Inextricably linked to Mediterranean Sea, the lamp of the Senetosa lighthouse has guided sailors since 1892. Depending on where he observes it from, a ship’s captain will either be assured of his course by the white light of the lantern, or be warned when the light shows red. When sailing here, it’s better to stay far from the from the coast to avoid the tip of Latoniccia and the pitfalls of the Moines, hazardous areas that are renowned amongst mariners.
A little history
The lighthouse was one of the last to have been built on the Corsican coast, following a terrible shipwreck on April 17, 1887. The Tasmania, a beautiful 122m long English steamer, was violently run aground on the reefs of the Moines en route to Marseille. There were 144 passengers and 166 crew on board. As the storm raged all around at 4 a.m., on a dark morning the rowboats were launched. Thirty-three members of the crew fell victim to the cruel sea, including the captain and two of his deputies.
The full tale of the tragic story can be discovered in a small museum inside the two-towered lighthouse. Today, the lighthouse lamp is automated, and the lighthouse keepers have been replaced by coastal keepers, men and women who safeguard the preservation of some twenty kilometres of wild coastline which stretches from Campomoro to Tizzano. These guardians of the shore share their tales with hikers and walkers along the trail or at the lighthouse itself. One of the best times to visit the area and discover the history of the lighthouse is at sunset, when the rocks and turrets are splashed with an orange-red hue.
Do not miss
Then you can listen to the stories, soak up the atmosphere in this escape-from-it-all place, and sleep at the historic site. With rooms open to the public and a dormitory
, the lighthouse is a fun and ethical way to safeguard and help preserve this historic building.
To reach the lighthouse there are several different routes. Along the trail, pause to explore the creeks and discover the surprising sculptural rocks formed by millions of years of erosion. Sometimes you’ll spot boats bobbing about in the crystal-clear waters of every shade of blue and green. The locals come here to admire these treasures, and even the fishermen can’t help but admire the sights as they untangle their nets at the end of a busy day.
There are buildings hidden in the maquis, the wild fragrant undergrowth, and on the rocky promontories there are traces of a rich pastoral and military history linked to the sea and to the rocky inlets that are dug into the coast. Not far from the lighthouse is the Genoese tower of Senetosa,
a must see for walkers with its breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. Let your imagination run wild as you listen to the guides tell stories of the famous Corsican bandits.
From the port of Propriano, several tour companies
offer the chance to discover the wild coasts and the granite shore of Tizzano. A guided tour, perhaps with music or featuring a lunchtime stop on the beach of Tivella from where you can reach the Senetosa lighthouse in the north or the sculptural creeks in the south. Then enjoy a meal on deck before your return in the late afternoon.
From Campomoro, take the coastal path towards the lighthouse of Senetosa and, if you venture inland just a little, you may spot the remains of a long-abandoned lifestyle.
Houses, sheepfolds and the ruins of once important buildings such as the casa d'Ana, which had a ramp so that donkeys could pull goods being unloaded from ships up to the first floor. You can find details of hikes at the tourist offices.
Bird's eye view of the coast
Take to the skies for a bird’s eye view of the wild coast. At the Tavaria aerodrome in Propriano, you can fly over the area by gyroplane, a helicopter-like microlight.
From above, you can see the striking contrasts of the red rocks, the magnificent blue of the sea and the tall lighthouse standing out in the wilderness. It’s not until you’re looking down on to the coast that you can see just how much of the area has been preserved.