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D + 7: Restocking in Bastia

Updated: Mar 26, 2021

Our first week of sailing brought us to Bastia. We are now low on sea food, fresh vegetables, dairy products, water, fuel and white wine. The Vermentino from Cinque Terre was very much in demand. Time to restock and find new supplies. The AFAET also needs a proper scrubbing and wash. Captain Nikos found a laundry shop which will wash our bedlinen and towels and bring them to Calvi in two days’ time - what a service!

Rainy Bastia this morning after yesterday’s thunderstorm returned

Despite the high season, Bastia is mostly empty. Maybe a quarter of the restaurant tables on the sea front are taken. Bars and lounges are quiet. Every single shop has sales signs in the windows. Many of them are closed. We hoped to taste Corsican Whites and Rosés but could not find an open wine shop. Business must be difficult with no tourists visiting. Like many towns in the south of France, Bastia lives from the three busy summer months. The rest of the year is quiet. People have to live from what they earned during the summer.

Closed wine shop

But the vegetable and fruit market was open and we returned with full bags

Chef Konstatinos found these two Loup de Mer in the local Pescheteria

Bastia reminds me of the small towns in the Ardèche. Many houses are empty and not well maintained. There must be much more supply than demand. Without rental income, most owners do not keep up their places and they decay. It all looks a bit sad.

The old harbor however is well looked after. It is currently being restored with government and EU money. The well preserved Genovese citadel towers mightily over the port, the park below it is well groomed and the water clean. Many old men were fishing when we arrived yesterday. Young couples and families stroll around the old harbour and its piers.

Bastia's giant Genovese citadel

It is difficult to imagine that this picturesque place was once the scene of heavy fighting between French troops garrisoned in the citadel and Corsican guerrilla supported by the Royal Navy. Admiral Nelson's big guns prevailed and in 1794, Bastia became the de-facto capital of Corsica. The British Consul-General was residing here as well. Two years later though, the Brits left and French troops took Bastia back.

Admiral Nelson with his fleet before Bastia in 1794

Bastia got its name from Bastiglia, the Genovese word for Bastille or Bastion. In the 15thcentury, the upper town was built inside the citadel and heavily fortified to defend the town and harbour against attacks from the Ottoman fleet. The cost for building such extensive fortifications must have been huge. As a matter of policy, Genoa charged the locals for building fortifications and manning garrisons. This heavy tax burden may have been another reason why commerce never fully developed in Bastia. Had tourism not kicked in during the late 1960ies, Corsica would probably be one of the poorest parts of France. Even with tourism and generous government subsidies, unemployment rate stands at 20%.

By 3 pm, the boat was ready again for the next leg of our journey. It will take us first to the northern tip of Corsica, then around the west coast of the island and eventually to Sardinia.

As we set sail, yesterday’s thunderstorm which had returned overnight dropped its last few raindrops and we left Bastia in splendid sunshine. Week two – here we come!

Sailing resumed – week two officially started - rounding Corsica's northern tip

One of the many Saracen Towers which protect the coast from North African Pirates and the Ottoman Fleet

Plan for week two – from Bastia in Corsica to Castelsardo in Sardinia

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