OverviewCapu di u Vitullu is the tallest summit of Les Calenche, the region in the west of Corsica which renowned for its bizarre rock formations as well as climbing routes of nearly all difficulties. Capu di u Vitullu is very close to the second highest peak in the Calenche, Capu d'Orto, with its spectacular view down to the Gulf of Porto. Location and ascent route are pretty similar. Only the last stretch to the summit of Capu di u Vitullu gives you perfect views of the coast to the west and southwest as well as a good overview over Les Calenche.
As with Capu d'Ortu, one of the main attractions (in my opinion) is the flora with sage and thyme bushes as well as a whole bunch of sweet smelling flowers. And of course a lot of bees and butterflies taking advantage of them. Be prepared to pluck some spices for your dinner!
Getting ThereCorsica can be reached by ferry or by plane. Major gateways are Ajaccio in the west and Bastia in the north. Usually both ferries and planes start from Marseille or Nice on the Côte d'Azur.
Capu di u Vitullu is located a little south of Porto, the main town in the northwest of Corsica. It is vary close to Capu d'Orto. You'll reach Porto from Ajaccio via the coastal highway D81. It is not very far but the highway winds around and over a lot of bays and passes. Shortly before Porto you have to go through the Calenche. The road is VERY narrow, and since the Calenche is a major tourist attraction lots of coaches use it. So it can take up to an hour to drive the 5km between Piana and Porto! Again, you might want to start early. The various trailheads are all on this road.
From Bastia you need to take RN 193. At Francardo you turn right onto D84 which will lead you through the famous gorge of Scala Sta. Regina. On your right hand side you will soon see Monte Cinto and Paglia Orba before you head upwards to the pass of Col de Vergio (1477m). From here you can already see Porto as well as Capo d'Orto though the actual drive will take you about an hour due to the winding narrow road.
As said above, Les Calenche are THE major attraction in the west of corsica. Since Capo d'Orto and Capo di u Vitullu are part of the Calenche I'll insert a couple of lines here.
The attractions of the region are the bizarre rocks that compose the Calenche. The longer you look the more you wonder how this whole area has been formed (see section below). There is the obvious legend that some human challenged the Devil - and won. The Devil - being very angry - tortured the country instead - and this is how Les Calenche came into being.
Les Calenche continue down to sea level - and below. I've been told that it is very worthwhile to ask one of the local fishermen to show the gorges, bays and grottos to you that upen up just above and below the surface of the sea. I haven't been on one of these cruises but know people who have...
Be sure to step a little aside! Along the road D81 - where most of the tourists go - you won't find any rest. The coaches which meet on the narrow road will always draw you back into real life by their honking horns. But after some 2km you are on your own and can explore or even climb the fascinating rocks.
The pictures that I included on this page show the climbing aspect of Les Calenche whereas the ones on the Capu d'Orto-page show the bizarre forms.
Tafoni - the typical erosion structures of Corsica and SardiniaThe Calenche is composed of a large variety of strange looking rock formations, all having been formed by ages of erosion. Similar structures can be seen on Sardinia and through pictures at SP I have recognized tham in faraway parts of the world as well. For example see the elephant structure in Gem Canyon that Scott Patterson posted. In Corsica this kind of erosion is called Tafoni, derived from the Corsican word tafonare for "perforate". In most of the cases Tafoni have been hollowed out in a semi circular fashion.
The actual process is a combination of physical and chemical erosion forms. Through capillary forces moisture within the rock is allowed to climb to the surface of the rock. Since the fluids dissolve part or the inner rock structure they can deposit these minerals on the surface which form a very hard but also very thin outside crust. In the course of time the effect weakens (or softens) the inner rock structure while the outside crust gets harder and harder.
Once the crust (mainly iron and manganese oxide) is broken and wind and rain can erode the inner and softer rock, the latter is eaten away rapidly (at least on a geological scale) like the innards of your regular breakfast egg. Since moisture will stay longer and since Evaporation is occurring less on the shadowy northern parts of the rocks the crusts there remain very thin and can get broken much more easily.
The whole Tafoni process takes very long and today's Tafonis have been being created since the last ice ages.
Red TapeThere are no limitations within the area. Hiking and parking is free. Around the trailheads in the Calenche there are only a few parking places so you might want to start from the village of Piana. The sports field to the northeast of Piana is the best starting point due to a couple of parking places.
When To ClimbCapu di u Vitullu can be climbed all year round. You'll encounter snow in winter but the ascent is rather easy so it shouldn't pose any problem. The best season is spring, however. The blossoming machia is a sight to see and smell. You'll find quite a lot of spices, mainly sage and thyme.
CampingThere's a campground at sea level at the beach of porto. Other accomodation can be found in Porto, Piana or Evisa (or any of the smaller villages). Most appartments and hotels are closed out of season, however. I am not aware that free camping is restricted. But due to the proximity of Porto it is not really neccessary.
Mountain ConditionsFor Weather information for Corsica lookup the Meteo Corse page. You should lookup Porto.
Maps 'n' BooksAs for Maps I used only a road map scale 1:200000 since the guidebook I used has maps and is really excellent.
The book is:
Corsica (Corse / Korsika)
Klaus Wolfsperger, Tom Krupp
ISBN: 3-7633-4819-0 (English)
ISBN: 3-7633-4907-3 (French)
ISBN: 3-7633-4280-X (German)