Category Archives: 2018 – Italy

Busy, Busy, Busy in Licata

Having now arrived in Licata we found there was plenty to keep us occupied.  Yoga, Pilates, circuit training, darts, bridge, happy hour and the weekly BBQ, there were also Italian lessons but had to stop these as there just wasn’t enough hours in the day as we did have chores to do as well, it’s not all fun you know.  In addition to this we had a few social evenings which included line dancing, country dancing and quizzes.  That’s without the odd night out for pizza and dinner on our boat or other boats. 

Licata had a great community and to have that you need people to organise things and we were lucky that there were plenty of people willing to do that here.  Sarah put us through our paces at Pilates and Circuit Training.  We even got ourselves on the official film for the Marina whilst doing circuit training and Ian working on the boat! 

Colin and Maggie provided the darts board and the marina very kindly set it up on the wall for us with a large piece of ply surrounding it for those stray darts and there could be plenty of those at times. 

There is a purpose built BBQ area in the marina and we also played a game, which for the life of me I can’t remember the name of, which was 12 blocks of wood numbered one to 12 and you had to throw a block at them.  If you nominated a particular numbered block and you hit that that was the points you scored, if you didn’t nominate you scored the number of blocks that fell down.  As each person took a turn the blocks spread further apart.  The first person to reach a score of 50, and it had to be 50, not 48 or 51, was the winner.  If you hit no blocks three times in a row you were out.  Plus we had some musicians with us and we had the pleasure of some songs, much to the bemusement of the locals who strolled past on their Sunday afternoon walk.

We had a couple of evenings organised by Caroline and Howard, Line Dancing and Colin et al, providing country dancing and the music.  This is a great way to see how co-ordinated people are. 

We arranged a couple of quiz nights too.

Evenings out – regular pizza night and a meal at a restaurant where there is no menu! Not quite sure why Ian and Vicki were pinned up against the wall.

We had a trip to Sulphur mines.  Syd organised a coach, a tour and a meal in a local restaurant.  There was about 30 of us that went along.  90% of all the sulphur in the world came from Sicily.  Children as young as six worked in the mines.  It was very hot and could get above 45 degrees add that to the 100% humidity and working up to twelve hours at a time, conditions were awful. Sulphur gives off suffocating hydrogen sulphide gas which makes it hard to breathe, so the workers tended to be naked.

We also had a 50th birthday celebration, Caroline, where we had more line and country dancing.  The band consisting of Colin, Tony and Phillip. 

June 2019

The Final Leg – Licata, Sicily

Well where did the last seven months go?  The last time I posted we were in Salerno on the Italian mainland.  The sailing season was coming to a close, the days were getting shorter, the weather a little unpredictable and so we were now on a mission to get to Cuffysark’s winter berth in Licata on Sicily. 

We left Salerno on 21st October 2018 and arrived in Licata on 26th October.  We hopped from Salerno to Acciaroli 35 miles up the coast.  The weather wasn’t great so stopped here two nights on the visitors’ pontoon.  The next hop was an “overnighter”, my favourite sailing, NOT!  We were headed to the Messina Straits which you have to go through when the tide is right as the current can be up to four knots against you, which is like taking three steps forward and two back.  So, we had to get our timings right, yes you’ve guessed it we didn’t but that was down to going too fast on the way there and Ian couldn’t possibly slow up, well he did eventually or it would have been dark going through the Straits.  We left Acciaroli at 11.00am with the anticipation that we would arrive at the entrance to the Messina Straits at 8.00am.  We sailed the first 86nm in 11.25 hours and averaged 7.5knots. 

At 3.00am and with just 15 miles to go and not a breath of wind we had to put the engines on but only on tick-over.  We arrived at the entrance at 6.00am as it was just getting light.  The current was running “three knots against us” plus there were lots and lots of small fishing boats. 

We had intended to anchor up at Taormina which is on the NE coast of Sicily but we were going great guns so pushed onto Syracuse which was a further 50nm.  We anchored in the lovely bay there at 18.16, just ahead of darkness.  We had been told that it’s imperative you radio the harbourmaster here as they have to tell you where to anchor in the bay and they did, giving us exact co-ordinates where to drop the anchor.  There was us and one other boat there.  We had travelled 200nm with an average speed of 6.4knots over 31hours.  We were pleased to have arrived!

