Thursday, 11 June 2009


I’ve had a bee in my bonnet for a while now about visiting Patrimonio, so as I had two days off together this week, I decided to find a little hotel and spend 48 hours exploring the area. The route from Bastia to Patrimonio takes you over the Col de Teghime which is quite a curiosity because from here you can see the sea on both sides of the island at the same time.

This area is principally known for its AOC wines and Muscats (Appellation d’Origine Controlée) which are excellent. There are 33 Domaines in total surrounding Patrimonio, and there are information panels everywhere indicating the ‘Route des Vins’. You’ll get the best prices buying direct from the ‘caves’ and most producers are happy to let you taste.

Two of my favourites are the Domaine Louis Montemagni in the heart of the village and the Domaine Lazzarini overlooking the convent. These two produce two of the best Muscats I have tasted. I wandered up past the post office and spotted what I thought was a tomb, but turned out to be the smallest church I have ever seen!

I came across the Hotel La Palma purely by chance but it looked just my sort of place; simple but with character and some nice outdoor space. The staff were really friendly when I made the initial enquiry, and seemed pleased that I’d found their newly renovated hotel. I had the choice of a Mansarde room with velux (sloping ceiling) or a superior double for very little extra, so that’s the one I went for.

The hotel is out of the village which didn’t bother me at all and there was a really nice terrace with palm tree where breakfast was served. In the evening I sat out on my balcony and enjoyed a chapter with Agatha (Christie). The next morning the sun was shining and I was lucky enough to grab a prime spot on the terrace for breakfast under the palm tree.

I was soon joined by my new friend, who looked like a black and white braque (hunting dog). I asked the owner and she admitted that it wasn’t a braque, but that her husband had taken his hair clippers to it so that it wouldn’t feel the heat so much in the summer. She seemed rather embarrassed and sure enough when I took a closer look, I realised that it wasn’t a short haired dog, but one that had been rather inexpertly shorn! It was hard to tear myself away from the lovely terrace, but the main reason for my visit to this area was the Church of San Michel de Murato.

This church is extraordinary not only for the Pisan architecture and almost Pagan style adornments, but mostly because of the colour. Dating back to the 12th century, the church is built in a striking combination of white granite and extremely rare green granite. There is a panel at the entrance to the site explaining all about the church, but I was far too carried away taking photos to really take that in.

The view from up here is quite stunning too and when I arrived there wasn’t another soul so it was a nice place to just sit and collect my thoughts for a while. Shortly afterwards a caravan of four rather loud French visitors and their dog arrived so I decided to push on.

I got a bit muddled with my map as it had been accidentally ripped at a crucial point earlier in the day, but I decided to take a chance and keep going in the same general direction and see what happened. The village of Murato turned out to be much larger than I’d imagined and seemed quite lively with children playing and people chatting outside the bar and general store.

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