Sunday 8 September 2019

Corsica Cycling Tour

Travel notes in 710 Km of effort, beauty and ....

In recent days, fate has led Leandro and Loredana on the Cubo Viaggiatore web pages, their desire to share the wonderful experience of travel by bike did the rest. So here we are, transported by fate meetings, to have the opportunity to publish the story of travel to Corsica. Leandro and Loredana have made a wonderful travel diary, with photos and graphics of the route maps, a wealth of details and preparation that have given great value to this Travel Story.

By Leandro and Loredana


Five years ago we left a piece of heart in Corsica, after having done almost the complete tour by RV with some dear friends; we liked it a lot but we didn't see two of the perhaps most beautiful features, the north western part and part of the "finger" (the north end). Unfortunately we had the days and we could not visit anything else. In recent years we have abandoned football (Loredana after thirty years of competitive activity and Leandro after twenty years at managerial level) and the few hours that the work allows us to dedicate to the bicycle. Nothing sophisticated or competitive, not "racing", no curved tubulars and dumbbells; it's not even about "mountain bikes", our two vehicles are trekking-city-tourism, with 24-speed gearboxes, straight handlebars, intermediate tires, luggage racks, mudguards and lights. Do not miss the cycle computer for detections of distance, speed etc. After many trips of 50/60 km made in our area starting from home and several routes in the hinterland of Pesaro and Rimini taking the bike in the car on the starting point is slowly matured the idea that that "piece of heart" maybe we could go to take it back. The motivations were to be able to take a decidedly different path, to celebrate the "silver wedding" with a trip to remember, and a little also to find our limits.


Preparations began after the decision was taken. First obstacle to overcome was to find the right time by combining the various needs of work and more favorable weather for the holidays, we were able to choose the first ten days of June for the good weather we did nothing but hope. Then there was the path to be defined. The first objective was the island circumnavigation but we had to take into consideration also the variations that would have allowed us to shorten the route in case there were physical problems, bad weather, forced return, etc. Among the variants to consider was the direction to be taken: turn clockwise or anticlockwise, not that much changed but the flat part of the east coast had its importance in making it with "fresh legs" that would have allowed us to do a lot of road.

The decision we would have taken on the ferry also in relation to weather conditions. It was also taken into consideration the fact that there is the railway that from Ajaccio cuts the island up to Bastia, in case of forced return we could have used it. Another basic decision was to choose whether to spend the night at campsites or in hotels. The first idea was more adventurous and involved camping. The belief has matured slowly that the hotels would have been the best solution as we could lighten up a few pounds (curtains, mats, sleeping bag etc.) and above all rest better in relation to what was waiting for us, obviously at the expense of having to support all other type of expense compared to campsites. The documentation phase followed. A fairly detailed map of the island we had already, preserved from the previous time, and it was on this that we tried to define the route. The Internet then came to help us find publications of similar experiences that gave us some suggestions.

Reading the experiences of others, also helps to get a better idea of what should be expected. Then the search (always on the Internet) of all the hotels that were on the route began and we have formed a list of about 700 different types of useful accommodation. Of many of these, from the respective website, the rate card was viewed and we were able to select about thirty that were part of the type of expenditure that we wanted to support. We have equipped the bicycles of the necessary equipment by buying two pairs of rear side bags, a container to attach to the luggage rack and adapted a bag that we already had, fixing it to the handlebars. In the two small saddle bags they found two spare air chambers, objects and various tools to repair possible punctures and any mechanical requirements: a pair of brake pads, a brake cable, a shift cable and more.

In the two triangular pockets in front of the seat are finished glasses, handkerchiefs, change, mobile phones and camera. In the two capacious bags, all the clothes, shoes, etc. have been arranged. In the other two small bags, things of various kinds such as multi-function knife, binoculars, spare batteries, glasses, maps, toiletries, creams-ointments of various kinds and other small parts. Hair: we did not want to make even more of the hair dryer and, as accustomed to bring them both short, there was a "decisive hair-cut" so that those few, with only the towel and the room temperature would dry easily.

Another problem: where to leave the car? We thought to leave it at a campsite near Bastia then, we found a secure garage and covered in Livorno at 8 Euro a day it was decided for this solution, considering that the cost of the car on the ferry plus that of the camping they were equivalent or even greater.

Le Tappe

First Stage: Bastia - Moriani Plage
Wednesday the June the 1st - 65 Km

Disembarked from the ferry we stop a few minutes in the wide square St. Nicolas in front of the port. It is a large rectangular square with parking below, on the opposite side of the port is full of tables of bars and restaurants. To exit from Bastia, going south, there is a convenient road-tunnel that passes under the old port and comes out immediately outside the city, we decide to pass in the old road that runs along the harbor surrounded by bars and restaurants and very old houses quite badly manteined. The feeling is not the best because the traffic is rather chaotic and we can not wait to get out of it. A short but steep climb leads us along the ancient fortification of La Cittadelle, afteward we find ourselves outside the city. On the side of the state road 193 where there are many commercial activities, it is the only road that leads to the south, the traffic is quite intense and after a couple of kilometers we free by turning left towards the Marana nature reserve consisting of a large inlet (with a very small access to the sea) where the water and the lush vegetation are the paradise of several species of birds. In a shop on the street we buy some fruit for a quick snack and we do the whole stretch of road that runs along the sea on a convenient bike path.

