April 2007 - Sicily

Italy | Sicily | Agrigento | Valley of the Temples

April 29, 2007

Buon giorno, We had a big day today. Pam, Steve, Al and I left the marina around 8:15 and drove to Agrigento to visit The Valley of the Temples and the Regional Archaeological Museum. These Greek temples are actually on a ridge overlooking the valley. The setting is absolutely spectacular. They're Doric temples dating from 5th century BC. They were partially destroyed by the Cathaginians in 406 BC, Christians in 6th century and earthquakes. Nine of the original temples are still here. Temple of Zeus was the biggest and had giant figures known as telamones it it's construction. Temple of Concord is the most preserved similar to the ones we saw in Paestum. We had fun tromping over the grounds and we especially enjoyed the wide variety of wild flowers and flowering trees and bushes. In the summer I expect the grounds will be hot, dusty and brown.

Italy | Sicily| Selinute|The Acropolis |Temple of Hera

Italy | Sicily| Selinute| The Acropolis |Temple of Hera

After a visit to the museum we headed for Selinute (another archaeological site)and lunch. We had a particular villa in mind for lunch but after much difficulty found it after serving hours. The kitchen closed at 2 and we arrived at 2:15. We were turned away even though several tables had yet to be served. We finally found a sandwich at Selinute. We visited the temples there. Only two are partially standing. Temple E on the eastern hill has been partially rebuilt and for the first time we were allowed to walk on the inside of a temple. Being on the inside gave us a whole new perspective on how huge these temples are. This was the same temple we saw from the sea as we sailed down to Scaicca the other day.

We arrived back at the marina about 6:00 and made plans to go out for dinner. We found a quaint restaurant on a back street off of a piazza, thanks to Pam and her Michelin Green Book. Hostaria Del Vicolo was lovely and the service and food excellent. Everything we ordered was fabulous and the presentation delightful. But hands down Steve's meal was the best. I suppose he deserved it after the horrendous day he had driving. For our first plate Al and I had a warm insalate tomato, shrimp and calamari. Pam had a shrimp pasta but Steve had a marvelous pickled swordfish in salt and sugar. For our second plate Pam and I had a filet of veal and leeks. Al and Steve had risoto. Al's with shrimp and mushrooms and Steve's was slightly different (more spicy). Dessert... Pam and I had fantastic cannoli, Al had a chocolate pudding in orange sauce and Steve's was a very rich chocolate (brownie kind of thing) in a marvelous sauce. Even our espresso was fun as it was served in colorful cups with little lids. What a wonderful end to an exciting day! Today we woke to rain and wind from the wrong direction so we decided to lay low, buy supplies, and plan a big hop tomorrow to Syracuse. Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

Italy | Sicily | Sciacca | view of harbor

Italy | Sicily | Sciacca

April 28, 2007

Buon giorno, We had a pleasant evening. We left Marsala about 7:30 and motor sailed to Sciacca, Sicily. (about 38 nm) Al was getting frustrated because no matter what direction we headed the wind was on the nose. Finally we just sailed off course and eventually ended up back on course. Without the wind we would have been pounding into 1.5-2 meter seas and going about 4.5 kts but with sails we could maintain 6.5-7.5 kts. It was a bit cooler on the sea today but that's what jackets are for. We arrived in Sciacca about 1:15. We moored down from Pam and Steve. They rented a car and went to Palermo today. After lunch we climbed the brightly tiled steps to the top of the city. The city is busy renovating it's historical buildings especially the churches. They've built beautiful piazzas and walkways overlooking the sea. There is a big fishing harbor next door with nearly 100 huge fishing trawlers. There is volcanic activity under the city and the ancient thermal springs and vapors have been used since Roman times. 1930's a bath house/spa was built to accommodate the Sicilians and tourists who come to "take the waters". It sprinkled for awhile but not enough to stop me from my swimsuit cockpit shower. It's so much easier than emptying the shower and then dealing with the moisture in the boat afterwards. As Al says, "Another day in paridise." Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

