“In the 19th century, when Philippe de Rocca Serra began his project, the idea was to create a small estate capable of existing in autarky”, explains Julie Farinelli, the owner of the Saparale Estate.
Hameau de Saparale’s idea of a perfect world
The ambitious lawyer – returning from a mission to Egypt for the royal family – had big dreams. Colossal, even! On the 1000-hectare property, nestled in the Ortolo Valley (Corse-du-Sud), he laid the foundations of an autonomous farming hamlet complete with buildings that could accommodate 25 families, vines, a cellar, orchards and livestock. A hundred workers would make their way to the Saparale Estate every day; it was its own little world, with its own local economy. Its police station – an oddity for a private hamlet, it now houses the winery – its school, and its oil mill testify to this prosperous past. “The entrepreneur succeeded in obtaining for Corsican wines the recognition he sought. His vintages, which came from native grape varieties, were awarded a gold medal. But soon after, the vineyard was ravaged by Phylloxera. And then the outbreak of war provided the mortal blow to the hamlet, which fell into disrepair”, says Julie.
Vineyard homes at the tip of an island
Over 60 years later, in 1995, another Philippe–Philippe Farinelli – would inject new life into the village. Although buzzards, hares and wild boar had populated this fertile impasse, the owner started up the vineyard once more and– with his wife –renovated the buildings tenaciously. Dotted around the hamlet, 3 houses welcome visitors for a minimum of two nights all through the year. With refined taste, and evoking the sheep barns of yesteryear, they offer the upmost comfort and attention to detail. The houses are decorated with carpet salvaged from old train carriages, bathtubs in cast iron, and second-hand furniture. A private hammam (for the A Scola and U Mulinu houses), a grass-lined swimming pool and a summer kitchen complete the panorama.
The small luxuries of wild living
In winter, guests are greeted by a wood fire crackling in the fireplace. “Guests tell me their expectations before their arrival and I try to meet them,” explains Julie. The vases overflow with branches and bouquets, and a home-y, unostentatious feeling lingers in the houses.
On request and according to a shopping list, the fridge had been carefully stocked. Corsican and local products play a prominent role and are also found in the breakfast baskets. For sporty types, aquagym classes and coaching sessions can be booked in the summer. To top it all off, the vegetable garden is entirely at the disposal of the property’s guests!
Our cosy nest of choice: The U Caseddu barn, on a hill overlooking the fruit trees, has a doll’s house aura and is perfect for a couple seeking calm and quiet. A small private pool, in which one can swim against the current, and a terrace encircling an oak tree make it ideal for lazy days. 15 minutes away by car: the beaches of Roccapina and Erbaju, and not forgetting Sartène (20 minutes) and Bonifacio (45 minutes).
With a glass of: white Casteddu – AOC Sartène – for the 2 hectare estate. A 100% Vermentino with notes of hazelnut and white flowers. Or the red Casteddu, a blend of Corsian grape varieties; Nielluccio, Sciaccarello, Minustello and Carcaghjolu, garnet-coloured with spices and cooked fruits that line the palette. Or even: a vintage blend of your own choosing, prepared in the winery on request.
Domaine Saparale – Ortolo Valley – 20100 Sartène