Following the first part of our trip in Northern Corsica, it was time to explore the mountains in the heart of the island. Corsica is mainly known for its beautiful beaches and most of the people visit the coast of the island. However we had chosen Corsica primarily because it has a good mix of mountains and beaches. In fact 2/3 of the land is covered in mountains, with over 20 peaks exceeding the 2,000m of altitude. Even though we knew this information beforehand, we were still surprised by the beautiful typical mountain landscapes we found. We visited other Mediterranean islands with mountains like Sicily, however the mountain scenery here is much more spectacular, with streams and lakes that were much more similar to the beautiful Alps. This part of Corsica, reminded us so much of our trip last year in the Dolomites in fact!
A lot of people asked about the weather so I decided to include some information about it here. We travelled in the end of July and we found the perfect weather conditions for the activities we had in mind. As you can imagine it was cooler in the mountains than along the coast. The temperature during the day was a pleasant 18/20 degrees Celsius in the morning reaching a maximum of 27/28 degrees Celsius during the hottest hours of the day (in the valleys) while on the mountains it is much cooler. We were not sure about whether we would be able to trek (we left Malta during a heatwave of 40/42 degrees Celsius) and opted for trails in the shade, mostly covered by trees. Having said this, if you plan to spend more time in the mountains and do more treks, I would suggest going in May/June. Obviously if you choose to travel during these months, it may be more difficult to do beach activities. Tourism here is very seasonal and most of the hotels, restaurants and tours (especially on the beach side) close down during winter.
We stayed in central Corsica for 3 nights and below are the places we visited during our stay in the Central part of Corsica.
Places to visit in Central Corsica:
Corte is the main town in central Corsica and it is quite touristic. The main attractions are located within the walls of the Citadel. It has a very picturesque historical centre featuring the Regional Museum of Anthropology, Ghionga grocery store which is one of the oldest in Europe, the Belvedere with views over the castle and the surrounding mountains and the narrow streets around Gaffory Square. Corte is a good place to base yourself if you wish to stay in a town; you can find plenty of restaurants where to go in the evening and there are several options to choose from; apartments, hotels, luxurious boutique hotels etc. There are also several rural accommodation options in the surrounding countryside.
Lac de Melo
This was the highlight of our stay in the mountains! If there is one trek you must do while visiting the area; this is it! The lake stands at an elevation of 1,770m and is the source of the Restonica River. The start of the trail starts at the end of the Restonica Gorge road, near Bergerie de Grotelle (1,375m) where you can leave your car. The first part of the trail is quite easy until you reach the Bergerie de Melo, where you can stop for a short break. Here the trail splits, with the right trail being shorter but steeper (using ladders, chains), and the left trail being longer but more suitable for families with children like us (note that there is still a lot of climbing involved). The trail is classified as ‘Medium’ difficulty and should take 1 hour to complete. However it took us 3 hours instead, since we took frequent breaks and had to push our 3 year old daughter. Needless to say that reaching the lake took our breath away (literally)! Although short, this trek is still not for everyone, but the views are amazing. For those who wish to venture further, they can try to reach the second lake (Lac de Capitello) a further 200m upwards. Tip: use good trekking shoes as the rocks may be slippery, especially when wet.
Gorges de la Restonica
If you wish an easier day, relaxing by the water and enjoying the fresh mountain air, this is the place to be! This valley is located to the west of Corte and it is a very popular destination as there are a lot of natural ponds where you can swim. The beauty of this place is surreal and the emerald waters, the shade of the pine trees and the waterfalls from the peaks of the Rotondo Massif make this valley picture-perfect! There are options to trek along this valley on the opposite side of the road, with several places where you can stop and do a picnic or swim in the pools.
This lagoon is located on the eastern coast of the island, in Ghisonaccia and it is the second largest on the island with 7,9 km2 . To be honest we were not very impressed by this place, because the water was dirty with a lot of rubbish. This is a protected area and the lagoon is famous for bird watching and also for the interesting flora along its shores. If you wish to spend more time here, you may try to go around the lagoon; an easy walk of approximately 3km.
Défilé de l'Inzecca
This is maybe the most scenic route to drive through in central Corsica. It starts in Ghisoni and goes easterly along the Fiumorbu river, with a spectacular narrow winding road along the steep gorge. Along the 4km road there are several viewpoints where you can view the waters of the river below.
Lac de Sampolo & Piscine du Fiumorbo
You will drive along this lake and ponds if you are driving along the Défilé de l’Inzecca, mentioned above. These are some stops you may wish to add to your itinerary. The lake of Sampolo is artificial and was created by the EDF (électricité de France) using its dams to produce energy. The Piscine de Fiumorbu on the other hand is another pond of fresh water where you can swim. Mind you all these natural pools have freezing waters, so you may just stop for a break and admire the scenery like we did!
Cascade des Anglais
Together with the above mentioned Lac de Melo & Gorges de Restonica, les Cascades des Anglais completes my top 3 places to visit in Central Corsica. This is a very relaxing place and we visited on the day after we did the strenuous trek to Lac de Melo. It was just what we needed; an easy walk in the Vivazzona forest and again some refreshing ponds admiring the spectacular views. This place actually consists of several waterfalls along the Agnone valley. If you are interested in spending more time here, you may wish to consider the Vivazzona Adventure Park or do some canyoning. Take your time to admire the beautiful flora and fauna in the area! I could have spent an entire day here watching the beautiful insects and butterflies 🙂
Cascade du Voile de la Mariée
This is the most impressive and highest waterfall in Corsica, with a height of around 70m and is located in the outskirts of the village of Bocognano. Unfortunately when we visited (end of July), it was almost dry, I believe the best time to admire this waterfall is during Spring time. The walk to reach this waterfall is approximately 300m uphill (short but quite steep) and the place is quite popular, especially in summer.
Lac de Tolla
This is another artifical lake with a surface are of approximately 5 km² located in Central Corsica, on the western side of the island (50 minutes away from Ajaccio). You can spend your time here either walking along the shores of the lake, swimming, renting a canoe or paddle boat or just sit in one of the restaurants and just enjoy the views.