The more one lives the more one learns – Corsican proverb
Corsica, the mysterious island in the Mediterranean. I had heard of the GR20 hiking trail, one of the toughest in Europe, but little else did I know of this island. Officially part of France, but that needs to be forgotten. The population makes that clear in many ways. It is a land of it’s own. And a place I have put in my heart forever! How come…
In 2013 we decided to spend the summer holiday on Corse. We booked flights, rented a car and bought a map. Puzzling with a travel guide, a round trip slowly came together. Last but not least we found some nice places to stay and then it was just waiting for the day we could fly over.
We arrived in Ajaccio, which is the capital. A historic town with impressive buildings, a colourful harbour with fishing boats and Napoleon Bonaparte. Yes, that guy. Of course we Europeans all know where he died, what he conquerred, but we had no clue he was born here. And the people are proud of it. Statues, street names, plaques, everything is there to somehow commemorate him. Ah well. We have diner on a nice terrace in the harbour and have the best mussels ever. We start to love this place!
We are curious about the rest of the island. It is supposed to be rough, little populated. Well, apart from pigs and cows walking around all over the place it is. The inland is stunning. Rocks, rocks, little lake, forrest, golden beaches and more rocks. We will never forget the spectacular views at Col de Bavella and the beautiful hike we did there. Clouds coming in from one side give the rugged cliffs a mysterious character. And when we just got used to the emptyness and the lack of civilization, we decide to drive down to Bonifaco. White cliffs dropping in clear blue waters. On top of the cliffs a picturesque historic village, almost dropping into the water and a natural harbour with the most amazing yachts. We cannot stop smiling. This is a gorgeous place, and the people are friendly as well, and the food… hmmm.
We continue North along the east coast. Next stop is all the way in the ‘finger’ of Corsica. We found a room in a very special place, a wine estate. Boy, we love the Corsican wine! On the way up we passed Bastia, capital of the north. A not to nice city we want to forget. But more beauty reveals itself soon enough, also here. There is a nice coast hike ‘Le Tour des Agriates’, of which we did small part. Again, and I understand I start repeating myself, it is beautiful. Blue seas, great views, crickets singing in the sun. At the sea we find the town of Saint-Florent. A friendly little village, with a very expressive group of elderly citizens playing game of jeu de boules daily on the main square.
We move on to the West, to the roughest coast on the island. Steep cliffs in many colours with small villages on top of them. Most impressive maybe is the World Heritage Site Calanches de Piana. Especially in the evenings with the sunset highlighting the red colour. It is like nothing else I have ever seen. We hike a nice trail to an old tower and smell the lovely curry scent of the maquis plants along the way. There are so many herbs growing in the wild. One of the things Corsica is famous for. It’s unique flora.
After so many days with amazing landscapes we think we cannot be surprised anymore. How wrong we were. Casamaccioli, a small village inland, in between the high mountains. There where the GR20 trail is passing the impressive highland. We hike just a few miles, and love it straight away. A cristal clear lake mirrors the mountains in the distance. The b&b is organic and serves traditional cuisine. What more can we want. We visit the little historic town of Corte, witness a stage in the 100th Tour de France, find all kinds of anti France texts on the road and hike some beautiful (yes again) trail in the next valley.
Three weeks passed too fast. I cannot say more than: Corse, ti tengu caru!
See some more pictures on http://www.scubajo.nl/pictures.htm.