By Johanna the 12/09/2023

Secret Corsica: an off-season road trip

Discovering Boziu by scooter with Johanna

Discover an exceptional architectural, natural and cultural heritage

Join me on a unique tour of Boziu, a vast Pieve that few tourists know about. It's a hidden and untouched place, but incredibly rich in natural and cultural treasures. You'll discover an impressive architectural heritage, exceptional sports facilities with the Mare à Mare northern paths, stunning landscapes, a vibrant cultural and agricultural foundation, a wealth of culinary expertise, and a fascinating history, not found in textbooks, but crucial for comprehending Corsica today.


Each village has its own points of interest, history, and curiosities. A discovery of Corsica in all its depths and authenticity, far from the beaten track, that can be explored in all seasons (although not recommended during winter time, when snow frequently makes an appearance, making the roads impassable).


The area is abundant in plants and flowers, each emitting a wonderful aroma: immortelle, maquis flowers, chestnuts, arbutus, and heather. You'll also come across many animals during your trip, such as foxes, red kites, rabbits, and wild boar. If you're fortunate enough to spot them, keep in mind they are wild and unpredictable, so don't try to approach them.


Finally, keep in mind that in each village you pass through, you can either taste and/or buy local products in a "very short" circuit (restaurants, tables d'hôtes, cafés, grocery shops and numerous producers).


You can tour the Boziu region and take your pick of accommodation such as gîtes, bed & breakfasts and hotels depending on where you stop. I took my time exploring the area over the course of one night and two days, savouring every moment.


I recommend a linear itinerary, as the tour of the villages of Boziu can take place as follows (the distance between each village varies between 20 and 30 minutes):


  • Tralonca
  • Santa Lucia di Mercuriu
  • Sermanu
  • Castellare di Mercuriu (U Castellà)
  • U Favalellu
  • Alzi
  • Alandu
  • Sant’Andria di u Boziu
  • Mazzola  
  • Bustanicu


Infographie©ATC Infographie©ATC




Entry point, coming from Bastia, after the village of Soveria, at the exit of the tunnel, take the junction towards Tralonca.


Tralonca on its rocky peak ...


Finally, I'm in Boziu! It's known as the gateway to the area, located on a rocky hill called Tralonca which gives you a stunning view of Corti and the Niolu mountains. After parking my car on a high point in the village, I walked around and was amazed by the village's hidden treasures. The route consisted of grand stone houses, charming alleys filled with flowers, and beautiful view points. The peaceful setting of the village is perfect for daydreaming as the view is so mesmerizing. It’s impossible not to capture some unforgettable holiday photos.


Tralonca ©ATC Tralonca ©ATC


Ruelles de Tralonca ©ATC Ruelles de Tralonca ©ATC


Le lavoir de Tralonca ©ATC Le lavoir de Tralonca ©ATC


To see :

  • San Bernardinu church
  • The washhouse (opposite the church)
  • The well-preserved and/or faithfully restored pagliaghji at the entrance to the village

Bonus for sports enthusiasts (always remember to pack your equipment for optimum safety)


  • Walk to the abandoned village of Zuccarellu
  • Walk to the village of Rusiu (on the Castagniccia side)

Practical benefits

  • Possibility of unusual accommodation in barrels, in the middle of the countryside
  • Enjoy a drink at the café in the village square


Santa Lucia di Mercuriu and its authentic little streets


Santa Lucia di Mercuriu is a small village, located about ten minutes away. I park my car next to the newly renovated, impressive fountain and start exploring the village. It is full of surprises, with breathtaking views of the Venacais and Cortenais regions. The village has cobbled streets and century-old houses, making it perfect for a leisurely stroll. There are several hamlets in Santa Lucia di Mercuriu. The hamlets of Pughjolu, Ghjelsa and Pian di Vallu are located below. I park my vehicle further down and explore the hamlets on foot, taking care of the steep slope ahead.


