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D + 8: The Genovese Town of San Fiorentina

Updated: Mar 26, 2021

The beautiful Gulf of Saint-Florent this morning

What a beautiful day to wake up to. No clouds in the sky, the sea totally flat, no wind. We arrived last evening just after eight PM and anchored in the Golf of Saint-Florent. The perfect day for hanging out here, swimming and kayaking. The peace did not last for too long, however. At 9 am, smaller yachts began streaming out of Saint-Florent, heading with sun seeking French towards the beaches to the west. The flow got stronger and stronger until it subsided by about 11 am. Suddenly the peace and quiet of the early morning hours had returned.

The old harbour of Saint-Florent

Saint-Florent or San Fiorentina was founded by Genoa in 1440 to block the advance of the Kingdom of Aragon. For a few years, almost half of Corsica was in Aragonese hands. But the island was too close to Genoa. In a decisive campaign Genoa kicked the Catalan intruders out, took the island back and established strong points in places such as San Fiorentina.

The flatlands around San Fiorentina are a perfect entry point to Corsica’s interior and give access to the highlands without having to cross the steep mountain passes which shield it from the east and west coast. The small river Aliso is almost a perfect invasion highway.

The old citadel of Saint-Florent

Around the small fort with its round tower, designed to carry early artillery pieces, a little settlement developed, which became the town of San Fiorentina. Due to its strategic value it was fought over several times. Andrea Doria started his campaign here to remove the French from the island in 1553. The French troops landed Saint-Florent in 1768 after France bought the island from Genoa. Admiral Nelson’s Royal Navy took the citadel in 1794 when his force together with local guerrilla fighters liberated the town for the short-lived Kingdom of Corsica.

Bar de l'Europe - one of the many meeting points at the harbour

The fancy Cricket Bar on the beach - the groovy sound can be heard all night

The centre of the old town of Saint-Florent with its many restaurants and shops

Today, it is a bit of a party town with a giant marina. Lots of splendid motor yachts come here for the summer, smaller cruise ships bring guests, a busy bus links the town to Bastia . It is the busiest town we have seen so far on this trip. Nevertheless, tourism is down by about half compared to previous years. All business owners told us how tough it is this summer.

We wonder whether the two Vermentinos from the Patrimonio vineyard are a match for the Vermentino from Cinque Terre

We finally were able to address the shortage of white wine. There are quite a few wineries around Saint-Florent and the region is well known for its delicious whites wines made from Vermentino grapes. There will be some competition tonight between the Corsican whites and the stunning Vermentino from Cinque Terre we had last week!

At 4 pm it was time to set sail again and move towards Calvi. We had the pleasure to cross a busy stream of returning yachts - some crazy captains were on the wheels - with many lobsterised people on deck. They must have had a wonderful Sunday.

Bye bye Saint-Florent - we are off to Calvi - the small white cruise ship Le Lyrial in the back

Flags are up

Again ... no success. A firm tradition since 2017!

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