Hiking Trail in Rutali - Trà aghje è Pagliaghji
Trà Aghje è Pagliaghji: A Journey into the Agro-Pastoral History of Rutali Village
From Agriculture to Pastoralism
The trail begins in Rutali at the top of the village, starting at the stunning spring of I Pantani. This accessible trail with minimal altitude differences winds through the mountains above Rutali, making it perfect for a family stroll. Amidst the scrubland and arbutus trees, along with oaks and a few chestnuts, one quickly finds oneself secluded in the wild nature at an elevation of 600 meters. Depending on your viewpoint, the sea can be seen to the east and west as we are facing the base of Cap Corse.
In Association with Opera di Rutali
"Trà Aghje è Pagliaghji" - meaning "through, or between the threshing floors and the haylofts" - is the name given to this trail that is developed and maintained by the Opera di Rutali association. They also restored certain haylofts and wooden crosses, explaining the past of these places through numerous signs along the path.
The Threshing Floors
The stone-encircled threshing floors were the places where the grains were separated from the spikes by beating them on the ground with flails, or crushing them with a large grain millstone, known as "u tribbiu," before winnowing to remove impurities. Seven of these were found, and their presence is a testament to intense former agricultural activity, the produce of which was sold in the market of Bastia.
Today, ferns and scrubland have taken over what once were wheat and bean fields, hinting at the area's agricultural past. A little further on, the remnants of an irrigation network can be found, carved into the earth and framed by stones, which once brought water to the crops.
These are all markers of an ancient agricultural activity that began to fade after the First World War and ultimately vanished completely in the 1950s. This gave way to pastoral activities, encouraged by the establishment of Roquefort cheese dairies.
A Hundred or More Pagliaghji
They are plentiful - more than a hundred, according to the association's records - and succeeded agriculture to turn towards livestock rearing. Testimonials collected by the association reveal that the site once held between 5 and 10 thousand head of cattle, goats, and sheep.
Etymologically, pagliaghji were used as storage for straw and harvests, taking on other roles as needed, including serving as shelter for both humans and animals. In fact, some pagliaghji are found with an enclosed space delineated by a stone wall to contain animals (A Chjostra) or for milking purposes.
On one of the signs, the association explains the steps involved in constructing a pagliaghju, notably employing the corbeling technique.
Cemetery of Moroccan Goumiers
At the northern end of the trail in Rutali, there lies a small cemetery with the graves of six Moroccan tirailleurs who died in battle on the 28th and 30th of September 1943 during the Second World War, in their fight against the occupying forces whose position was located just downhill.
Their story is detailed through the research efforts of the Opera di Rutali association, which pays homage to their memory and also includes their names.