Mountains & Coasts of Corsica

A Road Bike Tour in Corsica Island.



Let’s go to Corsica, another gem in the Mediterranean, separated from Sardinia by the short stretch of Bonifacio, it emerges as a large heavily forested mountain range.

With about a third of its territory protected as a nature park, and much of the still immune to the concrete casting coast that have marred much of the Mediterranean coasts.

A land with a long story, also a crossroads of different people, Ligurians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Etruscans, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Pisans, Aragonese, Genoese and, finally, the French (who, by the Treaty of Versailles of 1768 in fact forced the Republic of Genoa to yield the island, and immediately after the annexed), they have made the lords of Corsica during the passage of more than two millennia.

The northern side, facing Italy, has undergone more influence from the peninsula, both on the political and social level, and on that language, while the southwestern part has kept an originality more distinct (but enjoyed a smaller political progress, at least until the French period), while the roots of the population in mountain valleys – all the major cities on the sea were founded or developed by the invaders – generated and spread everywhere a tendency at times pushed up to lead to a sort of isolationism, the consequence of which perhaps the most dramatic was the spread and establish itself, for centuries, the plague of vengeance (similar to the widespread disamistade in neighboring Sardinia and the feud in southern Italy and Sicily) as a system of summary justice and the widespread incidence of banditry.

Corsica is wildest than Sardinia, its mountains arrive over 2000 mt, covered by vast forests, will seem in fact to cross the features alpine roads. Its beautiful coasts are densely populated, while the small inland villages have preserved the charm of the past, thanks to the conformation of the territory that functioned as a natural fortress.


Highlights

The “Finger” of Corsica and its D80 famous coastal road.

The “desert” of des Agriates.

National Park around Corte.

The impressive Monte Cinto Massif.

Bonifacio old town.

Col de Verde and Col de Sorba uphill.

The panoramic road to Col de Teghime.


Tour Information

Price –  € 2.400,00

Single Room Supplement – € 250,00

Accommodation – 3/4 stars Hotels.

When – 4th to 14th October

Catergory  Road Bike Holiday

Grade – D / E  (Read our Grades of Difficulty)

Start / End – Bastia / Bastia

Suggested Airports Start / End – Bastia

Duration – 11 Days

Days Riding – 8 Days

Terrain Hilly and Mountainous

Kind of Tour – Point to Point

Guided Tour One cycling guide every 8 riders and another guide driving the support vehicle

Support Vehicle We always have a van supporting the group.

 


What’s Included

  • 10 nights in Hotels: 3/4 stars Hotels.
  • Meals as per itinerary: B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Evening Meal.
  • Full tour service including 2 or 3 guides with deep knowledge of the area, skilled and equipped with any indispensable tools to ensure the safety of the group.
  • Support vehicle. Luggage transportation all along the tour and the scheduled stages. Bike mechanic assistance. Refreshment during the rides.
  • Unless stated at least one leader qualified in First Aid.
  • Airport collections / drop-offs from local airport on scheduled arrival and departure days.

What’s Not Included

  • Personal clothing and equipment.
  • Meals and drinks whilst travelling to and from Sardinia.
  • Travel insurance (available if required).
  • Bar bills, telephone calls, souvenirs, etc.
  • Bike hire (available if required).
  • Flights & charges for travelling with your bike.
  • Airport transfers on days other than the scheduled arrival / departure days.
  • Laundry services at the accommodation.

Mountains & Coasts of Corsica Itinerary

DAY

ACCOMODATION DESCRIPTION DISTANCE / GAIN

MEALS

1

Bastia Arrival Welcome, bike fitting, sightseeing.

2

Saint Florent Bastia – Saint Florent: “The finger” 120 km / 1320 mt B  L

3

Corte Saint Florent to Corte: Desert des Agriates. Monte Cinto low slopes . 115 km / 2100 mt B  L

4

Cargese Corte to Cargese: Scala della Regina, Les Calanche de Piana 127 km / 2250 mt B  L

5

Propiano Cargese to Propriano: the 4 hills 125 km / 2500 mt B  L

6

Bonifacio Propriano to Bonifacio: Sartene and the Fjord 84 km /1400 mt B  L

7

Bonifacio Rest day 0 B

8

Zonza Bonifacio to Zonza: Ospedale Lake, Agullie de Bavella 116 km / 2300 mt B  L

9

Venaco Zonza to Venaco: Cold de Vaccia, Col de Verde,  Col de Sorba 116 km / 2200 mt B  L

10

Bastia Venaco to Bastia: “on the back of the dragon” 132 km / 2500 mt B  L

11

Bastia Departure B

TOUR DESCRIPTION DAY BY DAY

 

Day 1. Arrival at Bastia.

