At La tête du chien, Calanche de Piana, Corsica

At La tête du chien, Calanche de Piana

Capu Ghineparu (515 m.), Corsica

Capu Ghineparu (515 m.), Corsica

Calanche de Porto, Corsica

Calanche de Porto

Riding through the beautiful red rock and pine forest of the Calanches on the west coast of Corsica

Calanche de Porto, Corsica

Calanche de Porto

Eucalyptus trees, Porto-Ota, Corsica

Eucalyptus trees, Porto-Ota

Eucalyptus trees, Porto-Ota, Corsica

Eucalyptus trees, Porto-Ota

Genoese Tour de Porto, Corsica

Genoese Tour de Porto

Plage de Menasina, Cargèse, Corsica<, Corsica

Plage de Menasina, Cargèse, Corsica

Dragon fly, Corsica

Cactus, Corsica

Vico, Corsica

Vico, Corsica

Pont de Trughja, Corsica

Pont de Trughja, Corsica

bullet-holed road signs, Corsica

Bocca di Sarzoggiu (603 m.), Corsica

Bocca di Sarzoggiu (603 m.)

Girolata: on deck

Girolata: on deck

Dawn over Marseille

Dawn over Marseille

Riding through the beautiful red rock and pine forest of the Calanche de Piana, listed for its beauty, I’m thinking of course it’s OK to have the D81 coast road go through a UNESCO World Heritage scenic site. Leaving behind Porto-Ota, its cove dotted with many hundred-year-old Eucalyptus trees, probably planted to deter mosquitoes and malaria when this was a trading port to export the forests’ chestnuts.
Out from the Costa Rosso and back to the silver sand beaches around Sagone, prettily streaked with surf from the previous night’s storm.
I ride uphill and inland to the hill town of Vico, from afar it looks like a Tuscan town in the hills of the Gargafagna. Being on a trail bike, I take the D1 towards Ajaccio, which follows the valley and gorges of the U Liamone. The D1 is newly tarmaced as it leaves Vico but soon degrades to potholes, washouts and sand or stones plus goats and chickens roaming free; the Versys 650 takes it all in its stride. I stop at the bridge Pont de Trughja where there are people skinny-dipping in the river, so it’s no surprise there is a naturist camping site a little further along the road.
The locals in the country areas strongly prefer the place names in the Corsican language, erasing the French spelling with bullet-holes. Unexpectedly next, I ride past the vineyards of Clos D’Alzeto at Sari d’Orcino.
Last col, the Bocca di Sarzoggiu (603 m.), looking back towards Piana and the red rock coast. I realise that I’ve made it, I’m on the home run to Ajaccio; I return the hired Versys 650, relax a little on the terrace of a bar overlooking the port before embarking and watching Corsica recede in the evening sunshine from the deck of the ship, the Girolta.
A classic Provence dawn welcomes me back to mainland Europe as we enter the port of Marseille next morning.