At the end of the lake-creek, before returning to the national road we stop to "wet our feet" in a very clear water but with a rather dirty sand because the beach is free and unguarded as a good part of the east coast of the island; on the shore we see several decomposing jellyfish. We do not have much time left and leave again to the first goal, favored by the good conditions of the road, quite flat even if the traffic keeps us constantly apprehensive. In particular we must be careful in the roundabouts and in the narrow passages in correspondence of villages, often the cars remain courteously (and prudently) behind us favoring us the march. At about 18:30 we are at Moriani Plage. The unexpected happens here. The list of hotels reported different but what we had chosen (for the price) was placed in San Nicolao the capital of Moriani located on the hill above, 6 km to be ridden uphill. We do not get discouraged and we face the challenge. Approaching the village, at each bend we find a mortuary chapel: in practice, the cemetery is "spread" along the road that leads to the village. Arrived in the small town the view of a dozen houses perched and some others around us makes us guess what an old gentleman then confirms: here there are no hotels, the Abri des Flots is definitely on the beach, in Moriani. Damn! We were right there! Quick descent and, beyond the nationalroad towards the sea, we find it immediately.

We ask if there is a room available (for pure scruple, in this period there is certainly sold out). We arrange all our things in the room and get back to find a safe place for the bikes, they suggest us to place them at the foot of the stairs leading to the rooms on the first floor, so good. We go back to a refreshing shower and we change clothes to go down to eat at the hotel restaurant. We order a mushroom omelette and a pizza per head without imagining that the omelette was gigantic so the pizza just can not finish it! Shortly after, we take a stroll through the different beach bars and restaurants and then go to sleep. We are definitely tired, not so much for the sixty miles made, all flat, but for the "hilly variant" and also for the journey by car started early in the morning. Anyway so far we have arrived, the first stage is behind and already we think about tomorrow, the stage will be very long, we do not even know exactly how much, our legs will decide.

Second Stage: Moriani Plage - Pianottoli
Thursday June the 2nd - 140 Km

We start early (or almost) for what we have planned as the longest stage as it has no particular difficulties, we need to make a long way to reach the west coast where inevitably the pace will be slower, moreover this stretch of coast does not offers interesting details if not for some beautiful bays in the central part of the route. The speedy ride is confirmed by the instrument, traveling at an average around 20 km / h. After about an hour we stop to have breakfast in an isolated bar on the street where we discover that the 1 liter sparkling water costs as much as a dozen bottles. Later in Aleria we enter a "SuperU" grocery store for the supply of food for the day, the same water we find it out at € 1.30 and in a bottle of one and a half liter tonic we spend only 18 cents, we are perplexed: in tonic there is no water?

The weather is excellent and slightly windy, the road is almost flat and when the Km 75 approaches again to the shore, at the first beautiful bay in Favone, we take advantage for a toning bath for the legs. Even if they are not particularly tired, the "natural massage" is a real panacea. After a half hour stop, while we are about to leave, a Frenchman arrives with a rubber boat on the roof of the car, asks us for help to unload it and bring it to the shore, as soon as we arrive in the water, he goes off to reach some friends on a boat. We continue the march on a road of "Californian" type (long straight and wavy sections), the traffic has become scarce and the width of the road allows us some distractions, we meet a couple of tourists in tandem and numerous groups of motorcyclists, there it's a greeting (reciprocated) for everyone. We take advantage of a rare fountain on the side of the road to rinse our face and arms and to fill the water bottles that we have emptied in the meantime. Soon we are on the outskirts of Porto Vecchio where we exceed the 100 km traveled. We had planned the second stop here but it's only 15:30, it's early and the legs have no problems. We therefore decide to continue. We cross the ring road and beyond the city, instead of continuing to Bonifacio, turn right on the D859 in the direction of Sotta where, after a stretch of wide and almost flat road we meet the first serious roughness of the day. In the village we rest a bit 'eating an ice cream in the shadow of an old house.

Once again the march, after about fifteen km we find the sea, the tiredness that begins to be felt is softened by the sight of the blue landscape. Another 5 km (2 uphill) and we are in Pianottoli a small town where we ask for directions on the two accommodations we have on our list. We travel a kilometer downhill looking for them, in the first there are no rooms, the second we do not like much; then it occurs to us that in front of the supermarket where we bought the food for the evening there was a small house with a "room to rent" sign. Let's go back to the village and ask if there is availability. It is free and very welcoming and we do not think about it so much, the tiredness, especially in the part of the lower back, suggests that for today 140 km may suffice, many more than the budgeted.

