06/2004 - France, Corsica

7-day trip to France – Corsica -visiting Bastia , Corsica Cape, Miomo Erbalunga , Rogliano , Barcaggio , Giraglia island , Carturi , Nonza , Heritage, St. Michael’s Walled , Ile Rousse , Calvi, La Revellatta Wilderness the shingle , Gulf of Girolata , Porto , Calanques de Piana , Cargese, Golfo de la Liscia , Ajaccio , Bloody Islands , Filitosa, Sartene , Bonifacio , Lavezzi islands , island of Cavallo, Rondinara Bay , Gulf of Santa Giulia Beach, palombaggia , Porto Vecchio , Aléria , Corte , Restonica Gorges , Asco Gorges , Castagniccia, Morosaglia

The historical center of Bastia is dominated by the citadel within which lies the quarter called “Terra-Nova” (new land) with beautiful monuments.

We started visiting Corsica going all around Cap Corse, familiarly called “the finger “, starting from its eastern part. We crossed the charming towns of Miomo and Erbalunga . Then we reached Rogliano, a town lying on the slopes of the mountain, characterized by several towers, three churches and the ruins of three castles.
We arrived at Barcaggio, small and remote fishing village, located exactly on top of the Cap and that faces the small island of Giraglia .
We began our descent of the western side of the Cape and immediately met another pretty fishing village : Carturi .
Then we passed on the high side of the coast crossing stretches of blooming and thick Mediterranean shrubland.
Then we reached Nonza which can be seen, in the distance, sheer over the sea with its underlying ” black beach “.
The Cap Corse ends in the town Patrimonio, the most popular resort for the production of wines in the region of Nebbio.

In the heart of the Region of Nebbio, we visited the isolated church of San Michele of Murato. It is a beautiful Pisan-Romanesque jewel, dating back to 1200. There are numerous external decorations that are emphasized by the chromatic alternation of the white stone and the green shale.

Before reaching the coastal area, we passed by the inside of the Désert des Agriates, an incorrect name as it had been in the past the granary of Corsica. However, the area is almost inaccessible because you can reach it only through very difficult paths .
We reached the Ile Rousse (Red Island) very beautiful with the island de la Pietra (rocky isle), ocher-red , which seems to stretch it out to sea. In the upper part of the town of Calvi there is the Citadel which, with its mass, overlooks the marina and the modern center . The Citadel dates back to the twelfth century and offers spectacular views both of the beaches below and of the hinterland where you can see peaks of nearly 3.000 meters. Inside, in addition to the Palace of the Governors , it is important the church of St- Jean -Baptiste .

Until Galéria the road runs along the coast and offers picturesque views thanks to beautiful coves such as the cove of Gulf of Revellata . Leaving the coast, the road became narrow and increasingly tortuous. After passing the “Col de Palmarella”, we reached the “Col de la Croix”, a vantage point from which you can enjoy an unforgettable view. On the right, the Natural Reserve of Scandola which takes its name from the homonymous promontory.
In front there is the Gulf of Girolata in whose center lies the small fishing village (with the same name) which can be reached only by sea.
On the left two promontories: Red Cape and Senino Cape .
The winding road (they are working to improve it) goes down to the small town of Porto and offers fascinating glimpses of the small coves below.

The seaside resort of Porto is situated in the homonymous gulf and is dominated by a Genoese tower. The town owes its fame to the beauty of the coast characterized by ocher-red rock formations that make it one of the most beautiful places of the island .
The approximately five kilometers which go upwards from Porto towards Piana are the most suggestive all over Corsica.
The road passes through the Calanques de Piana which offer, at every turn, new and beautiful landscapes thanks to the granite rocks which, with the play of lights and shades, always vary their base colour (red ocher) . The rocks are continuously shaped by the erosion of the wind and of the sea.

