“It is easy to be wise after the event.” ―
“Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, ‘It might have been.’” ―
In the villages and towns of Upper Corsica, it is there where time as a tourist passes. More care, I think, should be given to the journey between those villages and towns.
During a recent trip through Haute-Corse, around Cap Corse, several long drives warranted more consideration on my part.
Part of the problem is finding places to stay. Secondly, only after driving through them did I know where I could have paused and breathed or where I would have wanted to spend a day or two.
Today, there are four routes where I wished I had paused: 1) on the east coast, the route between Bastia and Macinaggio; on the west coast, the routes 2) between Centuri and Saint-Florent; 3) between L’Île-Rousse and Calvi; and 4) between Calvi and Porto.
Between Saint-Florent and L’Île-Rousse is the desert des Agriates, for example. It is not a desert filled with sand but the maquis bush, which is common on Corsica.
The issue with taking advantage of the drives is what to do with them. You want to stop, but where? The roads are narrow and sometimes the turn-outs are not available. Stopping anyway is not possible; that is a given. Too many curves, and thinking that no car will come is foolish. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.) But wait, there’s more!
During a recent trip to Haute-Core (Upper Corsica) and while driving north from Bastia to Macinaggio on the east coast of Corsica and down the west coast from Centuri to Cargèse, I noticed the many, many stone towers that dotted the two coastlines. Corsica is a, was a fortified island. They provided points of view for searching the waters for pirates and invading forces. The tower shown in the post, “on being high as a kite in nonza,” is an example.
Citadels—“a fortress, typically on high ground, protecting or dominating a city”—are prominent on Corsica as well. The major towns have them: Bastia has one that overlooks its harbor; Corte has one that sits on a high knoll that overlooks the surrounding countryside; Saint-Florent has one but it is modest and lacks interest; and Calvi has a large one that overlooks its port.
While the definition of “citadel” suggests a fortress, meaning a military base of some kind, the citadels on Corsica had villages in them. People lived there, and it is still true today.
In every town with a citadel, the citadel is a tourist destination for good reasons. They provide excellent views, often panoramic, of the towns, the countryside, and the Mediterranean Sea. The citadels are medieval in design and construction. Anyone wanting a partial sense of life during the Middle Ages will walk through their narrow streets. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.) But wait, there’s more!