It was late morning by the time took our ritual swim, bid farewell to Algajola and set off for lunch in the sleepy artisan village of Pigna, set high above the sea into the interior hills of La Balagne.
My Italian, being the romantic that he is, had a clear destination in mind. U Palazzu, a chambre d‘hôte and restaurant, converted from an old oil press, felt like stepping into the pages of history. It was here in this mansion that the Franceschini family lived in the 17th and 18th centuries, they being one of the most influential families in the Balagne region. The views were captivating and the cuisine was light and fresh much like the ambiance. The tranquility of the sea was quickly replaced by the quietude of the hills.
We made our way to another ancient village, Sant’Antonino, one of the highest villages in the Balagne, set at 550 meters above the sea. I was sure there could be no more charming and scenic vista than we had just experienced. Little did I know! Arriving at the restaurant La Voûte, we were completely taken with the 360-degree panorama. I had always preferred the sea to the mountains but now I was no longer sure. We had a drink, gazed into eternity and spoke for a while with the local who had opened the restaurant several years ago. I became carried away with thoughts of a life on top of the mountains, until the late afternoon air summoned us to continue on our journey.
We set to the road and headed for Cap Corse, final destination Centuri. Somehow we always managed to be later than planned (not that planning played a major role in our days), yet we always arrived in time for the sunset. The drive through the finger was an experience in itself. Not one for those privy to carsickness! Again we found ourselves on the edge of the world, winding through roads with vistas revealing the most natural and majestic landscapes. The sensation of time was lost.
Many hours and Genoese tower sightings later, we were nearing our destination. As we had realized on our first trip in the south, driving along the winding roads was part of the unique appeal of Corsica. I was lucky to be the passenger and admire the views, all the while with camera in hand and often an ‘Oh, we must stop here, the views are breathtaking!’. The play of light upon the hills was magical and well worth the seemingly never-ending drive along Corsica’s finger.
We arrived with a setting sun to Centuri, our home for the night. A charming fisherman’s village that at once felt welcoming and utterly remote, almost in an eerie way. A glass of local wine and a plate of fresh fish was a perfect finale to the long and winding day.
As I do often when I travel, I spent some time reflecting on all that we had done in the space of 24 hours. Each day felt like an eternity. How filled I was with visions, sensations and tastes. I was reminded of the simple and natural high that accompanies the traveler. I fell asleep to the peaceful lull of the sea competing with the rhythm of a dance club in the distance, in eager anticipation of the adventures to follow…