Erbalunga was once the most important harbour on the Cap Corse, a fact supported by the magnificent houses that still stud the peninsula to this day. An intimate network of squares and narrow streets lead down to the harbour, providing a sanctuary to those seeking a taste of authentic village life. The ruins of the Genoese tower here are a popular subject choice for artists and photographers and the village is also a lively venue for music and arts festivals. There is a good range of facilities including shops, a cash dispenser machine, post office, bars and restaurants and a dive school at Sisco Marina, slightly further north.
There are pebbles and rocks behind the port from which you can paddle and swim from.
Plage de Porticciolo
The nearest beach to Erbalunga is the Plage de Porticciolo. Just 15 minutes north of the town lies a sandy beach near a small port which has turquoise sea and white sand. Its position means that it is rarely busy, and has a beautiful backdrop.
Plage de Farinole
Located past Patrimonio on the western side of the Cap Corse this is a fine sandy beach with a bar & restaurant, and which is generally not too busy. Please be aware that there are often some strong undercurrents and so it can be quite dangerous, especially when the sea is less than calm.
Plage de Nonza
This beach lies north of the village perched on its cliffs and appears black from there. It is in fact made up of green/grey pebbles, many of which are tinted black from asbestos waste, a result of the asbestos mining that previously took place near here. Locals use the beach (which is usually deserted due to its appearance). There are 260 steps leading down to the beach from the village but it is easier to drive to the far end of the beach.
The narrow road down to the golfe d’Aliso (just after the turn off for Luri) ends at a small, red, sandy beach.
Plage de Barcaggio
The most northern beach of the island is often windy but has lovely white sand.
Plage de Tamarone
Situated 2.5km north of Macinaggio at the end of a dirt road is the sandy and clean Plage de Tamarone that boasts deep and clear waters. From Macinaggio car park here, various walks are marked which take you through the Site Naturel de la Capandula. This reserve also includes the islands off the coast, which you can see. There is a coastal walk (sentier des douaniers) leading to Barcaggio (3-4hours one way) and also a shorter 1hr30 circuit that takes in many of the highlights and leads to a second beach Plage des Iles.
Fiera di u Vinu – Luri, July
A lively festival celebrating the wine produced in the Cap Corse region.
A Notte di a Memoria – The Releve du Gouverneur - Bastia, July
A re-enactment of the arrival of the French governor with a light and drum parade through the streets of the citadel.
Les Nuits de la Guitare – Patrimonio, July
Guitar festival with all genres: jazz, flamenco, blues, rock...
Porto Latino - St Florent, August
A hot Latin festival with nightly open-air concerts held in the citadel.
Festival de la Chanson/Corse Pascal Paoli – Furiani, August
Corsican singing concerts.
Festival de Musique – Erbalunga, August
Every type of music you can image from rock to salsa, blues to jazz.
THINGS TO SEE & DO
There is a horse riding centre in Erbalunga for those with some experience, offering treks into the mountains and on to the sandy beaches further up the coast, from 1 hour to a day in duration.
Many of the beaches in this area are shingle and snorkelling from the rocky promontaries is popular with the locals and tourists alike. However, the sandy beach at Pietracorbara 9km north of Erbalunga offers clear waters, a café and a water sports centre with canoeing, windsurfing and sailing all available for both adults and children.
Drive around Cap Corse
Often called an island within an island, the Cap Corse is a maquis covered peninsula whose history sets it apart from the rest of the island. Tiny ports divide the east side as the western villages are sited on rugged cliffs. On the west of Cap Corse, narrow roads wind above a dramatically serrated coastline, dotted with little coves, whilst the sea washes on the rocks below and woods and maquis outline the peaks above. A complete circuit of the Cap Corse will take you about four hours (without stops) and we recommend that you always drive in a clockwise direction so that you are always in the inside lane (the road can be narrow and winding and the drops are precipitous and rather scary!).
Stop here for lunch and watch the fishermen offload their catch.
At the northerly point of Cap Corse at Rogliano stands the Moulin Mattei restored by the Mattei family (of apéritif fame) in the 20th Century, a short walk will afford you magnificent if not windy views out over either side of the Cap and if you are lucky you will see the Tuscan islands and the coast of Italy beyond.
From Macinaggio, one can walk the sentiers des douaniers (customs officers route) to Barcaggio, many follow just a small part of the route for a day's walking - the famous Genoese towers along the way are an impressive sight against the coastal backdrop. The path goes through the Capandula nature reserve which also boasts excellent, uncrowded beaches. Alternatively, there is an hour-long boat trip to the beach at Barcaggio operating in summer, but it is worth checking operating dates locally.
Worth visiting is Nonza, a flower-garnished slate roofed village, which seems to have sprouted from its craggy foundations. You can climb to the ruined tower for superb views or drive down to the beach which has black sand.
Capital of Haute Corse and just a 15 minute drive from Erbalunga is Bastia, a busy town with a population of 50,000, making it the second largest town on the island. The Place St Nicolas is a pleasant spot to soak up Bastia’s Mediterranean atmosphere and with its shady trees and cafes is the social hub of the town. The Boulevard Paoli and Rue César Campinchi are the main shopping streets running parallel to the square. The old town lies south of Place St Nicolas and surrounds the old port which should not be missed. It is overlooked by the high honey-coloured Genoese Citadel (quite a climb) and bustles with harbourside bars and restaurants. Wander through the old streets behind the old port to find the Place du Marché where there is a local farmers market each morning and the church of St Jean Baptiste, Corsica's largest church is well worth a visit.