With Corte at its heart, Central Corsica strikes a difference with the rest of the island. Its history of resistance to invaders, its unique location, its snow capped mountains, lush forests, abrupt waterfalls and still lakes, make it all worth taking the winding road from the coast (after all it is only 40 min from the closest beaches) for something different. There are A LOT of things to do in Central Corsica, so please only take the the list below as a few interesting examples.
Corte – Corte is a symbolic place for corsicans. The largest inland city on the island became its capital when Pascal Paoli led corsicans to independence in 1755. The constitution of Corsica had already been drafted there in 1735 and the first university was created there by the same Pascal Paoli. With its fortified citadelle, its history and its unique location at the entrance of some of Corsica’s most beautiful valleys andmountains, Corte is a hard to miss place in Central Corsica. The citadelle built in 1419 by Vincentello d’Istria is probably the place to start with; walk along the fortifications, admire the views from its top and visit the Musee de la Corse. Then, walking up to the “Belvedere” will offer you the best view on the Tavignanu and Restonica valleys from the city. Strolling through the old town, the church of the “Annonciation” should be one of your stops as well as the squares Gaffori and Paoli. Generally, due to its location, Corte is also the departure point for many excursions into the neighbouring valleys, so definitely a good spot to book excursions to the nearby sights.
Niolu and lake Ninu – Niolu has always been a hard to reach place in Corsica, protected by the Col de Verghju on its west side and the Scala di Santa regina to the east. It is a region of mountains and lakes. The highest mountain in Corsica, Monte Cinto, 2706m, is located there as well as the popular Capu Tafunatu and Paglia Orba whose summits are accessible by hiking. However, Niolu’s popularity is principally built on the beauty of its lakes, and especially Lac Ninu, situated at 1743m of altitude. The lake is one of the stops of the GR20 and has been made popular by its “pozzines”, large water-holes located on the stretches of grass nearby the sides of the lake. Apart from lake Ninu, there are many other beautiful excursions to take in the Niolu that can last from 3 to 7 hours, for the most endurant. http://www.office-tourisme-niolu.com/
Hiking through the Tavignanu and Restonica valleys – From Corte, it is possible to take a two-day hike across the valleys of the Tavignanu and Restonica. Going up from the restonica valley are the enclaved “Gorges de la Restonica” which follow the path of the Restonica river from Monte Rotondo, 2622m, down to Corte, through multiple dramatic gorges, waterfalls and five beautiful lakes. Lac Melu offers the best views of the valley and surroundings. Going all the way up the gorges can prove challenging at times with passages equipped with ladders to help hikers. On the way, the shepherd huts of Grotelle and the ones of Capellacia (on the plateau of Alzu) are both still active in the summer and where you might be able to learn more about the making of brocciu and how the last corsican shepherds live. The two-day hike should enable you to get a glimpse of the Restonica and also swim in the beautiful waters of the Tavignanu. However, it is totally possible to enjoy the valley walking on your own.
Rafting in the Golu – Tumultuous rivers and steep mountain flanks mean that rafting can be enjoyed in many places in Central Corsica. The Golu, Tavignanu and Ascu rivers are the three main spots for it. Golu is probably the most popular place, the longest river of Corsica (90km), has a water flow that can reach up to 25m3 per second during spring. Ponte Leccia is the closest place where day and half-day trips can be booked although those can also be organised from Corte.
Ponte-Novu – the place was named after a Genoese “new” bridge built over the Golu river. It is popular for the battle that took place on the 8th of May 1769 and saw the final defeat of the corsican troops led by Pascal Paoli against the French. The battle struck the end of the Corsican dreams of independence that had lasted 14 years. Idle to the current issues and opinions about independence of Corsica, it is worth paying a visit to the now half-destroyed bridge (WWII bombing) and its commemorative site, to better understand the corsican culture and the unique spirit of struggle against adversity that characterised them.