Italy | Sicily | Marsala | Porto Garibaldi | gateway to Old Town

Italy | Sicily | Marsala | Lilybeo Necropoli Romana

April 27, 2007

Buon giorno, We rocked in our anchorage all night. Light winds from the land and swells from sea. Just enough rocking to make it tiresome :-( We pulled anchor about 8:30 and motored 10 nm to Marsala, Sicily. The legendary landing of the Thousand on May 11, 1860 led by Garibaldi took place in Marsala. He came with 1,000 volunteers to liberate Sicily from the Bourbons and by the time they reached Messina the volunteers numbered 20,000. We're in the marina tonight so we're hoping for a good nights sleep. Lots to see in Marsala. We left our boat at 10:30 and didn't get back until 4:30. We walked the old part of town and had a pizza picnic in a lovely piazza. We had hoped to visit the archeological area and walked the entire perimeter before we discovered it was closed.We did visit the museum housing artifacts from Marsala. Recently a man dredging found an oar ship dating back to Phoenician/Roman Punic Wars. Marsala is also known for it's sweet wine but haven't tried any yet. We plan to catch up with Pam and Steve again tomorrow in Sciacca. We want to visit Archaeological Park of Selinunte (6 temples)and/or Segesta.(one temple). It's hard to believe we've only been cruising again for 23 days and we've seen and done so much! Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

Italy | Sicily | Isola Favignana

April 26, 2007

Buon giorno, We left about 10:15 for Isola Favignana, Sicily about 12 nm from Trapani. We had a nice sail NW 7. We put up main, mizzen, jib, and mizzen staysail. We were sailing 4.5 kts the whole way. We arrived in the anchorage (Pta Longa) about 1:00. Al and I decided to take the dinghy to shore and walk across the island to the village. It only took 15 minutes to reach the town and marina. Al almost bought a small freshly caught tuna from a fisherman. He negotiated the cleaning and settled on 5 Euro's. He reached for his wallet and realized he'd left it on the boat. He only had 2.50 in coins so no deal :-( The old tuna factory is being redeveloped as a multipurpose complex. The fisherman are going back to the old way of fishing tuna and are using the big anchors to hold their nets. At first we thought the town was an ugly cement city until we made the corner by the marina. Some cute restaurants, shops and hotels. Sig. Flario bought the island 150 years ago and made Favignana the center of tuna canning industry. Palazzo Florio and gardens above the harbor is in nice condition. We found several nice churches. The Fort of Santa Caterina sits on the highest point of the island and used to be an ancient Saracen warning station and later was a prison. We walked for a couple of hours then came back to grill some pork chops (no tuna tonight). Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

Italy | Sicily | Trapani | Cliff Castle

Italy | Sicily | Erice | village above Trapani

April 25, 2007

Buon giorno, We took off early with Pam and Steve to walk through Trapani, Sicily. Very little was open as it is a holiday today. They celebrate the 1945 Liberation. We thought they should give us our mooring for free. Trapani is a beautiful city pennisula so we had a view of the sea everywhere we walked. We bought some smoked tuna from a vender. He was a great salesman. He kept handing us samples to try. Who could resist after that?

We caught the 11:00 bus to the bottom of Mte S Guilano and then took the cable car up (2,480 ft) to the medieval village of Erice. The views overlooking Trapani, the countryside, and the sea were spectacular. We visited a Norman castle, the gardens and the Duomo. It was just fun exploring the narrow cobbled streets and alleys of the old town. In Greek times the village was known to mariners for its temple of Aphrodite (goddess for sailors) We stopped for a beer and later for lunch. We had an insalate di polpo (octopus) for our antipasta. Then I had cuscus di pesce a traditional favorite in Sicily and Al had spagetti with calamari and zucchini. Yum especially with a nice bottle of wine and great company (Pam and Steve). We couldn't get away without dessert so we shared a cannoli :-> We rode the cable car down again but then walked about 45 minutes back to the harbor. Time for a nap... Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

