on standing above it all in sant’antonino
Sant’Antonino is a small village that sits on granite about 500 meters (1640 feet) above the Mediterranean Sea on the west coast of Corsica. It is one of the highest and one of the oldest on Corsica, and that makes it attractive as a destination. It is classified as one of les Beaux Villages de France. It is lovely and well preserved and has a myriad of maze-like passages and ruelles, much like other medieval villages.
What is particularly attractive about Sant’Antonino are the many panoramic views. No matter where you walk, the end of a passage will lead to a spot for looking out. Many small plazas dot the perimeter where you can spend time gazing across the horizon. Sometimes the edges, often lined with protective walls, drop off and you have the sense of looking down from a quiet glider. Looking to the left and right and out, one can block out the protection and easily imagine flying.
When you drive toward Sant’Antonino from the coast, you see it on a large knoll. Due to the altitude and location, it is the only village that can be seen from pretty much anywhere in Balagne. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
Sant’Antonino is sometimes referred to as the eagle’s nest. It dominates la plaine d’Aregno on one side and the la plaine du Reginu on the other. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
The houses themselves and the streets are built into the granite. The homes, you will notice right away, are attached to one another and wind around the large boulders and stone atop the hill and form a maze that sometimes end on a small plaza. Sometimes the ruelles are not cobblestones but the surfaces of the large rocks. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
My lunch in Sant’Antonino was at a restaurant—I Scalini—that boasts the only 360 degree view. It sits on the roof of the restaurant, and one climbs a “ladder” to reach the terrace. The waiters scrambled up and down it to bring the meals and drinks. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)