The ancient fortress town of Bonifacio occupies a spectacular cliff-top aerie above a harbor carved from limestone cliffs. It's 13 km (8 miles) from Sardinia, and the local speech is heavily influenced by the accent and idiom of that nearby Italian island. Established in the 12th century as Genoa's first Corsican stronghold, Bonifacio remained Genoese through centuries of battles and sieges. As you wander the narrow streets of the Haute Ville (Upper Village), inside the walls of the citadel, think of Homer's Odyssey. It's here, in the harbor, that scholars place the catastrophic encounter (Chapter X) between Ulysses's fleet and the Laestrygonians, who hurled lethal boulders down from the cliffs.
Chef Jean Paul Bartoli and his wife make this year-round restaurant at the port a popular dining spot with their warm smiles and attentive service. The couple servse carefully selected and prepared seafood, along with fine Corsican sausage and traditional cuisine from soup to fiadone (cheesecake).
Eglise Sainte Marie Majeure
The oldest structure in the city, the 12th-century church with buttresses attaching it to surrounding houses is located in the center of the citadel's maze of cobblestone streets. Inside the Pisan-Genoese church, look for the 3rd-century white-marble Roman sarcophagus and the Renaissance baptismal font. Walk around the back to see the loggia built above a huge cistern that stored water for use in times of siege. The 14th-century bell tower rises 82 feet.
Bastion de l'Étendard
From Place d'Armes at the city gate, enter the 13th-century Bastion de l'Étendard, where you can still see the system of weights and levers used to raise the drawbridge. The former garrison, the last remaining part of the original fortress, houses life-size dioramas of the bombardment of the bastion in the 16th-century Franco-Turkish war. Climb the steep steps for an incredible panoramic view of the white-chalk cliffs along the coastline.
Boats from Bonifacio bring you to see the blue Dragon Grottos, a spectacular geological site. Tours typically venture to Venus's Bath, sea caves at Sdragonatto and St-Angoine, and the Lavezzi Islands. Boats set out every 15 minutes during July and August.