An eagle’s nest perched at an altitude of 500m, visiting the village of Sant’Antonino is one of the must-sees of the Balagne (Sant’Antuninu in Corsican): a labyrinth of alleys, tunnels and houses with a long history. And thanks to its position, it offers breathtaking views between sea and mountains.
Here is our guide to help you plan your visit: map, access, stairs, what to do and see, photos…
This guide is completely independent, based on our experiences. We visited the area anonymously, making our own choices, and paying all our bills in full.
Why visit the village of Sant Antonino in Balagne
Is the village of Sant’Antonino worth it?
Yes, even if it is not our favorite, it is in our top 3 most beautiful villages in Balagne.
It is a very touristy village but also fascinating.
The exploration gives the impression of getting lost in a labyrinth. You can imagine what it was like to live here in the Middle Ages.
What to see in the village? Why is it known?
The village is known for 2 main reasons:
It is one of the oldest villages of Corsica
According to legend, it was founded in the 9th century with the construction of a defense tower. The beach fort is a strategic place to defend the surroundings.
It is an eagle’s nest
The village is often described as an eagle’s nest. It is built all around a rocky peak at 500m altitude. The houses (about 75) stuck to each other blend with the rock and created a labyrinth that was easier to protect.
It has kept its authentic character, offering visitors a trip back in time.
One of the most beautiful villages in France
This village has also become known thanks to the label “Les plus beaux villages de France” which has been awarded to it. Only 2 villages have this label in the whole of Corsica: Pigna and Sant’Antonino. But many others are interesting. See our list of the most beautiful villages of Corsica.
In Corsica, its name is written Sant’Antuninu.
Tips and Map – Sant’Antonino, Corsica
Where is Sant’Antonino in Corsica – Map
- In the Balagne region
- On the side of L’Île-Rousse
- Driving time from Ile-Rousse = 30min
- Driving time from Calvi = 30min
- Driving time from Pigna = 15min
- Here is a map to help you find your way:
OUR TIPS FOR RENTING A CAR IN Corsica
- Compare prices on our preferred platform: DiscoverCars – one of the best rated sites.
- Choose a car that is powerful enough (the roads are steep) but compact (some passages are narrow).
- Think of thecomplete insurance (some roads are tortuous and narrow).
- There is a lot of demand, book it early.
How to get to Sant’Antonino
Sant’Antonino, is located on the heights of Ile-Rousse.
It is necessary to make a detour from the T30 road on the west coast.
The last few kilometers are on the D151 road and then on the D413 road.
Both roads have one lane in each direction, although some sections are a little narrower.
It is a mountain road but without too many steep views.
And if you don’t want to rent a car, you can join a guide from Calvi or L’Île-Rousse – see the availability of organized tours
You can also hike between the different villages, especially between Sant’Antonino and Pigna: 45min walk.
As you can see in the photo above, there is a main parking lot right at the foot of the village.
It is big enough for the size of the village but not enough for tourists in summer. If you visit in July or August, you should come early or late.
It has an electric charging station.
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Practical advice – when to visit
- Many steps and steep stairs to access the heart of the village
- Wear good walking shoes as the ground is rocky and very uneven
- The interior of the village is almost entirely pedestrian (but not completely, beware!)
- Toilets at the parking level
Where to eat – restaurants in Sant’Antonino
There are several restaurants in the village:
- U Laziu, next to the parking, before the stairs
- Restaurant La Voute, La Taverne Corse, I Scalini and A Casa Corsa with view to the east.
- In Stalla with view to the west
The restaurants inside the village are overall quite well rated.
We ate in Pigna, so for the moment we have not tested them ourselves.
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Map of the village of Sant’Antonino
At the entrance of the village you can find a map of the village which shows you the different monuments and starting points of hikes, to see in the village. It is oriented geographically (west-east – with the parking lot to the east) and not visually (with the parking lot below), which would seem to be easier to find…
- Confraternity of St. Anthony of Padua and the parish church of A Nunziata (in the parking lot)
- Path of Reginu
- Path of the convent of Corbara
- Aregno de la Trinidad Trail
- Chapel of Saint Anne of the Shepherds
- The dungeon and the Ace of Spades door
- Panoramic View
- Lavasina Chapel
But don’t worry, the village is not big, there is no risk to get lost…
Houses and alleys
Go explore the alleys, look at all the corners.
