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October 2010 - Western Italy

October 28, 2010

Hi Everyone, Sunday we went to mass at 11 and then just wandered about for a while. Once again the winds kicked up so we went back to the boat. After checking the forecast we decided to move into the harbor on Monday. Al wasn't feeling well and we decided it would be quieter and easier if we were tied to shore. The winds howled from the NE Mon. and Tues.

Italy | Elba Is. | Portaferraio | Artemis moored

Then we decided to move down to Porto Azzuro, Elba on Wednesday making us in a better position for an overnight to Nettuno. It took us over 2 hours to go 6 nm right on the nose with over 2meter seas. Then we made the corner and had a nice down wind sail to Porto Azzuro. We broke one of the slides on the main sail so Al had to fix that when we got in.

Italy | Tyrrhenian Sea | passage to Nettuno

Today we left Porto Azzuro about 900 with 15-20 kts from the NE. We had a great sail for about an hour and then things died down to less than 2 kts so we motored. The winds picked up a bit so we're able to go over 6kts with motor. Beautiful night bright moon and a little warmer than it has been at night. Winds switched more to the east so we were forward the beam on a port tack. (or as Al says a close reach). We arrived in Nettuno around 0800. We are temporarily alongside awaiting to hear from Massomo as to our winter berth. But we're at our winter home! Happy Friday and Happy Halloween weekend. Now it's time for a nap:-) Love and God Bless Sally and Al

October 23, 2010

Hi Everyone, Thursday we decided to start our annual bung project. This involves locating screw heads or worn bungs on our teak decks, scraping the heads clean, removing the screw, countersink the screw hole, put the screw back in with a bit of caulking, and then gluing on a new bung with epoxy. We did 75 bungs on the upper deck and called it a day. Glad we stopped when we did as the slow curing epoxy is still drying. So we have little tuffs of wood poking up all around on the upper deck.

Italy | Elba Is | Portoferraio | Artemis anchored

Yesterday after three weeks in Le Grazie, Italy we decided it was time to start heading south toward Nettuno where we will winter for 6 months. We woke at 0500 and hauled anchor heading 80nm to Portoferraio, Elba. The sun doesn't rise until around 7 so it was cold and dark the first hours. We had light NE winds to start with that built to 25 knots by 1000 and 2 meter seas. The winds gradually clocked around E to SE so eventually it was right on the nose. It was a clear sunshine day so hidden behind our "fort" we were quite comfortable. We arrived at Portoferraio, Elba about 6:30 last night.

Italy | Elba Is.| Portoferraio | from anchorage

Today we installed a new halyard for the staysail and then went to town by dingy. We got some fuel for the dingy motor and visited COOP supermarket for their great olives and some other supplies. The wind kicked up so we had a wet ride back across the bay to Artemis. The wind died off tonight and we grilled our pork chops:-) Have a nice weekend. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

October 20, 2010

Hi Everyone, Happy birthday to sister Kate! We had a cold, windy, rainy weekend. We could have been anchored on Lake Superior. Brrrr we even ran our heater while charging batteries. We are close to the Alps (about 40 miles) so when the wind blows from the north it comes with cold mountain air. After all the rain we got on Sunday and wind on Monday it felt good to get off the boat yesterday.

We took a bus to La Spezia, Italy and caught a train to Genoa for the day. The train ride followed the sea on one side and the snow covered mountains on the other. We traveled one tunnel after another. It must have take years to complete it. What a wonderful surprise, Genova, such an amazing city. Our college days memories of Genoa were of a dirty, crime filled seaport. The nuns wouldn't even let the girls leave our hotel. Genoa had Expo 1992 and was named European City of Culture in 2004.

Italy | Genoa | Piazza de Ferrari

We left the train in Statione Brignola and walked the gorgeous boulevard Via XX Settembre, spying Piazza dell o Vittoria (arch di Triumphe type monument), Mercato Orientale (a huge fruit, vegetable, meats, fish and flowers daily market inside a building), gorgeous buildings and arched covered mosaic walkways, ending in the fabulous Piazza de Ferrari. The center piece is a huge bronze fountain and this huge piazza is surrounded by magnificent buildings two of which are palaces.

