Corsica: Castagniccia and Casinca
4.07.2009
We leave Corte and cycle on the main road with a quite wide hard shoulder. At 6 pm we reach Ponte Leccia. After taking D71 road to the Castagniccia region, a monotonous uphill ride begins. There are no hotels or bars on the way. We can pitch the tent out in the open, but somehow there are no streams for washing. Igor concludes that we will certainly find a place to spend the night in Morosaglia – the birthplace of Pascal Paoli, the national hero of independent Corsican Republic. As dusk falls, we put on head torches and keep on cycling, in hope of finding some lodging and a meal. But there is no motel or hostel, nothing really aside from a museum. The language barrier forces us to keep on pedalling. According to the map, there is a camping site 3-4 km outside Morosaglia. At least it is cool at this time of the day. We cycle in complete darkness, illuminated only by the full moon. The lights of villages tucked on the hillsides can be seen in the distance. There is absolute silence, unbroken by the noise of cars. Suddenly, the head torch reveals a pair of glowing eyes several dozen meters directly ahead of us. Then another one, and another... My heart starts pounding faster. Wolves, bears? No, it is a herd of cows, standing in the middle and on the side of the road. Having spotted us, the cows gently part, looking at us with their glowing eyes. They are totally surprised – just as we are – how the hell can one come across something like that at this time of the day?
We arrive at the pass at 10:20 pm. As a reward, we get accommodation for free, because it appears that the camping site has been shut for a couple of years. We set up the tent by a closed canteen, next to a working sink that helps make our bodies more comfortable.

5.07.2009
We are awakened by an unusual sound – thousands of bees are working in a lime tree above our heads. The sound accompanies us during packing up and morning preparations. Just outside the campsite, we see a view that literally forces us off the bikes. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Castagniccia region! In the mountain landscape, among old chestnut forests, there is a meandering road that connects neighbouring villages. Some of them are perched on mountain ridges, towering like fortified castles, others seem to be glued to the steep hills, and yet others are hidden in the valleys, often covered by fogs. Narrow and soaring granite houses with their slated roofs shining in the sun, look as if they were attached to one another. Wooden shutters, narrow winding streets, hidden balconies with flowerpots full of geraniums – it all creates an amazing atmosphere. Almost mystical peace and silence in a place that seems forgotten by civilization.
However, herds of wild pigs grazing by the road and encounters with curious cows (like the ones in Piedicroce village, next to the church ruins at the edge of a cliff) remind us that life still goes on here. We take D506 road. We have thrills cycling past Stazzona, as time has stopped in this village. Honestly, we did not expect that such hamlets still exist, let alone that we would have an opportunity to visit them.
We cycle downhill all the way to Piano, entering La Casinca area. A narrow asphalt road runs through several magical towns, which are a stone's throw from one another. Words cannot describe the beauty of this region. It is hard to take photos since tears of emotion appear round every bend. We are slightly surprised cycling over Col Sant'Agostino, as we have expected a steeper uphill climb. Cycling further, along the edge of a sheer cliff, we admire a beautiful vista of the sea, more stunning with each kilometre. We ride past some more towns and villages located on the hillsides: Porri, Penta di Casinca, and Venzolasca. Their charming houses are packed together along narrow streets, and each slender church bell tower rings a different theme. Many villages are situated on hilltops, creating an amazing, simply stunning view. We eat lunch in Vescovato, where tall houses crowd a small market square, adorned with a fountain. It is a central point of a maze of streets and stairs carved in rock. I wish we could stay here for a couple of days to enjoy this lazy atmosphere. However, even sitting down for a moment in one of the small market squares is worth the time. Such places often offer fantastic views of the surroundings, and local coffee tastes like nothing else in the world.
We are grateful to the "Cycling Family" for encouraging us to visit this region. We absolutely agree that this place is a must-see for every tourist in Corsica.
Unfortunately, a bit farther we have to say goodbye to this magical part of the island. We take N198 road, then N193 – one of the main roads – and after 3 kilometres, we turn off for a minor D107, leading to Pineto. We cycle along the sandspit between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pond of Biguglia. It is the biggest coastal lake in Corsica (1800 ha), a habitat for over 100 bird species, 30 of them being resident and over 60 migratory. There is a large population of the European pond turtle as well. Due to an abundance of fauna and flora, a nature reserve was established in this area. We quickly cover this section using a nice bike lane along the main road. We can now ride comfortably, watching the surroundings at the same time. We spend the night at San Damiano campsite, 12 km outside Bastia. It is very spacious and amazingly equipped: large bathrooms, showers, kitchens, washing machines, WiFi hotspots, a disco, children's playgrounds, a shop, a cafe, and direct beach access. We pitch the tent close to the reception building, among old pines, far away from the bustling centre of the campsite. After a shower, we visit the cafe bar. Cold beer, comfortable outdoor armchairs, chill-out music, free WiFi access – all these things make Igor reach a certain level of happiness.

6.07.2009
We wake up at 5 am, quickly eat breakfast and pack up. We take the 8:15 ferry, choosing a cabin because Igor does not feel very well today. Yesterday's heat and the fact that he did not have a cap on take their toll. After a two-hour nap and a cup of coffee in a bar, Igor comes back from the dead. Our car awaits us at the campsite in Livorno, with a one-month layer of dust and an inside temperature of 60 degrees Centigrade. We do not believe that it is over.
On our way back, we keep talking about our experiences of the past month. Even after most beautiful trips, I have always been happy to return home, missing the family and the crew from Cyklotur. And now I am crying in the car, telling Igor that I do not want to go back to Poznań. I wish to return to Castagniccia, Les Calanques, Balagne and explore every place we have not seen yet. I want to discover every road we have not been on; I want to cycle uphill and downhill once again, having so much fun that I have never had before. Igor agrees with me again, saying that he would like to turn back as well.
I have tried to think how to describe Corsica, but after driving for another few hundred kilometres, I still do not know what to write. This has never happened before – I know what I want to express, but I do not know how. Words seem to be inadequate. A beautiful view – this sounds so shallow, amazing scents - that does not really say anything. No well-written text or photos can convey one's personal experiences of Corsica. Sardinia is different, more calm and modest, but equally charming and surprising. And believe me, although we explored Corsica and Sardinia on recumbent bicycles, our adventure did not fall flat.