1-9 June Syracuse
We started our summer in Syracuse and found us a lovely anchor spot in the bay outside with a view over this beautiful and exciting old city.
The city was founded by the Greeks about 734-733 BC and during the 5:th century BC it was described as the “greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all”
Now it’s listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The historical centre lies on the small island of Ortygia with a bridge built 1870 connecting it to the mainland.
In the Greek mythologi Artemis (the godess of hunt) received the island from the oracles. And there the nymph Arethusa was changed into a clear spring that you can still see in the form of a beautiful fountain.
Syracuse today has about 125,000 inhabitants and numerous attractions for visitors interested in historical sites.
Archimedes and Jill
Archimedes, you know the famous inventor, scientist and mathematician who cried “Eureka” in the bathtub was born here.
Saint Lucia is the city’s patron Saint and she is well known and celebrated all over the world on her feast day the 13:th of December, and especially in Sweden for some reason!
There are girls with candles in their hair, saffron buns, ginger bread, glögg(a kind o gluhwine) and star boys! The connection is somewhat vague and has become lost during the years, but every daycarecenter and school have their own “Luciatåg” and there’s a lot of singing and eating of Lussekatter!
Syracusa was struck by two big earthquakes in 1542 and 1693, and as if that was not enough- with the plague in 1729!
The 1693 earthquake was a really bad one that struck parts of southern Italy near Sicily, Calabria, and Malta. The main quake had an estimated magnitude of 7.4 on the moment magnitude scale(the most powerful in Italian recorded history) destroying at least 70 towns and cities, seriously affecting an area of 5,600 square kilometres and causing the death of about 60,000 people!😨 This disaster was followed by tsunamis that totally devastated the coastal villages on the Ionian Sea and in the Straits of Messina. Almost two-thirds of the entire population of Catania were killed!
It is hard to imagine the total destruction that hit these people and it changed the appearance of Syracuse forever. Together with a lot of cities in this area Syracuse was rebuilt with buildings in a style that has now become known as Sicilian Baroque, considered one of the most typical expressions of art in Southern Italy.
Sicilian Barooque style, Noto
The 5:th of June we celebrated our wedding anniversary day with a lovely lunch. Rein is to the right!
9-11 June Taormina
Taormina is a charming hillside town on the east coast of Sicily and it’s one of the main tourist resorts of the island. Starting from the 19th century Taormina became a popular tourist resort in the whole of Europe: people who visited Taormina include Oscar Wilde, Nicholas I of Russia, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Nietzsche (who here wrote his Thus Spoke Zarathustra), Richard Wagner and many, many others.
We are anchored in the bay outside the town but it’s quite open to the sea with some uncomfortable swell, so we will not stay for more than two nights.
We found a quite nice but very steep and crumbling pathway from the harbor all the way up to the city (250 m above sea level)
It was so steep that Rein had to rescue an elderly couple that had difficulties climbing down!
Above Taormina, almost 500 meters above the sea-level, there’s another village, Castelmola.
Those of you who are Swedish might recognize the mountaintop where Bamses grandmother is living.
Bamse is a cartoon about a very kind little bear that’s becoming the strongest bear in the world when he’s eating “Dunderhonung”- might be translated as “Boomhoney” 😏 that he gets from his grandmother. Secret recipe of course!
“If you are strong you have to be kind!” is a famous quote from Bamse!🙂
Today we’re following Odysseus, sailing between Scylla and Charybdis through the Strait of Messina😃 And when leaving the Strait of Messina at least 10 Swordfish boats (Feluccas) were on the hunt for swordfish. We didn’t tell them we saw them jumping on the other side of the strait!
11-13 June Bagnara Calabra
This is a small town just outside of the strait of Messina on the Italian mainland. The harbor is mainly made for the fishing boats so we have had to move away twice, very early in the morning, in order to let the fishermen return to their place. But one morning we were rewarded with a freshly caught tuna! Delicious!🙂
The village is known for it’s old fashioned and rare way of fishing for swordfish, with their ancient boats known as feluccas, where the fisherman hunts the Cavalier (as the swordfish is called by the old fishermen) with a harpoon.
The harbor is without electricity (even if we were promised to have it) That and the fact that we had to move around several times made us a bit anxious to leave. We had thrown our own anchor and when we lifted it up there was several kilos of fishing equipment hanging on it!
