The city awakens with the fisherman, embarking on their boats for a day on the water, between fish traps and longlines, and with those early-risers of Bastia – already seated at their favourite cafe.
It is at this time that Bastia can be admired in all its beauty. The city presents itself, holding nothing back. Naked. Just as it is.
As the curtains rise upon the Tuscan archipelago, the city offers itself up at sunrise.
Nowhere can this show be admired better than from the Aldilonda, five metres above the water. In the silence of dawn, the promenade opens, with the sea as its only companion, leading to the old port and its delicate curve, in the hollow of which several bars and restaurants are nestled.
The chance to discover the harbour site, dominated by the belfries of Saint John – painted and photographed thousands of times – is a magical moment that will stay with you forever. This is the visitor’s first real encounter with Bastia and its architecture of which our eyes could never grow tired, as long as we take the time to fully survey the space, landing on the smallest of details, to imagine what could and continues to be written there.
Throughout its history, Bastia has been more than capable of lending itself to the imagination, to the wandering spirit, inviting a journey through time: that of the lion’s rock, which once made docking here dangerous, and the first steamships that the city hoped would bring wealthy English tourists.
Then, we are drawn to the monumental staircase which, just opposite, links the port to the upper town and crosses the Romieu gardens to lead us to the citadel district. Both a haven and bastion at the same time, this neighbourhood is made up of a maze of alleys, at the corner of which a patio, a garden or, almost as if in a dream, the romantic remains of an old prison can be admired, all with a stunning view of the sea …
The hanging gardens of the Governors’ Palace will open in a few minutes, offering a unique panorama of the north of Bastia. Meanwhile, from the ramparts, the picturesque view is incredible and simply perfect for a contemplative break.
The light then floods the city, which begins its gradual metamorphosis.
Soon it will be time to lunch at the foot of the palm trees of Place Saint Nicolas, opposite the ferries, or in one of the shaded spots dotted around the old town. All this before you’ve even set foot in the shops that line the pedestrian street. Afterwards, you’ll have the choice of two options: head for the beach for an hour or two of relaxation or climb to the balcony villages to enjoy another peaceful ramble, drawn out until the arrival of the evening stars and a new Bastia, languishing at night.
Because Bastia is like a country, inexhaustible and plural, we must also venture outside of the city to take in all its horizons, with a walk around Lake Chiurlinu, at the heart of the largest nature reserve in Corsica, or along our rural and unchanging paths: in Furiani, up to the beautiful Sainte Marie chapel; in Cardo, to reach the ancient Genoese glassworks and their spectacular viewpoint; in Ville di Pietrabugno, for a picnic under the chestnut trees, in the footsteps of the mule-drivers of yesteryear; or on the heights of Santa Maria and San Martino di Lota, between endemic plants, to observe breath-taking panoramas of the sea…
Even at its peaks, the Bastian region never takes its eyes off the Tyrrhenian sea that it runs along for a few kilometres, dressed in clear sand or, further north, nesting in the arms of the ophiolites and the shale. Its sunbeds, huts, rocks, pebbles, landscaped beaches and coves are always an open invitation to a patient and welcoming stop, to reconnect with the elements and their soothing force, to marvel and recharge, and to taste the magic of this incomparable, unique and intangible island harmony.