April 24, 2007

Buon giorno, Another beautiful day motoring along the Sicilian coast. We traveled through an area where the dolphins were feeding. We arrived in Trapani about 2:00. It's a busy commercial port but secure. We had a wonderful reunion with our friends Pam and Steve from Knoxville. We met them in Portugal last August and cruised the Balearas Islands and Sardinia with them last fall. We haven't been ashore yet too busy yakking. Tomorrow is a holiday. The Sicilians celebrate the 1945 Liberation Day. We plan to visit the city and maybe take the cable car up and visit the village of Erice. Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

Italy | Sicily | Castellammare Del Golfo | Fishing nets drying in harbor

April 23, 2007

Buon giorno, We left our lovely anchorage about 8:30 this morning heading for Capo San Vito about 32 nm. We changed our minds about 11:15 and came to Castellammare Del Golfo. We anchored inside the harbor near the breakwall. They appear to be working on the marina and it was quite noisy when we arrived. The guide made it sound rather quaint which it was but nothing spectacular to go visit. I guess we're getting spoiled. Perhaps things are more lively on the weekend or in the summer. The harbor's pontoons are all empty and only fishing boats are moored along the walls. The old town has cobblestone winding streets and alleys that climb up about 1.5 miles quite steeply. We were walking along the top of the town looking for groceries and at one point we crossed a street that went straight down the hill to the harbor and there sat Artemis at anchor framed at the end of the street ;-> The workers had gone home when we arrived back at the boat so we have this lovely, now quiet, harbor all to ourselves. We plan to grill some Spada (swordfish) tonight. Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

Italy | Sicily |Palermo| Arnella Marina anchorage

April 22, 2007

Buon giorno, We made coffee and had some breakfast. We left the yacht club about 8:00 and moved 1.7 nm to an anchorage outside of Arnella Marina. The couple who helped us at the Yacht Club from Milan told us about it as it's not in the Cruising guide. We put the dinghy in the water and went into town looking for a church. Well we ended up an hour and a half later back in Palermo at a neat old church, Saint Ignatius all'Olivella. We had a unique surprise during mass. At communion time the guitar vocalist sang Michael Joncas' Eagle's Wings in Italian. He did alter the melody a little to fit the Italian words but it was most definitly Joncas' work. After 11:30 mass the wind was blowing from the east and Al was worried about the boat so we high tailed it back. Artemis was fine and not much wind. We changed oil and transmission fluid. (that's always a job) Went exploring with the dinghy looking for somewhere that would take our used oil. We visited Marina Villa Igiea (our Milan friends said Artemis would cost 200 Euro's)so we didn't even try going there. The weather is suppose to be nice the next few days and the anchorage is protected for all but south winds. It was so warm and quiet we took cockpit showers. Ciao,

Love Sally and Al [top]

Italy | Sicily | Palermo

April 21, 2007

We are motoring/sailing 32 nm to Palermo, Sicily. By 11:00 we were beating into a gentle northwester while being pushed along by leftover meter and a half swells from the NE.(of course the forecast called for Force 4 from the NE) Oh well, it's the Mediterranean. We arrived in Palermo about 2:00 and pulled into the Yacht Club Marina. The manager said no room, You must leave in 4 hours. The boat next to us encouraged us to spend the night and leave early in the morning. So we went exploring.

Italy | Sicily | Palermo| San Domenico

Italy | Sicily | Palermo| Politeama Theater

Italy | Sicily | Palermo| La Mareorana

Italy | Sicily | Palermo| Cathedral Palarmo -Duomo

Italy | Sicily | Palermo| Basilica SS Trinita La Magione

Palermo is a magnificent city, we had no idea. The architecture is wonderful, ranging from Arabic to Norman, Baroque and Art Nouveau. We've been told by far it's the best in Sicily. We walked for hours gawking and snapping pictures. There was a huge celebration at the Duomo (Cathedral). The piazza was full and had big screens like they use at St. Peter's in Rome and the cathedral was full too. So we were unable to get inside but the exterior is magnificent. We walked to the portal of the city and Palazzo Reale. We visited Massamo's Theater and walked through fantastic open air market on Cappo. We were told to visit arestaurant in Piazza di San Francisco and it was a must to have mevza and a beer for 4 Euro. Mevza is a specially spiced, thin sliced, beef sandwich with ricotta type cheese spread on top. Yum. We plan to move about a mile away tomorrow and drop anchor outside of a small fishing harbor and then come back to see more of Palermo. Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

