A little background: Bozio is a region comprising a dozen or so villages that were at one time heavily focused on agriculture and livestock farming: vineyards as well as lentil and wheat fields and chestnut groves were commonplace and sheep, goat and pig farmers were a common sight.
Today this region, like many villages in Corsica has seen much of its population drift away over the years, but there have nonetheless been a number of fantastic personal initiatives to remedy this including: the creation of holiday cottages, guesthouses, an ecomuseum, hostels and a creperie as well as the settling of various artisans, shepherds and producers, who have come to the village to embark on a new life or turn their passion into a livelihood, thus bringing new life to the places dear to their ancestors.
Bozio is also a place of exceptional richness, from its nature, heritage, and culture: Chapels, churches, mills, pagliaghji and chestnut barns are just some of its many treasures. There is also no shortage of outdoor activities, thanks in particular to the du Mare a Mare path … making the region an inexhaustible and unspoilt playground whether you are seasoned athletes or simple walkers.
While we’re waiting, to entice you to visit, follow me for an easy hike in the hills of Mercuriu, in the commune of Santa Lucia: The Chapel of Santa Servanda
The hike to the Chapel of Santa Servanda starts in the village of Santa Lucia di Mercuriu, 15 minutes from Corte. When you reach the village square and are facing the fountain, go left between the two houses and pass the gate. Continue between the narrow streets still to the left, and you will pass a second gate. The path starts here. Pass the last two pallet gates and here we are. Below you, to your right, are the hamlets of Santa Lucia: U Pughjolu, l'Aghja Suttana and U Pian di Vallu. The climb begins very gently, and even though the sun is not out at this time of year, the temperature is mild. It’s early spring, and the heather is in bloom. The path isn’t marked but there’s a clear route through the scrub. Little by little the climb gets steeper, and along the path traces of the past give us a glimpse at what life was like for the ancients: a water reservoir (a pozza), a threshing floor for wheat (l'aghja) and then these stone walls which were once farming boundaries (muragliette). Santa Lucia di Mercuriu now behind me, keeps an eye on me during the ascent. To my right, in the distance, are the plain of Corte, the villages of Venacais and the mountains, still covered in snow.
The climb lasts a good hour throughout which I can see the village of Tralonca down below me to the left on its rocky outcrop. Upon reaching my destination, I come to a plateau, at 1043 altitude, and the ruins of the Chapelle de Santa Servanda. Probably built in the 16th century, it was once possibly, according to oral tradition, the chapel of the ancient primitive village of Campu Mare. I’m struck by the angles of the stone walls, which are perfectly straight, as well as the still visible barrel vault. In this exact spot the hiker has a 360 degree view of Bozio : Facing us are Sermanu and Sant'Andria while to our right is the Chirgu hilltop, a rocky outcrop towards which the steeple of Castellare di Mercuriu all but hidden in the valley, points.
I enjoy the view before setting off back down again, noticing during my descent, an old rounded pagliaghju below me, a sight quite uncommon in this region. For those not wanting to go back the way they came, there is an alternative: the most fearless among us may prefer to take the path through the scrub, which can be found to the left of the Chapel! Whatever you decide, be careful and keep Santa Lucia village within view… The village has a bar restaurant where you can quench your thirst upon arrival.
Hike duration: 2.5 hours with break stops
Make sure you have good walking shoes and enough water.
Start of the hike and view of the village of Santa Lucia di Mercuriu
View of the village of Tralonca
The path follows the muraglie with a view of the Venacais plain and the snow-capped mountains in the distance
The Chapel of Santa Servanda
The barrel vault
Back to the village of Santa Lucia di Mercuriu