Bonifacio enjoys a superbly isolated location at Corsica’s southernmost point, a narrow peninsula of dazzling white limestone creating a town site unlike any other. The much-photographed haute ville, a maze of narrow streets flanked by tall Genoese tenements, rises seamlessly out of sheer cliffs that have been hollowed and striated by the wind and waves, while on the landward side the deep cleft between the peninsula and the mainland forms a perfect natural harbour. A haven for boats for centuries, this inlet is nowadays a chic marina that attracts yachts from around the Mediterranean. Its geography has long enabled Bonifacio to maintain a certain temperamental detachment from the rest of Corsica, and the town today remains distinctly more Italian than French in atmosphere. It retains Renaissance features found only here, and its inhabitants have their own dialect based on Ligurian, a legacy of the days when this was practically an independent Genoese colony. Bonifacio is a commune full of history, where took place many historical events that marked the French and European history, as it can be seen with its citadel and fortifications built in the 9th century, now used as a museum, the citadel will be a perfect place to discover and learn about the history of this region.
There are impressive views of the citadelle from the cliffs at the head of the montée Rastello, but they’re not a patch on the spectacular panorama from the sea. Throughout the day, a flotilla of excursion boats ferries visitors out to the best vantage points, taking in a string of caves and other landmarks only accessible by water en route, including the Ile Lavezzi, the scattering of small islets where the troop ship Sémillante was shipwrecked in 1855, now designated as a nature reserve. The whole experience of bobbing around to an amplified running commentary is about as touristy as Bonifacio gets, but it’s well worth enduring just to round the mouth of the harbour and see the vieille ville, perched atop the famous chalk cliffs. The Lavezzi islets themselves are surrounded by wonderfully clear sea water, offering Corsica’s best snorkelling. On your way back, you skirt the famous Ile Cavallo, or “millionaire’s island”, where the likes of Princess Caroline of Monaco and other French and Italian glitterati have luxury hideaways.
Corsican food is something not to miss if you ever go in France. It has a lot of specialities that most French who live on the continent have never heard about. You will be able to find every typical speciality in Bonifacio, from the very unique Corsican goat’s cheese to coppa or figatellu and many others.
The beaches within walking distance of Bonifacio are generally smaller and less appealing than most in southern Corsica. For a dazzling splash of turquoise, you’ll have to follow the narrow, twisting lane east of town in the direction of Pertusato lighthouse, turning left when you see signs for Piantarella, Corsica’s kitesurfing hotspot. A twenty-minute walk south around the shore from there takes you past the remains of a superbly situated Roman villa to a pair of divine little coves, Grand Sperone and Petit Sperone, both shallow and perfect for kids. Another superb beach in the area is Rondinara, a perfect shell-shaped cove of turquoise water enclosed by dunes and a pair of twin headlands. Thanks to its location, you can be sure to enjoy a nice warm mild weather in Bonifacio, with lots of sunshine in the summer, and sweet comfortable temperatures during the winter, allowing all kinds of outside animations thorough the year. Average sea temperatures range from about 20°C in June and October to 24°C in August thus allowing a wide range of nautical activities to be performed.
One of the biggest advantage of Bonifacio is clearly the choice that is offered to you to either go for a mountain day or a beach day. Indeed, while the surrounding beaches are undoubtedly some of the most beautiful in Europe, you can drive to the mountains and decide to spend the day here without any problem.