Italy | Sicily | Cefalu | Old Harbor

April 20, 2007

Buon giorno, We got up early Fri. to explore Cefalu further. We walked along the shore and visited the old harbor and the gates to the city. The anchorage looks quite nice, too bad we were unable to stay there. There must be a church on every corner in Cefalu. We were only able to go inside the Duomo. We walked slightly out of town to a Conad grocery store as we found them to be the best priced in Nettuno. We stopped at a roadside vender for fruit and vegetables. The Sicilian tomatoes are "to die for". The ones we bought today were about 1.5 inch in diameter and you can bite into it like an apple. They are so firm and sweet. No wonder some people call a tomato a fruit. We stopped into a Sidis grocery store and found it to be much nicer than the Conad. Oh well it was a nice walk. The best find was a vender selling fish. We bought a fresh, large, tuna steak for 5 Euro's! We met a tourist group from USA and visited for a short while. People are always amazed that we are living this dream (as are we). It started to rain so we headed back to the boat.

La Rocca (The Rock) beckons but it was not to be in the rain. We found the Dutch boat that was anchored last night moored next to us. Evidently they had an uncomfortable night. Nice couple. We shared recently visited harbors, sites and cruising experiences. They've been in the med 3-4 years and are headed to the Canary Islands this fall. We had a "barbecue in Cefalu"! Our tuna steak was fabulous. We started to roll a bit in the harbor so the Dutch boat moved it's bow over a bit so our spreaders wouldn't hit. Today we washed the Sahara desert off our boat before we headed out. When it rains the boat gets covered in sandy splotches.

Italy | Sicily | Cefalu | town and La Roche on the left

Italy | Sicily | Cefalu | Artemis in Marina before it filled up

April 19, 2007

Buon giorno, We motored to Cefalu, Sicily today about 52 nm. It's about half way down the northern coast of Sicily. It was a quiet day and with lots of hot water I decided to do laundry. Some dampness in the air so it didn't all dry by the time we reached Cefalu. I hung a line inside to finish it as it started to sprinkle. A new weather forecast came in as we were arriving calling for Force 5 out of the east and rain so we decided to go into the harbor. The anchorage is meant for settled weather. We arrived about 3:00 and moored easily. The berth including water and electricity was 25 Euro's.

Italy | Sicily | Cefalu | Cefalu Cathedral ( Duomo)

Italy | Sicily | Cefalu | lovely town

We saw Mount Etna this morning but pretty hazy over Sicily so not a clear view. Dolphins were feeding near the boat around 7:30 AM. Lots of ship traffic heading for Straits of Messina. Cefalu is below a huge rock known as La Rocca - once a Temple of Diana (Artemis). We walked into town about a 15 minute walk past the lighthouse. We found another neat, old town with narrow, winding cobblestone streets. It was busy, with lots of shops, restaurants, churches and a fabulous Norman Duomo. It was meant to be the principal religious seat of Sicily but it never came to be. This magnificent building has an awesome mosaic of Christ Pantocrator in the apse.

We're seeing lots more flowering bushes and potted plants. It's definitely spring time. We found a bakery so fresh bread for dinner and a Tourist Info. Center so we know where to go tomorrow. Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

Italy | Isola Volcano| Rented 4 wheeler for the day

April 18, 2007

Buon giorno, We had a quiet night at anchor last night and we decided to stay another day here in Isola Vulcano. We rented a 4 wheeler for the day for 35 Euro and explored the island. It was great fun and fantastic views. We traveled a winding hairpin turn road down to Celso at the other end of the island and saw the lighthouse. The only way out was back up the winding road we had traveled down. We drove back to the town and checked on Artemis and our dinghy. All was fine.

