- Population: 260,196
- Pop.density (people per km2): 30
Three principal communes
Corsica's main business and commerce centre is this bustling town in the north of the island. There is a strong Italian vibe there, and buildings have remained intact from the time when it was the seat of the Genoese government from the 15th century. The city's name comes from bastiglia meaning fortress. The focal point is the long Place St-Nicholas and one block away from this is the fashionable shopping street Boulevard Paoli. The prettiest part of Bastia is the Vieux Port with its tall houses with peeling plaster and coloured boat hulls. It comes alive at night when a number of waterside bars and restaurants open.
Ajaccio (Ajacciu in the local Corsican language) is a pastel coloured port city which was birthplace to Napoleon Bonaparte. Many statues and several museums are dedicated to the man. There is an open-air food market every morning and a fresh fish market in a building nearby. Restaurants are good in summer but service and food quality is reputedly somewhat poor at other times of the year. It is a relaxing place but perhaps lacks the buzz of Bastia.
Until the 1950s there was little more than a sixteenth century watch tower at Porto-Vecchio but since the onset of tourism the little town has expanded a great deal. It has profited from tourism because of its proximity to the mountains and the maquis, the picturesque pink village of Piana, some stunning gorges and the Forêt d'Aïtonewith its strings of natural swimming pools. Consequently the town attracts lots of visitors during summer months, German tourists especially.