Pizza, pasta and Don Corleone in “The Godfather” movie, is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Sicily and Calabria. Trieste, Venice, Padua, Milan via Genoa to Rome, but never touched her south, so a visit to this beautiful island awakens in us the desire for new discoveries unknown. In Porto di Syracuse we sailed late in the evening. At the entrance to the port we were met by a spectacular fireworks display that is in our hearts celebrated the successful completion of another section of our journey. The night we spent at anchor and overwhelmed with fatigue soon asleep.
The next morning we were tied to the pier of the marina in the center of the city and fix the customs paperwork. Sicily is an island with two faces, one by the sea where modern life is taking place in towns and cities formed by the same principle and secondly its interior surrounded not just by gentle hills. Greek colonists built Syracuse and its name comes from the Greek word Sirako that means wetlands.
Our first day took place in a relaxing atmosphere. With a short walk near the marina, we were devoted to our personal pleasures. It seemed that nothing can disturb us while into marina, under the Swiss flag, has not sailed Jaganda. Maneuver that the skipper sailed alongside our boat provoked in me anxiety and distrust. With his stern it quickly approached our port side. I ran up on deck like I pushed him away and prevent a shot. When Jaganda came quite close to Meermowe with all my strength I held her in place. At that moment a wave lifted the ship’s stern whose handrail reached our fence and tore the cable tensioner. When Peter saw what was happening, he came to help. When he grabbed for the fence she relented what caused the loss of balance and fall into the sea. I watched in shock at the sight that lifted my adrenaline. In that anger, I was wishing to strangle them. Finally, Jaganda was moved away from us and with re-maneuver successfully tied to the pier. During that time I helped his husband to come out of the sea. Except he hit with his knee to the fence, everything else was fine. Aware of his mistake, Bruno was immediately approached to us with a friendly expression of regret for everything that happened. True, I was not ready that moment to express his hospitality so Peter was showing understanding and found a common language with him and everything was resolved friendly to the mutual satisfaction. Bruno immediately brought spare cable tensioner and back fence to its original state, and even I can say that it has become stronger and safer than before. Thinking some time about that incident, I realized that things, as much as we like it or not, happening all around us and that the same thing or something more worse could happen to our self. “Mistakes exist,” says Bruno, “to learn how not to repeat them”. I rated that this is a very honest person worthy of attention therefore my attitude towards him and Sylvia fundamentally changed, showing them friendship and hospitality. The rest of the days we spent in the planning of our commitments and activities.
Vicenco and Andrea, cheerful and good guys, are arrived in the morning on the boat bringing with them a full basket of Sicilian’s spirit. Check the cleanliness of diesel and fuel tank, in which the purity we suspected was their primary job. Because of the rust to the fuel filter, changed in Greece, which is unchanged from the purchase of the ship, we suspected that in diesel there was water and diesel tank a lot of dirty residue. To our surprise it turned out that the fuel and fuel tank are immaculately clean and that nothing should be taken. It was a very pleasant morning in very good company. Before leaving Andrea came with his wife Roberta wishing us good winds and calm seas. That afternoon we cleaned the boat, bought food and drinks, and prepared things for the further journey. The next day was dedicated to the tour and sightseeing.
At about ten minutes away from the marina, just opposite the Harbor Master, there is a bus station. Timetable for Sundays and holidays not promised the imminent arrival of a bus line no. 2 which we were supposed to take over the city center to the Archaeological Park of Greeco Theatro. Despite the intense heat, we decided to walk there. On the way, the overwhelming smell of Italian coffee was easily lured us into a nearby cafe. When we entered we were greeted by a crowd at the cash register and the throng of people looking for a free table. Looking around, we saw a table with four chairs where was sitting a sweet elderly couple. We politely asked for a place and sat down at their table carrying a cup of coffee, a drink and a big bunch of grapes purchased from a dealer on the street. Soon we met and became friends with them. Through the cheerful chatter with these wonderful people we found that the Rosa’s lifelong dream was also navigate around the world and particularly wanted, if memory serves me, to get to know Scandinavia, which she never fulfilled. She is an American and speaks English and Italian. In Syracuse she came many years ago as an instructor of English and there met her husband Michael, who does not speak English and which has it never, as he said cheerfully, wanted to learn. In a happy marriage live for fifty years. The interest, which they shown to sail with us through Meermowe’s Great Adventure, made us very happy. We parted ways from them and moved on down the street.
Theatro Greeco is located on the Temenite Hill, with a beautiful view of the city of Syracuse. Sitting on the white stone steps it seemed to be ancient Greek scene come alive. It was built around 500 BC, with a capacity of 15,000 spectators and a diameter of 140 meters, which represented the largest theater in the ancient world. There were held the premiere performances of Greek tragedies by Sophocles and Euripides and the comedies whose creator was Sicilian Epicharmos. During the bloody gladiator games, the Romans reduced the rows of seats due to higher performing space. The seats and the auditorium are made and based on natural stone and are largely intact. Above Theatro is located cave Nymphaeum that still, through the ancient canals flowing fresh spring water.
During the summer months the Theatro Greeco is still used for performances and outdoor concerts. Watch the show in the early evening as the sunsets behind the stage makes the scene a magical and unforgettable. On the way back, impressed with all that we saw in a very good mood, we played imagining people, lifestyle, clothing and fashion screams of this time. In the end, we were happy to be at that time we were not born. Talking so we did not even notice that we arrived in the city center. We stopped outside the shop that has drawn the attention of Peter and went inside. My husband collects smoking pipes is therefore one that smiled at him from the shop window he added to his collection.