It gives the impression to travel in time with the stone walls, the old wooden doors, the covered passages…
We don’t share too many pictures with you, we let you discover the place by yourself.
Notice the Saint-Anne Chapel, very simple with its blue door.
It is dedicated to the patron saint of the maternity hospital. It is a place of blessing before births.
Also find the Ace of Spades Gate (photo above).
It is a narrow door with a lambourde band on each side and aces of spades carved in the granite.
Notice how well the buildings are integrated into the rocky outcrop.
This is what we like most about the villages of the Balagne.
THE BEST OF THE Balagne
Church A Nunziata (of the Annunciation)
And of course at the parking lot, take the time to discover the parish church.
It was built in the early 17th century.
On the outside, mind you:
- the campanile: elegant and all in height with floors
- next to it, the chapel of the brotherhood of Saint Angoine
- the simple and elegant style
- the contrast with the style of the village
Unfortunately we can’t go up to the campanile, but we thought the views must be very beautiful.
- 4 old paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries
- the organ which dates from 1744 and is signed Battista Pompost di Pistoia
View of the region
From the top of the village, you have beautiful views of the valley, especially to the east.
You discover a green plain with olive trees, and a mountain range behind.
In the distance you will discover the sea with the seaside resort of Algajola and the beach of Aregno.
Walking around (and hiking in the area)
If you want to immerse yourself in the landscapes of the Balagne, enjoy one of the many hikes around Sant’Antonino.
With loops from 2.5 km to 12 km, everyone can find the ideal circuit and admire the region.
Be careful, there is little shade, cover yourself well.
- The loop of the Piève d’Aregnu which includes several villages (complete loop 10km)
- To reach the village of Pigna = 45min one way
- To reach the village of Corbara = 1h30 go
History of Sant’Antonino
According to legend, Sant’Antonino dates back to the beginning of the ninth century, when a defensive tower was built.
The first families settled there in the 14th century.
The village is growing and so are the power wars of the clan leaders.
Sant’Antonino began to flourish in the 16th century. The inhabitants turn it into a garden. All, or almost all, live from the work of the land. All the land, even on the slopes, is cultivated: olive trees, vineyards, almond trees, wheat, barley…
Families grew, and so did the houses: at the beginning of the 19th century, the village had 75 houses, some of which had 3 or 4 floors!
Sleeping in the village of Sant’Antonino
No hotel in the village of Sant’Antonino. Just a few rentals.
If you want to sleep in a village of the Balagne, consider:
The hotel:Palazzu Pigna
In the village of Pigna at 15min – A small historical building (XVIIIth) with terrace and garden. 3 stars.
See prices, pictures and availability
Hotel La Santa
In the village of Poggio with its splendid view from the pool and the balconies. 3 stars.
See prices, pictures and availability
A Casa di Mà
In the village of Lumio – 4 stars with an excellent restaurant
See prices, pictures and availability
WHERE TO STAY IN Balagne
What to see nearby
The other villages of La Balagne
The hills of La Balagne are dotted with charming villages. All of them bring something a little different: a bell tower, a view, an atmosphere…
Other villages near Sant’Antonino are Pigna and Corbara.
Learn more in our article on the villages of the Balagne.
The beach of Bodri
If you’re looking for beautiful white sand in beautiful surroundings, head to Bodri Beach.
This wild beach is a small corner of paradise between Calvi and Ile-Rousse, in the heart of the Balagne.
Very few buildings, fine sand, turquoise waters… Perfect to relax!
See the most beautiful beaches around L’Île-Rousse
And of course you can go and enjoy the sweetness of life in L’Île-Rousse, the seaside resort at 30min drive from Sant’Antonino: beach, colorful houses and a stroll to the islands of Pietra and the lighthouse are waiting for you there.
Discover the best things to do in L’Île-Rousse.
PLAN YOUR TRIP TO Corsica
- The most beautiful beaches of Corsica
- The most beautiful villages of Corsica
- The most beautiful cities of Corsica
- The most beautiful destinations in Corsica
- The museums of Corsica
- Hidden gems in Corsica
- The most beautiful natural pools
- What to do in North Corsica
- Best things to do in South Corsica
- Canyoning in Corsica