There is no better way to explore the villages of the Balagne region than by bike. The circuit here is not too testing relative to other routes, the steepest parts being the climbs up to the villages of St Antonino and Speloncato.
The route is described anticlockwise but can be rode the other way but note that the climb to Speloncato takes the maximum gradient to 11% albeit for a very short stretch.
I start beside the sea in Algajola and head in the direction of Lumio gently rising above the Med. After 6km go left on the D71 signed for Lavatoggio and Cateri. That village perched atop the hill in the distance is the first target, St Antonino which is left at the crossroad in Cateri and right after a short while. The road is narrow and in the high season will have coaches on it. Just 3km to the top, the last two or so being the steepest. Once the 16th century church, St Annunziata, comes into view you’ll run out of road. Quick photo and drink from your bottle then whiz down retracing the route to Cateri. Left at the crossroads and into the next valley and around the bowl with the villages of Avapessa, Muro and Feliceto - all small and pretty - perched on the mountain slopes along a newly widened road. Over on the valley floor are the neatly arranged vines of Domaine Renucci and the Lac de Codole. After the signs for Nessa and Costa take the next right for Speloncato and the climb to the village square, Place de la Libération a perfect place for a fuel stop and a quick splash of your hands and face in the fountain.
Leave following the signs for L'Île Rousse and take care as it's a fast descent on a narrow and twisty road back to the D71 junction where you take the D63 crossing the valley floor for Reginu and then climbing again, up and into Monticello. Go past the restaurant, A Pasturella (recommended) and through the quaint tunnel and on to Santa-Reparta on the D263. Stick with the D263 going through Occiglioni and on to Corbara where you join the D151. The Corsicans take immense pride in their final resting places and the road out of Corbara vividly illustrates why. Look at the architecture of these villa like tombs and take a quick look at the family names as you roll by as they really reflect much about the island's history and heritage.
The artisan enclave of Pigna is next and then Aregno from where you can fly back down to Algajola on the D551 and a well earned dip in the sea.
© M.Lund 2013-17