Bonifacio has to be the most Italianesque French village in the world. Spend longer than fifteen minutes here and you slowly forget you’re in France, with its deep orange townhouses, warm sunny climate and gloomy chapels giving you the sense of a Ligurian coastal village. Take a quick glance into its history and it’s easy to see why.
The Old Town, with its web of tight streets and decadent buildings, was built by the Genoese and is the perfect place to park up and take a wander around. There are two main routes to walk, mainly because of the citadel walls that encircle the commune, but whichever you take be sure to stop off at the Église Sainte-Marie-Majeure. This beautiful 12th century church, most likely built by Pisan, is not to be confused with its namesake in Rome, but is equally as beautiful and steeped in history. The main street during Genoese occupancy, the Rue des Deux Empereurs, was home to both Charles V and Napoleon in 1541 and 1793 correspondingly, their time here now commemorated by plaques, though sadly neither house is open to the public.
For those more inclined to spend a pretty penny, Bonifacio has a wide selection of chic boutiques and cute, traditional restaurants producing a selection of the local Corsican cuisine and more recognisable Italian dishes. Head to the family owned Stella d’Orso for rustic, yet beautiful food including fresh seafood risotto with a hint of tarragon and Pasta Langoustine, you get the idea! Once full to the brim, there’s plenty of small guesthouses or hotels to stay at, just try and get a sea view – it’s truly worth the picture-perfect scene in the morning.
Fans of extreme sports will recognise the picturesque Corsican commune from the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series French leg, which took place on its rocky edges before moving to the turret towers of La Rochelle in 2013. Whatever your reason for visiting, be it extreme cliff diving or a casual island drive, it’s definitely one locale you’ll come back to.