the small and beautiful town of Sartène are the best stone alignments
of Corsica. Nothing comparable to Carnac in Brittany, of course, but
they are impressive sites anyway. We started the "alignments day"
with Pagliaju: 258 menhirs grouped in seven
lines, six aligned in a north-south direction and only one in the east-west
way. Many stones are prostrate, but the total impression is still outstanding
(panoramic view). Three stones are statue-menhirs,
armed with swords (Pagliaju I being the
Not far from this site is also the lesser known alignment of Apazzu,
where one of the statue-menhirs inclines a bit its head on the right
was midday and the sun was beating down, but we reached the nearby area
of Cauria, where within a short distance are three of the most interesting
prehistoric sites of Corsica, a kind of exhibition of all different
prehistoric monuments of the island: the Stantari statue-menhirs, the
Renaju alignment and the Fontanaccia dolmen. The Stantari
(the Petrified in Corsican) are a group of almost thirty stones
aligned north-south in two lines. Among the eleven of them still standing
(panoramic view) there are some of the
best carved statue-menhirs of Corsica: they are Cauria
II, Cauria IV and V and Cauria
VII. The stone alignment of Renaju now
looks like a chaotic bunch of monoliths (panoramic
view), but an older avenue of small stones (dating to the end of
5th millennium BC) is still visible and the site is nevertheless very
evocative. The third monument is the Fontanaccia
dolmen, the most beautiful of Corsica. It is a huge monument (its chamber
covers almost 4 square metres) and stands in splendid position on a
knoll (panoramic view), not far from
the stone alignments.
we were taking our photos, an astonishing stick
insect jumped around. Let's wander from the point and spend a couple
of words about Corsican animals: we met a lot of nice cats,
dogs, cows and bulls, goats and sheep, horses and donkeys. There is
also a large number of wild pigs, usually roaming
or sleeping (!!) in the middle of the road. We also met dozens of buzzards,
jays and bee-eaters and every night listened to the calls of the scops
owl. We were often surrounded by colourful butterflies and annoying
flies and wasps and saw the biggest spider of our life (a black and
yellow monster). And while wandering in the brushwood and among rocks
we have blessed God that there are no adders in Corsica!
The last monument of the day was the Cardiccia
dolmen, the biggest of Corsica. Half hidden in a grove, it was not easy
to find, but our friend Pierre-Jacques at the Sartène museum
had given us very useful indications to reach it. You'll never guess
what was, in the middle of nowhere, that pointed
us to the right direction...
But we haven't always been so lucky in getting info to reach the megalithic
sites and during our megalithic tour we have learnt very well how
to get lost in the maquis.
day we drove towards the Alta Rocca, a beautiful area overlooked by
the porphyry pinnacles of the Bavella mountains.
At Levie we visited the local museum where you can find many interesting
objects (flints, arrowheads, stone ornaments, pottery sherds) from the
Neolithic to the Middle Ages, along with the almost intact skeleton
of the oldest Corsican found as yet. "La Dame de Bonifacio"
(The Lady of Bonifacio) died around 6570 BC of septicaemia due to a
molar infection. She was 35 year-old, had suffered several diseases
and her body was probably covered with red ochre when she was buried.
At the Levie museum is also displayed the skeleton of a rat-rabbit (Prolagus
sardus), a small Corsican rodent now extinct.
After the visit of the museum we went to Cucuruzzu.
There is a well signaled path to get there and it is possible to listen
to an audiocassette when visiting the site. A good way to understand
a little more about the site and the environment around (beautiful woods,
old chestnut and pine trees, tracks of wild boars and foxes). Cucuruzzu
is a Bronze Age fortified settlement, where natural rocks and man-made
walls are perfectly integrated, creating an impressive and efficient
stronghold (panoramic view). The guided
walk goes also to Capula, a medieval village
with a broken statue-menhir at its entrance.
spent the night in Zonza, a village on the mountains and next morning
we drove to Pacciunituli, where several
standing stones were found. Two of them are still in situ, while
others are scattered around or within the surrounding walls.
It was time to get down to the plain, towards Porto Vecchio, where we
visited two other beautiful fortified prehistoric villages, Tappa and
Araghju. On the way we stopped at Carbini, where the high church
tower survived to San Quilico church building, destroyed by the
soldiers of the Pope in the 14th century because the site was said to
be the centre of orgiastic rites (of course it was only a pretext to
destroy a Christian group not aligned with the Catholic Church: all
the followers were murdered). Tappa, on a rocky
knoll dominating the plain, is reachable by a easy walk. It is much
more hard to get to Araghju, but the very
steep walk is worth the effort (panoramic
view). This Bronze Age fortress, as Tappa and Cucuruzzu, has various
cells and recesses within the walls and a bigger circular building called
"torre" (tower) as the nuraghi in Sardinia. On the right side
of the entrance there is a kind
of guard cell. Extensive views towards
the bay of Porto Vecchio.
After such a climb (and descent) we were exhausted and drove along the
east coast towards Bastia, stopping in an old hotel at Solenzara.
day it was time to go to Bastia and the ferry. But on our way we visited
other little Corsican beauties. First of all, the Aleria museum: a Roman
town was found in that area and the museum displays, in a rather chaotic
way, the spectacular objects found there, coming from all the ancient
Mediterranean civilizations, Etruscans, Punics, Phoenicians, Greeks...
Among the most beautiful findings, a punic bracelet
with a nice little bearded face, a plate with cuttlefish coming from
Apulia and another with two beautiful elephants from Naples, sherds
and vases of multicolour Roman glass and two ancient Greek animal-shaped
cups (a mule and a dog).
Further on, we visited our last Romanesque little churches: Santa Cristina
di Campoloro and its beautiful frescoes
dated back to 1450,
the Canonica and its curious carved bestiary
over the portal and San Parteo with another curious bas-relief
on one of its portals.
Arrived at Bastia we rested a little
looking at the locals and the tourists in the big Saint-Nicholas
square and then we had to say goodbye to Corsica and take the ferry
Our Ancient Corsica Tour is over. But before putting down the pen (well,
the keyboard) and saying goodbye to everybody till our next tour (and
holiday!), join us for a toast to Corsica,
real île de beauté (Island of Beauty)!