Bonifacio is a city in the south of Corsica, France.
The town of Bonifacio balances on the edge of a cliff like a tightrope walker. It is built on white and gray cliffs. The facades of the apartment buildings defy fate by being on the edge of the cliff. There was a case where one of them collapsed into an abyss.
The city is built on a scenic, steep slope. No one climbs the crumbling rocks – although, according to legend, in 1420 the soldiers of the King of Aragon, besieging Bonifacio, in one night made 187 steps leading to the top. In fact, the staircase going over the cliff was here much earlier. There is one road leading to the top of the slope to the fortress town. Corsicans call themselves “family individualists.” Blood ties are very important here. They also call themselves Highlanders. Indeed, it feels like the mountains rather than the coast dominate here. Although the beaches are beautiful, you can spend your vacation in Corsica without even seeing the sea. Tourists with backpacks, telescopic poles and sturdy shoes are seen as much as bathing suits.
The highest mountain, 2,700 m above sea level, Monte Chinto , is only 20 km from the coast. Corsica is the most mountainous of the Mediterranean islands. Looking out of an airplane window, it looks like the jagged Alps rising out of the azure sea. The legendary G-20 footpath, which crosses the island, is considered the most difficult in Europe. It takes 14-17 days to cross it. The G-20 is not a mountain walk. Those who walk at a steady pace for seven to eight hours a day can do it in two weeks. The rest often board the accompanying helicopter. A chain of mountains divides the island by a sloping line into two parts: the western, with the invader towns of Ajaccio or Bonifacio, once called “there” or “land of the lords”, and the eastern, or “here” or “land of the people”. Corsicans rarely identified themselves with the rulers of the island. The Phoenicians, the Romans, the French, the English, the Germans, the Tuscans, the Dukes of Pisa and then Genoa survived with silent, proud and occasionally flaring resistance.
The Corsicans fought the Genoese long and fiercely. Eventually, in 1755, they succeeded in capturing the island and briefly establishing their own state under the leadership of the national hero Pasquale Paoli. His monuments, busts and portraits are almost everywhere today.
This is the most memorable period in the history of Corsica . Its symbol is the Head of the Moor, the profile of a black man with a forehead belted with a white handkerchief, which is today the island’s coat of arms. Freedom ended quickly, as Genoa got rid of the Corsican problem by giving the island to the French in exchange for debts. A year later, the army of Louis XV defeated that of Paoli.
This explains the fierce resistance to the “aliens” who hide behind the militias of the Front for the National Liberation of Corsica and its rival Armata Corsa, planting bombs under “symbols of colonialism”: French banks and stores. But the islanders are practical – reports of attacks subsided when a 2003 referendum showed that the militant struggle had no public support – the majority voted not to disconnect the island from France. The local population realized that Corsica probably would not have succeeded without the money that France invested in it.
But the French realize that they “have” Corsica and don’t have it. She is even called the farthest of the French islands. Although jokingly the French from the continent laugh at the “wheezing French” islanders, the two Corsicans’ conversations are beyond comprehension. The Corso language, which functions in parallel on the island, is not a French dialect . It is more like Italian. Its roots can be found in Latin, spiced up with Tuscan. It is spoken by only 300,000 people, and in any case it has many regional variations. For example, the golden-headed lilac flower, popular on the island, has up to 18 names in various varieties of corsa.
The islanders are very attached to the land and the place where they come from. When two Corsicans meet, the first question is, “what village are you from?” Only about a dozen percent of the island’s surface is suitable for cultivation, so it is not surprising that there was often a shortage of food. In times of famine, the islanders were saved by chestnuts. They were roasted, baked, boiled, milled into flour or a coarse substitute for polenta. Many dishes were made of them, and at weddings in the town of Castaniccia, located among the real chestnut woods, 22 dishes made of this fruit are still traditionally served.
