Bonifacio

A citadel lost in time

"... the narrow, tall houses, encavaladas in each other, seemed to want to dive into the Mediterranean."

The journey between Santa Teresa di Gallura in Sardinia, and Bonifacio in the neighbor Corsica, took place quietly on board the BluNavy. And I well remember the enthusiasm I felt when walking from side to side as the small boat crossed the Bonifacio, this one that separates the beautiful islands for only eleven kilometers!

The trip takes long enough to allow us to contemplate the view of the Sardinian coast as we move away from it, and at the same time, almost without realizing it, we begin to see more and more closely the contours of the approaching French island.

And really little time passed until we perched on the blue handrail, peeking at the famous white limestone escarpments where the impressive city ​​of Bonifacio.

As we approached, the tall, narrow houses, huddled together, seemed to want to dive into the Mediterranean. His boldness was impressive!

After going through the sea cave of Sdragonate at the end of the promontory that bears the citadelle, we entered by mouth of Bonifacio until we reach the simple port, protected from the open sea because it is located on the quiet banks of the small canal.

The geography of this place is reminiscent of a Norwegian fjord. The magnificent colors of the cliffs' interface with the sea start in a brownish green tone and end in a deep blue tone. Just above, the rock walls along with the walls guard the small village.

Restless, we left the ferry aboard our great Renault Clio, a true international explorer, and with the route studied, we continue to the top of the cliff east of citadelle.

What an absolutely passionate picture! The most famous Corsican village owes much of its beauty to the amazing place where it is located ... imagine a fjord with white limestone cliffs, carefully sculpted by the wind and the sea, and perched on these, a citadel of narrow streets and huts of beige tones and clear, resting seventy meters from the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. And surrounding it, a forest of maquis as far as the eye can see, with the mountains gently appearing on the horizon. When looking down she was mesmerized by the different blue tones created by the seabed, where pieces of rock plucked from the cliff over time, gave way to the most varied shades according to their shape and depth.

"... white limestone cliffs, carefully sculpted by the wind and the sea, and perched on these, a citadel of narrow streets."

"There were corners where the sea seemed to have been painted by an artist, with a huge pallet of blue tones ..."

We followed a trail along the cliff, deep in the maquis (very dense shrubs typical of Mediterranean regions) and peeking almost every minute over the turquoise waters that seduced us at the base of the cliff.

We were delighted by the intensity of the vibrant colors on that hot summer day… with the soft smells of the vegetation… and with the soft touch of the brief breeze that was passing by us! What pure air! The tranquility of this place, where white, blue and green dominate the tones of the landscape, was incredibly felt as we walked hand in hand. There were corners where the sea seemed to have been painted by an artist, with a huge pallet of blue tones, so beautiful and alive, ending in the white of the cliffs touched by the sun. So brilliant it almost blinded us!

Already closer to the city, we can see the famous Grain of Sable (in Portuguese, grain of sand), what grain would be just in the eyes of a giant… For us humans, this is a huge piece of rock that remains gracefully over the sea, after having been pulled from the cliff by the weather of thousands of years ago. years ago.

After descending a little on the trail, the window that opened to the wall that guards the streets of the medieval citadel was finally opened. We hadn't even ventured into its streets yet and I already said it was the most fantastic village I had ever seen, as if taken from a fantasy book!

Now, very close, it was possible to notice that the houses huddled together on the edge of a cliff that was not vertical but rather plumed! What brilliant daring! We could see water from both sides of the citadelle... on the right the Mediterranean, with the influx of typical summer tour boats and on the left the canal that ends in the small port where we had landed moments before.

Not a road, a house or even a ruin… not even a single agricultural field could be seen up to the mountains over the horizon… just Nature… a Corsica genuinely wild!

Our happiness was contagious and it was no wonder ... that place is simply magical!

"... the window that faced the wall that keeps the alleyways of the citadel finally opened ..."

"... the atmosphere leaves us seething with the hustle and bustle of everyday life ..."

We went down the rest of the trail to the road, just to go back up the sidewalk to the Size Genes, one of two entrances to the heart of the historic village.

When we enter the gate we feel that we are going back in time. The light-colored houses with windows of typical lines, echo past times, so they still remain with the old walls of paint already worn out. At the same time we are invaded by the charm of the lines and textures of everything that surrounds us, as well as by the colors and smells coming from everywhere! 

Here the atmosphere leaves us teeming with the bustle of everyday life where locals and tourists mingle in the bustle of a typical summer day. It is incredible to cross the tangle of narrow streets where there are plenty of small local shops and the most pleasant restaurants from which delicious smells and aromas escape. I remember peeking through the doors of restaurants and shops where the windows on the opposite side offer glimpses of the sea. Yes! These are the little houses that are literally on the edge of the precipice!

A dangerously beautiful and romantic place!

As stairs du Roy Aragon (stairway of King Aragon) make a total of 185 steps, with a 45 degree inclination, that go from the top of the cliff, next to the houses of the citadel, to its base, 70 meters below, next to the sea. All of it carved in the rock itself!

Legend has it that the staircase was dug by hand, just one night, by the troops of the king of Aragon Alfonso V, in the siege of Bonifacio in 1420. I don't know if the legend contains the truth or if we are facing a history magnified by the times, however, the work carried out by those men is truly impressive! The stairs are so steep that when we start to descend we can see practically all the steps to the sea!

A fantastic experience that does not end with the last step! As if the vertiginous experience was not enough to take our breath away, we still covered part of the base of the cliff less than a dozen meters from the sea, zigzagging along its contours and ending with a superb view of the escarpment just ahead. The path carved in the rock is barely wide enough for two people to pass side by side and I could easily touch the ceiling as I walked, undoing the soft limestone with my fingertips.

"Legend has it that the staircase was dug by hand, just one night, by the troops of the king of Aragon ..."

"... With that incredible sea, any corner was perfect for a swim!"

Back at the top of the cliff, we continued to walk the elegant alleys hand in hand, and when the sun set, we delighted in the shade of the hats of an esplanade, refreshed by the drinks and packed by the music played by Corsican artists across the street .

After we explored a few more corners of Bonifacio we went back to making the trail back to the car, looking at the landscape now in reverse. A landscape that continued to amaze us with the impressive cliffs, the beautiful coves and the subtle contours of Sardinia on the horizon. With that incredible sea, any corner was perfect for a swim!

We said goodbye to Bonifacio with the view of Cable of Pertusato, where there is a beautiful natural arch and a white rock tongue that extends to the sea. The fjord, the walls, the citadel, the cliffs, the mountains and the whole territory dominated by Nature. I was completely in love with that place. There are no words where such beauty fits! Undoubtedly a wonderful first impact from the Corsican island. And so much that she still had to show!

phalanxes of sable

Boniface, Corse

also in corsica

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