From dawn til the early hours of the morning, from the city to the surrounding villages, the cafés, bars and bistros of Bastia come alive in an authentically Mediterranean spirit. The perfect place to talk about the weather, that upcoming Sporting Club de Bastia match or the latest regional news. Here, we cultivate the art of macagna, this sense of humour that is so typical of Corsica, and visitors will very quickly get to know the flavour of island culture: its codes, its language and its relationship to the world, made up of both lightness and gravity, of modesty and of passion.
Through a proverb, a handshake or an embrace, it is the heart of Bastia that opens itself up, the popular wisdom that is learnt and form of fraternity that is formed and which envelops you for moments of shared joy.
So, keep your eyes, ears and taste buds peeled!
Discover the sun and the maquis in an infusion that combines rooibos with the iconic Corsican immortelle as you breathe in the toasted notes of a very locally roasted tea. Or, if you prefer, refresh yourself with a Corsican clementine juice and let the flavours reveal their power.
When the time for an aperitif rolls around, the ancestral Cap Corse Mattei – a mixture of Corsican mistelle, quinquina and citron – is a must. Unless, of course, you prefer the intense foam of a locally produced chestnut beer, or one of Corsica’s famous wines – fermented from endemic grape varieties perfectly cultivated to the north and west of Bastia.
From one sip to the next
The choice of venue is up to you – depending on the time of day and your own specific tastes.
Perhaps the old harbour, early in the morning, for its character, the proximity of the water and the presence of the elders, keepers of an entire oral tradition and our urban legends: that which brings a whole neighbourhood to life.
Welcoming in summer concerts by local groups, the Citadel and Rue Napoléon are equally worthy options, thanks to their fantastic character and intimacy, far from the busy thoroughfares. Perfect for quenching your thirst between shopping or guided tours!
On the side of the vast and beautiful Saint Nicolas square, in which Bastia takes on the air of a much larger city, the atmosphere is no less warm. Local Bastian families meet there all year round, at all the very best times, with the adults sitting around a bottle of Orezza or Zilia, accompanied by a Bastian syrup, while the children come and go on bikes and scooters.
And then we have the market square, where you’ll need to make a booking for a lively pre-dinner drink, before continuing on the port of Toga, at the northern entrance to Bastia – or, if you prefer, make your way into the smaller arteries of the city centre that house trendy pre-club music nights frequented by all the young people of Bastia.
A fascination for people
In winter, the establishments that remain open become friendly, warm and welcoming shelters – the perfect spot for cocooning.
And in summer, many of these set up shop on the squares and alleys of the old town, bringing out their bistro tables and side tables and inviting passers-by to join them for a drink. Here, there are a hundred and one different ways to discover the real Bastia and all its cafe and bar owners – veritable institutions, some having chosen this career for the simple love of connection and an interest in other people.
More than just shopkeepers, these witnesses of local life and favourite hosts can be found elsewhere, at the counters of the villages surrounding or overlooking the city, in the beach huts of the lagoon beach barrier, or perhaps even at the refreshment bars of the Cap Corse sailors …
Who better to enchant you with tales that will have you falling in love with Bastia and its world?