Bastia Corsica is the second largest city on the Mediterranean island, and is located on the northeast Cap Corse coast within only about 40 miles of mainland Italy. It was founded in 1378 by the island’s rulers at the time, the Republic of Genoa, who made it their capital. Even though most of the cruises on large ocean liners make their port calls in Ajaccio on the west coast, the Bastia port is the island’s busiest because of its proximity to the mainland of Europe. Frequent Bastia travel is made easy by ferries between Toulon, Marseille, and Nice in France, and Genoa and Livorno in Italy. There are even ferries to Civitavecchia, which is the ocean port near the great city of Rome.
A vacation to Bastia will reveal the rich history of the island’s second largest city. It was founded in 1378 at the height of the island’s rule by the independent Republic of Genoa. Its name is derived from the word bastiglia, meaning “bastion” or “fortress,” and when the Genoese embarked on their Bastia travel long ago one of the first things they did was fortify the harbor against what they assumed would be the next invaders. All of the main port cities on the island originally had a massive citadel guarding their harbors, and Bastia Corsica was no exception. Today, the Citadel overlooks the Old Port, as do important citadels in Calvi, Ajaccio, Bonifacio, and other ports.
Many of the things to do in Bastia will be found around the Citadel and the graceful Place St. Nicolas (one of the largest squares in France) where there are numerous restaurants, cafés, shops, and boutiques overlooking the harbor. You will also find several charming boutique Bastia hotels in this area of the city. There is a colorful flea market here on Sunday mornings, and free concerts are offered throughout the peak summer season.
Your vacation to Bastia will undoubtedly take you to some of the many beaches for which the island is known. Right in the city on its southern end is beautiful sandy Mariana Beach, popular with locals and visitors alike. This beach is bordered by the Pond of Biguglia, a bird sanctuary.
Many visitors will spend part of their vacation to Bastia venturing along the Cap Corse coastline, the thin finger of land north of the city. There is a road that rings most of the cape, and it is possible to find nearly deserted beaches on a day’s excursion. This is one of the most beautiful drives in all of Corsica, and if you want to spend an overnight, you will find some lovely seaside hotels, many located in historic mansions. Do take care if your transportation is a rental car, as the road is narrow and winding. Until this road was built in the mid-nineteenth century, the cape was cut off from the rest of the island and Bastia travel that brought you here could only be accomplished by boat.
As the island’s busiest port, and site of one of its two major airports, Bastia Corsica is only a jumping off point for many visitors who plan to move on after an overnight. However, the city is well worth a few days if you have the time.