Chestnut flour pancakes and cakes are popular all over the island. However, they are no longer eaten because of hunger. Products containing chestnuts have moved from the lowest shelf to the highest. Also in price. Ferns grow in the shade of chestnuts. Farmers cut them down in the fall so that animals have something to eat during the winter. Some of the leaves are dried on flat pressed “leaves” . They would be the original packaging for filo cheese, the name of which means the fern in which it is wrapped. A Corsican who has left the island and forgotten his roots is called a forgotten fern.
The smell of ripening ham is present long before you can read the store sign. It hangs under the vaulted ceiling next to a string of pancetta and bacon and figatelli, a heavily garlicky pork liver sausage. There are circles of cheese in the cold cellar. The king of local cheeses is the humble broccia, a soft cheese that has been made here for hundreds of years. An indispensable ingredient in the traditional cookie falculella, baked in chestnut leaf, which has more cheese than flour. Corsicans cherish tradition. The Route des artisans follows a winding road through villages on the western tip of the island. It takes you to Pigna, a stone town that crowns the hilltop like a hat, with the azure sea behind it.
Excellent craftsmanship on every corner. Pottery, musical instrument manufactory, engraving. And a magical Scat Music store run by two friends who sell music boxes that play local tunes.
Bonifacio is a city in the south of Corsica, France.
Bonifacio is the most incredible, most mythical and most beautiful town of Corsica. Climbing on the very cliff in the south of the island, Bonifacio has been welcoming travelers for hundreds of years, among whom, according to legend, was Odysseus.
The beautiful nature, the cozy streets of the old town, the beautiful Corsican wines and “bonifacio eggplant”, as well as numerous cruises to neighboring islands, await you. By the way, the area around Bonifacio has some of the most beautiful beaches in Corsica which, perhaps, can also be called one of the most beautiful in the world! Turquoise water, white sand, picturesque cliffs – yes, paradise looks something like this. And it’s not even that far away from you!
Bonifacio Travel Guide:
If you limit yourself to just the town, you should bookmark three hours to explore. But it’s best to take a cruise ship ride around the area to see the fortress city from the side, as well as the neighboring islands. Such a tour takes about two to three hours. In this case, it is better to spend the whole day in Bonifacio.
To get to Bonifacio:
Getting to Bonifacio is essentially only by car, not or by ship from neighboring Sardinia. The nearest airport is in Ajaccio. But with parking in the old town can be quite tight, look for a hotel with its own parking, or you’ll have to leave the car rather far away, outside the citadel. There is free parking: entry only from N198.
What to see in Bonifacio:
Bonifacio is definitely the most beautiful city in Corsica and one of the most impressive cities in France. This is the case when you have to see the city not only from the inside, but also from the outside: these overhanging houses on a steep cliff, right above the sea, look fantastic also from the water. Be sure to take some kind of cruise excursion, such as the Lavezzi Islands (the southernmost territory of European France and a nature reserve with beautiful beaches).
Bonifacio itself is essentially divided into the Lower Town with its harbor, where the tours leave and where the promenade is full of restaurants, and the Upper Town, with its bastion and narrow picturesque streets. This Upper Town is surrounded by a medieval wall and is quite small (about 200*200 m), so it is easy to get around on foot. From St. Roch’s Pass, where you can climb the stairs from the harbor, you can walk to Pertusato Cape, admiring the beautifully rugged coasts and the turquoise sea.
Beach lovers can find some of the most beautiful beaches of Corsica.
What to eat in Bonifacio:
There are many restaurants along the waterfront in the harbor, but there are also quite a few nice and cozy spots in the streets of the Upper Town. During the off-season, restaurants are only open for lunch (12 – 2pm) and dinner (7 – 10pm), and it can be hard to find anything good to eat between then and there. During the high season, July-August, many restaurants are open all day. Be sure to try Bonifacio’s specialty, aubergines à la Bonifacienne (eggplants stuffed with a mixture of breadcrumbs, eggs, cheese, garlic, and basil – pictured below) – very tasty, even for those who don’t like all kinds of vegetables. You can probably find eggplant like this in most restaurants in town.
And, of course, don’t forget to taste the Corsican wines: nearby are the vineyards of Sartena, which produce some of the best wines of the island.