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Report 2028: Two Travellers on Corsica

By Doug Phillips from Canada, Spring 2012

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Page 6 of 14: Two Days in Bonifacio - Friday-Saturday October 5-6

photo by Doug Phillips

Bonifacio

Two very warm, bright sunny days at the southern tip of Corsica.

We noticed the weather getting warmer as we drove south along the east coast of Corsica, which will make up the first stage to the 2013 Tour de France. Our trip from Bastia took about three hours, including a refreshment break in Porto-Vecchio, which will be the starting point of the first stage. There is already signage announcing the town's coup.

Arriving in Bonifacio early in the afternoon, we checked into our hotel. The 11-room Hotel Centre Nautique in Bonifacio, a vintage structure with traditional features, occupies an attractive quayside setting, and a reservation includes parking in an adjacent, if miniscule, lot.

We toured Bonifacio's marina area and, after climbing several steps through a commercial street, we also walked through part of the Bosco, a wooded elevated area, which provided some great views of the Bonifacio's dramatic landscape. Later we took a boat tour of the nearby area - again very impressive and stunning views.

We had dinner at the Cantina Grill in the port area. Cantina Grill is owned and operated by the same family responsible for the highly recommended Cantina Doria in the haute ville. There are many restaurants by the water in Bonifacio. Some were already closed for the season. With one exception the rest were almost empty. The Cantina Grill was full.

Saturday morning we walked from our hotel on the marina up into the haute ville, the oldest part of Bonifiacio with many buildings precariously perched on the edge of the cliff. After a brief tour we descended L'Escalier du Roy d'Aragon, the Staircase of the King of Aragon, a series of 187 steps (about the same as the Arc de Triomphe in Paris) cut into the side of the cliff. We had noticed the staircase on our boat ride yesterday. Like much of Corsica's history, the staircase has a fair amount of myth about it. Suffice to say, it has absolutely nothing to do with the King of Aragon. The walk down was more of a challenge than expected - the steps are quite steep - but at the bottom there is a walking area about a quarter of a mile along the cliff face. The walk back up was done in stages.

We paused for a pleasant lunch in a tourist restaurant in the haute ville, before walking back down the hill, arriving at our hotel mid-afternoon. What to do? A bit late for starting out in our car on even an abbreviated day trip, but too early to hang around our hotel room. So we headed out, each with a book, looking for a park or public spot to read and take in the beautiful weather. We ended up sitting outside at one of the many bar/restaurants that ring the marina, ordered a beer and read for more than an hour.

In the evening we had planned to go to Cantina Doria in the haute ville. But Cantina Doria is closed on Saturdays, at least at that time of year. So we returned to Cantina Grill for a second evening. There was enough variety on the menu to provide a completely different, but equally enjoyable, dining experience.

My original plan was to spend three days based in Bonifacio, but Iím very glad we left after two. While there are some stunning views here, there's not much of a community or even very much to do. It really is a bit isolated from any other interesting parts of the island. A one night stay or even a full day trip would do justice to most of it highlights.

Next: On to Cargese

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