St Florent lies on a sparkling bay, sheltered between the wild mountains of Cap Corse and the magnificent, untamed Désert des Agriates. Founded by the Romans, St Florent later grew to be a flourishing medieval port under the rule of Genoa and it has remained relatively unspoilt.
It has retained an air of this varied past and today you can walk from one end of the town to the other in 10 minutes, and still see evidence of this, not to mention an echo of the Mediterranean of 80 years ago through the luxury yachts in the marina, stopping off from the Côte d'Azur.
In the town centre a maze of narrow streets and passages fills the space between harbour and Citadel, and the town squares, encircled by cafés, looks towards the lively waterfront with its row of restaurants. It is a friendly town, and though similar in style, less pretentious and more intimate than St Tropez, and it has a fantastic atmosphere. We think it's an ideal centre for beach holidays and for exploring Corsica's northwest coast or the mountain villages inland.
Behind St Florent spreads the quiet, attractive countryside of the Conca d'Oro. Its villages are an integral part of the landscape, hugging the slopes where the hills begin to rise, the old stone houses looking as if they grew out of the rock from which they are built.
Things to See & Do
- Visit the cathedral of the Nebbio region in St Florent, Santa Maria Assunta. It was built by the Pisans in the 12th Century, on the site of the ancient Roman city that existed before St Florent (some 800m from the new town centre). The building is highly ornate and a fine example of Pisan architecture and probably one of the island’s most beautiful cathedrals.
- The bustling heart in St Florent is the old town, with its narrow streets and vibrant bar terraces. Relax in one of the waterfront cafés and watch the yachts of the rich arrive at the marina. The ambience on the port of an evening is not to be missed. Just watch the rich people and marvel at their luxurious yachts – a true pleasure seekers paradise. There is a pleasant coastal walk to the Mortella tower, 7km west of St Florent (be aware there is little shade). The ruined tower is one of the most impressive examples of Genoese architecture in the area. It was built in 1520 as a weapon against piracy; it fell into disuse as a result of its inaccessibility.
- Behind St Florent, spreads the quiet attractive countryside of Conca D’Oro with Oletta village perched high above offering spectacular views over the gulf. You will find workshops and cellars of around 10 local artisans.
- The Désert des Agriates is a landscape of wild maquis and rocky cliffs. Take a boat trip to one of its beaches, inaccessible by car, or rent a boat yourself to explore the hidden coastline around the town. Boats from the harbour will take you to the beaches of Saleccia and Loto (3-6 departures a day and a 30 min trip). One can also get to these beaches on quad bikes (see activities section) which can be hired locally or for the more adventurous try kayaking. The spectacular beach of Saleccia is a tropical dream of silver sand and turquoise sea, inaccessible by road.
- Spend a leisurely afternoon visiting a vineyard in the pretty village of Patrimonio, and tasting the superb wines. The Patrimonio region is most famous for its vineyards, much of Corsica’s best wine being produced in this area. You will find dozens of vineyards to visit and the proprietors are happy to welcome you and offer you their wines to sample. There is now a ‘route des vins’, which will lead you to all the vineyards. Just follow the brown road signs. Patrimonio church is of particular interest and its setting is beautiful. A menhir statue was found in one of the vineyards here, it has now been erected just below the church.
- Worth visiting is Nonza, a flower-garnished slate roofed village, standing 150m above a blackened shingled beach offering a dramatic viewpoint across the sea. A great spot for those wishing to drive around Cap Corse.
- Visit the Moulin Mattei near Rogliano, which was restored in the early 20th century. Taste their Cap Corse apéritif and enjoy the fabulous view.
- Have lunch in Centuri and and watch the fishermen offload their catch.
- Tour the villages of the Nebbio, taking in the relaxed pace of life. One of the finest examples of Pisan Romanesque architecture can be found at San Michele de Murato, in Murato.