Monday, September 10, 2007

Bastia, Corsica, France

Bastia is the largest city in northern Corsica, and is the passenger and freight port for most goods that arrive in Corsica from France and Italy. The old port has plenty of old charm in its dereliction and a lovely church that is very characteristic of the place. EEC money is pouring in to rejuvenate the historic districts and the “New Town” or Terra Nova as it is called which is the old Genoese quarter, has already seen a lot of renovation. However, the Corsicans are trying to maintain the old charm and are renovating the old buildings to their former glories.

The old port is surrounded by brightly decorated restaurants and cafes and the harbor is filled with small sailing yachts and a few old fishing boats. While I was there, you could drive and park on the harbor wall that made access very easy for painting the buildings and harbor lighthouses. You share the wharf with a few fishermen/women and only the occasional tourist. The harbor area is a little run down in places, but it’s a small price to pay to be able to enjoy such peace and freedom from the hordes of tourists that normally go with any pretty spot. There is a lot of shade here most of the day because the harbor wall is very high and in just the right position to provide shade all morning and into the early afternoon.

Above the old port is the Terra Nova which has been mostly restored and houses the lawyers, doctors and architects of the town. Its narrow streets and views down to the sea and old port provide a lot of painting material and you can always find shade here too. There is convenient parking just outside the Terra Nova walls. There are also some nice church buildings in this part of town, which provide additional subject matter. There is a garden that leads from the old port up to the Terra Nova and this garden also offers several opportunities to find shade later in the day and great vistas across the harbor and to the new port.

In the new harbor there are lots of large ferry boats which offer the opportunity to paint more modern subject matter. The colors of the large ferry boats are interesting (offering a nice contrast of blue grays against the azure Mediterranean skies) but the shapes of some of the boats are sometimes a little odd. Next to the new harbor is a large park where many people gather and which also has a regular flea market giving you the opportunity to do park scenes. There are many inexpensive hotels (but no apartments to rent). The most convenient hotel (Hotel Posta Vecchia) is right next to the old port, facing out to sea.

Overall rating: ****
Aesthetics: ****
Accessibility: *****
Tranquility: *****
Variety: ****
Shade: ****

Map: Bastia, Corsica, France

This location contributed by:
Barry John Raybould