Italy | Genoa | Old city

The Old City is a maze of winding streets and walkways of homes and shops with one beautiful piazza after another. The richness of the seaport is reflected in the number of fabulous palaces (over 50)and the magnificent churches(over 40). The

Italy | Genoa | Cattedral di San Lorenzo

Cattedrale di San Lorenzo has two bell towers and cupola black and white striped with twisted columns and crouching lions at the front. Beautiful paintings and sculptures. Also inside in a place of honor is a British WWII bomb that failed to ignite in 1941. All of the churches we visited were magnificent but especially so was Chiesa del Gesu which has two Rubens one over t he main alter "Circoncisione" and "Miracoli di San Ignazio" in a side chapel. We walked the pedestrian street Via Garibaldi lined with palaces of Genoa's wealthiest citizens.

Italy | Genoa | towers of city

We had planned to tour Palazzo Reale and Palazzo Principe but found them closed on Tuesday afternoons:-( The various Portals, walls, and towers surrounding the city are awesome. The old harbor is now home to a huge aquarium and biosphere. This city speaks of old money and lots of it. Unfortunately 5 hours was not nearly enough time to spend is such a magnificent place. Like Rome it would be best seen over several days of leisurely exploration. Otherwise you move about on "overload" and really begin to miss much of what there is to see and do.

Italy | Genoa | shared lunch

Al's favorite memory of the day is lunch. He does enjoy lunch. (so does Sally) It's always been his favorite meal of the day. We had a nice salad, seafood linguini and a diavola pizza (spicy hot) and of course ice cream before boarding the train home to Artemis. We've planned a la zy day today. Maybe taking the bus to La Spezia to replenish supplies. Hope all is well. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

Italy | Porto Venere | steep hike to Campiglia

October 15, 2010

Hi Everyone, Yeah we got our replacement Autopilot control and display unit yesterday. So now as we head south toward Nettuno we will have an autopilot! Hopefully we won't experience any more squalls but if it gets miserable it's nice to have options.

Italy | Porto Venere | rugged hike to Campiglia

Yesterday we hiked over to Porto Venere (5km)Then we picked up part of the Cinqueterre trail behind the castle to Campiglia which is a 2 hour hike. The first half hour almost did us in as it was straight uphill but then it leveled out and went through gorgeous pine forests. Parts of the trail hugged cliffs looking down to the sea. The total climb was 382m but with flat trails in between steep climbs we survived:-)

Italy | Porto Venere | picnic hike to Campiglia

We stopped halfway at a picnic table over looking the sea for lunch. We kept motivated as an Alpine Hiking Club from Germany was behind us and sometimes we were together or as when we stopped for lunch they moved ahead. The group ranged in age between 70-80 years. We could look like a couple of slugs now could we? We took a bus from Campiglia to La Spezia to pick up the autopilot and groceries. The Alpine group was continuing on to Riomaggiore another 3 hours!

Today we hiked around Le Grazie exploring parts of the town we had contemplated over the past two weeks. Tomorrow looks like another rainy day and boat projects as in Al at the sewing machine. Hopefully we can skype the kids. Have a fun weekend. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

Italy | Tuscany | Sarsana | Firmafide Fortress | Medieval Festival

Italy | Tuscany | Sarsana | Firmafide Fortress | Medieval Festival

October 13, 2010

Hi everyone, We took a bus to Sarzana, on the Tuscan border last Saturday, Oct. 9. It's the Magra Valley's main town and was a major outpost of the Genoese Republic. It was another beautiful day. The cathedral has the world's oldest crucifix painted on wood. The town has two castles.

The first we visited in the walled city was Firmafide fortress. We had a pleasant surprise. There was a Medieval Festival going on so we had great fun wandering among the medieval dressed people and watching the sword fights displayed in an arena on stage. Many of the knights costumes looked authentic.

Italy | Sarzana | Fortress of Sarzanello

Then we climbed a mule trail up to the Fortress of Sarzanello above the village. It wasn't open but we could walk the perimeter and then took the road back to town. Great views of the Magra Valley and the Mediterranean.

We had lunch in a Pizza Restaurant that makes a chickpea farinata. It's a pancake/pizza made of chickpea flour and it is amazingly delicious. Low and behold we also found our favorite German supermarket Lidl's in Sarzana so Al was able to stock up on a German beer he likes called Veltines. We were glad it was not too far from the bus stop and our bus took us directly to Le Grazie so we didn't have to lug our groceries around making a connection in La Spezia.

Sunday and Monday were cloudy and much colder temps. After mass we bought fixings for stew so that made the boat cozy while we did boat projects. We organized pictures on Sunday. Then Monday Al was busy sewing new companion way cover and handrail covers.