Santa Lucia di Mercuriu ©ATC Santa Lucia di Mercuriu ©ATC


Ruelles ©ATC Ruelles ©ATC


Lavoir ©ATC Lavoir ©ATC


Chapelle Saint Antoine ©ATC Chapelle Saint Antoine ©ATC


Chapelle Saint Antoine ©ATC Chapelle Saint Antoine ©ATC


Eglise Santa Lucia ©ATC Eglise Santa Lucia ©ATC


Not to be missed :

  • The church of Santa Lucia, built in 1842 and located in the centre of the village
  • The recumbent statue in the church
  • The washhouse where women once washed their clothes
  • The breathtaking views over the Cortenais and Venacais valleys
  • The hamlet of Pian di Vallu and its chapel of Saint Antoine, whose choir and statues have been completely restored by a local child. The fresco created during the restoration depicts one of Saint Anthony's miracles.
  • On Saint Anthony's Day, migliacci are baked using a traditional oven that is still used today.
  • The "Memoria Viva" Ecomuseum is situated in Aghja Suttana and is open throughout the year to showcase the history of Boziu over time. 
  • Take a look at our article on the Ecomuseum and watch the Télé Paese feature about Ghjiseppu Antone Salviani, the owner.

Practical and tasty extras:

  • Gîtes open all year round in the village and its hamlets
  • Cheese, honey, chestnut flour and charcuterie producers are all based in the village.


Bonus for history lovers:

  • In the lower part of the commune, near Corti, there is a menhir statue from the late Neolithic period (according to the archaeologist Michel Claude Weiss). This anthropomorphic sculpture measures 1.98 metres and was discovered in 1998 by agricultural machinery. The statue is located on private land, but a small gate allows free access.


A few kilometres from Santa Lucia di Mercuriu, I stop at the Chapelle San Martinu, which overlooks the valley. A breathtaking view of the village of Castellare di Mercuriu below! A little further on, after quenching my thirst at the fountain under the chestnut trees, I decide, on the good advice of Antoine, whom I met at the Aghja Suttana Museum, to take the short walk through the scrubland and admire the pretty chapel of San Michele, where a mass is held every August (from the roadside sign pointing to the chapel, allow 1 hour for the return journey and good shoes).


Chapelle Saint Martin ©ATC Chapelle Saint Martin ©ATC


Saint Martin et son Chœur ©ATC Saint Martin et son Chœur ©ATC


Chapelle Saint Michel ©ATC Chapelle Saint Michel ©ATC


Saint Michel ©ATC Saint Michel ©ATC


Sermanu and its extraordinary chapel


Ten minutes later I arrived in Sermanu, the former capital of Boziu, where as soon as I got into the village I could see some lovely vegetable gardens, a sign that the traditions of the village are still alive and well. The chapel of San Niculaiu is the pride of the Sermanacci. Against all odds, I was lucky enough to find someone to take me there... The photos speak for themselves!


Les fresques de la Chapelle San Niculaiu ©ATC Les fresques de la Chapelle San Niculaiu ©ATC


San Niculaiu ©ATC San Niculaiu ©ATC


San Niculaiu ©ATC San Niculaiu ©ATC


What to see :

  • The baroque parish church of A Nunziata in the heart of the town.
  • The chapel of San Niculaiu, with frescoes dating from the 15th century, is exceptionally well preserved. The chapel has been declared a historic monument.

For sports lovers: 

  • Chapel of Sant'Alesiu (40 mins, signposted route)
  • Chapel of Sant'Austinu (20 mins, signposted route)

Cultural attractions :

  • Birthplace of Corsican polyphony
  • Birthplace of the "Riacquistu" and the Paghjelle (collected by Jacques Luciani in the 70s).


Castellare di Mercuriu, the village, the fountain and the Cherubin


A few kilometres away, built on a rocky outcrop, Castellare di Mercuriu is a dolls' village meticulously maintained in the purest "buzzincu" spirit. Very attractive and peaceful, it's a recommended stop-off to recharge your batteries! I'm astonished to discover the main fountain of the village, topped by a cherub bearing a fish, an architectural curiosity that's rare enough not to be mentioned (I tell myself that this building is perhaps a nod to the Manneken-Pis in Brussels). I stop off at the village grocery shop and discover a warm atmosphere, delicious home-made Corsican specialities to taste on the spot or take away, charcuterie, cheeses, chestnut flour, or honey from the region to give as a gift or to treat yourself, the grocery shop is also, from time to time, a venue for exhibitions... A real space for exchange and life in the heart of Boziu.


La fontaine au Cherubin de Castellare ©ATC La fontaine au Cherubin de Castellare ©ATC


Ruelles de Castellare ©ATC Ruelles de Castellare ©ATC


Ruelles de Castellare ©ATC Ruelles de Castellare ©ATC


Worth seeing :

  • La Chapelle Saint Michel, down the road on the right, before you reach the village - 10/15-minute walk (see above)
  • The narrow streets lined with century-old houses
  • The church of Saint Pierre
  • Discover the interview with Bernard Baghioni , one of the last shepherds of Boziu and a native of the village.