After the shower and dinner in the room we take a ride in the village, it is only 21:00 but it is almost deserted; we enter a bar to take a camomile (not that we need it to reconcile sleep) and meet with a Sardinian, great talker, who says he is a builder of villas for wealthy Italians, he has it with the government, the Pope, the euro and the whole world. We tell him that we are touring the island and he, probably thinking we were in the car, tells us that if we want to see well we will take 3 or 4 days. When we tell him that we are cycling him, he replies: "Do you have the brain with you or have you left it at home?" Perhaps it is not entirely wrong. We reassure him (perhaps) by telling him that we are trained and we should not spend more than a dozen days. We salute him smiling, but leaving him a bit perplexed and we go to deserved rest, for today enough.

Third Stage: Pianottoli - Porto Pollo
Friday 3rd June - 84 Km

Today is a beautiful day also, we start downhill and the next climb leads us to the hill of Roccapina (120 m) where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the sea; another descent and a new long climb that leaves the sea and rises to the 290 m of Sartene. In a rest area equipped with concrete tables and benches we spread the washed clothes in the sun the night before, we must take advantage of the opportunity to make our things dry. A couple of French motorcyclists arrive shortly thereafter. They are going around the island in the opposite direction to ours with whom we share the shadow of the bench and exchange a few words in French. Then the ritual greetings and good wishes for a good continuation of the respective destinations. In Sartene we buy water, bread and fruit in a supermarket where disorder and confusion reign.

Instead of continuing to Propriano for the beautiful descent on the N196 we go back a few miles and take the road D21 leading to Belvedere, an excellent example of how to lengthen the journey and work hard to enjoy some beautiful scenery. Short descent and subsequent ascent to the 370 m of Grossa, a small town where we do not see anyone. We stop in the shadow of the church where, on comfortable benches, we eat and rest for half an hour.At 14:00 we resume the steep descent towards Belvedere where, as the name of the village suggests, you can enjoy the beautiful view of the Gulf of Valinco . At the bottom of the descent, after having made a few km in the plains, a substantial "tear" and the subsequent descent leads us to Propriano where we arrive in the port area full of tourist activities. We are looking for slippers flip-flops for Leo but we desist, 18 Euro seems too much, we will look for them elsewhere.

We start again and shortly after we stop again to get fruit, water and a dessert because we have finished everything. We decide to go to spend the night in Porto Pollo where the list of hotels offers us some alternatives. The first three km uphill on the beautiful state road cut off our legs a bit, then we deviate to the next gradual descent. It is a street where the drains are being redone. It is a real disaster of holes, dust, piles of gravel and pipes, so we have to be very careful, the last 7 km return decent and flat and soon we arrive at the village of Porto Pollo. We head to the port where we settle at the Hotel De Golfe. It is a structure with the bar-restaurant in a fairly new building but the rooms are in an old building near by.

After the shower that takes away all the dust taken on the road we spend half an hour on the rocks to admire a definitely flat sea and marked only by some small tourist boats that come back into the harbor. At the just perceptible noise of the water that creeps between the rocks we review and comment on the route made: the first ascents of a certain relief, the first beautiful views of the jagged coastline, the legs that do not seem tired. We then head to a nearby restaurant on the sea side where we have pizzas and beers that we pay 24 Euro (probably sea-view included)! The pizzas were good but Leo remains "cheated" with the spicy oil that they put on it, as much as he likes it he put too much because he takes the sob, this is the effect that establishes his chili tolerance limit. After a short walk back to the room and even before undressing and brushing teeth we throw a moment face down on the bed ...... we wake up past midnight. We were probably too tired!

Fourth stage: Porto Pollo - La Liscia
Saturday June the 4th - 89 Km

This morning we woke up early and at 7:30 we are ready at the hotel bar to have breakfast (which is included in the room's 48 Euro), we are the only customers and the waiter tells us that he is waiting for the Boulanger with croissants, so we take the opportunity to prepare the bikes. After a few minutes the baker arrives, we make a quick breakfast and at 8 we are already in the saddle. After a few km we take the D155 that, with a short climb, leads us to Serra di Ferro, on the next descent we have to stop to pass a pickup truck that pulls on a cart a wooden house on wheels that clogs the whole road. The descent ends at a small stream in which flows a very clear water with which we fill water bottles and bottles.

The next long climb, in the middle of a thick vegetation, leads to Marmontaja and then to the 300 m of the panoramic viewpoint. It is mostly paved in patches with an infinity of patches in various shades of color. Here we cross another pickup truck pulling on a trailer a small house whose trailer has a blocked and steaming brake which causes a foul smell and an infernal noise.

Beyond Acqua Doria the end of the descent towards the gulf of Ajaccio offers the small and inviting bay of Portigliolo where we stop. We take advantage to take a bath and shortly thereafter a dozen Italian motorcyclists arrive who do the same; with one of these we exchange a little 'impressions on their respective routes. Starting again, the ascent and subsequent descent are in the midst of many houses surrounded by thick trees, hedges, oleanders and rose bushes. After a small detour on Isolella in a bazaar along the road D55 we find the "flip flops" at 4 Euro and buy them, we also take other 4 batteries for the camera but even these, like the previous ones, are "weak" and takes a while of discouragement; we can not give up on photographs. We put the refillable stuff back at home, which is still a bit full.

