Italian East Coast
After the dirt of Rome we were happy to set sail along the south eastern coast of Italy. We sailed south to the island of Ponza where the rich and famous come to place when they are not in Capri. The island has a wonderful harbour surrounded by high cliffs. You anchor in the shadow of the cliffs with the wind blowing way over the top. The water was so warm that Denny had a swim!
From here we sailed east towards the bay of Naples and stopped for the afternoon in a bay on the north side of Ischia where one of those touching experienced that make a cruise occurred. While cruising to the bay a small RIB came alongside. The two young lads started to talk to us in broken English asking about Malua and where we had come from. After a while they sped ahead and boarded a cruiser. Shortly they returned with a bottle of cold local wine saying we should enjoy Italy. They returned later, having been into the town with a fresh bag of Buffalo Mozzarella for us to enjoy with our wine. Such open generosity and kindness from a youngster will be a memory we will cherish.
The wind started to come up so we sailed to Cala di Corricella on the south of Procida. Did the wind blow. A large cat broke loose and drifted off into the distance which set the scene. For three days we stayed in the lee of the cliffs with 60meters of chain out. Only one of us would go ashore for short periods just incase Malua also lost its holding.
We were relieved to move on and set sail for Capri which we could see in the distance along with Mount Vesuvius. We had no intention of entering the marina in Capri because we had heard that the charges for our size boat are 150 euro or about $250 Aus per night. We motor sailed past the blue grotto and the rocks of Faraglioni before setting sail for Amalfi.
Amalfi is the home of the Knights of St John with their particular cross and the use of the fleur-de-lis as the mark for north on the charts and compass. They also wrote the first maritime code regarding trade at sea. What a great place. We stopped to get fuel and was greeted by a blond Italian who said he had married an Aussie girl in Bondi who was no an Italian mamma with a six month old bambino in an apartment up on the hill overlooking the marina. Would we use his marina or tie up along the public wharf? What a question? 55 euros a night later we had a great time along side the superyacht cruisers and sailing vessels all with crew. The company was great and the position secure plus we did not have to contend with the wash from the many ferries that came and went all day and night.
The town of Amalfi is perched on the hill side surrounding the harbour. the shops and church with its great doors made in Constantinople are built on the sides of the only valley for miles around. The town has a great feel with narrow streets, small doorways and dark alleys leading round in circles. On our first morning we set off up the valley and followed the roman built steps/road up the side of the hill. After about two hour of hard slog we came out on top of the mountain overlooking the harbour and town. What a great view.
The following day we took a local bus to Ravello perched 1155 ft above Amalfi. The town is famous for hosting writers such as D H Lawrence, Gore Vidal and even Greta Garbo but more recently holding a week of chamber music concerts in the gardens of the three large villas. We found the gardens not as well set out or maintained as the gardens of Bowral in the Southern highlands of NSW. We chose to walk down the mountain. A decision we regretted about two hours into the decent as our knees were about to collapse. That night the rain came down. Not just light European rain but heavy thunderstorm downpour. Malua got a good wash.
The coast further south to the Straits of Massina around the Gulf of Policastro has few places to stay. The only remarkable item are the watch towers that dominate the high ground all along the coast. Give Marina di Scario a miss because the mooring lines are not secure and we hit the wall with our stern.
We finally reached Tropea which is a new marina overlooked by the old town 196 steps above the waterfront. The old town has a lovely feel about it and as it was my birthday we dines out on two consecutive evenings enjoying the local seafood and wine.
We had been invited onboard an Australian yacht Time Out The owner is undoubtedly the rudest person I have encountered while sailing. He did his organization, his family and himself a great disservice not that it matters but he is a prominent person in Australian life. I hope are wakes never cross again.
From Tropea we set off for the Aeolian Islands of Stromboli and Volcano on route for Sicily.
This little known island is the gem in the Med. It is full of history, stones and bones. The people are wonderful and generous while the sailing can be quite challenging.