutiques.
Piazza del Principe is a modern complex based on traditional Sardinian architecture and around its center piazza you can find Bottega Veneta, Céline, Chloé, Hermès, Fendi and Sergio Rossi among others. La Passeggiata is another traditional array of streets to the north of the main marina where you can find Fratelli Rossetti, Gucci, Iceberg, Louis Vuitton, Malo, Prada, Roberto Cavalli, Tod’s and Versace.
The Billionaire Club is not only Porto Cervo’s most famous club, it has a worldwide following as one of the most popular summer celebrity magnates.
As the brainchild of Flavio Briatore, the club is no stranger to celebrities and lavish spending. There are two restaurants, Cipriani and NOVE, and two discotheques with several dance floors and multiple VIP areas. But though it may seem a little ostentatious, Billionaire Club is actually located within a very traditional looking villa overlooking Porto Cervo – and the main pool terrace and rooftop dining room provide a perfect space for leisurely lunches and chilled-out evenings.
+39 339 254 2540
Via Rocce sul Pevero, Porto Cervo, Costa Smeralda, Sardinia
In the heart of Porto Cervo’s famous Piazzetta, Il Portico Bar is an unexpected upscale American cocktail lounge.
With an outstanding drinks menu and perfect views over the marina from the terrace it’s no wonder that it attracts refined visitors and the odd celebrity on nightly bases.
+39 078 993 1621
Cervo Hotel, Porto Cervo, Sardinia