Nonza in Corsica is a charming village perched above a long black beach.
Located on the west coast of Cap Corseit is well worth a stop and a climb to the tower.
Here is our guide to help you plan your visit with map, tips, parking, what to do in Nonza and photos.
Visiting Nonza in Corsica – What to do?
Is the village of Nonza worth it?
Yes, the village of Nonza is worth a visit.
It is one of the most famous places in Corsica. And in 2016, it was voted as the favorite village of the French.
This is due to the location of the village on a rocky promontory overlooking the famous black sand beach.
Moreover, contrary to other villages around the Cap Corseit has a square Paoline tower (rather than a round Genoese tower).
Take a look at this view from the observation deck around the tower:
Impressive, isn’t it? This represents well the beauty of Cap Corseone of the most beautiful destinations of the island.
And below, a picture taken from the entrance of the village.
You can better appreciate the location of the village on the promontory. It is impressive to see the straight cliffs and the long black sand beach.
Best things to do in Nonza? Top 5
- Admire the view on the village from the road of Cap Corse getting closer and closer (if you come from the North).
- Enjoy the view of the long black beach from the village.
- Climb the square tower to get the best view
- Lunch and soak up the unique atmosphere.
- Go down to the beach (very steep access)
Tips and map – Nonza, Corsica
Where is Nonza in Corsica? Map and Location
- on the west coast of Cap Corse,
- along the D80 road
- opposite the other famous village of Cap Corse Erbalunga
- Saint-Florent to Nonza = 30min
- Bastia to Nonza (clockwise) = 1h
- Mattei Mill in Nonza = 1h15
- Here is a map to help you find your way
- rt see all our tips for planning a dream trip to Corsica here
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How to get to Nonza?
- You need a car to easily reach the village of Nonza
- While driving on the D80 around the Cap Corseyou will have to cross the village, so you can’t miss it!
- The road around the Cap Corse is sometimes narrow, especially on the west coast.
- In the middle of summer, the traffic in the village can be very difficult
Parking lots in Nonza – where to park?
- Due to the location of the village between the high mountains and the sea, there is not much space to expand it
- This means that there are not many parking spaces
- You can find a few along the road north of the village and there are small parking lots south of the village center (as you can see in the picture below).
When to visit Nonza? What is the time frame?
But Nonza is a rather touristy place and known for its excellent food. So finding a place around lunchtime is a challenge.
Better to come early or late to explore more easily.
The village is freely accessible all year round.
Allow at least 1 hour to see the views and the tower. But we recommend staying longer and eating there to soak up its charm and atmosphere.
Tips for visiting the village
- The village is free to enter
- Wear comfortable shoes
- 125 steps to the tower (easy steps)
- Public toilets in the village center
- Access road to the beach is very steep and not easy
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Eat and Sleep in Nonza – Hotels
Eating in Nonza
The village of Nonza has a lot of charm.
It is very pleasant to have lunch there, with a good atmosphere.
You can find small restaurants with sandwiches, pizzas and salads.
Our tower coffee toasts were amazing and delicious!
We enjoyed a delicious toast with fruit and blue cheese.
Accommodations in Nonza
Nonza is a very small village. There are no hotels.
You may consider staying:
- Just a little further south, you will find the Gites du Cap Corseclose to a beach, apartment rentals with a breathtaking view.
– see pictures and availability
- Or you can head a little further south to stay in the vineyards of Patrimonio – I really enjoyed the hospitality and views at the Auberge Lustincorne – see photos and availability
- Or you can stay in Saint-Florent, close to the water to enjoy a boat trip to the Agriates desert the next day.
– see the accommodations in Saint-Florent
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Village of Nonza on top of cliffs
Arrival in the village
We recommend to go around the Cap Corse counterclockwise. Like this, you arrive on Nonza with a very impressive view on location.
The west coast of Cap Corse is already magnificent with its mountains plunging into the sea. But in Nonza, you get vertical cliffs of 100m high under the village.
In the photo below, taken at the north end of the black beach, you can notice the pink church standing out in the green vegetation.
On the picture below, you can see how the houses are built along the cliffs!
View from the tower
The main attraction is the view of the black sand beach from the Paoline tower.