Before Porticcio we find a stretch of beach occupied by two splendid ... cows! On the other hand, there is a sign that prohibits the stop for campers! At Ajaccio we arrive at 16:00 along a kind of highway that bypasses the airport, the traffic is intense and takes us into the city where, at the port, we stop to eat and rest. We depart through a dormitory-district with tall buildings full of people shouting on the balconies; quite distressing. At the next two rounds the surprise: there is no sign indicating direction. We ask for information and we manage, beyond Mezzavia, to get out of the confusion of traffic going up for several km on the D81 in the direction of Appietto where there should be a hotel. Arrived at the top of the Col de Listincone (230 m), in a bar where we take an ice cream manager who does not speak Italian and little French makes us understand that the nearest hotel is the one that we have passed 5 km before. We certainly do not want to go back down and then redo the climb the next day and then we decide to continue, it is 17:30 the sun is still high.

High is also the pass of San Bastiano (410 m) that awaits us and before the summit, after yet another curve that does not show us the end of the climb Lori stops, drops the bike, sits on the ground and in prey to the discomfort he blurts out: "enough! I stay here". Leo, who still has a bit 'of lucidity, suggests that it is not the best place to spend the evening and the night and so, after a short nap starts again trying not to be intimidated by the climb. Soon we reach the pass from which we can see, in the distance, the beach with the tourist facilities that will welcome us. As always happens after every climb, the descent towards Calcatoggio repays the previous effort extensively. In the village we do not stop because the hotels are a few miles down, so we continue the descent to the beach where we find a hotel (in the list) that for 45 Euro offers a nice room "sea view".

The gentleman who welcome us, to our surprise, tells us that we can safely put the bikes in the hall and when we tell them that we try to go around Corsica, with the unequivocal gesture of the index finger that beats on the temple, in a broken Italian, tells us: "are you a bit mad?" (here we go again!). We can not help but answer: "a little 'yes!". We go into the room to arrange ou things and we find it well furnished and equipped with various dishes, a nice covered balcony, with table, chairs and drying rack that we fill with the clothes just washed.
From the terrace of the room we discover that there is a swimming pool, we leave everything as it is and immediately descend to dive, we are alone and we enjoy it for a long time. Later we go to the supermarket in front of the hotel and take the necessary for the dinner we eat on the terrace table while the sunset colors the red clouds on the horizon. Beautiful! The after dinner only provides the TV viewing and some commentary on the stage.

Fifth Stage:  La Liscia (Calcatoggio) - Porto
Sunday June the 5th - 57 Km

A little reluctantly we leave the place but the goal is still far away. In the initial stretch of flat road, the first and only technical incident of the whole trip takes place: the chain comes out of its rear seat at Leo's bike, and we quickly solve the problem. Near Sagone we cross "Thelma & Louise thirty years later": two elderly ladies equipped with bags on bikes like us. So we are not the oldest (50 and 47 years) to do certain things!

The 13 km of scenic road along the sea that leads to Cargese is very beautiful. In Cargese we stop to take bread in the main street, it is crowded and noisy. After some stretches of road with different ups and downs begins the long climb that leads to almost 500 m of Col de Lava and afterwards to Piana.

We pass a cow that walks quietly on the road leaving "traces" behind it and we also find a large group of big goats crossing the road.

Beyond Piana we descend towards the splendid natural scenery represented by the "Calanche", rock formations of red granite that at sunset are further revived .The road is cut between the rocks and in some places is very narrow, sometimes there is a small recess just enough to hold a car so that it can pass another in the opposite direction.

We are amazed to see a coach and several campers passing by. The place deserves a stop-lunch and the inevitable photos. Before leaving, sensing that the descent towards Porto is very in the shade, we cover a bit 'putting the shirt over the undershirt. Indeed the road is shady, in the forest, and the sun and the beautiful sea view can be seen only by some hairpin bend.
Loredana fingers start to hurt for the repeated braking that the descent requires. From the village of Porto we descend again for a mile to its characteristic marina consisting of the marina and buildings no more than three floors exclusively used for shops, bars, small hotels, restaurants and everything that is aimed at tourists, including several "gazebos" with a table and some chairs as a boat rental office for the tour of the gulf; We thought about but the schedules do not coincide with our programs. The choice of the hotel is facilitated by the abundance and by the fact that everyone expose the rate card to the outside, same thing applies to the restaurant menu. We opt for the Hotel Monte Rosso just a few meters from the sea. The lady at the reception-bar takes us into the room and climbing the stairs, feeling a strong rock music, tells us that it is the favorite hobby of her husband but at night everything is quiet (hopefully!).