After the town of Piana and leaving back the sea, the road is much wider, with an excellent road surface and gentler bends. We went back to the coast in Cargese, a beautiful town founded in 1600 by settlers from Greece, with two opposite cathedrals: a Greek one and the other of Latin origins.
The coast becomes flat and the beaches are sandy. We run along the sea following the beautiful Gulf of La Liscia.
Then the road leaves the seaside again . We went up the hill of San Bastiano with magnificent views of the Gulf of Sagone .
Beyond the hill, we went down to the plain dominated by the city of Ajaccio that welcomed us with a chaotic traffic .
We immediately visited the îles Sanguinaires (Bloody Islands) which are beautiful but difficult to photograph.
We made a tour in the Borgo, an ancient Genoese quarter, which spreads along the characteristic rue Fesh.
We saw Napoleon’s birth place and the beautiful Place Foch .

The southern area of Ajaccio is dominated by numerous promontories which has got a Genoese tower each. Unfortunately, new buildings are so numerous that whole areas, including the Genoese towers, have been privatized and cannot be visited. The landscapes are always beautiful even if the roads are very difficult, almost impossible … to be travelled.
Filitosa is the most important prehistoric site in Corsica.
The menhirs are quite interesting, especially those in the museum, because you can still see that they were carved; you can recognize arms and hands, swords and armours.
It is very interesting the Genoese bridge dating back to the twelfth century which is called , in Corsican, “Spin’a Cavallu” (back of a horse) .
In Sartene, which is called ” the most Corsican of the Corsican towns”, we had the opportunity of visiting, in the old city, a neighborhood where time seems to have stopped in the XVI century.

Before reaching Bonifacio the road runs along the coast and offers wonderful views over the Gulf of Roccapina .
The city, for the beauty of its natural position, is worth alone the whole trip to Corsica.
It seems that the city, at the top of its white cliffs , floats on the sea like a wandering island moved by the wind.

The high and mighty Genoese walls, which we have traveled for the entire perimeter, offer very suggestive views.

The old town of Bonifacio is formed by the quarter located within the Genoese walls . You can enter through the door of Gene. It is interesting the Church of San Francesco and also the Marine Cemetery at its side. From the square in front of the church we could enjoy a breathtaking panorama of the old city.

Do not miss to sail to the Lavezzi island where the erosion of wind and water have shaped the granite rocks into sculptures of strange shapes (from the turtle to the bear or the gnome…. ) . On our way back we saw the island of Cavallo but we couldn’t get down since it is private.

Going up following the east coast of Corsica we met its most famous beaches. After passing Porto-Vecchio we arrived to Aléria , the ancient capital of the Greek and Roman Corsica, where, in the Genoese Fort of Matra, there is an interesting Museum of Archaeology.
Going towards Corte , in Altiani locality , we passed on an imposing Genoese bridge with three arches .
Corte was the historical capital of Corsica in 1755 and is dominated by the Citadel.
Close to Corte, the Restonica Gorges are worth a visit, they are deeper than 400 meters.
North, in the Regional Natural Park of Corsica, we also visited the fascinating Asco Gorges .
At the end of the Asco Gorges, in an isolated and almost unreachable position, we reached a marvellous medieval Genoese bridge.

We decided to go and visit the region of Castagniccia characterized by its rich vegetation, its “impossible” streets and its fascinating landscape; this region is rich in several and intact villages and many historically significant sites. Do not forget that the Castagniccia was the native land of Corsican independentism having given birth to Pasquale Paoli in Morosaglia commune. In addition, the region is full of chapels and churches rich in history and art .

The central area of Castagniccia region is very rich in monuments. I like to mention the village of La Porta with the beautiful Church of St. John the Baptist and also the village of Piedicroce with the nice Church of St. Peter and Paul .

On our way back to Bastia, we went to visit the Chapel of Santa Cristina of Campoloro with frescoes dating back to 1473 and the ancient Romanesque cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, called “La Canonica” , built and consecrated in 1119.