Written by Missy Johnston
Aerial view of Bonifacio
The beautiful town of Bonifacio, France is a shining coastal gem that is a wonderful stop during a Mediterranean luxury yacht charter. Bonifacio is an accumulation of centuries or even millennia of history fraught with wars, plagues, and many regime changes.
The history of Bonifacio reveals a tumultuous past. In the 12th century, Genoan invaders massacred all the residents. In the 15th century, the King of Aragon starved all the town’s residents. In the 16th century, Bonifacio was decimated by a plague that wiped out two-thirds of the population before it was overtaken again by the French and the Turks.
Today, though, Bonifacio has prosperity and peace. Many historical remnants and reproductions serve as reminders of what life must have been like since the town was founded by Count Bonifacio of Tuscany in 828 AD.
Here are some examples of Bonifacio’s historical and mythical attractions.
Bonifacio On Chalk Cliffs
Anyone sailing into or out of Bonifacio will find themselves surrounded by high cliffs on nearly every side. The unique arrangement of these cliffs leads scholars to believe that Bonifacio was the setting in Homer’s Odyssey when Odysseus and his men had to escape a clan of giants who had already eaten some of his crew. The book describes Odysseus’s ship escaping through a narrow channel while giants stood atop surrounding cliffs and crashed boulders down on the fleeing men.
This round clifftop tower is all that remains today of the citadel of Count Bonifacio. The Count secured the village as an important location of strategic defense for nearby Tuscany.
The Street of Marguerita Bobbia
Bonifacio Streets, Corsica
Though it’s not a grand tower or a massive structure of historical significance, this street is still interesting. It acquired its name from an inhabitant of the town in 1420 who was one of the victims of the siege of the King of Aragon.
Starving, cornered, and nearly beaten, the townspeople had nothing left to defend themselves. Marguerita Bobbia suggested that they all throw everything they had at the invaders, including their last pieces of cheese. Together, they were able to hold off long enough for help to arrive and drive off the Aragonese attackers.
Other Historical Monuments
Walking down the King Aragon Cliff Steps Bonifacio Corsica France
The Porte de Genes, or Genoa Gate, offers stunning views for hikers.
The Bastion de L’Etendard features a museum dedicated to the town’s history and includes a reproduction of the remains of Dame de Bonifacio, a skeleton that was excavated from a nearby cave. Historians believe the skeleton dates back to 6,750 BC and suggests that a small Roman population inhabited the area in ancient history.
In addition, Bonifacio is home to a variety of medieval townhouses, aqueducts, mills, and churches and a steep stairway cut into the chalk cliff face for supplies to be brought up the the villagers especially during times of siege.
Approaching by sea, Bonifacio is a wonderous sight with the village buildings clinging to the edge of the cliff tops as if just about to tumble into the sea, with the harbor entrance marked by the cut into the white cliff sides. Visit the lower harbor area and then hike up to visit Old Town on the top of the cliffs.