Once ruled by the Genoese, Bastia is a historic port city on the north-east coast of Corsica that centres around a bastion-guarded citadel. Its palm-fringed squares and atmospheric old port make it a pleasant city to wander, featuring several picturesque Baroque and Rococo churches.
Things to do in Bastia
Begin your visit at Musee de Bastia, which occupies a former palace of the Genoese governors in the heart of the Citadel district. Learn about the city’s tumultuous past and the palace’s role as a centre of power, then admire the historic paintings that form part of the extensive Fesch Collection. Other highlights of the museum include a large-scale model of the city and maritime artefacts reflecting the significance of the sea in Bastia’s development.
One of Bastia’s most atmospheric districts is the Old Port, which is clustered with lively bars and restaurants watched over by the 17th-century Church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste. Admire the ornate facade and cupola-topped twin towers, then step inside to see the church’s gilded stucco work, 18th-century paintings and richly decorated organ loft.
At the heart of Bastia is the immense Place Saint-Nicolas, which is almost twice the size of Piazza San Marco in Venice. Overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, it’s lined with 19th-century townhouses and swaying palm trees. Dominating one corner is the Q813 submarine “Casablanca”, which played an important role in the liberation of Corsica during World War II.
Getting around Bastia
Bastia – Poretta Airport is a 20-minute drive from the city centre and has flights to destinations across Europe. Regular ferries connect to Marseille, Nice, Genoa and Livorno while buses travel to towns and cities throughout Corsica. The Old Port and Citadel districts are ideally explored on foot.