We left Serriera for Zonza (pronounced 'tzonz') to do some hiking around the Col de Bavella, which is in the south center of the island. So another day on the road. Fortunately in Corsica the road doesn't mean boring superhighway, it means a two-laner, hugging a mountainside, and squeezing through tiny villages where the buildings are so close you can almost reach out and touch them. The flip side to this lack of superhighways is that what appears to be a short distance on a map will actually take a long while.
Driving in Corsica also involves frequent encounters with wildlife: cows, pigs, donkeys, big-horn sheep, we've shared the road with all of these creatures. My favorites to date have been the herds of big-horn sheep and the donkey that was chasing a cat.
And if you're driving in Corsica this week you're also sharing the road with participants in the Tour de Corse. Zonza, it turns out, is another checkpoint in the road race, so while we travelled today we were constantly being passed by speeding Porsches and Alfas and all manner of other vehicles, each covered in stickers and manned by a suited-up driver and navigator. A bit boy racer, a bit dangerous, but it feels oh so European.
Today we drove to a nearby mountain pass, hiked out to an odd rock formation, then ate a delicious lunch on a patio overlooking mountains, the Mediterranean, and the island of Elba.
About 15 minutes from Zonza is the Col de Bavella, a 1,218 m pass that offers great views of the Aiguilles (needles) de Bavella. The Aiguilles are rocky spikes of red granite. The col also offers several trailheads (the GR20 passes through) as well as accommodations and restaurants. The hike to our destination, the Trou de la Bombe, starts at the Col. It is an easy hike out to an interesting hole in a rock face.
We returned to our hotel in Zonza just in time for me to catch the last few cars in the Tour de Corse.
By the time we got back to Zonza most of the cars in today's leg of the Tour de Corse had passed. Still, I walked from our apartment to the center of town (this took about 1 minute) where there were no spectators just a few support vehicles – largely Porshe SUVs – as well as drivers and support staff. I crossed the street and then sat on a wall where I hoped to capture a few of the laggards slower cars as they came into town.
Unlike the Porto leg this leg doesn’t feature a closed highway. So the racers share the roads with the public.
I like Zonza. It is a charming village set on a lush green hillside and with a number of nearby hiking trails. It has my essentials: decent patisseries (we jokingly named one Luke's and the other Loreli's, both characters in a favorite tv show), a number of nice restaurants (though half were already closed for the season), and a grocery store. I didn't see any interesting shopping but that doesn't mean it isn't there. Actually, nowhere in France did we do much shopping.
Another beautiful day weather wise. After breakfast at Luke's we drove again to the Col de Bavella to hike a bit of the GR20, the trail that runs the length of Corsica. Unlike yesterday, today's trail was a vertical rocky scramble to a high overlook. During the hike we saw a large group of student rock climbers edging their way up a granite cliff, then we saw a team of rescuers carry an injured climber to a helicopter.
After a lunch of charcuterie, a Corsican speciality, we headed back to Zonza where we did another short hike into the forest.