le lion de roccapina
The island of Corsica is often referred to as, ‘the Alpes of the sea’ and my first impressions confirmed this. Raising my eyes above the vivid water line of the Mediterranean and focusing solely on the rugged peaks in the distance, I could well believe that I was gazing at the French Alpes. Dramatic outcrops of granite, gnarly old olive trees, silvery eucalypts with girths as wide as I’ve ever seen, cork trees stripped from the waist down and towering pine trees are well entrenched in the place of snow capped peaks. The scent of eucalyptus crept into the car as we wound our way up the mountainside towards the town of Sartène on the western side of the island. Our destination was a private family run property set amongst 2000 hectares of wild Corsican bush land and fronting onto some idyllic coastline.
Imagine this, a tiny shepherd’s hut high up in the hills with a 180-degree panorama towards Roccapina beach and the sea beyond. Not a person or other dwelling as far as the eye can see except for the occasional wild bore and their piglets fossicking in the bush land. This is where I am. Dominating the view from our bergerie is the Lion de Roccapina, a jagged hunk of rock that has been chiselled by the elements to resemble that most majestic of beasts and on another equally impressive pile of granite, a well-preserved Genoese watchtower. It appears as if these two landmarks stand watch over this coastline and vet who comes and goes. Not that there is much coming and going; the beach has no road access so apart from an occasional pleasure boat and the guests from this domaine, (there are twelve bergeries in total on this property) their job as sentinels is an honorary one.
The bergerie is low lying and made of irregular shaped granite blocks. Entering the house requires ducking, even for me, as the head height is low. The kitchen is a square shaped room, well equipped and Provencal in style. The necessities of modern life are hidden behind distressed wooden panelling and the china and glassware are in a couple of small antique armoires. A wooden table and chairs, with an embroidered cream coloured cloth and a jug of mixed olive and myrtle leaves, sits in the middle of the room. An over-sized granite sink lives under the window and an open fireplace is on the other wall. A short corridor leads to the bedroom and bathroom. The bedroom is sweet; a cosy rose coloured boutis covers the bed and aged wooden doors front a concealed wardrobe. The desk, where I am writing this letter, is placed under the window and on it a bunch of fuzzy wildflowers and a small crystal candelabra lend intimacy to this room. The windows are shuttered and the floors, as in all the rooms are tiled in terracotta. The owners have decorated this shepherd’s hut with such charm – every fixture and fitting is individual and that makes me feel I am in my own home rather than in a guesthouse. Comfort and a feeling of welcome are so often about the small touches. Every morning fresh bread and croissants are delivered to the door in a woven basket, the croissants wrapped in a linen napkin and tied off with string and a bunch of myrtlle.
The weather has not entirely shined on us so days on the beach have not been as long or as many as planned.
That hasn’t mattered as walks in the sweet scented maquis, (the bush land that Napoleon Bonaparte was so fond of) lazy lunches and plenty of reading have kept us entertained.
Today, I am hoping the clouds will clear and the swimming will begin… xv