The crowds and traffic jams tend to be most oppressive passing the famous Calanches, a huge mass of weirdly eroded pink rock just southwest of Porto, but you can easily sidestep the tourist deluge in picturesque Piana, which overlooks the gulf from its southern shore, or by heading inland from Porto through the Gorges de Spelunca. Forming a ravine running from the sea to the watershed of the island, this spectacular gorge gives access to the equally grandiose Forêt d'Aïtone, site of Corsica's most ancient Laricio pine trees and a deservedly popular Hiking area. Throughout the forest, the river and its tributories are punctuated by strings of piscines naturelles (natural swimming pools) a refreshing, tranquil alternative to the beaches hereabouts, which tend to be crammed in peak season. If you're travelling between Porto and Ajaccio, a worthwhile place to break the journey is the clifftop village of Cargèse where the two main attractions are the Greek church and spectacular beach.
Pages in section ‘Porto’: The Town, Arrival, Hotels, Restaurants, Calanches, Piana, Gorges de Spelunca, Foret d'Aiatone, Cargese.
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