15 to 18 June 2017
Porto Liscia, Sardinia to Solenzara, Corsica, N41° 51.36′ E09° 24.3′, 50nm, 8 hours 30
This blog post contains a photograph of Stefan in his birthday suit which some readers might find distasteful!
We left our anchorage in Porto Liscia at dawn with heavy hearts. We had loved our month and a half in Sardinia but also had new plans to continue our time in Italian waters by heading up to the Tuscan island of Elba and then to the mainland. First, however, we planned a short stay on the east coast of Corsica, keen to see a bit more of the French island after our brief introduction in Bonifacio.
We said goodbye to the Maddalena Islands as the sun rose over them and picked our way through the fishing pots. We appreciated the Sardinian fishermen’s ingenuity at recycling plastic bottles as floats. We also saw some using plastic footballs.
There was no wind for sailing and even a few miles offshore the very deep water was clear and calm. We stopped the boat mid passage for Stefan to take a skinny dip!
From the sea Corsica’s high and jagged mountains were immediately apparent as we came up the coast. Our berth at Solenzara marina had a spectacular backdrop.
A small, seaside resort, Solenzara had a real air of rural France.
The east coast of Sardinia is dominated by wetlands. Walking to the beach meant negotiating rivers and marshes. It was much quicker to get there in the tender.
We enjoyed time on the beach amongst the drift wood and cormorants.
But the main reason for our stop in Solenzara was to head inland and see more of Corsica so in our hired Renault Twingo we hit the road.
First stop was Aleria, further north up the coast. The 15th century Genoese fort and surrounding houses seemed old enough but its surrounding fields revealed a much more ancient settlement.
Established by Greek colonists in the 6th century BC and taken from the Carthaginians by the Romans in 259BC, the remains of the Roman town have been unearthed. The temples, baths, shops and houses of its streets can be clearly seen.
From Aleria we took one of the oldest roads on the island through the Vallee du Tavignano. Turning off the main road and up to a series of mountain villages, the road became very narrow with only space for a car and a half. Fortunately for us we encountered no traffic at all, just this goat crossing the road who looked as surprised to see us as we were to see it!
Not satisfied with the Roman ruins (these days we need several thousands years BC to be impressed) on day two of our road trip we went in search of the Dame de Bonifacio. To find her meant climbing high into the Aiguilles de Bavella from the almost dry river bed at the bottom
and all the way up to 1218 metres along the pine lined road with incredible views of the jagged granite peaks.
Hundreds of twists and turns later we arrived in the town of Levie and found the archaeological museum.
Using an interactive audio guide, like the one we had in Fort Marlborough in Mahon, we were guided around the exhibits by Prolagus, a prehistoric rabbit-like rodent with an incongruous Irish accent! Outside he was having a mural painted of him.
The Dame de Bonifaccio is the skeleton of a 30 year old woman buried in 6570BC and found buried deep in layers of rock. Incredibly the archaeologists know that she died of an abscess in one of her teeth. She also had a number of disabilities which meant it was surprising she had survived so long.
We also met this early ancestor of the cow! A brilliant museum. Well worth the four hour drive there and back through the mountains.
Back in Solenzara we contemplated our onward journey. Having heard from our friends Ursula and Alex that they no longer wanted to cross the Atlantic in November, we reverted to our original plan A which was to continue into the Mediterranean to Greece. This means turning right at Elba instead of left, new charts and pilotbooks and Rome rather than Pisa and we quickly adjusted to another change of plan.
But first, Elba, another Italian island we have high hopes for after our time in Sardinia …
Selfie, leaving Solenzara at 6am, sun already glowing on the mountains.