Motorcycle Tour of Sardinia and Corsica - Part 1
Don’t worry that mid-October isn’t warm enough for riding; these two sunny and rugged islands are surrounded by the temperate waters of the Mediterranean Sea, leading to comfortable autumn temperatures.
And though the days are somewhat shorter, there is still plenty of daylight to ride in, and earlier sunsets just mean that the vibrant Mediterranean nightlife begins sooner!
On the first riding day of the tour, we said arrivederci to Italy and headed north to begin exploring the French island of Corsica, but we will return to Sardinia on our fourth day of riding.
Day 1: Olbia to Ajaccio 224 km
When you’re on an island, your route is usually not far from the sea, and our ride north from Olbia was mostly on the well-paved roads of the Costa Smeralda or Emerald Coast, which is dotted with cozy white sand beaches nestled in rugged coves.
A warm, sunny day made the one-hour ferry ride from the Sardinian port town of Santa Teresa a pleasant trip, and great introduction to Corsica, for we arrived in Bonifacio, the city of cliffs, under the looming watch of the Old Stone Citadel that towers over the harbor.
Bonifacio is heavily fortified, as are most main Corsican towns, because Italy and France have fought for control of Corsica since medieval times. It has been part of France since 1769, but its Italian roots remain strong. The Corsican language, still spoken by many here, has an Italian flavor and many people and places have Italian names.
Not surprisingly, Corsican cuisine is a mixture of French and Italian influences, and seafood lovers can get their fill of Italian pastas or French stews made with fresh catches of the day. The vegetarian in our group says he’s very satisfied with the dishes he’s been served, such as spiced grilled or batter-fried vegetables, and the Mediterranean-style salads, often including pecorino, a seasoned sheep cheese that’s a Sardinian specialty. Meat lovers should try dishes created from the semi-wild pigs that roam free to forage for food for much of the year. The technique yields excellent flavor, but can be a hazard for motorcyclists!
When we veered away from the coast, our route passed through compact pastures where goats, sheep, and cattle grazed — sometimes while fenced in, and other times in or alongside the road!
Our group has now finished its first day of riding together, and the experience has confirmed what we knew from the start: This group is going to have fun together. Fun from the ride, and fun from getting to know each other. When the phones come out during meals and rest stops, we’re not isolating, but showing each other photos of our families and bragging about them. Plus, there’s been a good bit of trying to outdo each other describing how awesome our previous motorcycle trips have been. The 11 people on the tour represent five countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Kuwait, and the U.S.), and we’re all enjoying swapping stories about our homelands and what it’s like to be a motorcyclist there.
Riding skills among the group vary a bit, but after just one day of riding together, it’s clear that we all definitely have above-average skills and will be more than capable of meeting the challenges of riding the roads on these two islands.
Day 2: Ajaccio to Corte 174 km
Corsicans have a soft spot in their heart for Napoleon Bonaparte, who was born in Ajaccio, and one can visit his house of birth there. But all residents, whether they be of French or Italian origin, celebrate Pasquale Paoli, who led Corsica during its 14 years of independence in the late 1700s. That brief period of autonomy resonates today, and most residents consider themselves Corsicans first, and citizens of France second. There is also a simmering independence movement among many residents who take to heart the Corsican adage: “Often conquered, never subdued.”
In the morning, we began our ride from Ajaccio to Corte, along the coast and aside the distinctive red cliffs in this area, stopping at Piana to take in a visually stunning view of the interior mountains that we soon passed through, taking us to our destination, Corte.
This tour is designated Advanced, not because the roads are not good (they are excellent for the most part), but because many routes on this tour are on twisty roads climbing and descending through switchbacks and challenging hairpin turns.
Overcoming these riding challenges are their own reward, but at the end of the day, after arriving in Corte, we were also blessed with stunning vistas of the expansive valleys and towering mountains surrounding us, beautifully glowing in the orange and red light of the setting sun.
Sardinia & Corsica - Riders' Heaven
Ride some of the best roads in Europe and be amazed by stunning scenery. Get ready for one of the best riding adventures.
Welcome to one of the best riding adventures! Beautiful Costa Smeralda, in the north east of Sardinia, is our starting point for discovering the island.
- Countries: Italy , France
- Days: 9 Days: / 7 riding days
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