The shower has a problem for Lori, the water that falls on the ears half "cooked" by the sun is very paninful, it is also difficul to dry and moisturizer them. As soon as we get down, we ask where to place the bikes and the lady tells us that the bar is closed from 20:30 to 8 in the morning and we can put in there (very good). We have time available and after a tour of the entire area we pause in the sun in the square in front of the hotel where we observe "Thelma & Louise 2", another pair of elderly but lively ladies who defy the splashes of the waves breaking on the rocks trying not to do (or maybe do) the bathroom, they can partially.

While we arrange the bikes in the bar which is going to close, the lady notices the written "Gioventù Bruciata" (which is the Italian translation of the famous James Dean movie titled "Rebel Without a Cause", actually the Italian translation literally means "Burned Youth") on Leo's bike with the photo of James Dean and with a clear reference she said to us "Gioventù bruciata". Then Leo, to confirm that the years went up in smoke, passing a hand over the short gray-white hair he replies: "there is still the ash". We have dinner in a nearby restaurant served by a waiter with an uncertain gait, he seems "half drunk" We are amazed to see that some sparrows come up close to our feet, we drop a few crumbs of bread that they collect and leave. Something similar had happened on the hotel terrace.

Leaving the restaurant, we lay down on a marble staircase facing the gulf and await the splendid sunset in the company of many tourists who arrived little by little for the wonderful show. We climb into the room and stay a while on the terrace until the sun disappears completely. Then we put ourselves on the bed in front of the TV trying to follow a film in French. Sleep prevails, our own movie continues tomorrow.

Sixth Tappa: Porto - Calvì
Monday June the 6th - KM 91

As soon as we get to Porto (from the marina) we do the shopping for the day. The initial stretch of road is similar to that of the "Calanche" with narrow stretches in the middle of the reddish rocks then continues with the usual ups and downs and the usual curves rather high above the sea then a couple of more demanding ascents, first to Partinello and then to the 270 m of the Col de la Croix. Going up the first slope, we come across a cyclist with a trailer behind his bike, an unusual but functional alternative to panniers. Then we are overtaken by an endless caravan of 30 Italian campers who we greet, one encourages us with a warm "dai Pantani". On the second climb we still find a couple of cows that "graze" peacefully at the edge of the road. At the summit we stop to enjoy the panorama of the almost inaccessible natural reserve of the Scandola peninsula and the gulf of Girolata with the village of the same name that can only be reached by sea or on foot along some paths.

While we are about to resume our ride, a French tourist who has just got off a bus warns us that the descent and the subsequent climb (a dozen km) are badly dangerous. We realize it since the first meters. The asphalt is no longer there, the road is being rebuilt and widening because in some places it is very narrow and it is possible to descend with great difficulty between pebbles, gravel and the dust raised by the cars on the dirt road. A French car that we cross in a curve stops and renews the invitation to proceed with caution, then curses with the classic "merde" for the fact that it was stuck further down because of the Italian campers.

We realize that they must have caused a hellish traffic jam in the worst place in all of Corsica! Towards the end of the descent we almost reach the last campers of the convoy that proceeds in groups and very slowly. As far as we go, we are able, at times, to proceed faster than the cars that must stop to give way to those that come in the opposite direction. The subsequent climb with the same type of road and dust really puts us in trouble. If the descent was mostly in the shade the ascent is almost all exposed at the sun and it takes more than two hours to ride 12 km. On the top of the Col de Palmarella, at 408 m altitude we seem to come out of hell. The stop is healthy also for the eyes, the view is wonderful!

After a few km downhill we find the 30 campers grouped in a large open space at the roadside. We stop. Many approach, we get to know each other (they are Tuscan) and we tell them that on the road to hell they have taken several accidents, they are not surprised that much, they were aware of it. They tell us that one of them has broken the oil pan and is trying to remedy it. They wish us the best time to complete the tour, return the greetings and proceed for the splendid and fast descent. At the junction for Galeria we are overtaken by the caravan heading towards Calvi, again we say goodbye and proceed on 4 km of flat road towards Galeria, a quiet town outside mass tourism, where we stop to eat and rest on the roadside cliffs.

At 2.30 pm we set off again for Calvi not on the quickest and most comfortable road that passes inside (D81) but on the one that runs along the sea, more panoramic but unfortunately with an uneven ground, quite desolate and largely upwind. Also in this case we take a long time to do a few km, then fortunately after the Bocca Serria the road improves and the wind fades. The road follows the sea halfway up the slope with beautiful inlets with the blue-emerald sea. A few km from Calvi we find ourselves in the curious situation of providing road directions to two elderly French people in a car we meet: they ask us if it is the right direction for L'Ile Rousse, we reply that it is on the opposite side to where they are going, they thank and turn.

At 18:30 we are in Calvi. After asking the price (expensive) for a couple of hotels in the center, we go to the outskirts passing through the harbor at the foot of the ancient fortress. It's all very "touristic". We stop at the supermarket for the evening needs and nearby we find an affordable hotel but before asking for availability we are met by a lady who tells us that it is complete. It doesn't really convince us and the impression given is that our view in cycling clothing must not have been to our liking. Worse for her. We find a place in a hotel later, they ask us for 60 Euros (breakfast included) a little beyond the "expected ceiling" but we don't want to go any further, 91 km for today are enough and we stop. Arranging the bikes in the garage we find and say goodbye to three cyclists who had passed us at the beginning of today's stage, we did the same route and we find ourselves in the same hotel!