The next morning, Thursday 26th October, we were off again heading to Ragusa.  Our friends Cath and Ray, who we’d the spent the winter with in Cartagena, were here.  We arranged to meet up with them and would you believe in this very large marina we were given the berth alongside them!  We arrived at 6pm and were provided with a lovely dinner by Cath and Ray.  The following morning at a not too terrible start time of 10 o’clock off we went to our final destination of 2018, Licata.  We were met be quite a welcome committee, so no pressure to berth the boat, whilst being watched.  It had been a busy October we had covered 600nm over the last three weeks from when we had left Olbia in Sardinia to arriving in Licata.  We calculated we had travelled about 2,500 over the last season.  Definitely time for a well-earned rest!!

October 2018

Awesome Amalfi Coast

We left Rome and anchored up in Anzio just 25 miles up the coast.  Ian, unusually, was up with the larks the following morning as there was quite a swell in the bay so, off we went at 7am to Gaeta.  The year was rapidly disappearing and the weather can be more unpredictable plus we wanted to stop for a time in Salerno so we could visit the Amalfi coast and take in Pompeii so we had to get a move on.  As a result it was just an overnight stop at Gaeta, then off to another anchorage on the west side of the Bay of Naples and then finally along the Amalfi coast to Salerno.  The coastline is stunning and photos never do it justice.

There is no marina as such in Salerno, just pontoons that are owned by various people, we initially tied up alongside by the ferry terminal, which gave us time to wander around the pontoons to see if we could negotiate a price with any of them.  We found one that would take us but even though it was mid October and had no showers they still wanted €85 a night and no amount of persuasion was he going to budge on the price.  We promptly left and anchored in the bay, fortunately the weather forecast was good with no wind.  The pontoons on the otherside of Salerno didn’t accept catamarans but they very kindly let us tie our dinghy to their pontoon, even helping us tie up.  It can often be a problem to find somewhere you can leave the dinghy.

Ian’s Dad had raved about the bus ride along the coast road to Amalfi, because of the beautiful coastline.  So, on his recommendation we did just that and it was stunning.  Amalfi is a lovely town set in the mouth of a deep ravine at the foot of Monte Cerreto (1,315 metres, 4,314 feet).  In the 1920s and 1930s, Amalfi was a popular holiday destination for the British upper classes and aristocracy and you can see why.

We visited the cathedral at Amalfi which is dedicated to the Apostle Saint Andrew whose relics are kept here.

Pompeii

We took the train to Pompeii.  I‘d heard a lot about Pompeii but wasn’t expecting to be blown away quite as much as I was.  It is incredible how intact so much of it is considering how old it is.  It was buried under 4 to 6 metres of volcanic ash from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius on 24th August AD79.  The city was largely preserved because of lack of air and moisture.  When you looked down the streets you could imagine the Romans going about their daily lives.  The shops still had the counter tops all intact.

The Amphitheatre of Pompeii is the oldest surviving Roman amphitheatre.  Pink Floyd held a concert here in 1972 and Dave Gilmour returned for a solo gig in 2016

Human remains were found during excavation and they noticed that the skeletons were surrounded by voids in the compacted ash. By pouring plaster of Paris into the spaces, they were able to preserve the bodies in the exact position they were in when they died.  They learnt a lot about how the Romans lived from these remains too.

 

Also on one of the walls in the House of Venus is a fresco of Venus.

Getting knocked Up

Whilst in Salerno “knock knock” one morning on the side of the boat several times, we didn’t get much time to react. When we came up on deck it was a local fisherman who had a fishing net reel on the back minus the net.  We couldn’t work out, owing to the fact our Italian is non existent and his English was as good as our Italian whether he had dropped his net that morning or the day before (in which case it wasn’t marked) but he’d got his net wrapped around and around our anchor.  There was no way the fisherman was cutting the net so after about half an hour we managed to untangle it.  He then proceeded to drop it on the other side of the bay.

