The island of Corsica is covered, mostly in its Northern part, with luxuriant pine forests and is plenty of little lakes, unlike Sardinia, the other large island located in the middle Tyrrenian sea. Due to this peculiarity, which contributes to give to the landscape a stunning alpine look, with peaks over 2.000 m. that suddenly fall away into the sea, Corsica is also called the “Green Island”. The Restonica Valley, located in the Northern of the island (Haute Corse), is one of the most beautiful places of Corsica; surrounded by stunning granite peaks and charming mountain lakes, and cut through by the thundering Restonica river, which flows with crystal clear and icy waters through the granite cliffs and gorges and gives the name to the valley, it’s the most famous place of Corsican hiking and climbing.
Taking its origin from the town of Corte, the ancient capital of the island, the valley penetrates into the heart of Corsican mountains, running a long time towards SW.
A very narrow 15 km long road, overcoming about 1.000 m of difference in level, gets to the “Bergeries de Grottelle” m. 1370, a magic place surrounded by the highest peaks of the Restonica Group: Monte Rotondo m. 2622, the second highest peak on the island after Monte Cinto, Punta alle Porta m. 2313, Pointe des Sept Lacs m. 2266, Lombarduccio m. 2261, Punta Capitello m. 2245, Pain de Sucre m. 2100
Another impressive valley in this area is the Tavignano, running side by side NW to Restonica, also starting from Corte. This is cut through by another thundering river, the Tavignano river, which has its source from the superb Lac de Nino.
Access to the island
Corsica can be easily approached:
- by ferry-boat from the French ports of Marseille, Nice and Toulon or from the Italian ports of Livorno, Genova and Savona (main Corsican ports are Ajaccio, Bastia and Calvi). The shortest trip by ferry is from Livorno port on Italy Western coast to Bastia port on Corsica Eastern coast.
- by plane; main Corsica airports are Bastia, Ajaccio, Calvi and Figari.
The most convenient destinations to visit the Restonica area are Bastia and Ajaccio.
The closest town to the Restonica Valley is Corte, the ancient capital of the island during the brief period of its independence, located in the heart of the island. It’s a charming town and besides it’s the starting point of several day climbs and hikes - Corte Tourisme
Roads in Corsica are infamous for being winding and narrow. Pay particular care when cars come from the opposite direction, and remember that the local inhabitants often do not use the horn.
- from Bastia (Corsica East coast) take the road N193 (70 km)
- from Ajaccio (Corsica West coast) take the road N193 (80 km.)
Road approach to Restonica
From Corte follow the Restonica signposts. Drive to South-West on the narrow and impressive road D623 into the Restonica valley. After about 15 kms you will reach the car-park at the “Bergeries de Grottelle” m. 1370 (paying park: car 5€ - motor bike 2€ for the day from june 1st to September 30th) The trip takes about 30 minutes.
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HistoryCorte was the stronghold of the Corsican independence from 1755 to 1769, restated by the Corsican Pasquale Paoli as capital of a free Corsica. Therefore many Corsican inhabitants still regards Corte, which embodies the independence of their culture, as the secret capital of the island.
Trekking, hiking and other interestsThe Restonica area is crossed by two long trails accross the island: the GR20, the “Grande Randonnée n. 20” a 15 days trail, the most famous one of all the Mediterranean area, starting from Calenzana and getting to Conca, and “Mare a Mare Nord”, a 14 days trail, the longest one amongst the East-West crossing of Corsica. Besides, Corte is the starting point of different day-walks and short hikes.
- Main trails
GR20 - The 6th and the 7th legs of the GR20 pass through Restonica; coming from Col de Vergio the GR20 head to South-East, getting to the amazing Lac du Nino m. 1743, the Refuge de Manganu m. 1601 and after to the hearth of the highest mountains of Restonica, with surprising views over Lac de Capitellu and Lac de Melu. The trail crosses just 150 m. below the summit of Punta alle Porta m. 2313 (it’s easy to climb from here the second highest summit of the group), then head to Colle Rinoso, Bocca Muzzella and the Refuge de Petra Piana m. 1842.
“Mare a Mare Nord” - The 4th leg of this 14 days trail, descents through the Tavignano Valley, running side by side West to Restonica. From Bocca de l’Arinella the trail gets to Refuge de la Sega m. 1166, then enters the Gorges du Tavignano, reaching Corte.
- Day hikes and short walks
Difference in level: 1600 m.
Starting point: Pont de Timozzo
One of the best walks, even if very long, is through the black pine forests to Monte Rotondo, the highest summit of Restonica. From Corte turn into D623 which immediately enters the valley. 11 km behind Corte the trailhead is at the bridge Pont de Timozzo.
- Arcu di u Scandulaghja (The Arch of Corte)
Difference in level: 1000 m.