Our next visit was to the Castle Maniace, located on the cape of Ortygia. We learned that dates back to the 13th Century, it is an impressive building and a part of the rich cultural and historical heritage of the city, and was named after the Byzantine general Giorgio Mainace. Castle has long been a prison and later used for military purposes.
On the way to the marina we went through the old town, next to the Cathedral of Syracuse, in whose sacramental chapel is a large fresco from the 17th century. It was late evening when we came on board. Bruno and Sylvia had not yet returned from the city, and we soon went to sleep. Most of the next day we enjoyed a very pleasant atmosphere of socializing. Bruno and Sylvia each year spend their holidays sailing on his boat Jaganda and their maritime experience they shared with us. In Syracuse they sailed from the direction of Gibraltar and Spain. Sylvia is a physiotherapist and her outstanding technique recovered Peter’s injured knee. In the early evening together we left the marina and spend the night at anchor. That evening, before parting, we had dinner together at Jaganda. Pasta that Silvia was served had an excellent taste, which still today makes water into my mouth, and after dinner we enjoyed pancakes with jam and berries that flew from Meermowe. We just felt like we knew each other for years. The incident that occurred connected us with strong link, which is developed into one wonderful friendship that we’ll maintain for a lifetime. In the early morning we left Syacuse, each to his own, we toward the north and they to the south of Sicily.
The path led us further towards the Straits of Messina, which separates Sicily from Calabria and connects the Ionian and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Strong storm with the rain that has engulfed that area was forced us to find a safe harbor. Sicilian coast offers a large number of marinas but rare are those that meet its depth for Meermowe. At about sixteen miles north of Catania we sailed to the city of Riposto. Marina “Port del Etna” is located in the city center. Nearby, along the main road, there is a chain of supermarkets, fish, fruit and vegetable markets. We enjoyed this historic and picturesque seaside city for that few days while we waited for the weather calms down. Walking through the streets of the city, we thought that we entered into one of Fellini’s movie titles and return to at least a hundred years. With my average knowledge of Italian, it was not a problem to domesticate and make friends with hearty fishermen who supplied me with a fresh caught fish, octopus, squid and other seafood. It seemed that nothing is impossible. Freshly caught grouper, which kind of fish was not long holding on the selling place, I got for an hour. It was fun to learn from them what is the name of the fish as well as their desire to have their picture taken with me. Riposto is also famous for the production of wine, lemon and olive trees. The weather finally calmed down. We said goodbye to all and with a fish full freezer we left marina, spread sails and sail one again through Meermowe’s Great Adventure.
Passing through the Messina Channel, enter the Tyrrhenian Sea, meeting with Aeolian Islands, dolphins and huge rays that we saw, created an excitement. Interestingness of the Strait makes the ancient belief in the strong tidal currents and the vortex that is created in the channel as the two dangerous beasts, of which the sailors wanted to save while sailing through Messina. Scila with six heads sea monster that lives in the deep rocks and devour passersby and Haridba in the high rock, which three times daily draw water and creates a destructive vortex.
Upon leaving Messina, we sailed into the marina Nettuno just to spend the night. That afternoon we replaced the bow sail for new, and old one gave to fix, because it was torn at the seams. In the morning the sail was returned after which we sailed for the island of Lipari, the largest and most populous island in chain of volcanic archipelago. Lipari town is a very pleasant place with beautiful alleys, glittering shop windows decorated with flowers, restaurants, and historic castle. The island of Stromboli, one of three volcanoes in Italy, we decided to visit by a fast tour boat with the tour program Panarea, observing volcanic eruptions in the night and dinner on board. Bingo, are we could wish for better. The eruption we dreamed since the start in Pula, so we expected it with impatience. Tickets we bought at the kiosk. We only had an hour to go, enough for lunch at a nearby restaurant. Catamaran sailed in two hours in the afternoon from the Marine Lunga. Stromboli is located in the north of Sicily. It is famous for its small and regular explosions in terms of 20 to 30 minutes, while larger eruptions occur two to five times a year. The settlement and way of life at the foot of the volcano impressed us and it will remain an unforgettable memory. Without fear and prejudice about the dangerous lava and radiation, Stromboli residents do not live luxurious but a beautiful and relaxed everyday life, how they call it “la bella vita”. That evening we were bad luck. I was stiffened waiting to make the photo of an imaginary fiery light, which lastly was the size of a small star so all I have left is to take pictures of the smoke. Peter and the company they laughed to tears on the lower deck. All appeared to be the story of a sick dragon Lino. It was ten o’clock at night when we arrived in Lipari, caught a bus and return to the ship happy and cheerful.
Early in the morning we left the marina and sailed a course to Sardinia. The trip to Cagliari was a new challenge and experience. From slack and calm sea to the resistance of strong side wind during the night, which gave us a complete pleasure of sailing. Expansion and shortening sails Meermowe was leaning to the edge of the deck on its way through the waves, which were like the walls rising in front of us like beasts and poured water from all sides. Increased activities on board are not given us sleep, we jointly share these moments that really has to be experienced. Unfortunately, my husband had to forget all the delicious dishes that I made for this trip and for the first time used a package of cold foods, vitamins, fruits and juices, already prepared for this situation. In Cagliari we arrived in the early afternoon. That night once again we were participants of large fireworks with which we are proud to be thinking of our family, friends and all those who surround and follow us. Cagliari is the biggest city in Sardinia with a wonderful climate, popularly known as the “beauty of the Mediterranean”. Located on the southern main island in the Gulf port. We did not plan a long retention, just to get some sleep, rest, refuel and buy new ropes in the marina shop, after which we left for Palma de Mallorca in Spain.