Porto-Vecchio (Corsican: Portivechju) is a town in the Corse-du-Sud department of the island of Corsica.

Porto-Vecchio is a medium-sized port city placed on a beautiful harbor, the southernmost of the marshy and alluvial east side of Corsica. The inhabitants are called Porto-Vecchiais in French, and Portivechjacciu in Corsican.


Early Ages

To the north of the commune is to be found the prehistoric site of Torré, which has given its name to the Torréen Culture. Dated to the Corsican Bronze Age, it features circular or semi-circular (abutting) citadels of stone.

In the direction of Figari, the hamlet of Ceccia also has prehistoric remains, and not far away is another Torréen site, Castellu di Tappa. Castellu d’Araghju is at 45 meters (148 ft), just above the village of Araggio. It has a circuit wall 2 meters (6 ft 7 in) thick and 4 meters (13 ft) high.

West of the commune is the prehistoric site of Tivulaghju.

Middle-Ages to Present

Porto-Vecchio is placed in a region that in earlier times was marshy and suffered greatly from malaria; however, the anchorage for a port is excellent. The name means “Old Port”, which may refer to the Roman port that left traces in the vicinity. Subsequently the region was more or less abandoned because of the malarial marshes but became part of a large Christian parish. The city was refounded in 1539 by the Bank of Saint George at Genoa on a 70 meters (230 ft) hill overlooking the gulf. They already had a presence in Bastia.

The Genoese were careful to preserve the Roman port within the walls, which are trapezoidal and enclose the main square, place de la République, near the church, Église St.-Jean Baptiste. The Genoese intended a colonia, or replacement of the population, but malaria soon assassinated most of the Genoese settlers. Another colony in 1546 suffered the same fate and subsequently the colony became a conurbation instead.

Sempiero Corso occupied the city for a few months in 1564.

Some of the population began to return with the drainage projects instituted under the Second Empire but they were minimally successful. World War II brought the presence of allies who were determined to eradicate malaria for the health of all concerned, but especially the soldiers and airmen. Through drainage, filling and spraying they succeeded, making the region newly attractive because less pestilential. The current population derives from an expansion that started about 1950.

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