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April 23, 2017

Corsica: Bonifacio

Filed under: Architecture, Europe, France, Photography, Travel, Travel, Writing — Tags: , , , , , — anotherheader @ 1:29 pm

Early on a cool morning the ferry’s top deck is not very popular.

From Provence we crossed the Mediterranean to Corsica’s most northerly ferry port in Bastia. Soon after we arrived we searched Google to find a ferry that we could take to continue our trip to Sardinia Italy in about a week. Google told that if we wanted to see Corsica from tip to tail, the logical choice would be to depart from Corsica’s most major south coastal harbor, Bonifacio. From Bonifacio we could take a ferry to Santa Teresa at the northern tip of Sardinia.

The first paragraph pretty much summed up our knowledge of Bonifacio before we arrived. We knew just two things: (1) Bonifacio has a port and (2) there is a ferry that makes the crossing to Sardinia. If we had time to plan, we would have known more. But our ferry-centric road trip to the south of Europe had been arranged at the last moment. This left many destinations as surprises. We often arrived in new places unbiased by expectations. I won’t argue that naïveté is a good thing but at times it does have advantages. Innocent eyes view the world differently. And in this case, Bonifacio turned out to be one of our favorite stops in Corsica in spite of visiting in the middle of November when the town was mostly closed for the season.

Bonifacio’s sheltered port.

A quiet street in Bonifacio

Much of Bonifacio’s appeal is the location. The town, a jumble of white and beige buildings, sits on a cliff above its well-sheltered natural harbor. From its commanding position on a peninsula that separates the Mediterranean from its port, it is easy to guess that a primary purpose for a town in this location was the protection of its harbor. It is no surprise to find that there is a citadel at the tip of Bonifacio’s peninsula.

Bonifacio seems impregnable, historically and today. Though boats from all parts now enter the harbor without fear of bombardment, the town puts up a firm defense against invading automobiles. It is a difficult commune to drive to and in. And don’t even think about parking a car in the old town.

Close to the rocks, the Moby ferry turns about.

The ferry to Sardinia manuever’s to the quay in Bonifacio.

After a day of wandering empty streets we departed the next morning on the early ferry to Sardinia. Bonifacio’s port seems too small for a ferry capable of holding all of the trucks and vehicles waiting at the dock. The port still looked too small when the Moby ferry arrived. But the ferry’s crew had obviously done this before. In minutes the ship swapped ends, avoiding the rocks a few meters away, and backed to the loading quay.

Once secured at the dock the ferry’s door opened disgorging a chain of vehicles from Sardinia from the boat’s bowels. When the ferry was empty boarding of the vehicles heading to Sardinia began. Together with the waiting trucks and local traffic we drove our rental car up the rattling metal grates onto the ferry’s car deck. With all of the vehicles aboard the heavy mooring ropes were removed from the shore bollards and we were off on our way to Sardinia.

The Sardinian coast near Bonifacio.

It turned out that the most scenic part of visiting Bonifacio was leaving. The best view of the commune came from the deck of the ferry as we left the port. Only then could we see that Bonifacio sits perched on the top of the white cliffs seemingly threatening to fall into the sea. Perhaps if we had done more research we would have anticipated this dramatic view. But instead our full appreciation of Bonifacio’s geographical situation had to wait until the very end of our visit.

Our GPS shows the route ahead.

Red is on the right as we leave Bonifacio’s port.

Bonifacio and the Staircase of The King of Aragon (Escalier du Roi d’Aragon, in French) as scene leaving.


The Staircase of The King of Aragon viewed from the top.

One last look at Bonifacio perched on a bluff.



  1. […] we arrived we expected Sardinia to be much like Corsica. It seemed intuitive that the two adjacent Mediterranean islands would be similar. And they are […]

    Pingback by Sardinia: Alghero | Another Header — April 28, 2017 @ 8:24 pm

  2. These articles on Corsica and Sardinia look fantastic! I recently finished all of my “dream-trips” and have been looking for inspiration to create a new list. So far I haven’t been able to take my mind off of Corsica’s GR20 hiking route, which traverses the length of the island’s mountainous spine. In any case, your photos and information have definitely given me ample cause to visit the area. Thanks!

    Comment by ericluskjopson — October 8, 2017 @ 5:17 pm

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