Duration of the journey by car:
1 h 45 for the Col de Vergio
+ 0:50 a.m. for postage
+0:25 a.m. for Piana.
The total driving time is 3 hours.
Distance to destination:
Vergio Pass 95 km
Porto +35 km
Piana +11 km
For a total distance of 141 km.
Level of difficulty: none
Postage +33(0)4 95 26 10 55
Piana +33(0)4 95 27 84 42
The forests of Aïtone and Valdu Niellu, at the foot of the Cinto and Rotondo mountains, are among the most beautiful in Corsica. At 1447 metres above sea level, the Col de Vergio separates these two forests and offers a panoramic view of the two seas on a clear day: the Mediterranean to the west and the Thyrénienne to the east. The highest road pass of the island, can be the destination of this walk, since the road of Francardo leads through beautiful landscapes. However, you will have no difficulty being dazzled if you decide to continue visiting the Gulf of Porto and the bays of Piana, a true jewel of international importance.
Follow the N193 in the direction of Corte. 16 km before Corte, at the end of Francardo, turn right onto the D84 towards Calacuccia, col de Vergio. The Scala di Santa Regina parade is one of the wildest on the island. It wanders through the desert of stones that surrounds the Niolo on the Corte side. The road, carved in places into the rock face, overlooks the Golo Gorge. The dry and tormented landscape offers a grandiose physiognomy: the bare rock, eroded by wind and storm water, is divided into needles. Only a few tufts of vegetation manage to cling to the shelters.
The Calacuccia dam marks the end of the gorges. It was placed in water in 1968. This structure holds back 25 million cubic metres of water from the Golo circuits. After the generation of electrical energy in the Pont-de-Castirla plant, the water irrigates the coastal plains south of Bastia. The lake is not suitable for swimming, but a small leisure centre enlivens the shores in season (kayaking, windsurfing, etc.). Calacuccia is located at an altitude of 830 meters on a sunny slope of Niolo, where it plays the role of the capital.
This is the starting point for the ascent to the Vergio Pass through the Valdu Niellu forest, a splendid forest already mentioned by the Phoenicians: the Dom forest, where Laricio pines, beeches and chestnuts live in perfect harmony. As soon as arbutus trees, holm oaks and pubescent oaks from 800 metres above sea level become rare, the Laricio pine shows its characteristic silhouette here and there: a very slender trunk, rather cylindrical than really conical with its perfect straightness, crowned by a grey-green crown, with well offset branches. Equipped with an exceptional longevity, this emblematic and endemic Corsican tree is the pride of the islanders. The Laricio pine, which predominates on well exposed slopes, sometimes coexists with pines and high beeches on wet slopes. Today it covers 45,000 hectares, of which almost 25,000 hectares are in pure forest. Near the forest house of Poppaghia, 7 km before the pass, rise the most beautiful Laricio pines of the forest. Some 38 m high test persons have trons that reach a circumference of 5 m. They are 500 years old.
The Col de Vergio is often visited by wild boars in freedom, especially voracious, which we will leave at a distance to spare his picnic!
The Vergio Pass is only 35 km away, about an hour, from one of the most beautiful places in Corsica, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO: the Gulf of Porto and the Calanches de Piana. The Gulf owes its splendour to its coastline, bordered by red granite rocks overlooking the blue and deep waters, up to 300 metres high. The colour contrast between the rocks and the sea is impressive.
To the north the Girolata peninsula and the Scandola nature reserve, to the south the village of Piana (11 km from Porto), discover the splendid Calanches of the same name. Spades, columns, figures gnawed by the wind and the sea, a slow erosion process has given these jagged rocks strange and fantastic shapes.
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