Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Accidentally, Corse Sud in a day

The south west tip of Corsica beyond Sartene is sparsely populated. Alluringly, down a wiggly minor road near the tiny hamlet of Tizzano is a remote Acsi camp site called Campeole 'l'Avena'. It's a place that I have fancied visiting for years, ever since it caught my eye in the little Acsi map book. It seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. I like the middle of nowhere. 

Though we are happy enough in Olmeto Plage, with showery weather forecast to arrive in about four days time we figured if we wished to see this wild, remote spot we should go there now. Any place from the middle of Doncaster to the middle of nowhere always looks better under sunny skies. Actually, I have never visited Doncaster, but if everywhere does seem lovelier in sunshine, the remorseless power of logic means even Doncaster will look more attractive. Though you may still find yourself standing outside its branch of Gregg's, clutching a pasty, glancing at the deep blue sky and thinking, I wish I was in the middle of nowhere.

Corsican roads are the worst we have come across in Europe. Even the main 'N' roads can degenerate at times, becoming badly surfaced, narrow and precipitous without warning. This was certainly the case on the outskirts of Sartene. A couple of kilometers further on we turned down an uncategorised 'white' road signposted to Tizzano.

Roads in Corsica - not for the faint-hearted.
It was steep with hairpin bends in places. A particular hazard on smaller roads are concrete culverts and high curbs hidden in the long grass. From time to time it is necessary to pull over to let by larger oncoming vehicles, you do worry about what obstacle might be lurking unseen in the undergrowth. Luckily there were a few dusty lay-bys too, so it was possible to relieve the frustration of the drivers behind from time to time. It was a long, slow and stressful 15km until we glimpsed the sea, then picked up signs for the campsite - it was 1km down an even rougher lane. However, the setting was spectacular.

Tizzano - finally
We reached the gates, the site itself was hidden down the hill among trees. Taped to the gatepost, a handwritten sign - 'camping fermee'. The Acsi book stated it opened for the season four days ago, we checked the place's website, it said it should have opened today. Gill decided to walk down and investigate. Ten minutes later she returned somewhat out of breath, it was further and steeper than she expected. The reception was locked, but three workmen sitting on the terrace having lunch explained that the someone would reopen the reception at 4.00pm. We drove in and parked. Time for our lunch then perhaps a walk down to the sea. 

While we were eating a second motorhome drew up. It was German, towing a motorbike on a trailer. The two occupants hopped out and went for a wander. We came across them as we set off for our walk. "Have you seen the pitches - they are watery!" The guy was right. Not only were the pitches overgrown, but when you peered through the foot high grass they were waterlogged and very muddy. Although the site was due to open today there was still a lot of work to do to make it serviceable. After our experience of getting bogged down in St Rémy we had no wish to repeat the experience. The German pair agreed with us, the place was in no state to accept guests. There was no option but to retrace our steps back to Sartene then head towards Bonifacio, about 60kms further on, in effect crossing from the southeast tip to the southwest corner of the island.

Advertised - Opern Today! Pitches overgrown...

and very muddy...time to move on.
The latter half of the journey was spectacular. The twisting road ran across the coastal hills - below, white sand beaches and turquoise coves, in the distance across the Bouches de Bonifacio the mountains is Sardinia looked within touching distance. So close in fact that Gill's mobile buzzed and a message from Three welcomed us to Italy.

Through the mountains..
Along Corsica's beautiful southern coast.
We arrived at Camping Pian del Fosse a few kilometres beyond Bonifacio by mid-afternoon. At first sight the place looked half abandoned and the terraced pitches too small and difficult to access in a motorhome. Eventually we found small flat place at the back of reception. Later we discovered another part of the site with pitches better designed for motorhomes. It would have been useful if the receptionist had explained this, but he was young, and perhaps did not appreciate the challenges of manoeuvring a moho in tight spaces.

a flat pitch big enough to accommodate us - tricky to find
Anyway, he was very helpful later when we had a problem with the electric hook-up. He spoke English well and stayed to chat for a while. It was interesting to hear a younger person's perspective on life in Corsica. With a permanent population of only 300,000 which triples in the summer season, finding permanent work for young people was difficult, he explained. His family owned the site, but even so there was only six months work for him. Many of his friends only worked for two months of the year. Similar issues exist across southern Europe. What is the future for the peripheries of the continent - from The Shetlands to Malta - beyond the vagaries of the the tourist industry? It was a thought provoking exchange. 

We sensed the young Corsican's strong sense of belonging to his island, with a unique history, a fiercely independent culture and its own language, how could he not feel very attached to his homeland? However, without work, how can young people remain? A book I read recently talked about 'glocalisation' - the process where the global and the local come into conflict, where particular places become homogenised stripped of their defining characteristics, but also stripped of jobs as local businesses struggle to compete with global brands - a classic double edged sword.

Tomorrow we are planning to cycle into Bonifacio. Somehow, as ever, we have managed to get ahead of ourselves. According to our plan we were not meant to arrive here for another week. We need to find somewhere to settle down for a five or six days, but not here. It is too far from Bonifacio to cycle to the shops easily. Gill is busy making a list of sites in eastern Corsica from the ACSI book, comparing proximity to shops and a beach, campsite WiFi arrangements, opening dates and price. Whatever decisions we make, as ever they will have been thoroughly researched beforehand.

Tricky day - evening stress-buster.

No comments:

Post a Comment