On your arrival at the airport you will be met by the Wild Trails team and transferred to your first accommodation,  situate on the north of Bastia.

 

Day 2. Bastia – Saint Florent.

Distance 104 km  •  Total Ascent 1300 mt

Discovering Cap Corse we ride the 3 faces of the rocky finger: the rolling East coast, the inland mountain pass and finally the stunning breathtaking drops of the western side.  We start our Corisca raid from Bastia North, on the D80 the famous coastal road, that bring us to a series of pleasant ports, marinas and beaches. we ride trough Erbalunga village, with is beautiful Place de Gaulle at the port edge. The ride north along the eastern cape concludes at Macinaggio, where we head west. The terrain naturally picks up now as you head into the hills. Centuri-Port, is a lovely spot and a great place to have a rest.

All the ride along the west side of the Cap Corse we are never far from the coast. Heading south, some of the views are breathtaking as you make your way along the side of the cliffs high above the sea, well that’s how it may feel now and then. Through Pino and Canari and on to Nonza and it’s infamous black beach, a mining legacy from the 1950’s. We will reach St Florent, a beautiful village overlooking the bay.

 

Day 3. Saint Florent – Corte.

Distance 115 km  •  Total Ascent 2100 mt

The first part of the day we ride through the desert des Agriates, following The D81 towards west. It ‘a desert you do not expect, mainly made up of rocks, but with the presence of shrubs and even some flowers. After 35 km we reach the north coast, just at the mouth of the Ostriconi river.

From here we ride along the coast till Losari village where we turn left to ride inland heading to Corte. That means we follow the quiet road for Palasca, the D363. This is a stunning stretch of road following the contours of the hillside past the chapel, through the village and on up to rejoin the N197 and then the D963 to Olmi-Capella in the Tartagine valley. This is Giunssani country, remote and bounded by Monte Grosso (1,938 mt) and Monte Padro (2,393m). The pass is at 680 m asl, we reach it after 16 km of climbing.

After a long downhill on the south east slope we reach Ponte Leccia, It is located 198 m above sea level at the confluence of Asco river and Golo river. To reach Corte we go around the  low eastern slopes of Monte Cinto massif. Corte was the old capital of the Corse independent republic. From 1755 to 1769 was the capital of the Corse Republic led by  Pasquale Paoli, who settled the government, the court, the mint and the University.

 

Day 4. Corte to Cargese.

Distance 127 km  •  Total Ascent 2250 mt

This route follows some very quiet rural roads with superb views of Lac Cacalcuccia and one of the islands most picturesque mountains, Paglia Orba (2525 m) and the Cinque Frati granite towers. The highlight however is the Scala di Santa Regina, ‘the stairway of the Holy Queen’. It is said, ‘if Corsica is the work of God then the Scala is the work of the devil’. Moreover we are going to celebrate another beautiful day on the bike with a toast on the beach.

Starting from Corte we ride towards north on the D18, a very quiet rural road. We are on the south east slope of the impressive Monte Cinto massif.  We continue on the D18 and ride to where it joins what is possibly the best road on the island, the D84. 16km of gradual climbing, that means average gradient 3%, and we ride into and out of the Scala di Santa Regina which follows the twists and turns of the Golo river. The farther you go, the narrower the gorge becomes as the walls rise up over 300m above you. There are some great shoot opportunities especially where the road ahead bends into and almost becomes invisible in the granite cliffs.

After the Scala we arrive to Calacuccia, its lake and the dam. There are spots here to replenish.  We will reach the coast by  Ota, from here we have the second highlight of the day, the beautiful coastal road to Porto. We can admire an absolute landmark of Corsica: Les Calanche de Piana, Unesco world heritage. We’ll really feel like pedaling through a wonderland of pink granite and pine trees. Following the inland panoramic road we reach the beautiful village of Cargese.

 

Day 5. Cargese to Propriano.

Distance 125 km  •  Total Ascent 2600 mt

We first follow the west coast for about 20 km, till Masorchia.  From here we follow an  internal route to admire the western side mountains, far from Ajaccio civilization. It is a challenging ride, with 4 hills, that means 4 climbs – about 10 km long each one.  We climb and descent the green slopes, crossing the valleys, all by minor roads connecting small and quiet mountain hamlets. Before to finish the day on the coast of Propriano.

Day 6. Propriano to Bonifacio.

