"Along Corsica by motorbike" is the travel story of Marco and Serena, two dear friends, who traveled the whole French island on two wheels in June 2015. In this diary of theirs you will find their itinerary, things to see, what they liked best and less and some excellent concluding advice.
Enjoy the reading!
“A strada bedda un hè mai longa” (The beautiful road is never long) says a Corsican proverb, and once again the ancient popular wisdom proves appropriate. In fact, on this our first vacation through Corsica on a motorcycle we discovered that the "road" offers so many unrepeatable moments that it will be difficult to forget the charm and magic of the places seen, as well as the surprises of finding cows, goats and wild pigs freely roaming around the most unexpected corners.
Corsica by motorbike, Serena and Marco
To visit Corsica by motorbike we preferred the month of June for the mild temperatures, the little tourist crowding, the still affordable prices and the low rainfall.
Along Corsica by motorbike: itinerary
Corsica by motorbike: travel itinerary
The itinerary of our motorcycle tour includes the following intermediate stages, starting and returning to Bastia:
- Day 1: Bastia, Biguglia and Linguizzetta
- Day 2: Aleria, Portovecchio and Palombaggia
- Day 3: Bonifacio, Tonnara beach and Filitosa
- Day 4: Ajaccio, Vizzavona and Corte forests
- Day 5: Restonica gorges, from Col de Vergio to Porto
- Day 6: from Porto to Galeria
- Day 7: Calvi, Ile de Rousse and Saint Florent
- Day 8: from Nonza to Barcaggio
- Day 9: Bastia and end of the trip
- Corsica by motorbike: conclusions
Day 1: Bastia, Biguglia and Linguizzetta
Once we got off the ferry, around 8 in the morning, we dedicated ourselves to an interesting but short tour of the most interesting points of Bastia.
We then jumped into the saddle with the intention of visiting Biguglia Nature Reserve, home to a large number of pink flamingos, but when we arrived halfway there was a tremendous downpour that forced us to give up, forcing us to quickly put on the wax and continue to the hotel we had booked: At Marie's house.
One of the owners, Sergio, gave all the information so as not to completely lose the day, which in the meantime was aimed at good weather. And in fact, following his advice, we first went to the beach, huge and semi-deserted where we had fun collecting shells, and then to visit the small village of Weather in Linguizzetta. The village itself has nothing special, but the narrow and winding road climbs through pastures, vineyards and thick wood, finally giving a fairytale view.
Day 2: Aleria, Portovecchio and Palombaggia
The second day began with a visit to the archaeological site of Aleria, where it is possible to admire the ruins of the ancient Roman city and, if desired, also the small museum at a cost of 2 euros. The road continues touching several picturesque villages, dotted with olive trees, ancient mills, grazing horses.
After a relaxing break of a couple of hours on the Solenzara beach, huge expanse of white sand with crystal clear sea, the journey resumes towards Porto Vecchio, not without a short stop near Punta Fautea, from where, if desired, you can take a nice walk up to the Genoese fort strategically placed at the end of the high cliff overlooking the sea.
Porto Vecchio personally it was a disappointment: too many small shops and with too much confusion typical of tourist crowds cloud the charm of the town but not enough to hide its neglect.
Another disappointment: the beach of the Palombaggia. Much publicized by both blogs and tourist guides, it didn't really impress us that much. Perhaps because the deviation from the main road seemed to never end, or because as soon as we set foot on this huge beach of fine sand, the strong wind made us run a slight shiver up the spine, so much so that we ran away after only half a minute. now, overcome by its inexorability. The fact is that in my opinion the beauty of the place is not worth the effort.
We then come to Bonifacio in the evening and the first impression is breathtaking. In the soft light of the evening, the gaze sweeps over the small port and rising gradually higher and higher, it crosses the eroded coast to rest on the fort overlooking the bay.
Day 3: Bonifacio, Tonnara beach and Filitosa
Not having had time the day before to visit it properly, we dedicated half the morning of the third day to the historic center of Bonifacio.
We then moved to the beautiful pink beach of the Tonnara, where we immersed ourselves in the clear water, swimming among bream, mullet, sea bream and anchovies.
Packed lunch on the panoramic point Roccapina.
