Corsica: The west coast

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The west coast is very indented, and characterised by large gulfs and numerous coves which are more or less accessible. The wonderful Reserve of Scandola,for instance, is reachable only by the sea, with boat excursions starting from Calvi, Porto, Cargèse, Sagone and Ajaccio. Or the Gulf of Girolata, that can be reached both by sea and on foot, through a path starting from Col de la Croix in about one hour and a half. The effort is highly rewarded by the deliciousness of this gulf, although is summer it loses part of its charm.

Porto,perhaps less attracting than other cities on the coast, represents nonetheless a strategic departure point either to reach the Reserve of Scandola and the Gulf of Girolata, or to discover the inland.

Between the villages of Otaand Evisa there are some lovely and perfectly preserved Genoese bridges, visible from the street, like the Pianella Bridge,, theZaglia Bridgeand thePonte Vecchju,all reachable with pleasant and short walks through the gorges of Spelonca, on a part of the path which connects Calenzana and Cargèse. Proceeding further toward Col di Verghio, you will meet the little village Evisa, immersed in chestnut trees, which hosts every year a renowned feast of the chestnut.

Going back toward the shore, another unmissable attraction is represented by the Calanche towering over the village of Piana. These suggestive and bizarre stone formations have been classified as a world protected heritage by Unesco.

Various panoramic trails cross this surreal place. For info on paths and itineraries you can turn to the Tourist Office of Piana. From Piana you can reach by car the beautiful beaches of Ficajola (from the nearest car park there is a 10 minutes walk) and Arone.

Going southern, Cargèse, eserves a mention: this Greek colony dates back to 1774, when a community of Greek refugees coming from Mani (la penisola centrale del Peloponneso) in fuga dall’occupazione turca (the central island of the Peloponnese), on the run from the Turkish occupation, was given hospitality by the Genoese. Actually the first Greek settlement was in Paomia, not far from Cargèse, but when in 1731 the Greek refugees sustained Genoa against the Corsican insurrection, the autochthon populations chased the Greek community away, who was forced to move to Ajaccio.

In the following decades, the Greek finally left Corsica and headed to Algeria. If you wish to know more about the history of the Greek community in Corsica, you may read the fabulous book by sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, who tells with passion and a touch of irony this history of migrations, life and war, which finally ended into a peaceful living. Today, in fact, there is not trace in Cargese of the ancient hostilities, on the contrary, the orthodox and the catholic church in the village perfectly coexist.

The Sagone and Tiuccia are well served by tourist structures, restaurants and bars, but both the two villages are not particularly worthy of visit, whereas Orto and Soccia, two isolated villages in the inland, are very beautiful. The indented leg of shore between Capo di Feno, a beautiful promontory with annexed Genoese tower, and Punta della Parata, opposite the Sanguinarie Islands, includes a series of wonderful coves, less crowded than those in the Gulf of Sagone and Ajaccio. The only inconvenient regards their accessibility: with the only exception of Anse de Minacciain fact, all the coves are only reachable on foot from Punta della Parata, where at least you can get by bus from Ajaccio. From Punta della Parata a pleasant and easy walk starts, which takes you to the first coves of Minaccia and Cala di Fico.

The trail continues to Capo di Feno, requiring another hour walk, on an easy but a little wilder path. To find large and sandy beaches, you need to go back to Ajaccio, on the west and south sides of the homonymous gulf, where you will find the gorgeous beaches of Ruppione and Verghia,with white sand and crystalline waters.

Three Genoese towers (Torre dell’Isolella, Torre di Punta di Castagna and Torre di Capo di Muro, overlook the little gulfs, and the delightful view which one can enjoy from above is well worth the steep ascent to the promontory where the towers cling to.
The string of beautiful coves continues in the gulf of Valico, with the beaches of Cupabia, Taravo and Tenutella, around Porto-Pollo, which is a little less crowded than Campitellu. Proceeding further, there is another beautiful beach in Portigliolo, near the lovely village of Campomoro. But the finest points of the shore can be found in Tizzano and Roccapina, this last one in particular is a protected site, with natural granite sculptures.

What to see inland


Cupulatta

Centre d’élevage et de protection de la tortue. This is the first natural park of its kind in Europe, with a surface of 2 hectares and more than 3.800 turtles of different species, many of which are very rare or even endangered.

The park was founded in 1965 by Philippe Magnan, and opened to public in 1988 thanks to a group of volunteers, families and researchers. To get to the park you need to take the N193 from Ajaccio direction Corte. The park is near the village of Vignola, and it is open all days from April to November. Opening hours: from June to August from 9.30 am to 19 pm ; in any other period from 10 am to 17.30 pm.
For info: http://www.acupulatta.com/

Filitosa

This is considered one of the most suggestive pre-historic sites of Europe. It collects testimonies of 8 millenniums of human presence in Corsica. The most beautiful remains are some huge and mysterious granite monoliths dating back to the megalithic age. The site can be reached by car from Ajaccio, about 50 km distant, or from Propriano, 20 km. There is no bus line taking to the site, the nearest bus stop is in Porto Pollo, then you need to walk for a few kilometres.
For info: http://www.filitosa.fr/

Sartène

Now that the hatchet has been buried in this village, the violent conflicts are just a memory of the ancient past, and today Sartène appears as a peaceful site, offering to visitors the quietness of its lanes and stone houses. The vicinity to the sea makes it the perfect place for long-term holidays, with the possibility to make daily excursions inland.

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