This austere and mysterious-looking town jealously guards the island’s traditions to the point of being called the most Corsican of Corsican towns.
Sartene, from the height of its granite walls, watches over the valley like a silent guardian. Wandering through the winding, steep, paved alleys, you will feel as if you are on the set of a film from another era, with a charm that can be fully perceived especially out of season, when the village is not overrun with tourists.
The town was founded in 1550 by the Genoese, who entrusted its management to wealthy aristocrats. In 1565, pirates attacked the town and enslaved much of the population. But the city’s misfortunes did not end there. In the 19th century, the town’s two clans cl ashed continuously for years, with many losses among the townspeople, until the peace agreement of 1834.
Don’t miss a visit to the old town, a real labyrinth of narrow streets, to the point that in some you can only pass one person at a time. The village can be visited in about thirty minutes: dotted with beautiful granite houses located along two parallel streets, the centre houses the oratory of one of the Sartène confraternities, the old bread oven and the rue des Voutes, one of the most characteristic corners of Sartene, dotted with covered passageways.
The old A Scaledda bridge is the gateway to the town. From here, you can admire the town’s fortifications, the ramparts, the corner tower and the Echauguette, a 16th-century Genoese tower built on the foundations of an old medieval tower.
Don’t miss the Eglise Sainte-Marie: upon entering, you will see on the left the heavy chain and cross used for the famous Catenacciu procession, symbolising Christ’s ascent to Calvary. The chained man walks through the town following a hypothetical Stations of the Cross carrying a heavy wooden cross on his shoulders, followed by other figures impersonating the clergy and nobility.
The town hall, declared a national monument, is located in the former palace of the Genoese lieutenant. For centuries it played the role of a fortified house as it guarded the vaulted passageway that serves as the entrance to the old town. This passage was once equipped with a drawbridge to block the entrance to the citadel to invaders.
The most characteristic part is the old quarter of Petraghju, where the houses overlap, connected by arches and separated by narrow alleys: here the buildings look huge and there is Place de la Liberation, formerly called Place Porta, a symbol of conviviality, the place where the inhabitants used to meet to discuss politics in particular.
In the farms and manor houses in the countryside around the village, it is possible to book horseback excursions to explore the area or spend pleasant afternoons among the animals.
Nearby, on the Cauria plateau, there are two interesting archaeological sites to visit, housing the island’s most famous dolmens and menhirs: many are inlaid and depict human faces. The most famous is the dolmen of Fontanaccia together with the Cemetery of the Turks, the largest alignment in the Mediterranean.
Near the village of Pianattoli-Caldarello are some beautiful beaches such as Plage de Chevanu, Plage de Capineru and Plage de la Tour with its Genoese tower. To get the most out of this wild stretch of coastline, we recommend you follow the Sentiero dei Bruzzi, a one-and-a-half-hour circular route, without great difficulty, that will take you across and admire magnificent views.
Also worth a visit is Tizzano, a small fishing village, located 18 kilometres from Sartène, which over the years has expanded into a beautiful and lively marina right in front of a Genoese fort.
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