Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 22, 2012

Bonifacio in Corsica…the southern tip of France

Bonifacio was founded in 828AD by Count Bonifacio of Tuscany. Its magnificent natural harbour has always been sought after and the Genovese took it over in 12th century and rebuilt the city. It remained in the hands of Genova until 1769 when France gained control.

The city is at the southern tip of Corsica. It is perched high above the sea, on chalk white limestone cliffs and is a tangle of narrow streets filled with delightful medieval houses.

We sailed across the Strait of Bonifacio from the northern end of Sardinia. The area is notorious for strong winds and the day we crossed the wind was fierce. We knew we were in for a rough crossing when the ferry staff began to hand out sea sick bags shortly after we left port. Fortunately we didn’t need them, but many did and I preferred to brave the wind on deck rather than be inside with the sea sick passengers.


From the back deck of the boat you can see the coast of Corsica in the distance. The huge boat did a 360 degree turn before we left the harbour….very impressive.


You can see here how windy and rough the conditions were. No wonder people were sick.

The journey across the strait takes only 50 minutes and soon we were met by the magnificent cliffs of Corsica.


The old city of Bonifacio sits high on the cliff above the harbour.


The views from the top are spectacular.





The ancient city is very well preserved and the narrow streets provided several hours of delightful wandering.





We were fascinated by the narrow and very steep staircases to the upper floors of the houses.


This one had a very modern metal hand rail. Most did not.


There is an amazing old fort to walk through and imagine the people who lived and worked here centuries ago.






There were views from here over the newer part of the town and along the magnificent coast line.




We wandered past the gorgeous old church.


The stones at the entrance have been worn down by centuries of footsteps.


The portico in front of the church is most unusual.


Then it was time for lunch, and there was no shortage of interesting looking places to eat.




We found a place that served some local delicacies, mussels and an eggplant dish that proved to be interesting rather than delicious.



On our way back to the car park we discovered the incredible cemetery which I have written about in a previous post and found some gorgeous old buildings crumbling along the cliffs.




The coastline here is one of the most spectacular I have ever seen.







In the late afternoon we made our way back to the ferry for the return to Sardinia. Bonifacio put on a spectacular sunset for us.









Bonifacio is an incredible place to visit……put it on your list.

Take a look at the previous post about the gorgeous cemetery…click here.



  1. WOW! Amazing photographs and beautiful places, Thank you dear Debra, love, nia

    • Bonifacio was a delightful surprise. I had no idea what to expect.

  2. Loved this one Deb. I totally agree with you -yes it is the best coastline I too have ever seen. An amazing part of the world. Great to have visited Corsica with you and Jim.

    • The white cliffs are magnificent…and we were fairly lucky with the weather.

  3. Wow, this is a stunningly gorgeous place! And I love the narrow streets of the old city.
    Great post, my friend.

    • It is not typical France, but very beautiful.

    • Kathy! Those stairways look familiar! Almost 100-year-old American South in style. Hmmmm….

  4. Wonderful post – thank you! We loved Bonifacio when we visited 10 years ago, you brought great memories back to life. Was just in Bagni di Lucca, and recommended your blog to local friends who were a bit down on the region, telling them how wonderfully refreshing your writings (and keen eye for details) are!

    • Bonifacia is a beautiful place….but so is Bagni di Lucca…pity some of the locals don’t see what they have in their backyards.

  5. Hi Debra, I love this post. Stunning photos yet again and spectacular scenery

    • Bonifacio was a wonderful place to visit.

  6. Stunning, absolutely stunning- just as the others said.
    I think I could live in that area…yep, I’m sure of it.

    • Corsica is a beautiful island with lots to offer.

  7. What a wonderful tour you have given us, Debra! As always, interesting details coupled with wonderful photos – you are a fabulous tour guide!

    • Thank you. I love to discover new places ( new for me anyway)

  8. Bonifacio looks fascinating! I’m continually amazed at how people in the early days of settlement manage to build such imposing stone structures on impossible terrains. I liked the fancy writing on the menu – appears to have a strong French influence. Love the cloud formations over the stone buildings and the clusters of flowers peeping between the walls. Nature and man-made creations can work together; yet the natural world is incomparable. Your creative lens is a great guide for reflection. Well done, Debra!