Italy | Isola Volcano | active volcano

We stopped for a quick lunch, parked our 4 wheeler and then walked to the top of this active volcano. The climb up took much longer than coming down. I can't imagine how hot it must be climbing up in the summer. We were glad we were only carrying our cameras. Most people had huge backpacks, hiking clothes, jackets and walking sticks. Not necessary. The total hike took an hour and a half. The volcano continuously smokes giving off toxic gases. The yellow residue of sulfur given off by the gases was all along the side of the crater that is smoking. We can only imagine the tremendous amount of power it took to blow the rocks out of the crater.

Italy |Isola Volcano | Artemis at anchorage

Great views of Artemis sitting all alone in the bay. We drove by the sulfur mud pools. It smelled so bad you'd want to "puke" and people were in them!! We've heard it takes weeks to get the smell off your body. YUCK! We're sure glad we didn't sell the 4 HP engine. It's so much easier to put on and off the dinghy than the 15 hp and for short trips that's all we really need. The days are getting longer which makes it much more enjoyable. It's easier to get up and get going in the morning. The temperatures are mid 70's on land and 55-65 while cruising. We took showers in the cockpit today. We'll head for Cefalu (50 nm) tomorrow. Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

Italy | Isola Volcano

April 17, 2007

Buon giorno, We left Tropea at 8:30 this morning. We motor sailed the 46 miles to Isola Vulcano arriving about 5:00. This the southernmost island of the Aeolian Islands north of Sicily. It's composed of extinct craters that first appeared in 183 BC and one active crater which is smoking as I write. There are bubbling mud pools and hot mineral springs bubbling up from the seabed. So people are in swimming. The anchorage smells like burnt matches but not too bad. It looks like a lunar landscape. This is our first anchorage of the season so we're hoping for a quiet night. We plan to head out early tomorrow for Cefalu, Sicily about 50 nm from here. Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

Italy | Tropea |

Italy | Tropea | Needed a rest climbing 200+ steps

April 15-16, 2007

Buon giorno, We are still in Tropea and plan to leave for Sicily or a nearby island, Isola Lipari tomorrow. We had a lovely day yesterday. We climbed the 200+ steps to the city early and scouted out churches. Mass at the cathedral wasn't until 11:30 so we had a couple of hours to explore the narrow streets, shops, and restaurants. We found a fantastic Panetteria and were tempted by the delicious looking pasteries. We settled on just two cream filled rolls :-> Everywhere we looked was another photo opportunity. Mass was delightful with a congregation that sang and a baby girl was baptized. Al questions how I can sing along. Well I simply sing the notes and skip most of the words. After mass we visited the Cathedral Museum. We had calizone and risoto balls filled with mozzerela, ragu, and spices. We found 6 of the 12 churches. We could only go in 3 as the others were boarded up. They are being protected from further damage but the statues and paintings have been removed to the museum.

Italy | Tropea |

Italy | Tropea |

The views were fantastic. We walked through a cemetary and then took the steps down to the sea. We had a nice walk back to the marina along the seashore. In all we spent a good four hours walking and when we arrived back at the marina there was a party in front of our boat. The 15 cruising boats that wintered in Tropea have a Sunday afternoon barbeque and we were invited to join in. Most of them were Germans, a couple of English boats and a Swedish boat. Lollo from Sweden would make like conducting music and say Oom-pah-pah when we talked as she felt the rhythm of our language was that of a polka. The fantastic part is they all spoke English so we had a nice time visiting and trading cruising stories.

Today we spent two hours getting a Costituto. We were lucky to have the help of lovely Francesca. She works for the marina and speaks excellent English. She went with us to the Port Captain and interpreted our situation to him. We went to the town again and visited a discount store for supplies. Walking back to the boat pulling our grocery cart we encountered a grocery truck that clogged the narrow winding road to the marina. He was lodged between the stone wall and guardrail on a hairpin turn. No one could pass not even someone on foot! So up the hill we had to go. Fortunately an Italian gentleman offered us a ride (10 minutes up and down hills). Thank God otherwise we may still be walking. Ciao,