It is really worth taking a detour from the route to visit the archaeological site of Filitosa, where monoliths dating back to 9000 BC are well preserved. The visit route, truly suggestive, winds through millenary olive trees, ancient homes of primitive men, centuries-old trees and the famous anthropomorphic monoliths. The charm of the place is well harmonized with lights and soundtracks that accompany the visitor throughout the journey, approximately 1 hour and a half long. Cost of the ticket 7 euros. With 4 euros more it is possible to buy the explanatory brochure, but personally I do not recommend it because in the points of greatest interest there are turrets with voice guides recorded in different languages.
The third day of our motorbike trip along Corsica ends at Ajaccio where we arrive in the evening.
Pink beach of the Tonnara
Day 4: Ajaccio, Vizzavona and Corte forests
For two Genoese, visiting Corsica is a bit like rediscovering the ancient vestiges of when Genoa was "the Superb". Ancient watchtowers scattered almost everywhere in defense from Saracen raids, bridges that cross rivers and streams, towns whose historic center dates back to the Genoese domination and still retain their characteristic features. Case in point is the center of Ajaccio, where the alleys, the buildings, the squares, the promenade… in short, the whole architectural structure of the old part of the town looks like the Genoese historic center in miniature, better maintained and cleaner. Obviously the figure of Napoleon is found everywhere: in shop signs, in the names of streets and squares not to mention the monuments dedicated to him.
Recommended hotels in Ajaccio: Hôtel Le Week end (luxury) • Residence 18Bonaparte (half) • Charming apartment historic city center Ajaccio (half)
A certain hint of independence revolution is also beginning to breathe.
As you move further towards the center of Corsica, it is not difficult to see some manifestos calling for demonstrations, written on the walls asking for the release of "patriots" and insults to the French state, road signs used as shooting range .
Along the road through the wonderful Vizzavona Forest, there are many panoramic points equipped for picnics, from which you can enjoy a splendid view of the surrounding mountains.
Cutting it is really beautiful. The steep uphill alleys gradually lead up to the belvedere from which one dominates, on one side, the town that gradually ascends towards the ancient citadel whose peak is reached in the highest panoramic point, called the "eagle's nest"; on the other there is a dizzying view of the meeting point between the Tavignano river and its tributary Restonica. Here one can almost physically perceive the desire for independence, which some flaunt by posting the Corsican flag to the window.
Day 5: Restonica gorges, from Col de Vergio to Porto
More than any other landscape encountered on this trip to Corsica, the one that is covered on the fifth day in the famous stretch of the Restonica Gorges impresses with the magnificence of nature. You cross a forest of centuries-old pines that stand out as far as the eye can see so high that they seem to touch the sky, like a cathedral whose huge columns spring from the humid undergrowth.
And climbing more and more, you reach the highest mountain pass in Corsica: Col de vergio (in Corsican Bocca di Verghju) located at an altitude of 1.477 m.
At this point you go back down, between protruding red rocks, canyons and ravines overlooking enchanted valleys. Not to be missed, the panoramic point to observe the silhouette of the Capo Tofanatu (2343 m.) With an opening in the rock whose origin tells a legend for which S. Martino, shepherd of Niolo, making fun of the Devil for the enormous furrows he produced in the mountain with a plow, has it so much caused by inducing him to hurl the share towards the sea, producing the furrow, 53 m wide. 12 m. high, which can be easily identified on the top of the mountain.
After a short stop a Calacuccia to photograph the artificial lake, we leave for Ota, where, again to keep the parochial pride high, we go to look for the ancient Genoese bridge, now in disuse, with the particular raised arch.
Finally arrived at Porto, we visit the small town, climbing up to the Genoese fort, for a change, and we lie down on the pebble beach for a well-deserved rest.
Where sleeping in Porto Ota: The Blue Flows (half) • The Calypso (half)
Day 6: from Porto to Galeria
The morning of the sixth day passes by motorbike towards Galeria, between Mediterranean scrub and cliffs, with a single stop at the panoramic point of Col de la Croix, from where, after having tackled a steep path that can be covered in about 10 minutes, you can enjoy a splendid view of the Scandola Nature Reserve.
The small town of Galleries offers a splendid pebble beach, where you can relax and swim to discover hidden coves.
