We are now fully immersed into Italian sailing, and meeting some nice people along the way. Have been exploring the islands skirting the Bay of Naples before heading south. Visited Ischia, world renowned for it’s thermal baths. What a treat for Kate! We contemplated going into the marina at Capri but later were somewhat relieved when they replied to our email to say they were full. We subsequently heard that it can be around 500 euro a night for a berth for a yacht our size. One of the charter boat skippers in Procida gave us the good oil and confirmed that the bay on the southern side of Capri was a good anchorage in settled conditions, if a little deep.
We anchored here with 80 metres of chain out. Spent a few days in good company with the likes of Veshelda rafted up against her mothership “Bystander” (138′) and a few dozen other boats 100 foot plus. It was here that we ran into Bill Westerbeek and Lauraine (from RBYC), who are looking after an 86ft Jongert, and spent a pleasant day in their company. The visit to the beautiful Blue Grotto was the usual chaos, with shouting and much gesticulating as the tiny boats all jostle for position at the opening. Only four passengers to a boat and you all have to lie down so you don’t hit your head going in. The island is full of upmarket hotels and swank shops and restaurants, beautiful homes with well-tended gardens and lots of lovely walks. Very much lifestyles of the rich and famous.
From there we headed along the Amalfi Coast, described by our Lonely Planet guide as “one of the most breathtaking coastlines in Europe”. The coast is rugged and dotted with lemon, white and terracotta coloured towns spilling down to the sea. First stop, the picturesque Positano, then Amalfi, both of which are hillside towns with a tangle of stepped laneways instead of streets. This area makes me think of the colour yellow: for lemons the size of a small child’s head, for zucchini flowers, for lemon granita sold in the streets (Nonna’s recipe), for limoncello and for sunshine. An enterprising lot, the Amalfians. I didn’t know they used to make paper from pulped cotton, a technique they borrowed from the Arabs they traded with back in the 13th century.
Moving further east along the coast we decided to base ourselves at Salerno for our visit to Pompeii, and spend a couple of days doing boat stuff. It was interesting to see what a bakery was like in 79AD, with the wheat poured into the top of the millstone and beasts of burden used to grind it to flour. The stepping stones in the streets were apparently required because effluent flowed freely along them. The Romans got water right, but not sewerage. Hmmm.
Salerno has a gritty, grungy feel to it, but we really liked the place. In the old town the smell of fresh washing hanging from balconies mingles with the whiff of old drains. There’s quite a bit of street art about the place too. If you go into town mid afternoon you could be forgiven for thinking that the aliens have turned up with a big vacuum cleaner and hoovered up all the people. Everyone, apart from a man and has dog, has disappeared. (A few days later I came across a local wearing a T-shirt that lends support to this theory). Come back around 6pm and its a bustling metropolis again. The shops and restaurants are open, people milling around everywhere. Despite experiencing the siesta in Spain and similar in France, the afternoon shutdown is more keenly observed here. As one local said to us: “southern Italy is more traditional than her northern counterparts and VERY religious”.
In this part of the world death notices are still pasted on street corners, Saints’ days are enthusiastically celebrated, with elaborate decorations made by locals and the occasional coffin is carried through the streets to the church. (No, I didn’t take a photo of this). In Agropoli our arrival coincided with the festival dedicated to Madonna di Constantinopoli, THE BIGGEST SHOW in town. The streets were still crowded at 11pm for the celebratory procession and thousands lined the harbour for the fabulous fireworks display at midnight. From here I also visited the ruins of Pasteum, a town settled by Greeks, dating back to 600 BC. Found some interesting statues there, but I suspect they weren’t ancient Greek.
So, what’s happening with you? We are keen to hear your news, so post a comment or drop us an email. Hope all is good.