Built on the estuary at the mouth of the River Tavignano on the island’s east coast, 40km southeast of Corte along the N200, Aléria was first settled in 564 BC by a colony of Greek Phocaeans as a trading port for copper and lead, as well as wheat, olives and grapes. After an interlude of Carthaginian rule, the Romans arrived in 259 BC, built a naval base and re-established its importance in the Mediterranean. Aléria remained the east coast’s principal port right up until the eighteenth century. Little is left of the historic town except Roman ruins and a thirteenth-century Genoese fortress, which stands high against a background of chequered fields and green vineyards. To the south, a strip of modern buildings straddling the main road makes up the modern town, known as Cateraggio, but it’s the village set on the hilltop just west of here that’s the principal focus for visitors.

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