But the village itself is charming.
From the panoramic platform of the tower, you will have a good view of the village located between the sea and the mountain:
Colorful houses and Sainte-Julie church
What stands out the most is the church of St. Julie with its orange-pink color. It is very bright and contrasts with the environment.
The church dates from the 16th century (rebuilt around 1575). But there is a church here since the 14th century.
It is dedicated to Saint Julie, the patron saint of Corsica(Julie de Corse). She is considered a virgin martyr who died probably during the 5th century.
It was transformed and enlarged in the 19th century.
Note its tripartite facade with 2 pilasters and its ogival bell tower.
Inside, you can see architectural and decorative elements that come from the old Franciscan convent: paintings, marble high altar…
You can also go down the stairs at the north entrance of the village, under the church (notice on the left on the picture above). The 54 steps will lead you to the Saint Julia fountain.
The village center has some traditional houses and good places to eat.
The Paoline Tower of Nonza (Torra di Nonza)
The main thing to do in Nonza is to climb the tower.
Don’t worry, there is no way to get lost. It is not a big village and the Tower of Nonza is indicated.
You have to climb about 125 steps to reach the top. These are easy steps, not too high. In addition, you can stop along the way to enjoy the views
At the top of the hill, it is strange to see a square tower.
Almost all the towers of Corsica are round. They were built by the Genoese to create a defense system.
This is another kind of tower. Torre di Nonza was built by Pascal Paoli (the historical Corsican leader) in 1760. This is called a Paoline tower.
It was built to dominate the Gulf of Saint-Florent, on the ruins of the 12th century castle.
It has a green-grey color and 3 floors.
At the level of the tower, the cliffs are 167m high.
This offers views all around.
To the north you can see the black sand beach and the mountains (more on why it is black later in the article).
Below you can see the ruins of La Sassa. It was a vast domain where local notables lived. It was a ‘castle’ built in the 11th century.
Today, it is a famous bar-restaurant with a breathtaking view. You can reserve your table here.
Black beach of Nonza
And here it is: the famous black beach of Corsica.
You may think that, like many other black beaches in the world, it was created by volcanic activity.
Well, that’s not the case there.
Coming from the north, you will see deep cuts in the mountains.
There was an asbestos mine (Société Minière d’Amiante de Canari) which closed in the 1960s.
It is the residues of serpentine which give this color to the pebbles.
It is fascinating to see the contrast between the turquoise water and the black pebbles:
It is not a safe place to swim because of the currents. Most people don’t spend the day relaxing on this beach.
But people like to write on the beach and then come up to see it from above.
The walk to the beach takes 10min and is quite steep, with 150 steps.
If you want to see the black rocks up close without the steep descent, you have a couple of stopover options along the road further north of Nonza.
History of the village of Nonza
If you want to know a little more about this village, here are some key facts about its evolution:
- The site has been occupied since prehistoric times (cave paintings in the grotta scritta not far from Nonza)
- There was a Roman camp here called Castrum Nuntia. This name means “herald”. It was a place of surveillance to protect the city of Maraiana which is located on the east coast.
- At the end of the Roman era, some stories tell that the Patron Saint of Corsica, Julie, was martyred there.
- The first statutes date back to 1109
- Then the catches follow each other between the PEverelli, the Avogaru and the Ansaldo da Mare
- The battles and changes of kings continue.
- In the 17th century it was part of the Gentile seigneury
- But the lords of the fiefs of Cap Corse were chased away by the Genoese in the 14th century and the castle was destroyed
- In 1757 Nonza rallies to Pascal Paoli
- During the French conquest, Nonza was a strategic point
- In the 19th century, Cap Corse was the origin of the marketing of citron
According to the town’s website, Nonza is also the place of a legend: During an attack on Nonza by pirates, the commander was alone to defend the village but the women of the village came to help fire the cannons. And he shouted orders making the attackers think that the defensive force was important. So they fled.
Convent of San Francescu di Nonza
Located one kilometer south of Nonza, the ruins of the convent are undergoing restoration.
The convent was founded in 1236 under the Franciscan order.
The painter Leonor Fini liked to come and paint there.