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Bastia to Pisa - an epic cruise

Updated: Jan 26, 2022

In late September 2021 we left Bastia on Corsica bound for Livorno in Italy via the islands of Elba and Capraia.

Bastia Town Quay (above) is THE place to stop if you can get in. Right in the middle of "Downtown" there are restaurants and food shops everywhere. We dined most agreeable at A Scudella on rue Pino very near the harbour. We also enjoyed l'Ardoise in the main square that also houses the daily food market from which we sourced most of our fruit and veg.

Elba 30Nm from Bastia is a mini-cruising ground in its own right. Aim for the south western anchorage at Fetovaia, but make sure that you have plenty of time to continue at least to Palombaia and quite likely to the anchorage at Galazana or Marina di Campo. There are anchorages all round the south and east coasts with Porto Azzurro being the best known. The main town of Porto Ferraio below is very pretty with plenty of shops and restaurants, mostly very pricey.


to the north-west was a regular haunt of ours all summer and we usually anchored in the bay. The wind turned through 180° each time so take care. Finding a safe spot to anchor is not easy either - it gets very deep very quickly. This time we were right out of season and went into the town port where we spent a happy couple of nights. Many of the restaurants were closed but there is a small one-man band along the seafront that only opens at night and sells deep-fried frozen seafood at a very modest price. Try and find him.

Livorno was chosen as being the obvious landing spot on the mainland. Don't try and stop half-way at Gorgona. You will get chased away very fiercely! Livorno is the main ferry town for the region. The slightly decrepit marina is a long walk from the totally uninteresting town, but we got caught there for an extra day because of strong winds. We won't be going back.

Pisa was our next destination. The marina is at the mouth of the river Arno that leads back to Florence. It is navigable a few miles inland. We set out in light to moderate conditions, with more of the same forecast. Ehhmmmm... the more we sailed the more it blew, and straight onshore. We took one look at the entrance to the marina, and took under a second to decide against - we would have been broadside to the narrow entrance with a 2m swell crashing against the outer walls. Trying to enter the Arno seemed a better bet. Never been so scared in all my long sailing life!

By this time the wind was 22 knots and straight over the transom. The sandbar has less than 2m over it and there was a 2m swell behind me. This is not good news to any sailor. If you head that way keep to the port side of the channel near the fishing huts - we were too close to the other side. We ended up at the charming pontoons of Danilo at Boccadarno. Strongly recommended.

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