In Saint Florent - Lavender Fields, Forever - CycleBlaze

June 19, 2003

In Saint Florent

A loop through the Nebbio

We got an early start this morning, and after a 7 o'clock breakfast set off for an inland day ride through the villages of the Nebbio.  This was another spectacular day of cycling, on isolated roads.  At times it seemed like we were being passed by only two or three cars per hour.

The Nebbio is a fascinating region - a horseshoe-shaped watershed lushly green to the east and a barren desert to the west.  The plant life in such a small area was amazingly varied - chestnuts and lemons, bougainvillia and cacti.  The geology here, as it was yesterday, is striking and colorful.  The serpentine greens and chalky hues we enjoyed along Cap Corse gave way to more eroded, sandstone-like formations reminiscent of southern Utah.  The desert, which continues east for about 20-30 miles, is largely manmade, the result of overcultivation and periodic fires.  Signs of the former character of the land persist here and there, in such forms as the ruins of an old mill in a now dry creek bed.

Abandoned Mill, the Nebbio
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The villages of the Nebbio are also wonderful.  Other than in the desert, they rise every few miles, each with its own striking ridgetop profile and several with beautiful Pisan campaniles. 

In Pieve
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Saint Phillips Neri church, Sorio
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Most arresting of all though was the small church of San Michele, near Murato, isolated at the low point of a high saddle.   Erected in the 12th century, it is a lovely green and white layer cake of serpentine and chalk, with intriguing relief carvings above its windows.

San Michele in Murato
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After returning to our hotel at about two, we cycled south of town to the beach where we rented beach chairs and an umbrella for the afternoon, intermittently swimming in the wonderfully warm bay or dosing and reading.  For dinner we ate at a waterfront pizzeria, a break after three straight fish dinners.  At the neighboring table a family of four plus pug sat down, with the pug on the laps of the father and sun for several minutes, paws on the table.   He was then set on the floor, which ended badly when he dashed into the kitchen and was hurriedly retrieved.  The family left the restaurant a few minutes later after perusing the menu, leaving it unclear whether they had been evicted, changed their minds, or feared that they couldn't restrain their pet.  As they exited the restaurant single file with the pug bringing up the rear, the manager kept the dog on track with a kick in the rear.

Total elevation gain: for the day, 2,830'.  For the tour, 7,730'.

Today's ride: 75 km (47 miles)
Total: 190 km (118 miles)

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Jeremy PerksThese photos from a mobile phone are great!
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