Known as the city of salt, this area isn’t just home to some of the most beautiful beaches of the island. Scratch a little deeper and its historic and even prehistoric past emerge. Three little known sites remind us that man has settled here for millennia. Through archaeology we discover authentic Corsica.
Porto-Vecchio is well known for its superb sandy beaches lined with pine trees. And the perched town is famous for its history. But sometimes its secrets are well kept. Although the city dates to the Genoese era, the area has been inhabited for much longer. Immerse yourself into the life of the region and spend a day diving into prehistory with a visit to three key sites: Tappa, Ceccia and Araghju, all within a 20-kilometre radius.
Start your journey back in time at the western exit of the city, towards Sotta. A signpost indicates the site of Tappa which is very close to the road, behind a barrier and hidden in a bushy oak grove. But less than ten minutes’ walk away you will discover an ancient site. At 60 metres high, it offers superb views over the surrounding mountains, and consists of a cyclopean enclosure surrounding a village which contains a monumental ‘torre’. Tappa was a fortified site which dates to the Bronze Age and was occupied between 1,800 and 1,400 BC; it has been the subject of excavation campaigns since the early 1960s. These digs have focused on understanding how the life and daily activities of these megalithic peoples, comprised of small family groups living on the resources of the Stabiacciu plain, were organised. A listed Historic Monument, the site has been the subject of a new excavation campaign for the past two years but has yet to reveal all its secrets.
Then, head towards the village of Ceccia, going up towards Porto-Vecchio. Follow a small path in the center of the village - it takes about 40 minutes to do a round trip – which will bring you to the Casteddu de Ceccia, 174 metres above sea level. Formed by a torra and a circular monument about 12 metres in diameter dating from 1,350 BC, remains discovered during excavations have revealed that this site was occupied during the Neolithic Age, the Bronze Age, the end of the Iron Age and the Middle Ages.
Continue north, and just after the village of Trinidad make your way to the hamlet of Araghju. Leave your car in the small car park and then take the path which leads up to Casteddu. The walk is more challenging and stonier than for the other two sites, but there is shade, and it is well worth the detour. After a 30-minute climb – a bottle of water is essential – you will discover a fortress built by the Torrean civilisation about 2,500 years ago, perched 275 metres above sea level. You enter the site through a door with an original lintel, to visit different living spaces within a semicircular layout of granite blocks where the inhabitants of the region gathered in times of danger. At the entrance, there is a plan of the site and information. Once inside, the perched rocks enable you to enjoy views over the entire plain and as far as the sea and the bays of Stagnolu and Saint-Cyprien.
Do the walls speak?
If you want to continue with the historical theme, you can dive into the nightlife of Porto-Vecchian. And no, we don’t mean visiting bars and other festive places, but discover the Porto-Vecchio of yesteryear with a guided night-time tour. Archive images are projected on the walls at nightfall that tell stories of the salt marshes, and cork production... New technologies guide visitors and bring to life images of how the city looked years ago.
These unique guided visits take place on Thursday evenings when the air is cool. Details are available at the tourist office
A day in the mountains at Ospedale
Here beaches are paired with mountains... In the far south, it takes very little time to realise that there is a completely different side of the region. A short tour on the Ospedale road should be enough to convince you just how different only half an hour from Porto-Vecchio, when you find yourself on a promontory on the edge of a forest with incredible views of the whole region as far as the island of Sardinia.
You can walk, hike, go tree climbing, dine enjoying stunning views or relax under the shade of pine trees in one of the mountain restaurants, pause to take in the views at the dam ... There’s plenty to see and do to make for an unforgettable day.
A short tour of the Lecci market
In just a few years, this has become one of the most unmissable visits. Every Wednesday morning, through summer and winter, the pine forest in front of the tourist office bursts into activity as stalls laden with local produce and artisan crafts are set up for the weekly market.
Come to browse, to enjoy the superb quality of the products, and chat with the locals in the shade of the pine trees... Take a moment to enjoy the hustle and bustle, and no doubt discover a souvenir to cherish.