Grotte a Sapara di Circinellu

Useful Information

Location: 20243 Ania, Serra-di-Fiumorbu.
RN98 roundabout of Migliacciaro, D244, turn left on D145, D45, at Pietrapol left on D945 to Ania-di-Fiumorbu.
(41.9678056, 9.2818831)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyTalus Cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension: A=712 m asl.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Grotte a Sapara di Circinellu, 20243 Ania, Serra-di-Fiumorbu.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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The Grotte a Sapara di Circinellu (Redhead Cave at Sapara) is located above the village Ania di Fiumorbu right beneath U Castellu (the castle). It is also dubbed the cave of the "bandit d'honneur" (last bandit of honour). It seems it was used as a hideout by men who had killed during a vendetta and were now hiding from law in the cave, fed and supported by their clan to escape the law. Actually almost any cave on Corsica is a cave of the "bandit d'honneur".

Circinellu was the pseudonym of Domenico Leca (*1709-✝1771), a Catholic priest and a figure of the patriotism of the island clergy during the wars of independence of Corsica. He studied at the University of Genoa then at the Papal University of Rome, so he was actually Italian. After his ordination he became a priest in Guagno, in the pieve of Sorroinsù. According to local lore, he was tall and had red hair, probably the origin of his nickname, and lived with his sister Anghjula-Maria Leca, nicknamed Ritondella. He was a loyal supporter of the independence of the island, and usually ended his sermons with "Paoli è libertà". Pascal Paoli was a Corsican politician, philosopher and general, and one of the most representative figures of this period. The cave was named after him, as he was found dead in 1771 by shepherds in this cave. According to legend, he had a crucifix in one hand and a dagger in the other. Its unclear how he died, but it seems it was not violence. Some say he died of deprivation and hunger, but others that he was poisoned. By his death, U Circinellu became a notable figure and embodied resistance to foreigners.

The small cave is freely accessible, signposted and marked by two Christian crosses above the entrance. A visit requires walking shoes and a lamp, we strongly recommend a helmet. It is reached on a walking trail which is marked in orange. At the first bend, take the track that goes to Bocca Minagali. After 200 m turn left on the track signposted as "Sapara di Circinellu". The cave is located on a rocky peak, the hike is about 3.2 km long, and has an elevation gain of about 160 m. You should plan about 2 to 3 hours for this hike, depending on your physical fitness.