Corsica: Saint Florent

On Wednesday morning, we packed up our bags and headed to the bus.  After the food debacles in Pisa and Bastia – we brought enough food to last in Saint Florent for 3 nights. It was a smaller town, and we were not sure how good the grocery stores would be.

If you hold our your right hand in the thumbs up position – that is kind of the shape of Corsica.  Bastia is at the sea where your thumb meets your wrist.  Saint Florent is at the webbing between your thumb and your index finger.  Not a far jaunt – just a 45 minute bus ride.  However – Corsica also has the same topology as your hand – we had to go over the mountain where your thumb’s knuckle is.

The road up the mountain has speed bumps to force drivers going down to slow down – it is a narrow road with steep dropoffs on both sides.  however – the bus going up was unable to slow down for the speed bumps – the road was too steep.  So we bounced, flounced, twisted and turned our way across the mountain.  The views were great though!

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At the end of the ride – every passenger was a bit green from the experience.  We quickly found our host – went to our house, and recovered a bit – the kids recovered in the pool in the backyard!

Saint Florent is an adorable little town in a bay surrounded by huge mountains. Our house was a 10 minute walk to the center of town, but it felt like we were in a remote area in the country – lots of plant life – and the birds – chirping all day!  The house was great – views off to the mountains in the east.  I loved the full sun when we woke up – so unlike Seattle where the clouds have to burn off each morning.

In the center square – there were men playing boules, and the harbour was full of cool boats.  Lots of neat touristy shops to look into as well.

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On our first full day, we went down to the harbour, and got on a boat to Luto beach.  You can hike there, but it is a 4 hour walk.  No car access. as the boat left the harbour, we passed the Tower of Mortella – built by the Genoans (who once controlled Corsica) to protect from pirates.

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In this photo – you can see what is left of the tower.  It repelled 2 british ships – but fell to a land attack by the British in the 1790s.  When the british left Corsica they did 2 thinsg:

  1. copied he design, and built Martello Towers throughout the empire
  2. Blew this one in half – leaving one half standing20160505_131227

The Luto beach is incredible.  Powdery soft sand.  Soft waves. Clear blue water.  Mountains in the distance.

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We bought a beach umbrella in Saint Florent

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Also, there are cows on the beach.  Grazing on the sea grass

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We played in the sand, and swam in the water for hours – and took the last ferry boat back to Saint Florent.

 

There is a 2nd popular and scenic beach outside St Florent – called Saleccia.  The boats were not running to Saleccia yet.. however, it is a 45 minute hike from Luto beach – through the Agriates desert.  Yes, the two beaches are connected through a desert – the only officially classified desert in Europe.

now, this totally sounds up our alley, so on day 2, we got up to catch the first boat to Luto.  another gorgeous day on the water, and we arrived at Luto with lots of other hikers (there is a 40 km hiking trail through the desert).

As the trail rose away from Luto – we had great views of the beach, the water and the mountains in the “thumb” of Corsica.

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The trail rose past old stone walls, and stone buildings that had fallen in roofs.

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The “maquis” or the plants that grow in the desert here had a beautiful musky fragrance. Wild lavender grew in some fields. The trail was easy and mostly sand.  As we hiked – snow capped peaks became visible to the east.  WE saw maybe 5 other people on the trail while we walked.

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The beach is in sight!

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Longer than Luto beach, but similar in every other way – fewer people of course – since you have to hike to get there.  We played on the beach for 3-4 hours, and then had another lovely hike back through the desert.  We hopped on the boat at Luto beach, and had a nice dinner before heading to bed.

Today (Saturday) we had a quiet morning in our AirBnb, caught the 2 PM bus over the mountain back to Bastia.  We had arranged to stay in the same AirBnb, and kept food for tonight – so we had dinner, and packed up this AirBnb. All while listening to the sax player at the restaurant downstairs through the window. 🙂

Another breathtaking week in yet another paradise.  We are planing to come back to Corsica again – there are many many more cities to visit, more beaches, and more hiking!

Tomorrow we have an epic travel day – Ferry to Livorno – and then from Livorno – 2 trains to get to Siena.

 

 

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