And time stopped in Pila-Canale
After discovering Corsican wines at the Chemin des Vignobles with Seb, it is now my turn to tell you about exploring rural and authentic Corsica. I had the pleasure of discovering it in early May, during my blogtrip day with the Travel Bloggers Convention. After a quick breakfast, I quickly rushed into Xavier’s van, our guide for the day from the Authentic Tours company, along with Amandine and Francois, Lucie, Souroure and Violaine. We got to know each other a little better, we talked, laughed, the day was looking to be very good. The sun was shining and we were driving on the famous Corsican winding roads, beware of motion sickness! Soon, Xavier offered a halt on the heights of Coti-Chiavari to tell us about Corsica, its History, its traditions. We were lucky, it was the best time to visit the place because the maquis (Corsican bush) was blooming and its very strong and pleasant aroma tickled our noses as soon as we left the car.
After several minutes of contemplation (and many photos!) we hit the road again towards Filitosa, an archaeological site located in the small village of Sollacaro. It was by chance that Charles-Antoine Cesari, owner of the land at the time, discovered on his property granite paladinis, in the 40s. These human shaped rocks represent warriors back, are thousands of years old and are actually relics from several ancient Corsican civilizations. Plan about an hour to explore the entire site that will soon be complemented by a brand new museum. After walking under a blazing sun, the smiling owner himself very kindly offered us Orezza based refreshments, the Corsican naturally sparkling water.
We then hit the winding roads again, towards Pila-Canale to have lunch at the Villa Guidi. We were starving. On the way, Xavier told us about Christian, our host. “He’s really something! ” he said. He is a former racing driver, who is now retired and lives happily while managing this charming guest house with his wife and daughter. They greeted us all smiles, very warmly, invited us to follow them in the garden by going around the house and there: it was marvelous. A beautiful table awaited us on a beautiful terrace with a panoramic view on the Taravo Valley. The view and the tranquility that emanates from the place were absolutely incredible, relaxing. Good smells were already coming out of the kitchen, Christian’s lovely granddaughter playfully waved at us, we almost felt at home instantly. After laughing at Christian’s anecdotes, it was now time to have a drink by the pool. I gazed at the beautiful garden and I quickly got frustrated by not being able to stay longer and enjoy chilling in the sun. The jacuzzi and sunbeds were seriously teasing me and in that moment it was settled: I had to come back one day with Seb!
If it is not shared, it is lost
When cutting the appetizing saucisson, Christian taught us a few things about the Corsican charcuterie and explained to us its intricacies. There are 3 types of Corsican charcuterie: industrial, semi-industrial and traditional differentiated by the origin and the way pigs are raised. In the case of industrial charcuterie, pig carcasses are imported from the mainland and is only processed in Corsica; it is the most common and also the cheapest variety. For the semi-industrial charcuterie, pigs are raised free in the Corsican maquis and are fed on chestnuts only shortly before being slaughtered. The quality is much better, you will easily find this variety in markets and prices will be slightly higher. Finally, pigs are free in the maquis and exclusively fed on chestnuts to produce authentic Corsican charcuterie. This latter variety is very rare but it is also by far the best. You will certainly need to take advice for one of the locals if you wish to taste it. And please, do not ever ask for donkey charcuterie to a Corsican it is definitely not from around here!
So we truly measured how damn lucky we were to enjoy traditional Corsican charcuterie paired with a delicious fresh white Necruzzi wine, one of the best in Corsica. You won’t find this one in stores, you have to be co-opted to get your hands on it. We were definitely spoiled! The fun continued in our plate when we tasted Marianne’s delicious cuisine. Every bite was a real treat and we harassed her to know her secrets and hope to try to reproduce those dishes at home. On the menu, creamy zucchini soup with mint, brocciu omelette (pronounced “broutch'”), Corsican veal and potatoes, ewe cheese and lemon cream for dessert, all paired with an excellent red Pierrella wine. Everything was homemade, lovingly prepared with products of high quality, you could easily tell. We had a very pleasant meal punctuated by good humor and precious Christian explanations on what was in our food and its provenance. When we got to dessert, Christian was longer telling us stories, he was singing them. It was like he wanted us to dive even deeper in his culture, his origins. You should know that singing is very present in the Corsican culture and serves to convey a range of emotions. He sang “A ghitarra” (that I recommend you to listen at the end of this blog post) a song about a guitar complaining about not being used as much as it used to, accompanied by his guitar and in Corsican, of course. I was amazed by this overflowing generosity and I listened to him religiously. I enjoyed this timeless moment and immersed myself as much as possible in the atmosphere. I did not want to leave, I felt so good.
This article was written as part of a partnership with the Ajaccio Tourist Office, the Filitosa archeologic site, the Authentic Tours company and the Villa Guidi during the Travel Bloggers Convention. Nevertheless, any opinion expressed here are our own and has not been subjected to any influence.