The Corsican MoorDwight Peck's personal website

Corsica in the Off Season, 2007

Corsica, the grudgingly-French island off the coast of Italy. We're catching the off-season rates, late November and early December 2007.

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Hike in the Forêt Domaniale de Vizzavona

One main road runs over Corsica's mountainous interior, from Bastia in the northeast to Ajaccio in the southwest, and we're on it. Here's another of those ubiquitous Genoese watchtowers, as we motor along from Corte to the Col de Vizzavona to start our hike, on 26 November 2007.

At the Col de Vizzavona (1161m altitude), we're setting out to follow Mr Rochford's Hike 4, "Forêt Domaniale de Vizzavona" (Landscapes of Corsica: a countryside guide, 4th ed., Sunflower Books, 2005, pp. 61-62).

First stop: another Genoese fort (ca.1200m), not much left of it, though

The merchant-imperialists of Genoa wrested the island from Pisan influence in the 13th century and essentially fortified the whole thing -- the Genoese overlords built fortresses at Bonifacio and Calvi, and elsewhere, and nearly a quadrillion watchtowers (vere 67) all along the coast. It's said that a signal-fire set off on one of the watchtowers, warning of the sighting of Barbary pirates, could be relayed around the entire island in about an hour.

The Genoese capitalists ran the island like a southern US slave plantation until the mid-18th century, when the Enlightenment democrat Pasquale Paoli led a revolution and forged a constitutional democracy out of the place (probably the world's first constitutional democracy) and hung onto it for a decade or so, until the exasperated Genoese capitalists sold off their "ownership" to the French and in 1769 the nationals were whacked by the French army at the Battle of Ponto Novo, on the Golo River between Corte and Bastia, and Corsica became "French". Kristin's in this photo, peeking from a window like a wistful 18th century Corsican ghost.

Kristin at the Gates

Pisans, Genoese, French garrisons, Saracen looters -- they're all gone now. Sic transit gloria mundi. Today it's just us.

From the old tower, we're contouring back towards the famous Cascades des Anglais (1150m), spectacular waterfalls of the river Agnone first popularized by English tourists.

Kristin gazing contentedly down at the Cascades des Anglais.

Unfortunately, we've come in at the top of the Cascades des Anglais and can't get a good photo angle on the whole thing. The cross-Corsica Grande Randonnée hiking trail (GR20) passes through just below here.

But now we've scrambled up through all the awkward bits and got up into the "splendid beech forest" in the hanging valley under Mont d'Oro.

The river Agnone splashes all about us as we wander upward.

Kristin on the beautiful slagheaps, with the view back down the valley

The continuous levels of big and little waterfalls up the Agnone in the Forest of Vizzavona.

Mr Noel Rochford, in his walkers' guidebook, recommends bringing along one's "bathing things" (p. 61).

The river Agnone in its early incarnations

A hiker who has, alas, forgotten his "bathing things". November 2007.

Lovely little waterfalls and pools. Too bad about those bathing things.

Kristin at the Pont de Porteto over the creek . . . sorry, River Agnone.

Waterfalls to the right of us . . .

Waterfalls to the left of us . . .

A ruined French Alpine Club refuge at about 1550m, the end of Mr Rochford's recommended hike for today, and after a dash a few hundred metres onward for the views, we'll turn back and rejoin Kristin at the bridge.

Headwaters of the Mighty Agnone

Kristin and the babbling Agnone, as we descend into the beech trees.

A contemplative moment. Or, at least, a good scenic view.

"Up in the sky. It's a bird. It's a plane."
Or a drone.

That's probably Punta del Cappo, but might not be. Mont d'Oro (2389m), Corsica's fifth highest, is said to dominate this valley, but I think that this one's on the wrong side of it.

More cascades, as the shadows lengthen

The end of the hanging valley and the start of the scrambly exercise back down to the Cascades des Anglais

Kristin, having got down the scrambly exercise parts of it and not pleased. This place is said to have been infested by bandits until the late 19th century, who preyed upon travelers over the pass; a mere glance like this would probably have sent them scurrying off.

Strolling back out to the Col de Vizzavona as dusk settles down upon us

Back at the Genoese fort, and a Star Wars spaceship landing site on the far side of the Col de Vizzavona. Time for dinner.

Base map:

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 15 December 2007, revised 14 June 2012.

Corsica, 2007

Corsica, 2009