Wednesday, 30 September 2009


The best thing about Pianottoli-Caldarello is that the most amazing collection of beaches and coves which are tucked away behind the little village out of sight.

Being the slick travel professional that I am, I’d set out without a map and with only sketchy directions (i.e. I’d seen the word ‘mer’ on one of the signposts!), so I turned off just after the Spar and headed down towards the port, thinking that the beach would be nearby. The port area looked more like a lake, and after surprising some Germans who’d spent the night in their campervan and weren’t expecting to see me taking photos when they opened their curtains, I came to the conclusion that I was in the wrong place.

From where I’d parked, I could see a hotel on the little bit of beach opposite but I knew from postcards that there is a tower on the beach at Pianottoli so I carried on, on the basis that there were signs for snack bars and restaurants, so there had to be something further on worth seeing. A combination of luck and judgment brought me to the parking area of San Giovanni which is part of the Bouches de Bonifacio nature reserve. I could see the tower in the distance, so I set off on foot and after a couple of false starts, found myself on the beach I was looking for.

There wasn’t a soul on the beach and the water was so still that it hardly seemed to ripple as the water lapped the shore. I took off my trusty flipflips and walked through the water to the strange trees growing in the sand. It wasn’t long before I noticed that the water was actually full of tiny fishes so I stood still and sure enough they were soon swimming between my feet. I caught a glimpse of some larger ones that would have been delicious on the barbeque, but as the only option was to catch them in my hands and take them back to the car in my pockets, I decided to leave them alone!

Pianottoli has a network of little paths backing the beach that lead through undergrowth to other coves, and as I had plenty of time and didn’t fancy lying on the beach all day, I decided to explore. I retraced my steps almost to the parking area and followed the worn footpath behind the sign reminding visitors that fishing for sea urchins is strictly forbidden between 30 April and 1 November. Before long I was walking between wetlands and I was beginning to think that I should head back, when the path opened up on the most beautiful stretch of sand.

The water was so inviting but I hadn’t brought my beach bag with me (clever!) so I took my flipflops off and paddled my feet. This beach is basically a collection of coves, each one like a miniature swimming pool with a shallow edge and then a deeper section where the sand shelves quite steeply so it wasn’t long before my clothes were wet as well as my feet...

There still wasn’t anyone to be seen on the beach which was amazing considering the weather – 29 degrees and just a light breeze, so I wandered further and further exploring the rocks and creeks. The sand underfoot changed from the fine white sand where I’d emerged from the path, to a coarser grain sand, and as I was pondering how far I’d walked I was reminded how close Pianottoli is to Figari airport as the CCM flight from Nice came in to land and I was able to wave a cheery welcome to the passengers on board.

I’d reached a natural barrier in the beach which was too deep to cross fully clothed, and too rocky to climb over barefoot, which was when I realised I had no idea where I’d left my flipflops.

I retraced my steps worried that I would have to pick my way through the paths to the parking area barefoot, and then break out my emergency back up flipflops (I always carry a spare pair in the car!) when I noticed something gently bobbing in the water. Yes, amazingly my flipflops were floating in one of the little creeks! Perhaps next time I should put my rocks shoes on when I get out of the car...

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