Notably more Italianate than the French-influenced Ajaccio, Bastia is quintessentially Corsican. The Baroque coastal town has a historic center that retains the timeless, salty flavor of an ancient Mediterranean port. 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. 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.