Thursday, 7 May 2009

Walking in Corsica – Cauria Archaeological site

Cauria actually comprises three archaeological sites; the menhirs (standing stones) of Stantari and Renaghju, and the Dolmen de Fontanaccia. You don’t need any special shoes for this one – my trusty flip flops and I managed just fine – but do take hats for kids and water. It's a sand/dirt track for about 500m from the parking area, and then the track splits and you take the right fork which leads you down to the first alignment of Stantari.

The menhirs are fenced in but this is mainly to keep the cows out! Like most sites in Corsica, you can get up close and personal with the menhirs and if you’re walking with children this is a nice place to stop for a rest and/or a picnic. It was here that I had to confront one of my greatest fears when walking alone in Corsica – cows! I am terrified of big animals and I came across a herd of ‘free range’ cows (i.e. no fence) just past the first site. They were huge. With horns. And a bull. Eek! I am sure they were too busy sunbathing to notice me but all I could think was that I was glad I hadn’t worn my red t-shirt after all!

I think the best way round this site is Stantari, Renaghju and then the Dolmen, so I took the track keeping to the left of the Stantari menhirs, and continued on following the dirt track. There are few if any signs marking the way, but you can’t really go wrong. Keep going and you’ll come to a clearing which at this time of year is covered with daisies and buttercups, with a huge tree on your right. Up ahead and to the right you’ll see the standing stones of the Renaghju site.

If you’ve seen Filitosa, Stantari may have fallen a bit flat as it’s like seeing the Nimes Arena after the Colosseum in Rome, but Renaghju is completely different and feels almost like something off of a film set for Robin Hood. The stones are not uniform and seem to be arranged in a higgledy-piggledy fashion along the path. To my mind, they almost resembled grave stones and the site had a real air of peace and tranquillity. When I stopped walking it was just completely silent. Retrace your steps back to the gate and as you leave you’ll see another pathway up to your left. Follow this uphill until you get to the orange markers where you turn left, following the direction of the arrow.

The Dolmen de Fontanaccia is one of the best preserved and most photographed in Corsica. Known as ‘A Stazzona di u Diavulu’ (The Devil’s Forge), it dates back to the Neolithic age and is a necropolis/tomb. It is made from 6 slabs of granite and measures 3.4m x 2.9m. Today the front part is open - originally this would also have been sealed, but only a small fragment of this part remains. This is another nice place to stop and admire the views before heading back down again. Follow the track back to the orange markers and just ahead and to the left you will see another track.

Follow this track downhill and you will find yourself once again at the starting point of the Stantari menhirs. Turn left and head back up to the parking area. The walk is a relatively easy one for all the family and you can see all the sites in an hour if you don’t dawdle.

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