In relation to the price the room is not great but we should not stay long. Usual shower, dinner and laundry of the few things sweaty and surely dusty. We don't go out, we are out of the country and we don't feel like going there by bike. We stay in the room, the TV broadcasts one of the episodes of "Star Wars" and it's always nice to see it again, plus there is the curiosity to listen to it in French. The final balance of the day makes us think in particular about the road being rebuilt and that five years before we were told that it was not the case to do it in camper, maybe they were half right. In reality even then you could probably go but the idea of ​​having an expensive vehicle touch the sharp rocks is not exactly the best you can have. We regret not having been able to document the course well due to lack of batteries, too bad! We are surprised to make an observation: so far, but above all today, we have not punctured and if it did not happen today we will not be able to happen again. So it will be.

Seventh Stage: Calvì - Saint Florent
Tuesday June 7th - KM 75

Another wonderful day, we stay at the hotel for a hearty breakfast (included in the price of the room) and we leave later than usual, we return to Calvi to take some pictures of the fortress and the beach then we go in the right direction on beautiful state road (N197) leading to L'Ile Rousse. A couple equipped like us with the addition of camping equipment overtake us but We will not meet them them again.

The road also in this stretch almost always runs along the sea with continuous uphill and pleasent descents. At the doors of L'Ile Rousse we make the usual stop at the supermarket for food and batteries. This time, spending twice as much, we buy the batteries with the right charge that the camera requires, we feel relieved by the thought of having no trouble making more photos. We pass in front of the campground where we had been the previous time with friends in a camper van and the memories of a beautiful afternoon and the evening spent on the beach beyond the railway that separates it from the campsite emerge. At noon, after Lozari, we cannot give up the inviting beach that appears before us and we stop.

We bring the bikes up to the sand next to us, we spread out everything we washed the during the night and off into the water. The impact is traumatic because it seems very cold to us but in reality it is only due to the fact that we are very hot, in fact immediately afterwards everything returns to normal. After a drying rest during which we take some notes in the diary, at 13:30 we eat, then put everything back in the bags and leave again. We are facing the crossing of the infamous Desert des Agriates, a large and desolate area dominated by the rock, almost devoid of vegetation and completely uninhabited even in the rare farmhouses that can be glimpsed. The 6 km climb to the summit of the 311 m of the Bocca di Vezzu are more demanding due to the lack of air and shade than to the slope, we count no more than 5 or 6 trees able to give shade for a stop, for more limited due to time. At the last kilometer we reach a forty year old Italian in "mountain bike" and talking about our respective routes we reach the top more easily.

He goes camping towards the sea and we are headed to Saint Florent so we say goodbye by exchanging best wishes. The road remains good with the usual undulating course and only with low shrubs on the sides, no trees. About ten kilometers later we are once again overtaken by the convoy of campers that we will find then parked at the gates of Saint Florent, they are happy that we are reaching our goal and they again wish us to complete the tour. They will go to Bastia tomorrow to go home. We continue and stop in the center of the country to find some hotels where we can stop, there are several but then we decide to go to the other side of the country (in our sense of travel) where there are others cheaper and we stop at one on street, small, nice and quiet. Here too, as we have almost always done, from the four bags we extract everything, both to put the washed clothes to dry and to put everything away with care the next day. We spend an hour in the sun in front of the room to enjoy the sunset over the sea, but today it is not the best for the presence of cloud and in fact in the night there will be a modest time that advises us to move the bikes a few meters under a tent . Nothing to worry about, the weather forecast says that tomorrow will be good weather but with a moderate north-east wind. Wow, we have to go north, we hope we don't have it all the time against us!

Eighth stage: Saint Florent - Marina di Sisco
Wednesday June the 8th - KM 94

The morning is chilly, the night storm has left its mark but the sky and the sea seem even more blue than usual. The start of the route is with a decent headwind (as expected) but once in the vicinity of Patrimonio (a village surrounded by numerous vineyards) we change direction and therefore it gives us less discomfort. The road for the moment is good and runs along the sea at low altitude, subsequently at a higher altitude and often without protection on the underlying cliff, it is not very busy and the presence of tourists in cars and motorcycles is much lower than the rest we have seen in the 'island.

There are also very few coaches and Leo has a very close encounter with one of these. In a narrow and winding downhill stretch of road, as soon as you make a bend, you find the front of a coach which, as a result of the bottleneck, occupies the whole road. The rapid testing of the efficiency of the brakes of both vehicles allows you to stop a few feet away from each other. It went well! The road is widening in the narrowest points and throughout the western part of the "finger" there are several open construction sites. The first village of a certain importance that we meet is Nonza, hanging from a ridge overlooking the sea with a characteristic dark gray beach. We shop in a small "Alimentation" shop and take bread from the "Boulanger".

