on being high as a kite in nonza
No question that Nonza should be at the top of the list, high on the list.
I wanted to visit Nonza for two reasons: it is a village perched on the side of a mountain, and it has a well-known restaurant La Sassa that has no walls, only a terrace. Even the kitchen is open and on the terrace. I had read that the views were beautiful.
I had planned to stop in Nonza while driving from Centuri to Saint-Florent. When I arrived around 10:30, I could not find a place to park. It is a small village, the road with no shoulder cuts through it, cars park along the edge of the road but extend into it, the two lane road really is one lane, and there is no place to turn around and try another pass. A separate parking area does not exist. I kept driving to Saint-Florent.
I did go back. I left Saint-Florent early and arrived in Nonza at 8:45. I had my pick of several parking spots. Between 9:30 and 10:00 most of the remaining parking spots had been taken. Cars had already parked along the edges, and traffic through the village had slowed to a crawl.
Most visitors will make the pilgrimage to the tower above the village, where one can see a spectacular panoramic view to the north and to the south. To the north one can see the gray sands on the beach below and the large and sometimes artful announcements of love marked on the sand with white stones. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
Looking down and sweeping the gaze across Nonza to the south and toward the Mediterranean Sea, one sees the gulf of Saint-Florent and in the distance Saint-Florent itself, a 30 minute drive. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
It would be unconscionable, however, to start the climb to the tower right away. One should first take a seat under the trees at the Cafe de la Tour and drink an espresso or a cup of tea before venturing up. During my morning, the sun was edging over the mountain above me and behind, and the sun’s rays were highlighting the buildings across the street. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
But what about the quiet back streets, the ruelles, where people live? From the Cafe de la Tour to the top, to the Torra di Nonza, there is a route to take without needing a map. No need to veer away from the goal. Yet to the left and right, tiny alleys curve and twist, and one loses quickly any idea of what might be ahead. People live there. I wonder what they might see when they leave their homes. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
La Sassa is a good reason to visit Nonza. Michelin has paid attention. It has been described as « une cuisine de qualité . . . Standing simple. Nos plus belles adresses ». (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
More specifically the inspecteur wrote, « Ce restaurant atypique, sans salle intérieure, se niche au pied de la tour paoline (18e s.), véritable un nid d’aigle, perché à 160 m de hauteur, offrant une vue exceptionnelle sur la côte du Cap Corse et le golfe de Saint-Florent. Les terrasses aux multiples recoins permettent d’apprécier une bonne cuisine méditerranéenne, aux accents corses ».
On a return trip I might eat at A Stalla, a restaurant on Place Louis Carlini and across the street from the Cafe de la Tour. The tables sit under a large tree. It was my impression that it is a local favorite.