A brief Porto-Vecchio history and its transformation into one of the most fashionable holiday resorts in France.
The excellent natural harbour at Porto-Vecchio “Old Port” attracted the Genoese who founded the town in 1539 as one of their defensive ports around the island.
The fortified site (today known as Haute Ville/Upper Town) high up above the bay was, however, plagued by malaria and frequent attacks by pirates. The first settlers, in Porto-Vecchio history, were soon wiped out by malaria, a common problem along the coast at the time.
Porto-Vecchio briefly reemerged in 1564, when Sampiero Corso used it as a base for his renewed efforts to liberate Corsica. His attempt however failed, causing Porto-Vecchio to revert to a sleepy walled town for centuries.
In 1935 a railway joined Porto-Vecchio to Bastia, however this fell into disrepair during the war.
It was not until after the Second World War, when the malaria-infested swamps were cleared (to improve the health of the soldiers and airmen) and transformed into salt marshes that Port-Vecchio began to expand and thrive as a town.
After the Second World War, the existing industries of salt and cork production started to really take off.
Even today, cork is still exported from Porto-Vecchio’s commercial port, although the industry is in decline due to competition from plastic. Much of the cork is used for craft objects made in Sardinia then exported back to Corsica for sale to tourists.
Some of the salt marshland was filled in for development of the modern town. Some commercial salt pans were however constructed, from which Porto-Vecchio’s commercial slogan the “City of Salt” (“la Cité du Sel”) derives.
Today, Porto-Vecchio is a major economic and tourist hub in Corsica.
This highly fashionable town attracts many wealthy tourists, due to its chic hotels and restaurants, deep harbour and superb access to nearby idyllic beaches and mountain scenery.