Where sleeping in Galeria: Hotel l'Alivu (economic / medium) • Hotel Residence Palazzu (half) • Hotel Restaurant Le Filosorma (half)
Scandola Nature Reserve seen from the Col de la Croix
Day 7: Calvi, Ile de Rousse and Saint Florent
On the seventh day, the first town visited is Calvi, where even here the atmosphere of an ancient Genoese village is palpable, to the point of giving itself the title of birthplace of Christopher Columbus, whose presumed birthplace would be located within the ancient citadel.
Second stage a Ile Rousse, a delightful seaside town with a splendid white sand beach.
Very beautiful too Saint Florent, where we spent the afternoon on the pebble beach opposite our hotel.
The evening was spent pleasantly strolling through the alleys of the town where at every corner or square there were different musical ensembles, from the most disparate styles: from ethnic to rock; from pop to melodic, all made even more fascinating by a skilful play of lights.
Strike 23 pm, all speechless since the beginning of the pop music concert in the main square.
Panorama from the citadel of Calvi
Day 8: from Nonza to Barcaggio
Between jumps, ditches, holes and bumps, the eighth itinerary is the most run-down encountered so far, even if you notice that some sections have recently been asphalted and in others the work in progress bodes well.
First stop a nonza, where the view from the wall opposite the church dominates the characteristic black pebble beach. From above it looks almost like a blackboard, where the writings composed with white pebbles seem to have been made with chalk on the slate. Continuing for about 50 m. there is the steep stone staircase that leads to the miraculous spring of Santa Giulia, the patron saint of Corsica. Continuing, the stairway arrives at the beach, but we have given up on it mainly for two reasons: first of all at the thought of retracing this stairway in the suffocating heat, which had passed 200 steps just to get to the source, we felt like we were dying; secondly, knowing that the characteristic black color of the pebbles is due to the former asbestos quarry near the beach was not at all reassuring.
Continuing, we refreshed ourselves with a packed lunch in the beautiful hamlet of Pine, with yet another Genoese tower eternally guarding it.
The road winds along the steep coast with rocks overlooking the sea and breathtaking views, up to Centuri, but we preferred to continue towards Barcaggio, with a short stop at Mattei Mill, reachable on foot in 10 minutes by going up a steep dirt road and from which the gaze can sweep over a spectacular panorama.
Barcaggio is a small fishing village exactly on the northernmost tip of the island. We then spent the afternoon relaxing on the pebble and seaweed beach, enjoying the splendid view of the rock of the Weather in Giraglia, with the famous lighthouse located further north of Corsica.
For dinner we decided to retrace our steps to taste the famous lobsters of Belts, a small village overlooking the marina full of fishing boats.
The Black Beach of Nonza
Day 9: Bastia and end of the trip
So here we are at the last day.
Get up early in the morning we leave Barcaggio with the sun's rays playing among the trees, while the hawks begin to fly over the landscape in search of food. The view from the road between Macinaggio and Bastia is truly splendid and a clear sunny day offers the possibility of seeing the Tuscan islands in the distance: Monte Cristo, Capraia and Elba.
Arrived in Bastia at 8:30, we still have some time before the departure of the ferry, scheduled for 11:00, then with boarding around 9:30 - 10:00, to dedicate ourselves to the inevitable ritual of buying the souvenirs, all eaten: figatellu; lonzu; fresh and seasoned brocciu; myrtle jelly; various fruit compotes; honey; typical biscuits and the classic myrtle liqueur.
Bastia seen from the sea
Corsica by motorbike, conclusions
In conclusion, traveling Corsica by motorbike, for those who are passionate about it, certainly offers a panoramic view that cannot be obtained by car. The ideal episode to corroborate my affirmation is that, not uncommon, of a hawk that with outstretched wings flies over us in the opposite direction, while the sun's rays play with the feathers of its wings. I was almost tipping backwards in order not to abandon that extraordinary image. Fortunately, the providential trunk saved me.
However, traveling more than 1100 km at a brisk pace as we did, for newbies like us is a bit tiring. With hindsight I would recommend extending the holiday by providing at least a couple of days of rest. For example: Bonifacio and its surroundings would certainly deserve a day of study, perhaps including a boat tour to visit the island of Lavezzi. Also in Ajaccio one could foresee a nice trip up to Headland of the Sanguinaires, or add an overnight stay in Bastia before returning home, to better visit the stretch of coast between Barcaggio and Bastia, perhaps including a nice excursion on the Path of the Customs officers.