October 2018

ROME

Saturday 6th October at 8.45am we threw off the lines and left Sardinia for the Italian mainland.  The winds were very light, we managed an hour without the engine from midday but before soon had to put it back on again or we wouldn’t be going anywhere, or at least it would take a very long time.  We had massive thunderstorms during the trip.  Some of the thunder was so loud overhead and the bolts of lightening were quite frightening as you could see the forks so close, keeping our fingers crossed we didn’t get hit by one, which did the trick as we didn’t.  The lightening went on for hours around us.   It did at least help to see where we were as it was very very dark on the crossing.

A1. Cuffysark at Fiumicino 13.10.18.

We were booked into the boatyard at Constellation Nautica on the Fiuminco Canal which was about 20km from the centre of Rome which meant going under two bridges.  The bridges only open twice a day but not on Tuesday or Wednesday.  We arrived too early so we slowed the engine down.  We arrived at the boatyard and were met by Errico and friends to help us with our lines to tie up alongside on the quay.

Fiuminco is a small town alongside the airport.  Most of the planes flew out to sea but one or two flew right over head and they were loud.  Everything you need is close by, supermarkets (which were much more reasonably priced after being on Sardinia).  Us yachties get quite excited when we find a decent supermarket and not too far away, sad I know.  But I’ve said before being on a boat makes you appreciate the basic things you take for granted on land, like jumping in the car to go the supermarket or turning on the tap and letting it run as you know that there is always a supply and it’s hot.  There are lots of bars and restaurants and the buses to Rome were a two minute walk away.  Ian had his first pint of Guinness here in over five months.

G1. Ian in Fuiminco 13.10.18.Monday morning we hopped on the bus which took just over an hour.  We decided to do some walking around to get our bearings.  First stop off the bus we went for a coffee (as you know Ian a tea man and has to have it in over regular intervals , but they don’t do much of that here so coffee it was).  We got chatting to a Canadian couple who’d been on the hop on hop off bus tour.  We went on our way and the next minute the Canadians were behind us waving a ticket.  It was for the bus tour it still had time left on it so if we wanted to make use of it then feel free.  Well not one to look a gift horse in the mouth off we toddled off to the bus stop and there just happened to be a bus already waiting so we hopped on.  This saved us €55 and gave us a good idea of how far everything was apart, not that that stopped Ian walking me miles later that day.

We thought we’d better have some lunch before our trek.  Ian loves Spaghetti Bolognese, but we’ve discovered that it isn’t an Italian dish, hence why we hadn’t found it so far but we did for our first lunch in Rome, it was listed as “Spaghetti with meat sauce”.  It’s not quite the same recipe as we have at home but nice just the same.

B4. Ian with his Spag Bol 8.10.18.

Ian anticipating his bolognese

We visited the Trevi Fountain.  I couldn’t believe how many people were there.  We had naively thought Rome would be quieter in October, how WRONG were we.  It was rammed everywhere.  And of course, there was a church opposite so we went in.  There was an operatic concert being held so we stayed and listened.

The following day we walked even further seeing “Largo di Torre Argentina” where Julius Caesar was killed and the “Pantheon” a former Roman temple but is now a church.  The dome of the Pantheon is the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world.

After two days of walking around we decided to have a day on the boat.  We were invited to join Errico and some of the people who were working on boats at the yard for lunch.  Frankie rustled us up a pasta with salad.  We were made to feel so welcome here.

G2. Lunch in Fiuminco - Oct 2018

Back to the sightseeing on Thursday at the Vatican City.  We had seen the length of the queue so opted for a guided tour.  Everywhere was packed it was shoulder to shoulder in the Vatican museums.  The Sistine Chapel was amazing, unfortunately photos are not allowed, so the only photos we were able to take were of the screen in the reception.  I hadn’t appreciated that Michelangelo’s preference was sculpting and refused numerous times to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel but the Pope put so much pressure on him that eventually he had no option but to agree.

It is believed on the “School of Athens” painting by Raphael he included Michelangelo and himself (the one looking towards you with the black hat).

On Friday we visited the Colosseum, again this was very busy and quite a sight.  It is the largest amphitheatre ever built and construction began in AD72 and was completed in AD 80.

From here we visited the Roman Forum which is a plaza surrounded by the ruins of government buildings and was the centre of day to day life in Rome for processions, elections public speeches, criminal trials and gladiatorial matches.

After a week our stay in Rome, which we thought was fabulous, we headed to the Amalfi Coast for more spectacular sights.

October 2018