Dwight Peck's personal website

Corsica in the Extremely Off Season, 2009

Corsica, the grudgingly-French island off the coast of Italy. We're catching the seriously off-season rates, Christmas and New Years 2009.

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.

San-Martino-di-Lota and the Corniche

Ask Google Maps how to find the Hotel de la Corniche in San-Martino-di-Lota -- it's not a problem. The Wifi light flickers a few times, and up comes a map of the village of Pietranera, within the commune of San Martino, on the Route Nationale coast road north of Bastia: a little pin marker labeled Hotel de la Corniche probably five meters from the waterfont. It doesn't make any difference how many times you drive up and down the coast road scrutinizing the shop fronts, the Hotel de la Corniche will not be there.

Eventually you'll give up driving up and down the coast road, scrutinizing, etc., and begin improvising. In the end, it's here, six km up a little road into the mountains of the Cap Corse, at 300m altitude, and extremely beautiful. The first view above is of the church from our room, with the sea beyond, and this one is the Hotel de la Corniche from its carpark.

San-Martino-di-Lota commune seems to cover a lot of local jurisdictions, but evidently this is San-Martino-di-Lota village itself. We've just got time to go round for a look before we plummet back down via Miomo to the coast road and into Bastia for dinner -- our hotel boasts a gourmetish restaurant, but we've arrived on their night off.

As a drizzly evening descends upon us, that's another village across the ravine, probably Figarella, under a mountain called Sta-Maria-di-Lota. Which should not be a surprise.

Bustling downtown San-Martino-di-Lota: church on the left, pizza parlor (summers) on the right.

The famous Café Wha! in the Vieux Port under the Bastia citadel. Kristin (right) is scoping out the menu.

The next day, 29 December, dawns just barely, and drips on San-Martino-di-Lota as we catch up on our reading for a while, and then head out for an unambitious local hike.

Curiosity impels us: we're going to walk out the road -- the "Corniche Supérieure" -- and see what's what to the south.

We've been on the Corniche road (and we'll be on it again), but now we glance back at the San Martino church as we penetrate the dark, wet forests.

Soon enough, a tumultuous cascading river bursting out of its banks argues compellingly that we should go back to the hotel and read our books with a coffee from the bar.

- Just get a move on.

Oh Lord, an ancient Celtic sacrificial stone. There's a creepy atmosphere to the place.

I'm not at my best in bare feet, but it looks like no one's being given a choice. My well-meant cautions about being swept away by the torrent, tumbling bruised and sodden eight hours later out into the Mediterranean, were scoffed at.

One of us is across. Let's hope for the best.

I think I saw something moving out of the corner of my eye. But it's hiding now.

- Catch your shoes.

We're out of the ravine and coming into a village called, well, it's also called San-Martino-di-Lota.

And finally we're able to make some good hiking time out on the Corniche road. Or wall.

A Fujizoom of the church of San-Martino, on the far side of the ravine whence we began, and probably Figarella on the far side of the next ravine over.

A little village below us, above Pietranera

Pietranera (where Google places our hotel) on the right, and Miomo farther up the coast. The Route National coast road continues scenically through charming villages like Erbalunga and Macinaggio and all the way round the Cap Corse peninsula.

We've turned a corner and we're gazing down now on the ferry port of Bastia, with the Old Port and the Citadelle to the right, and the Étang de Biguglia Ramsar Site stretched out down the coast.

Bastia itsownself in a drizzle, with the Citadelle and Vieux Port dead centre

The mountainous spine of Corsica running southward through the clouds. Bastia's hospital turned out to be on the far side of that forested ridge and not in Bastia at all. Who could have guessed?

Kristin contemplating Bastia before we start loping the 4km or so back for dinner.

The Old Port and the Citadelle -- the hotel we stayed in last time we were here is just left of the Old Port (closed for the season, like nearly everything else). The city hospital turned out to be farther out to the south.

Kristin viewing the Ramsar Site Biguglia from her eyrie.

The Corniche road has splendid views, even in this weather, and is evidently much loved by walkers, joggers, cyclists, and us.

A last look, 4km back up the road, and what's for dinner?

The view out the Hotel de la Corniche as we dress for dinner

Base map: http://z.about.com/d/goeurope/1/0/g/Y/corsica-transportation.gif

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 16 January 2010, revised 19 June 2012.

Corsica, 2007

Corsica, 2009