August 15, 2020
Natalia and I are discovering parts of Corsica. It was never a place I had planned to visit but now it could become a potential sailing destination.
From Paris we flew to Bastia, a charming town, ocher color, on the north Cape, built on a cliff in the middle ages by Leonello Lomellino. My sister Carla and her husband Alaric picked us up at the airport. They are cruising the island in their newly acquired sailing boat Yuma. They are novice sailors that but have already logged a few hundred miles, first sailing the boat from the mainland and now cruising around the cape and to the Italian island D’Elba. Natalia and I, much to my regret, are driving instead.
We meet them in different anchorages or ports where we usually arrive first. So far we have visited together Macinaggio, where they live most of the year, Erbalunga, Porto Vechio and now Bonifacio, where we arrived yesterday. In between, we also drove to St Florent, on the west-side of the Cape and Nonza further north. There we discovered one of the best restaurants so far, La Samma, up in an old tower that overlooks the sea.
We are now in Bonifacio also built over a cliff in the south-end of the island. The views from the citadel are spectacular, the sea extending to the horizon, dark blue, turning green over a rocky bottom as it approaches the shore. There are a few boats at anchor in between cliffs and I envy those who are sailing them. My sister and brother in law chose to rent a slip at the port. This, in part, because a low is coming in a couple of days with winds that could be blowing at 30 Kts or more.
In Corsica you can enjoy the sea, the mountains and the Maquis (the forest); captivating landscapes. But you also have the food and wines. A variety of seafood, cheeses and charcuterie, wild pork (sanglier), duck, and venison. Neophytes of Corsican wines we have made some superb discoveries, particularly among the reds. The island simply has the conditions to produce good wines with different types of soils and altitudes and the sea breeze that temperates the climate. The leading grape is sciaccarellu. It produces reds that can be exuberant, somewhat spicy and rich in tannin. The grapes seem to have been planted in the 50s and 60s by French exiles from North Africa after the end of the colonial period.
Yesterday Natia and I had a romantic dinner at, Chez Jules, a Michelin rated restaurant. We had two bottles of Guillaume de Pratavone, a wine from Ajaccio, a town west of Bonifacio. We ate the largest lobster I have ever seen, half grilled and half baked. All appropriately decadent.
Today we are going for a long hike and tomorrow, weather permitting, sailing. Tuesday we fly back to Beirut, back to reality…