I have seemingly traveled the world, but it’s funny that I had yet to visit France and Italy, two countries high up on many bucket lists. When my boyfriend Jeff and I were planning where to head out to last August, I was elated that we landed on these as our destinations. I was looking forward to 12 days of exploring these cultures and characters I have heard so much about, most notably Corsica. Hailing from this island off the coast of France, BoutiqueHomes co-founder Veronique had raved about its beauty.
We arrived at the town of Calvi by way of Nice in a small puddle jumper plane. Our first accommodation was Bergerie Above Calvi… a small, but romantic studio overlooking the town below. Our host Pierre-Baptiste was incredibly accommodating, picking us up as we didn’t have a rental car, giving us all sorts of local tips, and driving us up to the house.
Our first few days in Corsica were spent wandering around the cobblestone streets that weave through Calvi and up into the citadel. One night, while searching for a place to grab a drink after dinner, we heard voices ringing out from inside a tiny little bar within the citadel.
We were pleased to find a group of locals seated around a table with a guitar singing Corsican music. We squeezed inside and sat ourselves at the bar and listened as they carried on, occasionally singing songs in English to let us join in. This was one of the more memorable moments of the trip.
Our next destination in Corsica was the village of Lumio where we would stay at Pietra Nova. The moment you walk inside Nathalie’s home, your jaw drops. This cement fortress has an incredibly airy feel as most of the walls open, so a lovely breeze flows through the space. Every inch of the property is considered, filled with eclectic and interesting decorations. The living room opens up to a large porch with plenty of places to sit and read, sunbathe, or entertain. One of my favorite features was an outdoor shower whose water cascades down a series of rocks below.
One of the nights Nathalie invited a group of her friends over, and we spent hours around the table eating a lovely meal and laughing uncontrollably. Experiences like that are always some of my favorite when traveling abroad and being able to connect with people even despite a language barrier.
If you’re a fan of jumping into natural bodies of water, Corsica is the place for you. A 10-minute drive from Pietra Nova leads you to the coast where you can hop off rocks into the ocean. And if you are slightly more adventurous, I would highly recommend Vallée du Fango in the interior of Corsica.
In this biosphere reserve, an incredible river cuts through banks of red rocks, making for an endless series of swimming holes. It’s a perfect way to spend the day, driving through the beautiful landscapes in Corsica, taking a dip in the river and having a picnic on the rocks surrounding it, and making it back to the coast by dinner.
From Corsica, we spent a few nights in Rome before transitioning down to Sorrento in Italy. As a photographer, I had dreamed of visiting this part of Italy, known for the colorful towns stacked on cliffs overlooking the ocean. Our accommodation in Sorrento, Lemon Grove Villa, was a different story though as I could never have dreamed of a place such as this.
Situated on a hillside overlooking the bay of Sorrento, this three-story villa was the perfect and most luxurious way to round out our trip. The design of this place is minimal and playful with colorful modern design pieces intermixed with more rustic ones. Surrounding the property is a grove of lemons, the most popular produce grown in the area, and through the lemon grove you can make your way to a pool.
One of the days the groundskeeper showed up at our door with freshly picked figs… there is no better afternoon snack than fresh figs and white wine. And then there was Stella, the little puppy owned by the groundskeeper that would run through the grove while they were around. I have never seen a happier puppy in my life… if only I could have taken her home in my suitcase.
The food, oh the food. You have never eaten pasta until you have eaten pasta in Italy. Go eat gnocchi at o’Parrucchiano La Favorita, get fed and entertained by Michelin-Star chef Peppe Aversa at Il Buco. Most restaurants that you walk into in the area will have something delicious to eat. Even the comical Pub America restaurant decked out in American-themed decorations, situated right next to the villa had the best Eggplant Parmesan Jeff ate on the whole trip.
We spent our last day of the trip taking a boat trip out to Capri. If you ever spend any time out in this area, Capri is a must. The ride out is beautiful on its own, encompassing the coastline around the island peppered with insanely beautiful homes, floating under the “kissing rock”, a natural rock arch of the coast, and swimming around the many grottos that scatter the rock faces. Once off the boat you are inundated with luxury… from food, shopping, and unbeatable views. Go. It’s worth it.
As I recount this trip in writing, my mouth salivates for the food, my muscles relax for the leisure, and my eyes water up for the incredible memories. Without BoutiqueHomes, I could have spent this trip staying solely in hotels, missing out on incredible experiences laughing around a table with locals, tips that would lead us to the best food we have tasted, and so much more. Thank you for providing me with the best souvenir of them all… the amazing memories.
Find out more about Laura Austin here. And to follow in her footsteps (which you should!), visit Bergerie Above Calvi, Pietra Nova and Lemon Grove Villa here.