Corsica

The Villages of Balagne

Corsica's mountainous hinterland hides enchanting villages, which preserve the authentic character and centuries-old traditions of Corsican culture.
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Corsica is not only turquoise sea and picture-postcard beaches but also boasts a series of picturesque villages perched just a few kilometres off the coast.

Visiting these enchanting villages is an opportunity to escape the summer heat by taking refuge in corners of pure quiet and mountain coolness and to discover the authentic character and age-old traditions of Corsican culture.

Here you can get in touch with the true soul of the island, taste the delicacies of the local cuisine and find enchanting corners that still resist mass tourism.

The villages of Balagne are particularly charming. Here, life flows slowly and your gaze will linger on the quiet little squares in the shade of plane trees, on the old stone houses that tell the passage of time, on the mountain valleys covered with olive groves and surrounded by granite spurs.

These picturesque villages are said to have sprung up after the liberation of Corsica from the Saracens by Ugo Colonna: a network of fortified castles was built in inaccessible and strategic points to control the valleys and the coastline in case of further attacks and raids.

Lumio and Occi

This perched village, covered with magnificent bougainvilleas that bloom even in winter, offers an enchanting viewpoint over the Gulf of Calvi. It belongs to that group of charming villages that can be admired in the hinterland of Balagne.

From Lumio, you can take a nice one-and-a-half-hour walk to reach and return to Occi, a village created to escape Saracen raids and then abandoned in the 1920s.

Pigna

This small village is considered one of Corsica’s most beautiful and has managed to counteract the oblivion and decadence in which many inland villages find themselves.

Pigna in fact managed to resist depopulation and rebuild its identity thanks to the initiatives of the administration and its inhabitants who, over the years, attracted artists and craftsmen from all over the region to live here: a cooperative was created and became a dynamic cultural hotbed full of ideas to attract tourists and visitors.

Since then, the village has been restored to its former glory.

As you stroll through the delightful streets of the village, you can discover and admire the workshops of potters, flute makers, lute makers, sculptors, painters, engravers and musicians: in just a few metres, a condensation of creativity, beauty and culture.

Sant'Antonino

Reported as one of the most beautiful villages in France, it leaves you breathless when you arrive by road: it is perched like an eagle’s nest on the rock 400 metres above sea level, dominating the entire valley.

Everything here seems to have remained as it once was, when 14,000 litres of olive oil and tons of almonds were produced. Unfortunately, the world wars were in danger of driving the village into oblivion, which was only saved by tourism.

A walk through the labyrinthine centre of the village is a real pleasure: you will discover original shops, shops selling local products and ancient fortifications. The best time to visit in the summer season is early in the morning or in the evening at sunset when the hordes of tourists descend towards the coast. The village is closed to traffic and you must leave your car at the pay car park just outside.

Finally, don’t forget to try the lemon juice of Clos Olivier Antonini: a thirst-quenching drink made from lemon juice and strawberry grapes.

Speloncato

After 11 km of uphill road, between bends and hairpin bends, you reach one of Corsica’s most beautiful villages, Speloncato. This small but characteristic village perched at an altitude of 500 metres takes its name from some caves in the area.

It enchants visitors in search of beauty with its charm, who remain open-mouthed when admiring its ancient streets, the small square where wine is sipped and cards are played, and the Romanesque-style church. A true corner of peace after the crowded beaches of the coast.

Belgodere

Theatre of feuds and vendettas, feud of the Malaspina family and home to local painters, this village is the picture of tranquillity! Its open-air cafés invite you to have a relaxing breakfast before embarking on the village circuit.

Nature lovers can make a diversion to the Col de Battaglia or the Foret de Tartagine-Melaja for rejuvenating walks among lush forests and natural pools.

Lama

Perched on a rocky spur 450 metres above the valley, Lama is considered one of Corsica’s most beautiful villages. It is worth tackling the impervious road to admire this medieval jewel of rural architecture that also preserves beautiful 18th and 19th century burgher houses, once the homes of wealthy oil producers.

You can still see, wandering around the village, ancient flower-filled jars adorning the picturesque lanes.

Murato

The old village of Murato, surrounded by chestnut groves, guards a true architectural jewel, the Eglise San-Michele-de-Murato.

Set in a magnificent natural setting with a stunning view of the Desert des Agriantes, this superb Romanesque-style church dazzles with its black and white polychromy, simple, essential but uniquely beautiful, thanks to an admirable irregular chessboard effect.

According to legend, it was built in a single night in 1140 and has since been remodelled internally in Baroque style.

For breathtaking views, you can head to the nearby Défilé de Lancone, a vertiginous gorge that offers glimpses and overhangs, while for sleeping, we recommend the villages of Oletta and Poggio d’Oletta, inland, which are delightful and full of charm.

Map

In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article