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The visit of Bastia is a good idea, before the total immersion in the vegetation, ports and villages of Cape Corse. This town combines the lively aspect of a trafficked port and the typical quietness of a small village, set between the sea and the rocky promontory. Its urban frame is very compact, and shows no intention to expand into anonymous residential districts for tourists.

For many centuries the town has represented for the Corsican community a living symbol of the Genoese occupation, but in the huge square Place Saint-Nicolas a pompous statue of Napoleon, dressed as a Roman emperor, reminds of the recent past of the island with the French occupation. The square is very nice: luminous, edged with palm-trees, and it represents the meeting point of the local community, at night and on Sunday, when the antique trade market is held.

Bastia is not what you can call an art city, with lots of museums and churches, its beauty lies more in the lanes, streets, squares and the port, or inside its characteristic historic districts, which host some fine monuments, like the baroque church Saint-Jean-Baptiste (with the symmetric bell-towers) situated in Place de l’Hôtel-de-ville, in the historic district Terra Vecchia, which is the most ancient of Bastia; the square, also called Place du marché, hosts the daily town market, a good place for food shopping.

Whereas in the fortified citadel inside the district of Terra Nova you can visit Sainte-Marie cathedral, the church Sainte-Croix (which hosts the famous Black Christ, carried on procession every year in May) and the Corsican ethnographic museum, inside the Palais des Gouverneurs.

Few kilometres south of the city stretches out the Natural Reservation of the Biguglia Pond, a favourite destination for many species of migrant birds. The pond is very beautiful and certainly deserves a visit, with the possibility to make some relaxing stops for birdwatching. However in summer the place can be skipped with no particular regrets. Marana, a stripe of sand full of constructions which divides the pond from the open sea, represents a good spot for tan-addicted.

Musée d’Etnographie Corse, Place du Donjon

  • Open all days
  • summer opening hours:
  • June: from 9 am to 18.30 pm
  • July and August: from 9 am to 20.00 pm
  • Winter opening hours:
  • From September to May: from 9 am to 12.00 am, and from 14 pm to 18 pm

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