Italy | Tuscany |Lucca |

Italy | Tuscany |Lucca |

Yesterday Oct. 12 we took a train to Lucca in the morning and then to Pisa in the afternoon. Our 9:10 train was delayed in Massa so we missed our connection to Lucca. The next train wasn't for 2 1/2 hours so we took a bus the rest of the way. We got to Lucca by 11. An absolutely beautiful walled city. It was a pleasant surprise.

The old town is behind 12m high Renaissance walls. Lucca was untouched by WWII bombing so the historic center remains as it has for centuries. Gorg eous piazzas surrounded by medieval buildings, churches, palaces and gardens.

Italy | Tuscany |Lucca | villa garden

One piazza Anfiteatro is a huge oval. The houses were built on the foundation of a Roman amphitheater retaining the shape. Lucca is the home of Puccini and they have daily evening recitals. They have a spectacular 4 km pedestrian/bike path on top of the wall around the city. Unfortunately with our lost hour we didn't have time to walk it. So much to see we should have planned only one city for the day:-(

Italy | Pisa | Sally and Al at Baptistery, Cathedral, and Leaning Tower

Pisa was beautiful. The tower/cathedral/baptistery are so bright and much cleaner than we remember it being 40 years ago. Students lounging everywhere on the beautiful lush lawns. We didn't climb the tower as once is enough. But we did buy tickets for the baptistery and cathedral. Then we walked to the old part of town enjoying the medieval buildings and had ice cream before walking along the Arno to the station. We had hoped to visit the new ships museum that opened this year. It displays 9 Roman cargo ships that were excavated from Pisa's silted up harbor in 1998 and have been renovated. But once again we just did not allow ourselves enough time.

Today we were lazy, making only a short trip ashore to get some water and bread. Otherwise reading and looking at pictures, making plans. Tomorrow sounds like another beautiful day so we're planning a hike. Hope all is well. I've been uploading pictures to Shutterfly so if you are interested in seeing our pics from this summer let me know and I can send a link. Otherwise we hope to get them on the website too. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

Italy | Cinqueterre |

October 8, 2010

Hi everyone, Our rainy, windy day came on Monday so we did boat jobs. Al put a zipper on our trusty dodger/fort so we can get at our mainsheet from inside. He also did maintenance on all of our thru hulls. Tuesday we took a bus into La Spezia, a much bigger town than we thought. We wandered the town, visited the train station and Tourist Info about Cinque Terre. We went to Vodafone and bought a new key modem for internet. This new modem is twice as fast as our old one and we are now able to have good skype onboard again. Yeah! We were able to talk to Al's mom and my dad with few problems. So we're looking forward to seeing the grandkids this weekend. The highlight of our day was a marvelous Naval Museum. It had antiques dating to Roman Times, many model ships and full sized figureheads from the prows of ships. Wednesday we shipped our autopilot control display to Navico and we are expecting a new one shipped to Le Grazie from Holland early next week. We are in no hurry to move on. There is much to see in the area by bus or train and Artemis is safely anchored while we explore.

We took a bus to Lerici near La Spezia on Wed. and visited the Museum of Geopalaeontology (dinosaurs) housed in a neat castle with great views. Then we found some well marked hiking trails and tramped donkey trails and red brick trails through towns for a couple of hours before catching our buses back to La Spezia and then to Le Grazie. We grilled a marvelous Florintine steak and fresh green beans (our first steak in a while).

Italy | Cinque Terre |

Yesterday was clear skies and high 70's a perfect day to hike the Cinque Terre. The guide book lied about no roads linking the five villages as each village had at least one road going to it. But there is no way they could describe the mule tracks we hiked and the fantastic views we experienced as we traversed the terraced cliffs along the sea between each village.

We started in Riomaggiore after visiting the village we walked 20 minutes along a rather benign promenade to the next village of Manarola. Here we wandered the town found the workings of an old mill, several churches and the central piazza which had a big floor mosaic depicting the five villages of the Cinque Terre. The main/only street went to the cliff by the sea. It was lined with shops, restaurants and fishing boats that were pulled high up into the town for storage. The boats were on cradles with rollers on them. The fisherman would roll their boats to a lift that lowered them over the cliff down to the water.

The trail between Manarola and Corniglia was closed because of damage during last week's heavy rains so he hopped a train to Corniglia. Getting off the train we spotted the town high above the sea with access choice of a ziggy zaggy trail and 382 steps or a winding road. We chose the road (much easier on our knees so early in the day) and arrived about the same time as those who climbed the stairs.

