Wednesday 4.10.23

We remain in Bastia today as we have a walking tour from our hotel through the town square and onwards.  Essentially we are walking south with the seafront to our left and again the temperatures are well above expectation – so sunscreen protection is needed.

Corsica remains part of France but there are significant powers vested in the Corsican Assembly which rules the island from Ajaccio with Bastia being the second largest town.   However it was not always this way and at one stage Corsica was (almost inevitably for a Mediterranean island) part of the Roman Empire, subsequently coming under the control of the March of Tuscany.  The rise to power of  Pisa led to them taking control in the 11th century with the northern end of the island seeing the construction of many Genoese fortresses to act as a repellent to the threat of an Arab invasion.  From 1284 the Genoese became dominant until 1767 when (having lost control of much of the island) sold it to the French who lost control in 1794 to an Anglo-Corsican alliance.  That did not last long when the British withdrew in 1796 and French control was re-established.

So a mixed history and there is a strong local language which can be understood by many Italians as it is closely related; the other local language is French.  There is some evidence of a wish to become independent – FLNC  (National Liberation Front of Corsica) appearing as graffiti, alongside “French go home”, defiling many walls.  However it is not entirely clear how serious the current movement might be having been dormant for a few years.

Beyond the main square is a shopping street and we come across A Tinella which is a decent looking cheese shop (and we note wines).  At this point we also feel that our walking range is always slightly limited and having consulted the online guides one item we do wish to see is the Silver statue of the Virgin Mary within the Sainte Marie Cathedral which is at the far southern end of the town in the oldest part of the fortress area.  So we head off in that direction leaving the group behind and from sea level to the older town it seems we have to ascend numerous steps at the Ramp of St Charles.  Eventually I find the main entrance to the Cathedral – which is completely closed.  A local resident shows me the way to the working side entrance (repair works in progress) and we are able to access the Cathedral and then find the statue.

For those who want an easy way to get there we have odd sightings of a Dotto train around the town – but never when we want to use it!

We had hoped to see the local equivalent of a model of the town in the Musée de la Miniature for which we see signposts – but on reaching it the location appears locked up and permanently closed.  It does however enable us to get back to almost sea level and a very pleasant walk around the edge of a marina and then back into the town.  Dinner is acquired from the previously mentioned cheese shop which we repass on the return journey and on reaching the town square we choose one of the restaurants for a lunch before walking the rest of the way back to the hotel.

In the later afternoon I make use of the rooftop pool area – both for some sun and then a little later in the pool itself.  A good way to spend the day.