Lavezzi archipelago


The archipelago of the Lavezzi Islands
This archipelago is part of the natural reserve of the Strait of Bonifacio, which is the largest natural reserve in France. It stretches from the port of Porto Vecchio to the Lion of Roccapina. It covers a surface of roughly 80,000 hectares (198,000 acres) and was declared a natural reserve on 23 September 1999. The archipelago is made up of islands of granite and marks the southernmost pointof metropolitan France. The main island covers 66 hectares (163 acres) and is home to over 200 endemic plant species, some of which are used for their medicinal value.
The island is inhabited by various seabird species such as the Mediterranean shag, the Scopoli’s shearwater, the Peregrine Falcon, etc. Several memorials have been erected to pay tribute to the victims of the shipwreck of the Sémillante, a French military frigate which left Toulon on 14 February 1855 to participate in the blockade of Sevastopol during the Crimean War. On 15 February, she was caught up in a severe storm during which she lost her rudder and broke apart on rocks.

This was, and still is, the worst naval disaster of the Mediterranean Sea in which about 700 people lost their lives. Not even a year after the disaster, a pyramidshaped monument in memory of the victims was built on the site of the shipwreck, as well as two cemeteries (one for the seamen and one for the naval officers).
Today, an ancient sheepfold can still be found on the island. It is said that at the time of the shipwreck, the shepherd who lived there put his house on fire to call for help. In 1874, almost two decades after the catastrophe, a lighthouse was erected in order to mark the strait, which remains one of the most dangerous areas in the Mediterranean Sea due to the presence of reefs (ridges of rock just below the
surface of the water) and streams.

2. The Island of San Bainzo
During the second century, San Bainzo was exploited by the Romans who shipped prisoners to the island to extract granite. In 1992, the former quarry was declared protected monument. The granite column which was set up in Bonifacio in 1932 as war memorial to World War 1 casualties originates from the Island of San Bainzo.

3. Cavallo Island
Stretching over 120 hectares (296 acres), Cavallo Island is the biggest island of the archipelago and the only one to be inhabited
In 1966, Jean Castel – a former owner of several nightclubs – bought the whole archipelago and sold the islands to the city of
Bonifacio, except for Cavallo Island. He obtained the approval to convert it into a luxury tourist spot, whereas the other islands would become part of the natural reserve of the Lavezzi Islands. Since then, CavalJo Island boasts a hotel, a couple of restaurants, shops, an aerodrome, as welJ as high number of vi lJas. Today, it is better known as the “Reserve of the billionaires”, as many celebrities have chosen the island to build their holiday homes. It is supplied with water and electricity via submarine pipes linked to the Corsican coasts. The bay which the water and electricity are piped to is called Cala di Greco. The transportation of food and people is assured by a freight barge and a passenger ferry during the summermonths.

4. The bay of Piantarella and the Piana Island
Due to its turquoise waters, the bay of PiantarelJa is also known as the “Iittle Caribbean of Bonifacio”. The Piana Island (which literally translates as “f1at island”) is somewhat special. Indeed, it is linked to the beach of Piantarella via a narrow sandbank which lays 60 centimetres (24 inches) below the water surface. Thus the island can be reached by foot.

5. The Petit Sperone beach
The Petit Sperone beach is characterized by the fact that it is made of limestone dust. It can be accessed via a path through the scrub along which the remains of the ancient Roman commercial port can be found.

6. The Golf of Sperone
The Golf of Sperone is considered as one of the most beautiful and challenging golf courses in the world. The sixteenth whole is particularly special as it allows you to play above the sea.

7. The village of Ciapilli
This vi lJage also belongs to the domain of Sperone. CiapilJi is a former fisherman vi lJage turned into a luxu 叩village the houses of which are made of Canadian red cedar.

8. Pertusato Cap
This rock looks like a grounded vessel and is the southern point of Corsica. It is al50 called “Pointe Saint-Antoine”. Up on
the cliff is the Semaphore of Pertusato, which keeps permanent watch over the strait between Sardinia and Corsica.

9. The “Grain de sable” (Grain of sand)
This rock separated from the cliff is called by the people of Bonifacio “U Diu Grossu” which means “the thumbs” because of its shape.

10. The citadel of Bonifacio
In 828, Boni阳ce 11, margrave of Tuscany, founded the city as a fortress which was subsequently named after him. Today, 80% of the Bonifaciens live in this part of the city.

11. King Aragon Steps
According to legend , the staircase was carved out of the rock by the soldiers of the King of Aragon. It is said that they made it in one night in order to attack Bonifacio. Nevertheless, the town was too well protected and they were unable to achieve their goal. The 187 steps of the staircase are now accessible to tourists.

12. Saint Bartholomew Well
The opening in the cliff leads to a fresh water well , which was the water source of the inhabitants in times of siege. From the well, a spiral staircase leads to the cloister of Saint Françoise, on the rocks above.

13. The Rudder Rock
Fishermen from Bonifacio call this rock “the Rudder of Corsica”. It raises straight out of the sea and really looks like a rudder. Some scenes from the film “The guns of Navarone” were shot there.

14. Saint Antoine’s Cave
Watching it from afar, the cave entrance looks like Napoleon’s hat.

15. The Madonetta Lighthouse
” Madone忧a” means “Li ttle Mary”. A statue of Mary has been placed in the niche so that she watches over the boats and fishermen of Bonifacio.

16. The Cave of Sdragonat。
The fishermen used to think that a dragon was hidden in this cave because of the sounds that came from it. These were actually the barks of Mediterranean monk seals.
Today, this cave is known for its beauty. Just a metre under the water, there are multicoloured algae and shel 怡, When the sun shines on them, the sea bed resembles a Persian carpet. The hole in the ceiling looks like the shape of Corsica.

17. The Winches
These winches of the Second World War, to the left and right of the port were used to haul chains across the channel at night, preventing any enemy ships from entering.

18. The Barracks Montlaur
This large yellow building was the barracks for the French Foreign Legion, which left Bonifacio in September 1983. It is now occupied by civil services.

19. The Two Towers
These two towers date from the Genoese period, and were used as watch towers for the port. They are only accessible from the upper town.

20. Saint Dominique Church Tower
丁his strangely crenellated tower has no steeple, just those notches at the top. It belongs to the church of Saint Dominique, the only Gothic church in Corsica.
It dates back to the days when the Knights Templars crossed the Mediterranean Sea on crusade in the 1 i h and 13th centuries.

21 . The War Memorial
In front of the citadel, there is a stone column. It was sculpted by slaves about 2000 years ago on the Island of San Bainzo. In 1932 it was erected as a war memorial for the First World War.