Autumn in Corsica, the perfect time to take a hike to the former Scala di Santa Regina

If I weren’t so profoundly attached to my homeland in Castagniccia, I would definitely choose to live and get buried in “Niolo”. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. This mountainous region situated northwest of Corsica is simply gorgeous. A mountain plateau surrounded by high pikes, small villages where still lives a solid pastoral tradition. And, in order for the painting to be complete, the quiet dam of Calacuccia at the very center. In short, Niolo offers wonderful scenery, quite unique in Corsica.

Discover the Scala di Santa Regina, differently

There is another thing quite famous in Niolo: its eastern access road. You may have heard about the “Scala di Santa Regina”, a part of the road that links Francardo (center Corsica, not far from Corte) to the villages of Niolo. This narrow, old road is quite something when you discover it for the first time. “Mineral” is the word that comes to mind, next to wonderful. No matter how scary some part of it may be (encountering a truck or a bus can really increase sweating), discovering the Scala di Santa Regina is something you should not pass by.

And obviously, as we are here to talk about things you can do while keeping your impact on the island’s nature as low as possible, we shall discover how to enjoy it on foot. Somewhere along the road, there is a footpath, officially called (using a strange mixture of Corsican language and French), “L’Ancienne Scala”. As the full name in Corsica is “Scala di Santa Regina”, you may translate everything into “the former stairway of the Holy Queen”. Powerful, isn’t it?

Before the opening of the road at the end of the XIXth century, the path we are talking about was the main eastern access to Niolo, and was mostly used by shepherds during seasonal migration. It goes from the place called “Funtana Vignente” (here on Google Maps), to the village of Corscia, a few kilometers away.

An easy hike everybody can enjoy

It’s a 3 hours round trip. Get your way to the “Funtana Vignente” and from there, just follow the path you can’t just miss (be aware though that there are not so many spots to park your car/bike around the departure point). It will take around 1h30 – 1h40 to reach the village of Corscia, depending on your walking ability, and approximately the same to return back. The elevation gain is low.

The path of the former Scala di Santa Regina is clean, it is impossible to get lost unless you somehow want it. There isn’t any particular difficulty, this is a hike you can enjoy whatever your age is; the only inconvenience may come from the 99% rocky ground that covers a quarter of the path. Watch your step. It is also important to note that this is a hike you will do quite exclusively under the sun. This is why we strongly recommend avoiding it during summer! Not only this would be unpleasant for you, but possibly dangerous for children.

On the other hand, if you try it in October or April/may, I’m sure you will have a good time with family, and friends. Or obviously all alone. Maybe you’re like me, someone not really accustomed to nature in its mineral form, to landscapes where rocks are everywhere, pretending to be sleeping. Walking along the former Scala di Santa Regina reminded me of “The Hobbit” as I could have expected mountains to suddenly move and get alive.

Pictures of the former Scala di Santa Regina (October 2022)

Here are some pictures we took with my wife while exploring for the first time the former Scala di Santa Regina. I hope you will try it someday and enjoy it as I did. If you are a good walker with some time ahead, note that this short path is connected to many others in Niolo and may even take you far away to other micro-regions around.

About the Author

Guillaume Bereni

Guillaume is the owner and editor of Sustainable Corsica. Outside of his author role in various websites -about various subjects- for more than 10 years, Guillaume runs a small consulting agency that aims at helping tourism companies in Corsica in their project for more conscious and sustainable activity (you can visit the website -in french- at https://maremonticonsulting.fr/) Happy husband, happy father of three energic children, traveling lover, curious by nature and a bit nerdy too (nobody is perfect).