Destination Corsica: Why Not Choose… Bastia?
If you cannot resist the charm of old Mediterranean towns, with their picturesque narrow streets enlivened by painted shutters and their squares that contain so many mysteries of the past, then welcome to Bastia! Founded in 1381 by the Genoese, this art and historical town will offer you the chance to discover all its treasures for an unforgettable stay.
Terra Vecchia, or the old town, the heart and soul of Bastia
With its bandstand, statue of Napoleon, coloured facades and its terraces of cafes, Saint Nicolas Square is the preferred meeting place for the people of Bastia. It is also the heart of Terra Vecchia, the old town. Discover the historic district of the Old Port, which has kept all its authenticity with its buildings with coloured facades and its recreational boats which are reflected in the water. As you stroll along the wharf, venture onto the Dragon jetty where you will enjoy an exquisite panorama.
History and architecture lovers will be able to admire the churches of Saint Jean-Baptiste and Saint Charles Borromée, founded in the 17th century, as well as the Oratories of the Saint Roch Brotherhood and the Immaculate Conception, which are also among the must-see monuments of Terra Vecchia.
Finally, do not forget the market square and its fragrant stalls. And for more craft discoveries, Napoleon Street is also full of shops selling regional products and very good restaurants.
Terra Nova, or the citadel, the cradle of the town
For a gentle transition between the old town and the citadel, cross the Romieu Garden, a true haven of peace in the heart of Bastia.
Then enter the citadel. While you wander through its paved narrow streets with ornamented gateways, it will reveal all its secrets. You will see how pleasant it is to stroll through this authentic maze built in the pattern of a checkerboard. You will then discover the former Governor’s Palace, which now houses the Municipal Museum, rich in exciting collections. Visit the Sainte Marie Cathedral, which houses an extraordinary processional statue of the silver Virgin from 1852. And do not miss the Sainte Croix Chapel and its extravagant rococo decor, with its ceiling decorated with cherubs and gold covered arabesque stucco on a blue background.
If landscapes allure you at least as much as historical buildings, you will not be disappointed in Bastia. To enjoy a view overlooking the Old Port, the southern wharf offers an ideal viewpoint.
Top 10 Must-Sees
The Saint Nicolas Square: with a length of 280m and width of 80m, Saint Nicolas Square is among the largest in France. It gets its name from a church and former hospital built in these surroundings during the Middle Ages. These buildings were demolished in 1889 in order to enlarge the square and extend the Paoli boulevard.
The Old Port: nested in a small cove at the foot of the citadel , it welcomes both fishing and recreational boats. Overcome with multi-coloured buildings, it is especially lively after dark, when its restaurants and cafes are taken by storm during the peak season. For an overall view of this small port, go to the end of the Dragon jetty, which was built in the 19th century.
The Saint Jean-Baptiste Church: opening onto the market square and overlooking the Old Port of Bastia, this church stands proudly in Terra Vecchia. Built between 1636 and 1666 in the location of a former chapel, it is said to be the largest church of Corsica. Equally interesting, the interior of the church is of Baroque style and features stunning marble decorations as well as trompe-l'œil paintings.
The Oratory of the Immaculate Conception: completed in 1609, this small chapel, which is very sober on the outside, houses some treasures nevertheless. There are, for example, magnificent wood carvings completely covering the walls and even rich silks that are restored regularly.
The Market Square: nicely bordered by old houses and the former Town Hall, this square is a true focal point of the town. Each morning, there is a traditional market offering many local gastronomic products in a typically Mediterranean atmosphere.
The Romieu Garden: suspended on the hills leading to Terra Nova, this garden forms a kind of bridge between the Old Port and the citadel, the ideal place for a small relaxing break before entering the citadel. Away from the hustle and bustle of Bastia’s centre, its quiet and relaxing green setting offers breakthtaking views of the small port and the Dragon jetty.
The Governor’s Palace: the history of this palace begins with the construction of a Genoese tower in 1380. As it transformed over the years, it later became the place of residence for the Genoese governors, before being transformed into barracks and finally becoming the property of the town of Bastia once again.
The Bastia Museum: the museum showcases representations of the town, reconstructions of interior or architectural elements originating from the houses of notables of the 17th century, alongside symbols of Genoese governance and portraits of the main captains of the Corsican industry in the 19th century.
The Sainte Croix Chapel: built in the 15th century and then rebuilt at the start of the 17th century, it is without doubt the most ancient chapel in the town. Lost in the middle of the coloured houses in the citadel , it is recognised first of all by its pebble mosaic forecourt. Inside, enter the chapel of Saint Augustin and Sainte Monique, then into the chapel of the Crucifix and the Miracles. Finally, you can admire the impressive high-altar made of polychrome marble, from the late 17th century.
The Sainte Marie Cathedral: dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin, this magnificent cathedral built from 1604 to 1619, houses an extraordinary silver statue of the Virgin, a true masterpiece of art carried in procession through the streets of the town, every 15 August. The cathedral will reveal the original decor of dazzling richness, which was widely enriched in the 19th century.
An island of a thousand flavours
In Corsica, living traditions nourish gastronomy, which takes the top spot. Here, you will be able to savour the authentic products of the region where the scent of chestnuts and citrus fruits intertwine, along with the salty sweetness of the charcuterie and creamy cheeses. In addition, the island has a unique insular vineyard, more than 2000 years old.
Among the specialities of Bastia, you can enjoy fresh sardines stuffed with brocciu, a cheese made from curdled sheep’s milk. And on Saint Joseph Day, you can enjoy panzarotti, delicious small round doughnuts made from chickpea or rice flour, covered with sugar.
19 March: Saint Joseph Day
This day is particularly important for Bastia, whose Saint Joseph is one of the patron saints. Every 19 March, the people of Bastia come to honour their patron saint by carrying his statue in procession up to the Saint Marie Cathedral.
June: Saint Antoine Day
This other patron of Bastia is celebrated with great fanfare at the Saint Antoine Convent, from the 16th century, whereby services, processions and fairs take place throughout the day.
November: “Musicales de Bastia”
This festival “of all types of music” presents concerts with local and nationally renowned artists.
November: Arte Mare Festival
This Mediterranean film and culture festival, the oldest of Corsica, has established connections between a reaffirmed Corsican culture and neighbouring Mediterranean cultures.
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Vols direct Nice - Bastia
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