We wandered Corniglia visiting the church and it's restored to wer. Then down one alley we found a large veranda over looking the sea, perfect for our picnic lunch.

After lunch the real hiking began. We were glad to have our hiking shoes and hiking poles. The hike between Corniglia and Vernazza took about an hour and a half. We were glad we had a warm up hike yesterday in Lerici. The trail went steeply up and down hill winding over the terraced cliffs. Al became fascinated with a cute little monorail that pulled carts and the farmer up and around the terraces for carrying the olives and grapes.

Fantastic views of Vernazza as we came down from the cliff top to the little harbor village and castle. We rested along the water front before continuing our next 2 hour journey to the last village Monterrosso. This was the hardest trek as the path was quite muddy and sometimes only two ft wide. But it was also the most beautiful with great views leaving Vernazza, waterfalls, olive groves and views of approaching the village of Monterosso. We arrived in Monterosso about 5:00 (7 hours beginning to end)

It was America day in the Cinque Terre or so it seemed. We met many through out the day. We teamed up with one couple, Marta and Michael from Las Vegas, for last hour of the day so we went for a beer with them in Monterosso. Great fun sharing stories. They are well traveled and hike most places they go. We caught a 6:00 train back to Le Spezia and got lost finding a bus stop to Le Grazie so didn't make it back to Artemis until 7:30. Today we are taking a vacation from traveling and just hanging around Artemis, doing some laundry and sites around town. Happy Friday. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

Italy | Le Grazie | Artemis anchored in bay

October 3, 2010

Hi everyone, We had rough time with our 60nm passage to Le Grazie, Italy on Friday. We had way more rain than we had planned on. No fewer than 3 squalls that fortunately we were able to prepare for and had our sails down when they hit. Unfortunately the second new autopilot control unit that we brought back with us from US in August quit working. For some reason heavy rain leaks into the control unit and it fills with water. We had rain during the night on Thursday and when we left Isola Capraia it wasn't working.

Life is miserable on a boat in a storm without an autopilot. Poor Captain Al had to stand at the wheel and withstand the wind, rain and seas. Normally we'd set the autopilot and move into the shelter of the "windshield/fort" as we call it that Al made this spring. With the second mast on Artemis we never had a dodger to protect us from wind and seas coming over the bow. So he created canvas/vinyl that attaches to our bimini and wraps the mast snapping down to the cabin top aft the mainsail track.

Between squalls we did get some nice sailing and again fortunately the 2+ meter seas were with us. We had put on our weather cloths on Thursday and this canvas surrounds the cockpit protecting us from seas splashing into the cockpit. The wind and seas died down as we arrived in Le Grazie, an excellent all weather anchorage. There is lots to do in the area so we plan to stay here a week or more.

Italy | Le Grazie | 15+ classic wooden boats

Yesterday we hiked around Le Grazie and got some fresh fruit, vegetables and bread. We were able to grill last night. The evenings are getting cooler. We are at 44 latitude so a lot further north than we've been at this time of year for a while.

Today after mass we decided to walk the 4 miles to Porto Venere "the most romantic little village along the Ligurian Coast" (so says our travel book)It is the cutest Italian town we've been in.

Neat winding streets with pastel colored houses built up from the seaside. The upper town has two 12/13th Century churches and a 16th century castle on top of the cliffs.

Wonderful views of the Cinque Terre and the small island of Palmaria about 400m off shore. After hiking and climbing many steps around Porto Venere for 3 hours, a few sprinkles, we decide to catch a bus back to Artemis in Le Grazie.

Tomorrow we plan to visit La Spezia a short bus ride away. We hope to find a Tourist Info place to get maps and make plans to hike the Cinque Terre later in the week. There is a train from Le Spezia and it stops in each of the five villages of the Cinque Terre : Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. There are no roads that link these villages that cling to the edge of the cliffs rising from the sea. We will be walking an ancient footpath known as the Sentiero Azzurro that follows the coast joining the villages. We plan to take the train to the first village and walk to the middle village the first day. Then catch a train back to La Spezia. Another day we'll take the train back to the village we left off in and continue on the Sentiero Azzurro to the remaining villages. We're expecting a rainy day on Tuesday so we'll do boat jobs and make our hiking plans for a nicer day. We hope everyone had a nice weekend. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

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