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.
Looking north from La Sassa
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.) But wait, there’s more!
Stephen kissed me in the spring,
Robin in the fall,
But Colin only looked at me
And never kissed at all.
Stephen’s kiss was lost in jest,
Robin’s lost in play,
But the kiss in Colin’s eyes
Haunts me night and day. ―
I liked Rogliano, too. Macinaggio was laid back and charming. I liked it. Sant’Antonino was special. Pigna surprised me. I liked them, too. Saint-Florent and L’Île-Rousse and Calvi are large, and they have many tourists activities, and I liked them as well.
Mais j’ai adoré Centuri.
Visiting so many places in Haute-Corse, making choices and determining winners and losers becomes inevitable, I suppose. I was asked which spot was my favorite.
Centuri seemed innocent, a small enclave captured in time. The wide world existed, but Centuri’s isolation kept it at bay. My memories of it are like a second heart. And, I do prefer it, a bit, if pressed.
To reach Centuri one drives route D80, the same road that goes from Bastia to Macinaggio along the eastern coast of Corsica. At the top of Cap Corse, D80 cuts across and curves its way to the west coast where it intersects with a branch road D35 that descends into Centuri. D80 continues south along the west coast. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.) But wait, there’s more!
When you walk them, the ruelles in Rogliano, the small village perché above the Mediterranean Sea, they wind and twist and dip and make you climb. As I mentioned earlier, they are narrow, and the buildings, lining them, close in and restrict you from knowing where you are.
Below Rogliano is a small coastal village with a port and marina, Macinaggio. Many small villages have layers. That is, one sees first the commercial street with restaurants and shops. If you walk into the village, away from the main street, other parallel and perpendicular lanes—maybe ruelles—emerge, and you begin to see residents and more local restaurants and cafés. Not in Macinaggio. When you walk from one end of Macinaggio to the other, you have seen the village.
The small road from Rogliano down to Macinaggio mimics the ruelles in Rogliano. They twist and turn and narrow into curves, and you cannot see if someone is approaching in your lane. The distance is only 4 km and takes about 10 minutes to drive it.
Most visitors will arrive from Bastia in the south, a little less than 40 km away. It takes about an hour to drive.
Most visitors to Macinaggio will do one of three activities: they will eat (lobster), drink (local Clos Nicrosi wines), and be merry on one of restaurant terraces along the port; or they will feel energetic and walk to the plage de Tamarone about 2 km away, and maybe eat lunch there at U Paradisu; or, thirdly, they will take a boat ride to the tip of Cap Corse and to Baracaggio and its beaches. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.) But wait, there’s more!
“I have a view, I have a view.”
“A view? Oh, a view! How delightful a view is!”
“This is my son,” said the old man; “his name’s George. He has a view too.”—E. M. Forster, A Room with a View.
She opened her curtains, and looked out towards the bit of road that lay in view, with fields beyond outside the entrance-gates. On the road there was a man with a bundle on his back and a woman carrying her baby; in the field she could see figures moving – perhaps the shepherd with his dog. Far off in the bending sky was the pearly light; and she felt the largeness of the world and the manifold wakings of men to labor and endurance. She was a part of that involuntary, palpitating life, and could neither look out on it from her luxurious shelter as a mere spectator, nor hide her eyes in selfish complaining.– Middlemarch.
I had a room with a view.
Finding a hotel room, whether it had a view or not, was difficult. The hotels along the east coast of Haute-Corse were either booked or the prices seemed too expensive. I did eventually find one at the Hotel U Sant Agnellu in a small perched village called Rogliano in the commune with the same name.
Hotel U Sant Agnellu, Rogliano
A view in the morning when the sun rises is spectacular. It looks wonderful in nature; it looks wonderful in paintings; and does a sunrise ever not look wonderful in a photograph. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
Hotel U Sant Agnellu, Rogliano
My room had a view of the Mediterranean Sea, of the small seaside village of Macinaggio, where Napoléon landed after his exhile on Elba, and of the small Italian island Capraia on the horizon. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.) But wait, there’s more!