From Bonifacio (for information on Bonifacio, click here, for a map of Corsica click here) we spent our last few days working our way north along the east coast to Aléria and then on to Corte in the interior, then Calvi (on the northwest coast) and finally Bastia (also on the east coast), our final stop in Corsica. On the east side of the island there is a little more flat terrain near the coast and therefore the roads are faster.
Aléria. The little town of Aléria has an old church and castle-like building that holds a museum and ticket office for the nearby Roman village ruins.
There were a number of ancient settlements around this area, but it was the Romans who built the harbor port city known as Aléria starting in 80 BC, which was inhabited throughout the duration of the Roman Empire. The ruins are not extensive, mainly foundations and a few baths remaining.
Given the proximity to Italy, one would think the Romans would have colonized Corsica more. But then, like now, with its rugged topography, Corsica was more of a hinterland and was never completely conquered and brought under the domination of Rome
Corte. I expected Corte to be a little village, and I was surprised to see that it was a good sized town. Corte was the capital of Corsica during its period of independence in the mid 18th century.
In the main square, there is a statue of Pascal Paoli (1725-1807) the founding father of Corsica.
Even 250 years later, there are bullet holes still visible in the buildings surrounding Place Gaffori, marking the fight over independence that took place here.
The old town slopes up a hill located in the middle of a deep valley. The Citadelle and 15th century fortress sit atop the old town, commanding a good view of the surrounding valleys. The old town below the Citadelle has several small squares, churches with narrow alleys, and restaurants. Although not visible from the main town, the fortress has a very modern, large museum and conference center located next to it. Corte is home to the aptly named Corsica Pasquale Paoli University, where students speak Corsican.
There are also a few old hilltop towns in the great vicinity of Corte, located off very narrow steep and winding roads up in the hills.
Calvi. From Corte, we traveled north and west over to Calvi, another extremely picturesque town situated on a beautiful bay surrounded by mountains.
Calvi is a jet-setting hotspot in the summer with numerous sailboats and yachts filling its docks and harbor. The huge Genoese Citadelle at the entrance to the bay really dominates the whole area.
There is a nice beach here too, overlooking the harbor and town. The Citadelle was pretty quiet, at least during the time of year we were there (October).
We enjoyed sitting by the harbor and having our lunch.
Bastia. From Calvi, we crossed back over to the north east coast and made our last stop in Corsica. We were really surprised at how large Bastia was. It is a major city and the commercial hub of Corsica. Like many coastal Corsican towns, Bastia has a large Citadelle overlooking the harbor (Vieux Port) and a scenic and large old town area.
Bastia felt similar to many large European towns with multiple squares, shopping streets, great churches and restaurants lining the harbor and squares.
Bastia’s Citadelle streets were fairly quiet, and the area had a non-touristy feel. There are good signs pointing out historically significant buildings in this area.
Bastia has decent sized airport, so it was easy to fly back to Nice from here, which kept us from having to backtrack across the island to Ajaccio. This third post concludes our tour of Corsica. We highly recommend visiting this wonderful island!