Later that day, we drove to the Col di Bavella and walked up from the pass to get a close-up view of the stunning rock spires characteristic of the region, surrounded by hardy Corsican pines. Following a rugged route steeply up from the pass, I was treated to ever more expansive views down the valley to the coast and deep into the mountainous interior. On the way back to the car, I followed an alternate version of the GR20, the famously rugged long distance hiking trail that virtually traverses the island from northwest to southeast.
That evening, we walked around the narrow streets of Porto Vecchio’s Haut Ville, enjoying a drink at one of the numerous outdoor terraces in the town square before moving on to Café Laurent for a fantastic meal of pesto linguini and steak au poivre amist a crowd full of boisterous locals and vacationers alike. We especially enjoyed downing limoncello with the owner after he found out we were from San Francisco, where he had a mysterious connection that he only revealed to us later.
From the southeast, the following morning we took the fast highway up the east coast to St. Florent, a small harbor town in the crook of the coastline where the Cap Corse connects to the main part of the island. Ambling along the quay, we admired the megayachts on display that had presumably sailed over from the French Riviera, and walked up to the old citadel to enjoy views west to the rugged finger of the Cap Corse. Eating outside at Tchin Tchin, we sipped local wine from the nearby Patrimonio AOC region, and Sylvia enjoyed the “best mussels ever,” bathed in a broth of white wine sauce.
St. Florent is also known as a jumping off point for some famous white sand beaches just to the west in the barren area known as the Desert des Agricates, and they are easily reachable by boat service from the main harbor. Unfortunately, a storm front blew through, so we elected to push west along the north coast to Calvi.