On a quest for cheese and chat, I’d started out in Cap Corse, a mountainous peninsula that lifts a 25-mile-long finger at the French Riviera, 110 miles to the north. Each evening, I dined on mussels, duck gizzards and wild boar raised along the serried coastline. After three days, I felt pangs of loneliness. “I’ve lived here four years,” an English exile in Centuri confessed to me. “I still earn little more than a passing nod from my neighbors.” So now I drive inland, deep into brocciu territory, climbing a bowl of valleys and stone-built villages. Isolated by topography — and the fierce sense of independence that remoteness often breeds — the Balagne region feels as if it got left behind while the rest of the world marched on. Bells resound in the campanile at Sant’Antonino — population: 70. I see a cluster of wizened elders.