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    Corsica - a rough hewn, sparkling gem

    Corsica really does have something for everyone. There certainly was plenty for us - mountains and warm sea, ancient sites and rugged country, old villages and modernity lurking quietly in the background.

    Our three-stop fortnight began at La Chiappa, east of Porto Vecchio in the south. The delightful freedom of finally throwing off clothes and our first swims in sparking warm sea after an early flight and the drive down from Bastia. La Chiappa has nearly everything for the two of us. We’d walk to the end of the two beaches and swim back, pick up fresh croissants and back to the tent for breakfast. The profusion of fish over the rocky bits of the shore, which stretched away south from a third, tiny beach, with a nature trail through the dry maquis scrub heath, rocks carved smooth and weird by the sea.  We quickly revised our our day in, day out plans to have another day in, so much to do here, just to be here, Naturists in nature.

    We did venture out for the stone forest of Palaggiu and the other Megalithes de Cauria. Finding the 258 menhir site was tricky - a gateway entrance was blocked with stone rubble. The benefit - no-one else there and a real sense of the ancient, of mystery, of what on Earth was all this about?

    Later that day, lying together naked under a palm tree on the edge of the beach as dusk settled, a band playing a great mix of traditional Corsican and well-known rock music, and slipping into the dark sea as the full moon rose and the clouds skipped away. Silvery air bubbles in the black water streaming from my fingertips, just the pair of us flowing in the water, on the edge of deep.

    U Furu is a few kilometres west of Porto Vecchio, a quiet spot in the foothills with a lovely pool and bar area - so we doubled our eating-out budget for the homemade cooking and wonderful Corsican beer. The Furu river is even better, an astonishing trail of tumbling waterfalls and smoothed-rock pools, water sparkling and rocks glowing in the sunshine. Time vanished with the simplicity and rugged beauty, we bathed all day as babes in nature. We did venture away to Sartene, Propriano, the museum at Ste Lucie de Tallano but for our last day at U Furu, no question: up the river once more. This time I ventured barefoot right to the top of all of the pools and waterfalls with only swim goggles and swam back in every swimmable spot of water. 

    If Riva Bella, halfway up the east coast, didn’t quite match these standards, that was hardly surprising. And that did help us to put on some clothes and get out and see a bit more of Corsica. We hiked up into the mountains at Col de Bavella where the GR20 footpath crosses the road - that one for another time. We swam at the far north at busy Barcaggio, emboldened by our now-normal nakedness to walk to Cap Corse’s northern most tip wearing only bikini and Speedos. Marvelled at the road here - narrow and plunging, clinging way high up the coast cliff, exhilaratingly slow and not for the faint hearted! The citadel at Bastia not quite matching the astonishing cliff top belvedere at Bonifacio, with the limestone carved harbour far below. A final day around Corte, fabulous walking into dramatic mountain landscapes and a rather more cheeky skinny-dip than the easy naturism of U Furu. 

    The stretch of sand at Riva Bella seemed to curve forever, north from the nature reserve and etangs of the campsite; I swam around the rocks at its end to the next eternal beach. Our little cabin here was fun after our small tent pitched among the trees. Early morning running along the sand, the calm of yoga poses towards a fresh-risen sun, then swims and fresh bread and coffee for breakfast. The half light of a last morning swim, the sun rising from the sea through crook of my arm front crawling back to land; skin salty fresh from Mediterranean seas as we journeyed home

    Olly Watts




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