The road that follows, occasionally, drops to sea level in correspondence with some stream that ends in inlets with a small beach and then goes up again. The clear day remains breezy, sometimes the wind is against the direction of travel, other times it pushes us. After 6 hours (4 by bike) we find ourselves at 190 m at Morsiglia and after another 6 km of ascent we reach Capo Corse, the northernmost point of the island on the road that crosses the Col de Serra at an altitude of 360 m.

It is a panoramic and characteristic point where, for tourists, it is a must to stop and walk up to the Mulino Mattei, a restored windmill which dominates a large part of the northern tip of the island and from which you can see clearly the island of Capraia and more in the distance part of Elba. It is the point where we see the largest number of tourists stopped by car, motorbike, and in a bus. On the top of the hill, towards the interior, the blades of a dozen modern windmills rotate silently for the production of electricity.

We stop for a while to enjoy the last beautiful panorama of the sea of ​​a stupendous electric blue, beyond this place we will travel along the flat road that runs along the entire eastern stretch of the "finger" up to Bastia and we will not see any more panoramic points. The next 12 km are almost all downhill on a moderate road surface and we soon reach Macinaggio, the first tourist town on the east coast. Our list includes the presence of some hotels where to spend the night. One is too expensive and the other two we don't like so much (they are old buildings) and as it is only 5pm and the sun is still high we decide to continue along the coast towards Bastia.

In the four villages that we cross we find few hotels, some are still closed and some are not very nice to look at, so we still postpone the stop. The undulating road remains low above the sea and the shore is mainly rocky except at some marinas where the stony beach is very dark. The sky is partially overcast and the colors are quite "dull". At this point the situation prompts us to reach Marina di Sisco where the list we have proposes a hotel of which, as for others, we visited the website at home, we know the price and it is certainly open. Shortly after we find him in front of the beginning of the village.

It was worth postponing the end of today's stage because the place is pretty. The U Pozzu hotel has the restaurant on the street level and the rooms around it in a raised position. There is room, we arrange the bikes in a corner of the back kitchen and a girl accompanies us to the bedroom which is a real bijou. Tasteful furnishings and attention to detail in every corner. Externally there is a large terrace surrounded by roses, chairs and a plastic table on which we spread out the usual things in the sun. Showered and put on something appropriate (basically the usual evening attire) we go down to the restaurant with its soft and romantic lights. Menu in hand, although aware of the risk we run, the great desire to eat pasta makes us order spaghetti carbonara and penne alla boscaiola.

Damn us! As expected, they only have the name and shape of the pasta in Italian. Everything is drowned in a kind of melted cheese and, at least for Leo, it was hard to eat some spaghetti and some penne pasta extracted with difficulty from the "swamp". To change the flavor we decide to add a typical "salade" which turns out to be of decidedly abundant quantities and ingredients compared to those eaten previously, delighted by orange wedges and chestnuts. A delicacy that satisfies us beyond measure, so much so that, having barely reached the room (also due to tiredness), it ends up like in Porto Pollo with a "sluggish" of a few hours lying on the bed without having undressed.

Nona Tappa: Sisco Marine - Bastia
Giovedì 9 Giugno - KM 15

Today short transfer stage to Bastia. The sky is overcast and it's cool, we proceed slowly because we have a lot of time available. The ferry leaves at 1.30 pm and therefore we would have time to spend a few hours on the beach but the idea soon fades, the air is too fresh. Once we reach the city we stop at the supermarket to get what we need for breakfast and for the return journey.

We go to Piazza St. Nicolas where we stop to eat and read the Italian newspapers from the day before. The weather improves and the sun comes out, we take off our overalls and settle down on the benches. Later Leo goes to get the return tickets and then, very calmly, we go to boarding.

Going around the square, on a bench we find the Italian cyclist we had left on the Agriates desert who is also waiting for the ferry (direct to Genoa), he tells us that the beach where he slept (at the campsite) is very beautiful and calm; we say goodbye making an appointment where fate wills and we go to the pier while the ship is docking.

There are few people waiting (it's Thursday), the boarding operations are completed in about twenty minutes and we move with our luggage onto the open deck. The atmospheric conditions, contrary to those encountered on departure from Livorno, are very different, the sun covers itself and reveals itself, over Bastia the clouds darken and once we set sail we need to put our overalls back on. It seems that the weather is melancholy for our departure after eight splendid days, patience.

At Capraia (about an hour and a half journey) we are among the last to leave the bridge, it has gotten really cold and we take a seat on the main bridge where almost everyone is stationed. Shortly thereafter Leo is kindly invited to participate in a ship evacuation drill simulating a fire. Together with a few other volunteers, he carries out the instructions given by the staff wearing a life jacket and climbing with the others to the deck where there are lifeboats that should be lowered into the sea in case of real need.

At that point, as expected, the operations run out, moreover it's raining with wind and it's cold and there's no need to stay any longer. Due to the slightly rough sea encountered during the crossing, we docked in Livorno just a quarter of an hour late on the scheduled 5.30pm.