Gourmet tip :

A Scanceria" grocery open all year round : frappe, jams, chard or onion turnovers, sweet tarts, filled baskets, picnic baskets and many other home-made delicacies.  Vacuum-packed and ready to ship, which is really handy when you're travelling by scooter !


On the way down to Corti and the Plaine du Feu, I came across U Favalellu, a typical little village whose main attraction is undoubtedly its fifteenth-century frescoed chapel. I met the mayor who opened the door to this jewel... Entering the chapel gave me an incredible feeling: the ruins of the 15th century were right in front of me, extremely well preserved! Admiring these colourful frescoes truly moved me.


Chapelle Santa Maria Assunta ©ATC Chapelle Santa Maria Assunta ©ATC


Saint Augustin ©ATC Saint Augustin ©ATC
Chapelle Santa Maria Assunta ©ATC Chapelle Santa Maria Assunta ©ATC


Chapelle Santa Maria Assunta ©ATC Chapelle Santa Maria Assunta ©ATC
Fresques Santa Maria Assunta ©ATC Fresques Santa Maria Assunta ©ATC


A must see :

  • The chapel of Santa Maria Assunta, which is remarkably well preserved: the frescoed choir, with its depiction of Christ and his saints, is well worth a visit. It is a listed building. You can also admire Saint Augustine (San Austinu), the patron saint of the village.    See the article on frescoed chapels.


Alandu: meet the famous Sambucucciu!


I'm now heading towards the villages of Alzi and Alandu. The air is cooler in the late afternoon and the scent of the macchia is very strong. The streets of Boziu are deserted and the ride is all the more pleasant while I feel alone in the world: exploring the streets of Boziu on a scooter will remain an unforgettable experience. Arriving in Alzi, at the village fountain, a crossroads on the North Mare à Mare trail, I met a very friendly couple who told me how much they enjoyed walking in the Boziu region... At each stage, I met local people who were happy to give me good advice! Unforgettable moments of sharing for these sports enthusiasts in search of a change of scenery.


What to see : 

The chapel of Saint Roch

Gourmet tip :

A welcoming inn offering quality products.


A little higher up, Alandu welcomes me with its imposing statue of one of the emblematic figures of Boziu: Sambucucciu! This famous historical figure, born in Alandu in the 14th century, is still very important today: he led an anti-feudal peasant revolt and became the Father of the Common Land (U Babbu di A Terra di u Cumunu).


Alandu Statue de Sambucucciu ©ATC Alandu Statue de Sambucucciu ©ATC


Table d'orientation Alandu ©ATC Table d'orientation Alandu ©ATC


Table d'orientation Alandu ©ATC Table d'orientation Alandu ©ATC

A brief historical overview is essential to understand the Corsica of yesterday and today:

At the time, Corsica was under the rule of the Republic of Genoa, which imposed its authority on the island. Sambucucciu was a man of great stature and a charismatic leader. He quickly distinguished himself as the leader of the Corsican resistance against the Genoese. His rebellion gained momentum in the early 14th century, when many Corsican communities began to rise up against Genoese oppression. Unfortunately, despite his military successes, Sambucucciu was betrayed by one of his close associates, Vincentello d'Istria, who made a deal with the Genoese in exchange for personal favours. Sambucucciu was captured by the Genoese in 1358 and imprisoned in Genoa. He died shortly after his release on 16 December 1373. He became a national hero and an emblematic figure and is still celebrated as a symbol of the fight for freedom and independence.

What to see :

  • The Church of Saint François
  • Dating back to 1623, the convent was the scene of a historic battle between the forces of General Pasquale Paoli and those of Emmanuel Matra. This confrontation led to the death of the latter.
  • Statue of Sambucucciu by Noël Bonardi, which can be seen on the outskirts of the village, not far from the old convent.
  • The chapel of Saint Sebastien
  • The Romanesque Chapel of Santa Maria Assunta
  • Don't hesitate to climb up to the orientation table at the top of the village (you will pass very close to the houses, which is normal). The path, lined with immortelle bushes, leads to a breathtaking 360° view: all the villages of Boziu are there, right in front of you, almost within reach!

Gourmet bonus :

Excellent restaurants open all year round, bed and breakfast, biscuit and jam producers...


