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High in the Hills of Corsica

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A hiker at Lac de Capitello in the Vallée de la Restonica. It takes two and a half hours to reach the lake from the base of the valley. A hiker at Lac de Capitello in the Vallée de la Restonica. It takes two and a half hours to reach the lake from the base of the valley. Eirini Vourloumis for The New York Times

WHEN people find themselves at a loss for words to describe Corsica, it’s usually the island’s staggering beauty that trips them up.


But my guide and I were grappling for synonyms to describe another defining feature: its vertiginous and ever-twisting mountain roads.


“Dangereux,” he groaned as he swung his black Nissan four-by-four around one of many unforgiving bends. “Trop difficile.”


Jacky Marie, a spry 54-year-old from the tiny town of Favalello (population about 20), was driving us from a remote forested mountain region known as Le Boziu, to the Vallée de la Restonica, where we would spend a half-day hiking up to a pair of glacial lakes and back.


I was starting to wonder: would we ever get there?


As Jacky exhausted the limits of his vocabulary describing the perils of our ride, he took his hands off the wheel, thrust them in front of me, palms about an inch apart, to express with gestures what his mouth could not.


I winced.


When I regained enough courage to look out the window again, I scanned the vast green expanse before me and spotted a village perched atop one of the highest peaks in the area. How did anyone ever get up there, I wondered? Jacky explained that there were only two residents: an unmarried couple. And apparently their cohabitation was quite the scandal.


Gradually, the mist-covered mountains gave way to a gently rolling grassy plain where horses and cattle grazed. After a few more minutes the road mercifully straightened and opened up on to a grove of oak trees. My stomach settled, but we still had another 30 minutes to go.


When Americans think of Corsica, they probably picture what it and other Mediterranean islands are known for most: seaside resort towns. And yes, Corsica owes much of its reputation to postcard-perfect beaches that seem almost Caribbean with their white sand and sapphire water. Towns like Bonifacio, with its towering citadel and buzzing waterfront cafes, or Porto-Vecchio, with its yacht-filled harbor and night club scene, have become Corsica’s better-known destinations.

Read the full article from NY Times



Last modified on Saturday, 16 June 2012 20:00
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