Starting point: Tavignanu Valley
Don't follow the Tavignanu path, but rise up, passing a house and getting a small stones' shelter. Head to North and follow a crest, then enter a chestnut-wood and after a pine-wood at about 1000 m. of altitude. Head to SW, getting a col at 1145 m. (cross on a summit on the left). Carry on towards North, pass a rocky summit (m. 1293), then rise towards right on a scree getting a small notch. From the notch take on the right, at first towards NW, then towards W, getting to the Arch after 40 minutes.
- Lac de Melu and Lac de Capitellu
A strongly recommended short walk to the two most famous mountain lakes of Restonica: Lac de Melu ( 1711 m) an hour hike, and Lac de Capitellu ( 1930 m) 1 and 3/4 hours hike, having both a glacial origin. The trailhead is the “Bergerie de Grottelle” m. 1370. The view is magnificent.
The Restonica river shows one of the steepest gradients of Corsica and it’s an excellent place for kayaking.
Like the Bavella Massif, the Restonica area is a great drawn for climbers, due to the amazing granite, the beauty of the landscape, the local hospitality, the climate.
Corsica is claimed to have more unclimbed walls than anywhere else in Europe! Some of these are located just in Restonica, but here there are also hundreds of confirmed routes. The Restonica granite offers a wide choice of every kind of routes: from the low lying bolted single pitches to the multi-pitch routes, both trad and modern, located high up in the mountains, beyond the 2000 m., above amazing deep blue lakes. Besides, an excellent mixture of different climbing styles can be found: technical steep walls, smooth slabs, corners and cracks, roofs and overhangs.
The environment of Restonica, if compared with the Bavella Massif, is less wild and more alpine and the approaches less complex.
The most spectacular route in Restonica is the world classic rock climb “Symphonie d'automne” on the Pointe of Sept Lacs, just above the amazing Lac de Capitellu. Another beautiful multipitch route is “Ombre et Lumiere” on Rossolino, Gorges du Tavignano.
Red TapeThe Restonica area is located inside the Parc Naturel Régional de Corse P.N.R.C. (Natural Regional Park of Corsica) and since the year 1985 it has been acknowledged as “Great National Site”. Its 33,000 hectares' extension includes 143 communes and fills beyond 1/3 of the island’s territory.
Wild camping is strictly prohibited in Corsica
At Bergerie Grotello there is a parking area paying from June to September. Parking is very limited throughout the valley itself and also the parking area at the Bergerie is not too large. During the weekends the road can be closed temporarily, due to the traffic or complete parking areas. From july 16th to august 15th the road is closed and a mini-bus service is available.
Monte Rotondo m. 2622, the second highest peak on the island, Punta Alle Porta m. 2313, Pointe des Sept Lacs m. 2266, Lombarduccio m. 2261, Punta Capitello m. 2245, Cima San Gavino m. 2222, Pain de Sucre m. 2100, Punta Finosa m. 1855, Pointe de la Touffe m. 1751, Punta a Meda m. 1735, Punta San Teofalu m. 1720, Pointe 1670, Punta a u Finellu m. 1565, Punta Spenicazzia m. 1506, Monte Leonardo m. 1146, Sorbello, Bravino m. 1090, Rossolino m. 908, Punta di Zurmulu m. 862
ClimateRestonica shows more or less the same climate of the Mediterranean middle-mountain areas situated at these latitudes, but with stronger alpine distinctive features, due to its altitude and location: it may be sometimes hot in summer, but on the highest peaks, overcoming the 2000 m. of height, the climate is pleasant also in full summer. Winter may be often cold and very snowy. In Spring and Fall rainfall sometimes are important and dangerous when joined with the strong winds coming from NW.
Where to stayIn Corte there is a wide choice of different kinds of accommodations: hotels, appartments, campgrounds and gites d´etape.
Camping is allowed only on public campgrounds. There are several campgrounds around Corte:
Camping Chez Bartho
Camping Biancardini Marc
- Réfuge de Manganu m. 1601 and Refuge de Petra Piana m. 1842 are located along the GR20 trail
- Refuge de la Sega m. 1166 is located along the “Mare a Mare Nord “ trail about 10 km west of Corte in the Tavignano valley
When to climb and hikeBest season goes from late April to October
Guidebooks and map
"Guide d'escalade en Corse - Corse du Nord", Tome I by Jean Paul Quilici and Bernard Vaucher, Ed. de l'Envol, 2000, in French
"Corse, l'ile verticale" by Martial Lacroix e Pierre Sanchou, Ed. Adrénaline, 1999, in French. A selection of 72 beautiful multi-pitches in Corsica
"Corse paradis de l’escalade" by Martial Lacroix DCL editions
"Sport climbing in Corsica" by Maurizio Oviglia (Italian and English) Ed. Versante Sud
"A travers la montagne Corse" Fédération Française de Randonnée Pédestre
IGN 4251 OT “Monte d’Oro – Monte Rotondo Parc Naturel Régional de la Corse" 1:25.000
External LinksParc Naturel Régional de Corse
Office du Tourisme de Corte
Tél: +33 (0)4 95 46 26 70
Fax: +33 (0)4 95 46 34 05