Once again I found myself in a small village perched above the Mediterranean Sea on Corsica. I had spent the previous day exploring Sant’Antonino, a village beyond Pigna. The road to Pigna and to Sant’Antonino is the same.
Like the other villages above the western coast of Corsica, Pigna has extraordinary views, not as many as Sant’Antonino, but still plenty for pauses and certainly for some sips of wine.
Visiting Sant’Antonino and Pigna in one day is possible. I can imagine a morning in one, let’s say first in Pigna with a lunch at A Mandria di Pigna, and if the wine has not been too precious during lunch, a visit further along to Sant’Antonino in the afternoon would be an excellent trip.
Above Pigna on the road that goes further along to Sant’Antonino, there is a place to park and one can walk a short distance to the village. Most visitors will, however, choose the parking lot in Pigna and pay a small tariff for the privilege. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.) But wait, there’s more!
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.) But wait, there’s more!
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!