In the summer of 2012, I had the chance to spend some time on the beautiful island of Corsica. This was the first time we’d visited the small French island and it definitely lived up to it’s nickname – L’Île de Beauté (Island of Beauty). Perfectly situated in the Mediterranean, west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the Italian island of Sardinia, this stunning island often left us thinking we were far from Europe.
We stayed in the region of Balagne in the island’s north-western corner. This was the closest region to Nice (our departure point) and Marseille (where we would return to) so it made the most sense to stay there.
After searching on the Internet for advice on where to stay in Balagne, we came across a very useful blog with a recommendation for the village of Pigna. We stayed at Evelyn’s BnB in the centre of the village, a fantastic little place run by the lovely Evelyn and a great base to explore the region.
Widely viewed as one of France’s most beautiful villages, Pigna is a delightful and charming place that has remained very much untouched by any form of modernisation. There is no access for cars so all visitors, and villagers alike, must park outside of the village. Wandering around the narrow flower-filled streets as they wind there way around the village was a real pleasure, and the lack of cars makes the experience a calm and peaceful one.
Just opposite Evelyn’s BnB is a little private garden where we would have breakfast each morning. And every day, circling above our heads were a group of beautiful Eagles. Such an amazing way to eat breakfast!
And in the same garden at night we would listen to the insect chorus as thousands of crickets sung in harmony.
Pigna village is also reputed for it’s artisanal and creative workshops. A pottery, an engraver, a painter, and fashioners of lutes and flutes can all be found in and around the cobbled streets. Regular music concerts and theatre plays are also held during the evenings. And just next to the Church in the main village square is Scatt’a Musica, a music box shop where the products are both made and sold.
In awe of the beautiful hand-crafted music boxes, we couldn’t leave without buying one. The song, O Lu Me U, was written by the poet Carulu Giovonni who had heard the refrain sung by young reapers during the wine harvest near Ajaccio.
Tramway de la Balagne
Part of the Chemins de Fer de la Corse, a single-track train line beautifully snakes it’s way along the Balagne coastline from Calvi to Ile Rousse, calling at 15 stations en route. There are very few gated level-crossings, so the trains would always signal their approach by using their horns. The current rolling stock dates from the 1970s and 1980s and, as such, the line has affectionately become known as u trinighellu (the trembler).
The train timetable isn’t very reliable and I tried many times to record the train without success. On one of our last days we were heading down to the beach when I heard it approach. I quickly hooked up my binaural mics to my handheld and got as close as I could to the track. Unfortunately, there’s a bit of wind distortion at the beginning of the recording.
– use headphones for optimised listening experience –
I would highly recommend Corsica to anyone who hasn’t already been there. I know that we will definitely go back and explore the places we weren’t able to visit. Apparently the South is even more beautiful, so maybe we’ll head down there next time.