This morning we awoke to a bright, blustery morning, with Oscar pitched in a copse of large umbrella pines. It had been so dark when we had arrived last night, that we couldn’t see much of the campsite at all. It was a pleasant enough site, and still quite busy despite it nearing the end of September.
After breakfast, we set off to explore Calvi. This 15th century Citadelle town sits on a rocky promontory looking out to sea. The Citadelle consists of four massive bastions, three of which look to the water, and these days, overlook the up-market marina, with a profusion of expensive looking yachts. In 1794, the Citadelle was bombarded by 30,000 cannon shots fired by the British fleet, fighting against the French, alongside the Corsican irregulars. It was during this battle that Captain Horatio Nelson lost his eye. Calvi also claims to be the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, and at the base of the citadelle is a square, Place Christopher Columb, linking the old and new towns.
We parked up at the bottom of town, and walked past the marina, and then up the narrow stone cobbled streets towards the Citadelle. In the backstreets, we passed by the pretty pastel pink church of St-Marie Majeure, built in the baroque style.There were plenty of cafes and up-market tourist shops, including boutiques and craft shops. We passed by the statue of Christopher Columbus, and started to climb the steep walkways up past the bastions to the Old Town. The focal point inside the Citadelle is the 13th century octagonal domed cathedral, with it’s tiled floor and collection of relics. By now, the wind had whipped up, and the sea below was a mass of white horses.
We selected a quiet cafe in a little square, and had our morning coffee. Despite our resolve to stop eating pastries, we were tempted by an apple and almond flan, which was indeed very tasty. We then meandered our way back down the hill to Oscar.
By the time we left Calvi, it was gone lunchtime. We set off to our next destination, Porto. The drive initially headed inland, but then veered off towards the coast, and became utterly spectacular. The road twisted and turned, with huge drops down to the sea. Despite the distance covered being moderate, it took us til gone five o’clock by the time we reached our campsite, since there was no way you could pick up any speed on this journey. Periodically, we had stopped at viewpoints, either looking out over the sea, or towards the mountains. I must say, I am bowled over by the scenery here in Corsica – it certainly takes a lot of beating.
We had an extra treat when we arrived at our campsite. The receptionist hinted that at the top of the site, were some pitches with amazing views, and suggested that we just drive up and take a look. The area where most of the larger vans were parked was in the shade of pine trees, with no view at all. I walked a short distance further on, and spotted the most fabulous spot, definitely location over size, but large enough to park Oscar lengthwise. From our pitch, we look out towards Porto and the sea, and as the sun slowly began to set, it is perfectly placed for the best view on the campsite.
Anticipating a lovely sunset, Howard and I set up the tables and chairs, and sat with our cups of tea (honestly!) – waiting. It seemed over the next ten minutes, we were joined by most of the other campers, who came to admire our ring-side view. One chap told us that he had been on the site for the three previous nights, and that this was by far the best sunset he had witnessed, the others being partially occluded by cloud.
We all gasped as the deep red sun slowly dropped below the horizon – a real show-stopper. Now, in the dark, we can clearly see the Genoese watchtower in Porto, illuminated in alternating colours – red, blue, white, mauve.
Tomorrow, we will venture down to explore Porto, before heading on round the coast. The only disadvantage, of course, of our wonderful cliffside pitch, is that there is absolutely no WiFi or internet coverage, so the photos will have to wait for another day. As they say, everything in life is a compromise. Well, Howard says that all the time, for sure!