    • Corsica is French, but it wasn’t quite like mainland France, and the food was different. We loved it.

  9. Beautiful as always. I have always wanted to go to Coraica especially after spending a summer interning in Marseille. Some day! So much to explore!

    • Unfortunately there are just too many wonderful things to see and not enough time.

      • Yes you are indeed correct. I spent a lot of time in Europe in my twenties and then decided to move on to other parts of the world. This last trip was my first real one back and I realized how much I miss and love it. 🙂

  10. So rugged Debra. You can feel the wind blow in your photos. I love the sunset and the huge clouds. Did you feel Corsica had a different mood to Sardegna/ I would love to explore both islands myself one day.

    • I thought Corsica was different from Sardinia. There are similarities in the rocky landscape, but it is definitely more French than Italian. Both islands are gorgeous in their own way.

      • I thought so. Corsica even looks more French somehow.

  11. “we sailed across the Strait of Bonifacio from the northen end of Sardinia” – is such a wonderful ‘draw nigh and list’ to my tale sentence. Does it still thrill you to be able to write such things? Mind, if I was handed a sick bag at the start of my voyage it would rub some of the romance off. And I so seriously want to research the gastronomy of these places!!!

    • I never take my travels for granted. It was certainly as big a thrill to sail across this strait as was sailing through the Strait of Magellan 40 years ago on my very first trip to Italy in 1972.

  12. Bonifacio looks fascinating. A lot of people think it is more Italian than French so I was interested to read your comment where you thought the reverse. I’ll have to visit and find out for myself!!

    • The architecture is more Italian, because it was Italian, but the language and food are French.

  13. Wow, these photos are awesome! Now I know what Corsica looks like, as I only see the giant cliffs from here. Are you able to see Sardinia from Corsica?

    • I think you can, but the white cliffs of Corsica make it stand out more.

  14. What a beautiful, beautiful place! I’ve never been, but have relatives who go every summer. I love that scrubby landscape, dry, with crisp blue skies and high billowy clouds. I feel like I can breathe better just looking at the pictures. Thanks Deb!

  15. p.s. I’d love to go, but I’m not so sure about the food…interesting, these islands (Corsica, Sardegna) that are plopped in the middle of the sea (by definition), but where so much meat is consumed. And mussels and eggplant strikes me as most unusual…

    • That eggplant dish, which was said to be typical of the island was not very nice at all, and I had the worst meal I have ever been presented with in a restaurant in Ajaccio…I couldn’t eat it…..but you can just be unlucky sometimes.We clearly needed a bit more local knowledge.
      Both Sardegna and Corsica are gorgeous and I would go back in a heartbeat.

  16. The views are superb-look at the blue sky and clouds. And the eggplant dish that was more interesting than delicious? 😉

    • The eggplant sounded interesting and tasty, but it was very ordinary indeed.

  17. Fabulous place and photos Debra. I hope I can see all that in person someday 🙂

    • I’m sure you will love it as much as we did.

  18. Those white limestone cliffs are gorgeous. Great photos, Debra. Surprised to hear that your food was not up to standards. Corsica features great Mediterranean dishes, not very sophisticated, but very tasty in general and they should know how to cook eggplant!

    • I think you can just be unlucky sometimes with ordering food. I’m sure there were some great restaurants we missed.

  19. Thanks so much for the great tour of this wonderful old city. Your photos are stunning. 🙂

    • Bonifacio is a beautiful city in a breathtaking position.

  20. Wow – it looks beautiful. Great photographs, I especially like the last few which look like paintings.

    • The sunset was incredible, what a great way to leave Corsica.

  21. What rough seas, i bet there are a few wrecked ships in those waters.. amazing shots as usual, giving us the very breath of the area and the streets and the food.. wonderful.. just wonderful.. how I would love to travel again,. but they won’t let me bring a cow on a plane and can you imagine the shush sisters trotting about baggage.. no it would be better if you came here to be me and i will be you for a week or so.. it could work! how are you at milking a cow? c

    • I lived on a dairy farm when my son was little. I think I could still milk a cow….I’ll bring a bucket.

  22. The seafood looks delicious!

    • The mussels weren’t bad.

  23. […] Sardinia we went to Corsica, where Bonifacio was a wonderful surprise. I had no idea what to expect…it is a gorgeous place….even the […]

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