Mountain villages

We’re off to explore the hill villages of Corsica’s Haute-Balagne on this little road trip.

Tiny villages cling to the hillside along the winding roads that meander throughout the lush greens of the Corsican countryside.

Sant’Antonino is the oldest inhabited village on Corsica and the pastel hued houses cling together along the winding alleyways and back streets.

Buildings tumble down the slopes while you can discover colourful corners around every bend.

Advertisements

Calvi citadel

Perched atop a rocky headland, Calvi’s imposing Citadel oversees the bustling little town.

The massive citadel was fortified by Corsica’s Genoese rulers from the 12th century onwards.

While there is little in the way of businesses within it’s walls, it is still worth while exploring the alleyways and nooks and crannies.

Especially as there’s some amazing paper paste ups to be found!

There are stunning views to be had from the ramparts, both over the town and out to the sea.

The citadel also houses a former military hospital as well as containing the remains of a house that is rumoured to be the place where Christopher Columbus was born.

Colourful Calvi

Calvi is an attractive tourist town that is worth basing yourself in for its proximity to many pretty beaches.

A medieval citadel overlooks the marina from the bay’s western end, and is home to the Baroque St-Jean-Baptiste Cathedral and cobbled streets.

We’ll be exploring the meandering streets of the citadel later on.

Calvi and surrounds

The next town on our hit list, whirl wind tour of Corsica was Calvi.

It’s known for its beaches and crescent-shaped bay. A medieval citadel overlooks the marina – but more of that later.

We head to catch the sunset at one of the many lovely beaches. This rocky delight is Arinella beach.

A moody grey sky ominously looms over the hills in the background but the evening sunshine saturates everything in its honey glow.

We love this one so much that we head back later on in the trip 🙂

Isle de Pietra

Heading for another fabulous Corsican viewpoint now – this time on the Isle de Pietra.

This little spit of land is close to L’Ile Rousse and features a lighthouse at its peak and some beautiful views of the wonderful coastline.

It is connected by a dyke to the port of the commune of l’Île-Rousse in Haute-Corse.

Located in the north-west of the city, the island of Pietra has two highlights: the Pietra lighthouse and the ruined Genoese tower.

Here’s a bit of naff video footage that doesn’t really give a real taste of it!

Naturally the human man goat perches precariously on the precipice in order to raise my blood pressure…

I cautiously approach the edge – the maniac smile says it all!

Here’s the Pietra lighthouse . Blindingly white in the harsh mid-day sun.

Beautiful beaches

Corsican is littered with stunning beaches of all shapes and sizes. So naturally we’re off to explore a few of them!

From tiny coves to vast swathes of pure white sand, there’s a patch of sand to suit everyone.

The sands are blissfully empty towards the end of September. It’s our favourite time of year to travel as the weather is still great but the crowds are thinning out nicely.

Green hills and wind blown salty trees back the lovely beach of Ostriconi.

Ostriconi Beach (also called the beach of Perajola) is renowned for its rugged beauty.

It’s wild and windswept, braced by dunes and immersed in fragrant Corsican maquis.

Maquis is a special wild-scrub area of Corsica that covers approximately 20% of the island.

It includes the fragrant curry plant and rock rose to myrte, daisies and various types of mint. When the wind blows over it, the smells are amazing.

As Corsica had seen some bad weather before we arrived, a lot of the beaches were covered in seaweed which detracted from their pristine loveliness.

However Ostriconi was not one of them and its gorgeous sands were weed free!

Look how joy filled we are!!! The water was phenomenally blue and the sun was just the right level of scorching!

Long way down!

On route to the gorges we pass by just one of the stunning beaches to be found on the island.

This is the pretty beach of Porto seen from high up above as we passed through the Calanques de Piana.

The beach overlooks the Golfe de Porto and is a pristine little stretch of sand.

All along the west coast road there are lovely vantage points where you can enjoy the stunning views.

Gorges de la Spelunca

Next up on our Corsican odyssey is an exploration of the gorgeous Gorges de la Spelunca.

Just inland from Porto, the awesome gorges offers splendid hiking, plus freshwater swimming on hot days.

The Gorges de Spelunca are scenic river valleys cutting through the mountains. Rocky paths pass alongside stunning gushing waters of green, blue and brown.

We took the shorter route which was from the road bridge to the old Pont de Zaglia in the gorge-bottom forest – and back again. It took about two hours in total.

The winding path passes through the gorges with mountains, river valleys and pools. It’s a bit of a scramble in the heat but well worth it when you reach your destination.

After about 40 minutes you reach the Ponte a Zaglia. A fairy-tale like Genoan stone bridge that was built at the end of the 18th century to make life easier for the locals and the shepherds.

The bridge has a very high arch because at certain times of year the river becomes very large and fast flowing.

Next to the Ponte à Zaglia bridge there are some glorious pools of colourful water surrounded by boulders, which are an excellent place for a picnic.

After a sweaty hike these beautiful pools are like magnets to us.

The rushing, sparkling water is so tempting as it glitters under the Corsican sunshine.

How tempting does this beautiful pool look? The man looks like he is about to dive right in!

And he’s in. Dipping his toes in this wonderful green pool of cooling goodness.

Even now, the water makes me want to leap in! I can remember the boiling heat on my neck and the beguiling sparkles on the river.

Then finally I take the plunge! Like a plump mermaid, wallowing in the gorgeous, shockingly cold, pools.

It might have been a little chilly (and I might have soaked my only set of clothes) but it was awesome!!!

Look how delighted we both are!! Thumbs up from us, definitely a must see.

Calanques de Piana

As we head towards Calvi we choose to negotiate through one of Corsica’s natural wonders, the exceptionally beautiful Calanques de Piana.

These are granite rock formations along the coast of western Corsica near Porto.

Winding south from Porto to Piana in the north west of Corsica, is a coastal road with some of the most stunning, otherworldly scenery that we’ve ever encountered in Europe.

The Calanques de Piana are incredible, sculptural, weather beaten rock formations with an almost alien feel to them.

The surreal landscape of wind-eroded granite cliffs tower over the road and then plunge dazzlingly into the sea.

The cliffs are a naturally harmonised palette of colours including red, pink, russet and honey.

Stacks, towers and pinnacles have been shaped by the elements and are up to 300 metres above the sea in some places.

Pretty Piana

There are a variety of pretty little villages scattered around Corsica and one of them is Piana.

We’re dropping in en-route to our next destination, the tourist town of Calvi.

Piana is a pretty village set in and overlooking the fabulous Calanqes de Piana; one of the most beautiful parts of Corsica.

The Calanqes de Piana is a stunning series of rock formations and we’ll be heading through those next.