The Agriates green desert
The cows are lyng lazily on the white beach. All around the blooms of maquis, the mediterranean bush: pink cistus, white myrtle, blue rosemary, yellow broom. Despite the name, that evokes sand and rock, the Desert des Agriates is more like a wild garden, where the scents of the Mediterranean scrub are stronger under the sun.
On the edge of the Balagne region, between Saint-Florent and the mouth of Ostriconi river, the Desert des Agriates is a natural area of 15 thousand hectares. A desert of green valleys and rocky ridges, burnt by summertime, which suddenly melts into the blue of the Mediterranean. Up to the middle of the nineteenth century, this area was the granary of Cap Corse, with crops of wheat, olive groves, vineyards and orchards. Farmers arrived by boat from Nonza, Canari, Saint Florent to work the land.
Then the fields were deserted and nature took over. Today in this scented desert lives just the Casta’s inhabitants and some shepherds with grazing goats, lost in the dense bush. All around the wild nature, apart a couple of small vineyers, Clos Teddi and Domaine Giacometti, which produce a very special white wine.
There are three ways to visit this coast. Renting a jeep and driving on a rough road as far as Saleccia beach, taking a boat from the Saint-Florence harbour just to Lotu beach, or walking along Sentier du Littoral. This long foothpath runs along the sea and can be covered in three days, stopping at the Saleccia’s campsire and at the Ghignu gite, a rural accomodation in old barns, among olive groves and rock rose’s clumps.
After two days walking, with pleasant sea dips in clear water coves, shelted by red rocks, we reach the Ostriconi river valley. A kilometre of sand dunes with gnarled junipers and and trapped ponds. And after a swim in the crystal water you can lie on the sand, where white wild lillies grow.