Distance 84 km  •  Total Ascent 1400 mt

A kind of rest day, the shortest ride of our Corsica raid.  Today we reach the south east cape of  Corsica. We meet our climbs in the first part of the ride, enjoying a taste of “Vielle” Corsica passing through the nice villages of Arbellara and Sartene. Despite its turbulent history Sartène is a welcoming village rich in traditions and healthy food, producing the finest wine of the Island, should we stop here…  The day ends along the impressive white cliffs of the romantic Bonifacio.  We have time to explore this beautiful old town, built on the top of the cliff, between the sea and a secret fjord.

 

Day 7. Rest Day in Bonifacio.

We can spend the day just wandering in the old town, on the top of the cliff or along the fjord. It is easy to imagine when the port was a pirate stronghold. The stairs brings us from the old town to small beaches, do not forget your swim costume!  The southern coast in the vicinity of Bonifacio is an outcrop of chalk-white limestone, precipitous and sculpted into unusual shapes by the ocean. The port of Bonifacio is placed on the Bay of Bonifacio, a drowned ravine of a fjord-like appearance separated from the sea by a finger-like promontory. The city of Bonifacio,  is split into two sections. The Vieille Ville (old town) or la Haute Ville (the Upper city), on the site of a citadel, is located on the promontory overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The citadel was built in the 9th century with the foundation of the city.

Another option is to enjoy a daily cruise to the Maddalena archipelago, for example to visit Lavezzi island by a short hiking or visit the caves near Bonifacio by boat.

 

Day 7. Bonifacio to Zonza via Ospedale lake.

Distance 116 km  •  Total Ascent 2300 mt

Having ‘done’ the south-west coast we now pedal our way up the east coast to the distinguished and rather flashy Porto- Vecchio, a favorite haunt of Italian tourists. We will ride a quick loop towards the Pointe de la Chiappa in order to take a peek at the Plage de Palombaggia; reportedly the most beautiful beach in Corsica.  By now our legs will be nicely warmed up and we’ll be ready to head inland into the well known Alta Rocca region. We’ll climb for 19 km up a very twisty road all the way to Ospédale, where you’ll be rewarded with a superb view back down to the Gulf of Porto Vecchio.

From here we’ll pass the Ospédale lake and enjoy the climb up to Bocca d’Illarata (a measly 991 mt) through the boulder strewn forest before reaching the picturesque granite village of Zonza. For those who want an extra treat, there’s the opportunity to ride the 18 km round trip up to the Col de Bavella at 1218 mt, which has become the most famous Col in the south of Corsica due to the fantastic backdrop of the Aguilles de Bavella or needle like rocks that jut dramatically into the sky.

 

Day 8. Zonza to Venaco via Col de La Vaccia.

Distance 112 km  •  Total Ascent 2200 mt

This is a real treat of a day and cycling in Corsica doesn’t get much better than this! We head through the heart of the Alta Rocca region passing through many classic hillside villages.  Our post-breakfast warm up takes us up to the Col de la Vaccia (1193 mt and only very recently tarmac), before descending to the established village of Zicavo (famed for its charcuterie). From here we depart for the climb of the day, as we pick our way through the semi-feral pigs up to the Col de Verde (1289 mt) where magnificent views on the ascent, pine trees and mountain.

We can then enjoy another classic Corsican descent through the forest to Ghisoni. This quiet road provides some nice curves and undulations. From Ghisoni, we climb into the forest to conquer Col de Sorba at 1311 mt. The descent is a breathtaking ride  along the mountain ridge  with a few tight little turns and splendid views down to the deep valleys and the range of mountains around.  We regroup just before Vivario village for the last cool down section till Venaco village. A typical mountain village in the heart of Corsica.

 

Day 9. Venaco to Bastia “on the back of the dragon”.

Distance 132 km   •  Total Ascent 2500 mt

Today, for our last ride, we will make our way back to the north of the island. We start with a downhill to the Tavignano River, from here we climb by minor roads to the high slopes of Monte Sant’Antone, 14 km to reach 1000 mt asl.  We head to Morosaglia “On the back of the dragon”, that means we have to ride from a ridge mountain to another, always on the high slopes into an enormous expanse of chestnut forest. We’ll skirt the high slopes till Morosaglia, the birthplace of Pasquale Paoli, ” U babbu de a Patria” (The father of the nation).

Down to the Golo river and another epic climb to enjoy: Col de Bigorno is a piece of Alps in the mediterranean sea. But you know: after an uphill there is always a downhill, and from the other side we are back in the mediterranean landscape. We’ll wiggle our way through the villages of Murato and Oletta before the grand finale: the panoramic road to Col de Teghime, dropping back down to Bastia staying high above the coastal plain below, which will offer us magnificent views towards the Italian islands of Elba and Monte Cristo.

 

Day 10. Departure.

Time to say goodbye to Corsica!  Transfers will be arranged depending on your flight times.

 

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