In the meantime the calm has returned, we get off the ferry and sadly head towards the city, to the garage where we had left the car. We dismantle the front wheels and bags from our "horses", load everything into the car and set off for home. The goal was achieved and with full satisfaction!


An unforgettable experience of almost 46 hours on the bike and 74 hours of transfers in the nine days of stay on the island. The full success of what we set out to do was favored by the best possible conditions we encountered: eight days of splendid weather, no serious mechanical problems, legs without fatigue. The mind is full of things done, seen, said, heard, hoped for; the eyes are full of the beautiful color contrasts between beach and sea, sea and woods, rock and sky and the sensations that have followed are difficult to report and transmit as they were experienced. We have tried with these notes and with the 270 photographs taken. 
We were able to give little time to the tourist aspect. Certainly the city of Porto Vecchio with its gulf and the splendid promontory and Bonifacio with its imposing cliffs towards Sardinia deserved more time but we had already seen them in the previous camper tour and therefore we preferred to leave them out. Just as some countries crossed were worthy of a longer stop but this first experience had an aspect more aimed at nature and being able to complete the complete tour than a cultural holiday which is undoubtedly more feasible if you are by car or have more days in layout.

A constant of the "tour" was the great faith we had in believing that on the hairpin bends of the climbs, after the curve that we saw in front of us, the road flattened out a bit, it often wasn't like this but the efforts of the climbs were in any case always largely repaid by the panorama and the descents which, in the case of a road with good asphalt, were real fun to ride at 50-60 km/h. Certain climbs on sunny roads in the central hours of the day were really hard and in the moments in which we found ourselves alone for some time we almost had the feeling of being the only ones in the world heading towards an undefined destination, of going forward hoping to meeting someone to bring us back to reality, and this happened on time.

It also happened to us that in one of these endless climbs, even with the energy of the brain in reserve, we "baptized" our two bicycles Krik and Krok (we were really "fruitless", indeed that too was over)!
We have often found ourselves, on the west coast, in the strange position of being sorry to face a descent because we knew full well that after that it was practically certain that the ascent would follow. Leo's watch altimeter provided us with an aid to understand how much was missing from the "cliff" points that the map indicated. However, we are talking about climbs that are a leg warmer for a serious "cyclist", but for us, very tourists, they were fairly demanding.
Several times, greeting someone on the side of particularly difficult roads, we were addressed a polite "Bon courage" which however sounded almost like a "pitiful" encouragement.
It is also curious to note that, particularly on climbs, there is time to analyze the road and its edge meter by meter and not miss any of those details that escape you when you are in a car: asphalt, rock, shrubs, flowers, small animals, crops, houses, panorama, etc.
It should be noted that most of the eastern coast is exploited for tourism only to a small extent, the rest is "natural" and there are very few coastal towns. The feeling is that the Corsicans have no intention of extending the tourist structures as far as possible and making the island a mass tourism destination but that, instead, they jealously guard the naturalistic aspect. Signs in this sense are the fact that a third of the island's territory is a natural park and the marked intolerance towards camping in tents or campers outside the regular campsites.
It should be noted that most of the eastern coast is exploited for tourism only to a small extent, the rest is "natural" and there are very few coastal towns. The feeling is that the Corsicans have no intention of extending the tourist structures as far as possible and making the island a mass tourism destination but that, instead, they jealously guard the naturalistic aspect. Signs in this sense are the fact that a third of the island's territory is a natural park and the marked intolerance towards camping in tents or campers outside the regular campsites.
The signs of the desire for independence from France are particularly evident in the north-western part and are manifested with numerous "FLNC" writings; on many road signs indicating the places in the double denomination (Corsican and French) the French name has been canceled and the Corsican one has been left; the most representative inscription is found near L'Ile Rousse on a wall: "it is better to die Corsican than to live French"; very explanatory!
They have remained with us, in addition to the more than obvious naturalistic aspects:
•    the fact that almost everyone understands Italian and is able to speak it (strangely, a little less young people);
•    the different points of the road under reconstruction in the north-west part;
•    the numerous motorcyclists met (often in groups);
•    the many battered and noisy cars in circulation;
•    the prudence shown (sometimes even excessive) by motorists in overtaking us;
•    the countless greetings reciprocated by pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists;
•    the prices are not exactly modest (especially mineral water and wine);
•   prickly pears along the roadsides in large quantities;
•    la scarsa disponibilità di acqua nelle fontane pubbliche e nei piccoli torrenti;
•    the numerous old towers on the various promontories of the coast;
•    the price of fuel slightly higher than ours;
•    the excess of waste along the edges of some roads which strongly contrasts with the splendor of the beaches and the sea.
At the end, the challenge trip still gave us a great feeling of freedom and independence and also of being able to do anything with what little we had with us, perhaps because we had done something important (at least for us). Being successful in what a few months before seemed something impossible to achieve, we are proud and full of satisfaction to be able to say "I did it".

To friends and relatives
Lori e Leo

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