It was founded in 1539 as a second Genoese stronghold on the east coast (Bastia being well to the north). Today Porto Vecchio is a lively centre for shopping, cafe-sitting and menu browsing and is one of Corsica's most fashionable towns. The streets are dotted with chic boutiques offering designer fashions and the very best local produce in and Corsican wine.
When settlers first arrived in 1539, the mosquito population spread malaria and wiped out the first Ligurian settlers within months. The town thrived mainly thanks to the cork industry, which continued well into the twentieth century. A third of Corsica's wine is exported from Porto-Vecchio. Porto Vecchio's population quadruples in the summer months.