Mazzola and its hamlets, at the top of Boziu, in the heart of the chestnut grove


The next stop on my "scoot-trip", as I like to call it, is Mazzola and its hamlet U Castellucciu! Mazzola sits at the top of a ridge and is made up of four separate hamlets: Casale, Mazzola, St Cyprien and U Castellucciu. The little hamlet I visited, U Castellucciu, has incredible views of the surrounding mountains. The walk through the narrow streets was very pleasant and the air was incredibly clean. To reach the hamlet, the road is quite steep and winds through the chestnut trees. A timeless scene at the top of Boziu.




U Castellucciu ©ATC U Castellucciu ©ATC


U Castellucciu ©ATC U Castellucciu ©ATC


Fontaine ©ATC Fontaine ©ATC


Boite aux lettres d'antan ©ATC Boite aux lettres d'antan ©ATC

Places of interest :

  • The parish church of Saint Cyprien and its golden ciborium (sacred vase in the form of a chalice in which the hosts are kept), donated to the commune by the Emperor Napoleon III.
  • The Chapel of San Pancraziu (Castellucciu)
  • Chapel of San Vincente

Practical information :

  • Rural gîtes are available to welcome you for a stay... in peace and quiet!
  • Traditional cooking and good products are on the menu.


Sant 'Andria and its bell tower


Sant'Andria di u Boziu, nestling among the chestnut trees, is always in my sights thanks to its impressive bell tower. My walk through the village is full of charm: stone houses, thatched roofs, the village's architecture seduces me with its authenticity.


Sant ' Andria ©ATC Sant ' Andria ©ATC





Practicalities :

  • Rural gîtes are available to welcome you in this typical village.
  • Traditional cuisine and local products


Bustanicu and the Corsican revolution


Last but not least, Bustanicu! A bit of history to start your visit: Bustanicu, a famous village if ever there was one, saw the start of the Corsican Revolution. Antone De Franchi, known as "Cardone", a child of the village, was the instigator in 1729 against the Genoese. I immediately went to the monument dedicated to him (Place Cardone) to find out more... This revolution spread throughout Corsica and led to the proclamation of Corsican independence by Pasquale Paoli.   Discover our report dedicated to the Pasquale Paoli Museum in Merusaglia.

The village's rich architectural heritage makes it a must-see. Getting lost in the narrow streets is a timeless moment that will stay with me forever. And if you're lucky, you'll meet Cécile, a child of the village, a tourist guide by training and passionate about two things: the history of Corsican brotherhoods and her village. You'll never forget the long minutes you spend with her as she talks endlessly about the region.



Vue de Bustanicu ©ATC Vue de Bustanicu ©ATC
Eglise Saint Césaire ©ATC Eglise Saint Césaire ©ATC
Eglise Saint Césaire ©ATC Eglise Saint Césaire ©ATC
Bustanicu ©ATC Bustanicu ©ATC
Bustanicu ©ATC Bustanicu ©ATC
Maisons en pierres de Bustanicu ©ATC Maisons en pierres de Bustanicu ©ATC


What to see :

  • The beautifully preserved 18th century church of Saint Césaire
  • The polychrome wooden Christ (also 18th century) with its incredibly expressive face, listed as a historic monument.
  • The narrow streets and stone houses
  • Place Cardone, built in 2017 in honour of the revolutionary of the same name (see above).



For sports enthusiasts, there are alternative itineraries starting from the village (see the various published guides for details) :

  • Mare a Mare Nord section
  • Roman road Bustanicu - Alzi - Mazzola
  • Roman road Col de Chjatru - Chapelle de Saint Antoine
  • Ancient path Bustanicu - Alandu
  • Way of Saint Anthony - Rusiu
  • Way of Saint Anthony - Carticasi
  • Paths of Saint Anthony - Lake Levina - Sant'Alesiu - San Cervone - Pianu Maio

For those with a sweet tooth:

  • You can taste Corsican products in the village restaurant.


My last piece of advice is this: TAKE YOUR TIME! Make the most of all the landscapes and encounters along the way. Boziu is a very special area, unspoilt and wild. This tour can be done in 2 days, as I did, with one night in the heart of a village, with the added bonus of waking up to a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside, or in 1 week, with one night in each village! There are no hard and fast rules, so everyone will enjoy it in their own way. We wish you all the best!



For more practical information, visit the [Pasquale Paoli Tourist Office website] ( Office de Tourisme Pasquale Paoli : Office de Tourisme ( ).





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