Dwight Peck's personal website
in the Off Season, 2007
the grudgingly-French island off the coast of Italy. We're
catching the off-season rates, late November and early December 2007.
to Pointe d'Agnello
habit of hiking along the Cornwall Southwest Coast Path is hard to shake at this
time of year, so here in northern Corsica, today, we're going to replicate a Cornish
Bastia, Kangoo has conveyed us northward up the east side of the Cap Corse to
the yachting village of Macinaggio, and we're going
to start our walk along the "Sentier des Douaniers" near the beach,
just a little farther along, called the Plage de Tamarone.
Not exactly AT the Plage, because Kangoo balked at
some of the big wash-outs in the dirt road and we acquiesced and left the thing
a half a kilometre or so short of the beach.
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.
Sentier des Douaniers is so-called because it follows
the ancient track along the coastline once plodded methodically by customs agents
looking out for smugglers. The Sentier goes right the way around the northern
end of the Cap Corse to Centuri on the western side, but it's too long for a day-hike
unless you've got another Kangoo parked there and waiting for you -- so we're
bound today out to the Point d'Agnello and back again.
little port of Macinaggio, a favorite of yachtsmen
we're told (in summer), was actually a naval base in President Paoli's time.
about an hour out over a little hill (not a hurried hour by any means -- we were
shuffling along and telling George Bush jokes), we come upon the old Genoese watchtower
called the Tour de Santa Maria, or what's left of it . . .
. . like, a little less than half of it.
a Dorling Kindersley cutaway drawing of what a Genoese watchtower would look like
inside it. It was old Admiral One-Eye Nelson who shot the other half off of this thing, in 1793. Can't tell you why; that's just the sort of thing he did.
all of the ancient defenders of the castle have fled or died off long ago.
as usual, one guest lingers long after the party's over.
him. We continue walking northward, Kristin in her "hiking sandals",
which let the feet breathe. Maquis shrubbery all about, with an aroma that you
can also buy in bottles at the duty free.
feet scamper along the trail, now inside the protected nature area called the
nearly as beautiful as a walk along the Cornish coast
just noticed, however, that we need to go up that big lump in the distance on
the right, the Pointe d'Agnello, before we can reward ourselves with a big Corsican
smoked salami and brocciu on probably very healthy bread.
quick look back at the way we've come before we start slogging upwards for a while.
That's the island of Elba in the distance: "Able was I ere I saw Elba",
as Napoleon might have said palindromically.
the heights of the Pointe d'Agnello (I'm dramatizing again, it's probably only
about 160m above the sea level) and down to our destination for the day, the Tour
d'Agnello -- another Genoese watchtower, of course.
island of Giraglia just off the coast, the northernmost part of Corsica -- a nice
lighthouse on it, and, what else, a Genoese watchtower.
smoked Corsican salami on our minds (made, as we learned just the other day, from
free range pigs), we go back up the Pointe d'Agnello and find a nice spot to chow
perfect spot for a salami.
And for us, too.
I'm preparing to sit comfortably down upon my soft blue 20-year-old
LoweAlpine backpack, but when I did, I heard a little click. Satisfied that no
old bones had broken, I forgot all about it and ate salami with peasant bread.
to start back -- that's the Tour of Santa Maria in the cove, and the tower on
the Finocchiarola islands just off the coast at the far end.
village of Barcaggio from the Pointe d'Agnello -- the next stop if we had been
continuing farther along the Sentier des Douaniers. (And we did two years later.)
and Kristin, and what looks very like Merlin's Cave just ahead of us.
Cave! It can't be! Not here.
if not Merlin's Cave, Prospero's?
narrator and Prospero's Cave. "Where the bee sucks, there suck I / In a cowslips
bell I lie."
my charms are all oerthrown,
And what strength I haves mine own
Which is most faint.
wonderful white-sandy beaches on the Corsican coasts, but covered with Poseidon
Grass a couple of meters thick. Pretty disgusting.
back at the Half-Tower of Santa Maria with our path over the next hill looming
Tour de Santa Maria late in the day, and Poseidon Grass, or Neptune Grass (Posidonia
oceanica) all over the shoreline
near the tower, the Chapelle of Santa Maria, a convent from the 11th century,
restored in the 17th. Windfarm on the mountaintop.
Imagine yourself out here
eight centuries ago, in that convent, praying a lot presumably, and counting the
days till the next CARE package from the folks at home, with cookies, and mittens.
Finocchiarola islands just off the coast, a nature reserve, off-limits March through
the end of August.
-- what else? -- a Genoese watchtower on the big one
day wanes. A few more hills still to get over.
little later -- STILL a few more little hills to get over.
slidy little coastal path just near nightfall
20-year-old LoweAlpine backpack (still good as new) with a headlamp shining bravely
out from inside the bottom of it. That was the perplexing click at lunchtime.
Kangoo waits patiently for us. An excellent coastal path walk, that was. We'll
have to do another. Tomorrow, in fact.
Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 22 December 2007, revised 14 June 2012.