Corsica: Places to Explore

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Bastia

Notably more Italianate than the "Continental" French capital at Ajaccio, Bastia is, along with Corte, quintessentially Corsican. Despite sprawling suburbs, the Baroque coastal resort town has a historic center that retains the timeless, salty flavor of an ancient Mediterranean port, so approaching and departing by sea are particularly dramatic while rounding the Cap Corse peninsula. With its four churches, an ethnographical museum, many picturesque corners, and a number of fine dining options overlooking the comings and goings of boats to the tune of foghorn blasts, Bastia has a full bouquet of sights to savor. Its name is derived from the word "bastion," in reference to the fortress the Genoese built here in the 14th century as a stronghold against rebellious islanders and potential invaders. Today the city, with a population hovering around 45,000, is Corsica's business center and second-largest town after Ajaccio. The Terra Vecchia (Old Town) is best explored on foot. Start at the wide, palm-filled place St-Nicolas, bordered on one side by docked ships looming large in the port and on the other by two blocks of popular cafés along boulevard Général-de-Gaulle.

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