1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bonifacio

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BONIFACIO, a maritime town at the southern extremity of Corsica, in the arrondissement of Sartène, 87 m. S.S.E. of Ajaccio by road. Pop. (1906) 2940. Bonifacio, which overlooks the straits of that name separating Corsica from Sardinia, occupies a remarkable situation on the summit of a peninsula of white calcareous rock, extending parallel to the coast and enclosing a narrow and secure harbour. Below the town and in the cliffs facing it the rock is hollowed into caverns accessible only by boat. St Dominic, a church built in the 13th century by the Templars, and the cathedral of Santa Maria Maggiore which belongs mainly to the 12th century, are the chief buildings. The fortifications and citadel date from the 16th and 17th centuries. A massive medieval tower serves as a powder-magazine. The trade of Bonifacio, which is carried on chiefly with Sardinia, is in cereals, wine, cork and olive-oil of fine quality. Cork-cutting, tobacco-manufacture and coral-fishing are carried on. The olive is largely cultivated in the neighbourhood and there are oil-works in the town.

Bonifacio was founded about 828 by the Tuscan marquis whose name it bears, as a defence against the Saracen pirates. At the end of the 11th century it became subject to Pisa, and at the end of the 12th was taken and colonized by the Genoese, whose influence may be traced in the character of the population. In 1420 it heroically withstood a protracted siege by Alphonso V. of Aragon. In 1554 it fell into the hands of the Franco-Turkish army.