Corsica, France Piana 2002.09.30 - 10.04

Capu Rossu

French people we met around the world raved about Corsica. On arrival, we immediately recognized that our expectations were set too high. By French or Italian standards, Corsican food is mediocre. Their low craggy mountains, though at times pretty, lack the sense of awe. The infrequency and often unavailability of public transportation, especially after mid September, to many sections on the island limited our range of exploration and lengthened the travel time required from point A to B. The Lonely Planet Corsica guide is a good investment. From the introduction, Lonely Planet advises travels without a car to shape their itinerary according to public transportation schedules or suffer uncountable frustration. It's true. The Lonely Planet also provided enough detailed information on treks, facilities, cities, and tiny towns for us to chart a trek for the length of time we wished and select the tiny mountainous coastal town of Piana to get a taste of Corsica. Piana was our highlight in Corsica.

Piana is a small town of several 100 inhabitants. The town itself has buildings of little interest constructed of orange rock. Find food at two small grocery stores and a boulangerie. Trails around Piana are a day-hikers paradise. To the north of town are jagged red rocks called the Calanche. To the west is a beautiful coastal trail to a watchtower on Capu Rossu. Each walk is several hours long and offers beautiful views over the Mediterranean Sea. Carry a picnic lunch and IGN topographical map number 4150 OT titled "PORTO CANLANCHE DE PIANA".

5 trails run through the Calanche, providing the hiker with options to walk 1 hour or 1 day. Trails are well marked. All have views of jagged red rock steeply descending into the Mediterranean Sea.

Lonely Planet rates Capu Rossu as one of the prettiest day-hikes on Corsica. We enjoyed it. The trailhead starts 5km west of Piana on a little traveled paved road. Without a car, the best option is to walk from town. Along the winding road are wild flowers, fruit trees, and a view of the Mediterranean. From the trail head to a watchtower is another 5km. Sleeping at the vacant watch tower is permitted, but there is no fresh-water source. Returning in the afternoon are other hikers with cars with whom you can easily hitch a ride back to Piana.

The only public transportation to Piana is on the bus running between Ajaccio and Ota twice daily on weekdays. Ajaccio to Piana is 1.5 hours. Ajaccio departures are at 07:20 and 16:00, and since the times don't coordinate with ferry or train arrival times, plan to wait in Ajaccio for 5 or more hours for the connection. From Ota, a tiny village up in the hills lacking even taxi service, Piana is 1 hour.

The Capu Rossu trail, 5km from Piana, leads to this watchtower that, in coordination with hundreds of other costal watchtowers, could relay a message of light signals around the island in an hour.
Views from the Capu Rossu watchtower.

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