Try to make sure you rest well in Corte, as several tough mountain stages lie ahead.
There’s a little traffic on the T20 (the main road from Corti to Venacu (Venaco)), but not for long and we are climbing a little.
Venacu is built into the mountainside, at the foot of Monte Cardu which peaks at 2,453 m.
When leaving the village be sure not to miss the hairpin junction on the left heading towards Aleria. I take a pretty road here that leads down to the next intersection towards Noceta/Vezzani, passing a little stone bridge and a river where you can cool off if you need to. And then, once again, we’re off for another pass. From where we’re standing, you wouldn’t think we were about to attack one of the GT20’s hardest passes. None of us had even heard of the col de Croce. On paper, 12 kilometres with a 550-metre climb doesn’t inspire much fear and yet our legs are aching.
Corsica’s BikingMan also takes this route on 29 April.[A1]
We can see that there was still a little snow on the mountains.
The road passes through the pretty village of Noceta, and stops climbing just before reaching Vezzani.
But as compensation we get 17 kilometres of descent!! Remain vigilant during this descent though and make sure, in the 14th kilometre, you take the D344A which is a little road to the right - with a little gravel, it should be noted. You should also be aware that your tyres are at risk on this small portion of damaged road which climbs 500 metres to the col de Cardo then comes down to rejoin the D69 before attacking the défilé de l’Inzecca.
Over 800 metres, the Défilé de l’Inzecca (meaning incision) showcases a wild and dantesque landscape. A narrow road, tight turns, towering rocky cliffs on the right and the spectacular gorges of the Fium’Orbu (meaning blind river)on the left, give us the feeling that we’re cycling in a canyon, all of which we love.
We see the pinkish grey of the cliffs and the grey green of the so-called serpentine rock.
The road starts climbing again until we reach the tunnel and shortly after this, we discover the magnificent lake at Sampolo. This body of water runs along the side of the road, having been formed by the river. The road climbs up to Ghisoni (and continues to do so afterwards too, but we’ve chosen to stop here), and then continues on with the défilé des Strette (narrowpass), which is less rocky and vertiginous, but more green; very pleasant!
And there are many spots nearby should you fancy a dip in the river.
We finally arrive at Ghisoni, on the Costa Serena, the village being an integral part of the Parc Naturel Régional Corse (Corsican Regional Nature Reserve).
Ghisoni is known for its ski resort, (Ghisoni Capanelle), located 15 km from the village itself at the foot of Monte Renosu (Corsica’s 3rd highest mountain reaching 2,352m), but also for its famous race (le trail de l’Oriente or Eastern Trail) which takes place in early July and enjoys legendary status in Corsica. It also puts on the Biera in Festa beer festival in June and the “automnales” in late October…making it a vibrant and lively place!
It also sits facing two mountains with names you might find strange: the Kyrie Eleïson (1,535m) and Christe Eleïson (1,260m). In ancient Greek this means “Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy”*.
The hotel of the same name, the Kyrie, is located in the very heart of the village and will gladly welcome you during your trip. It has a superb view, offers food and has a Bosch charging point.
* History tells us that six Giovannali, members of a sect that had been declared heretical, were burned alive here in 1353. While being tortured, the Giovannali implored the Lord, saying the invocation: " Christe Eleïson, Kyrie Eleïson". The mountains from which reverberated the echo kept the name. The legend goes that six doves rose from the pyres and flew away, straight towards the two summits.
Our tested and approved recommendation should you wish to eat dinner in the village would be: A Stazzona (Restaurant-Pizzeria).
Points of interest for tourists in this stage:
- Corti, Museum of Corsica, Citadel
- Excursion through picturesque inland villages (including Vezzani and Noceta)
- The Inzecca pass and Sampolo dam, the Strette pass