Saturday, October 17, 2009


Sagone and Vico

These two villages in Corsica’s rugged west have little in common these days but are bound together both in their proximity and in their history.

Sagone is a sprawling, somehow tired-looking ribbon of habitation and tourist development that spreads along the road linking Cargese to the island’s capital of Ajaccio. It boasts several wonderful beaches, a number of good restaurants and the ruins of a medieval cathedral (not much of it left - see photo above, right. When we went there in early October, half the hotels and restaurants were shut, but we enjoyed great views from our hotel balcony, the weather was great and the sea was warm. We loved it there.

Vico, tucked away in the mountainous interior a few kilometres inland and several hundreds of metres higher up, is a different proposition altogether. Reputedly one of the most nationalist villages on the island, Vico was the recipient of vicious brutality by the Genoese some centuries ago, when 23 men were killed as a punishment to the village for daring to rebel. We had a friendly reception there nevertheless – Vico’s village square and narrow streets boast a number of sunny cafes where, as Corsica’s tourist season came to a close, we were able to purchase lunch (provided it was croquet monsieur and salad – seems all the other items on the menu were off). There are astonishing views of the surrounding mountains from nearly everywhere in the village – especially from the steps of Vico’s thriving church.

Sagone’s medieval bishops decided to abandon their cathedral in Sagone when Saracen invaders (and, I suspect, that other invader, the mosquito) made life too difficult, and they decamped to Vico where they looked after the spiritual needs of the people in the surrounding area for some 200 years.

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