Friday, July 21, 2006


Cap Corse will never make financial sense

There's something I love about peninsulas. And you don't get much more peninsularic than Cap Corse - the slender strip of land that extends Corsica's contemptuous finger towards mainland Europe.

The first time we went to the Cap, we went round clockwise - the way you're supposed to go to avoid the big drops to the sea on your left. We saw Nonza on the West coast with its grey beach, and Canari, still fighting the ravages of decades of asbestos mining in the law courts. We dashed through pretty villages and stayed in some nice chambres d'hote, markedly cheaper than some of the places further south.

Last month we went again. This time we went for a celebration - a small, select gathering in Sisco - a few miles north of Bastia - to welcome a delegation of Puerto Ricans returning to their country of origin - and discovered why they wanted so much to return. This time we went the other way round, seeing the place from a different perspective. This time we walked a few miles of the coastal path, the sentier des douaniers. The rugged, weed strewn beaches are magical tangles of blue holly and driftwood and - returning a slightly different way - we pushed our way past ancient chapels, through bushes of wild myrtle and arbousiers, enjoying some of the most spectacular scenery on the island.

One of the people we met in the evening is descended from an ancient Corsican family, and runs a guest house in a fabulous, hundred year old mansion, built with Puerto Rican money, surrounded by lawns and olive groves. I fear he'll never become as rich as his ancestors: this part of Corsica is a little isolated. It's for walkers, dreamers and lovers of wild places. But if there's a bit of one of these in you, do push on north past Bastia and Saint Florent... it will be well worth it.

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