Now we’ll go back to Sicily for a while…
13-17 June Milazzo
Milazzo is quite a big city on the north-east coast of Sicily, just out of the Strait of Messina. From here it’s not far to go to reach the Aeolian Islands. The old town is lovely with it’s fortified citadel, Milazzo Castle, and a number of religious buildings. The fort was originally begun by the Arabs in the 10th century but the castle wasn’t completed until the end of the 16:th century by the Spanish.
This morning I was going to make pepperoncini marmalade. I had tasted it at my friend Marilias house and really liked it!
But I had completely managed to forget how incredibly strong these small pepperfruits are!!
So I’ve been sitting with my poor, red, swollen and burning hands in cold water the whole day! Can’t touch a thing!
And on top of that I managed to burn the whole thing to a thick black crust in the pot! So no marmalade for us!
I’m not going to touch these things again, at least not without gloves!
In the evening we had unexpected visitors when our dear friends Ruggiero and Stephania, our neigbours from Licata, suddenly popped up in the bay!💕
Castle of Milazzo, 16th century
17-30 June The Aeolian Islands
The Aeolian Islands, named after Aeolus-the keeper of the winds in the Greek mythology, is a string of eight lovely volcanic islands north of Sicily – Vulcano, Lipari, Salina, Panarea, Stromboli, Filicudi,Alicudi and Basiluzzo.
There are two active vulcanoes on them-Stromboli and Vulcano
Curbing urban development has been a key to preserving the Aeolian islands in it’s natural state. New buildings are severely restricted. Existing residences can be bought and restored but must be constructed to resemble its whitewashed neighbours. Traditional houses consist of modular cubes, constructed from indigenous building materials—stone, lava, pumice and tufo. Almost all houses have a large outdoor terrace and they are often decorated with brightly patterned, beautiful terracotta tiles.
We’ve spent a few days for anchor outside of the town Canneto on Lipari, the largest island in the group.
Lipari boasts a rich history that has seen the island pass under the control of numerous Mediterranean powers, including the Greeks, the Carthaginians, the Romans, the Arabs, the Normans, the Angevins, and the Aragonese.
In 1544, Hayreddin Barbarossa, together with the French fleet, ransacked Lipari and enslaved the entire population! A number of the citizens were ransomed in Messina and eventually returned to the islands and Charles V then had his Spanish subjects repopulate the island and build the massive city walls atop the walls of the ancient Greek acropolis in 1556. The walls were a safe haven for the populace in the event of a raid. While these walls protected the main town, it was not safe to live on the rest of the island until Mediterranean piracy was largely eradicated, which did not occur until the 19th century
In the 1920s and 30s, Lipari, like several other Italian islands, was used as a detention centre for critics of Mussolini’s regime. Ironically, when his daughter, Edda Mussolini, returned to Italy from Switzerland after the end of the war, she herself was detained in Lipari while awaiting trial for her Fascist past.
After Lipari we went to Vulcano.
The word ”volcano” originated here thanks to the Romans who named the island after their god of fire, Vulcan. They believed that the island was the chimney of his workshop!
The last major eruption happened 1888 and lasted for two years!
Now the volcano is resting (we hope) but you can smell the sulphur that’s constantly leaking out and there are hot springs and places all over the island where you can take a terapeutic mud bath.
Yesterday we were climbing to the top of Vulcano!
It was very hot and steep climb, 9 km up and down, but what a view!
Absolutely breathtaking , both the view and the smell 😉
Midsummer on Vulcano
After climbing so much yesterday we had a nice and quiet Midsummer celebration on Hoppetossa today🌸
Midsummer is really BIG in Sweden, you can actually say it’s our National Day! Among other things we eat pickled herring, filled eggs, salmon and strawberry cake. We drink Nubbe, a kind of Schnapps, that goes down together with a lot of singing. We also dance around the Maypole singing traditional songs about frogs, and other things…😏
Not so easy to find traditional Swedish midsummer food in Italy but I think we managed quite well!
And for dessert a Summer Tiramisu with Limoncello and strawberries 🍓😋
The whole island is a 900 meter high volcano with an area of about 13 square kilometer.
It is a fully active vulcano with relatively “mild”outbursts most of the time, although it had a quite violent one 2007!
The nickname of the island is “The lighthouse of the Mediterrenean”
There are two villages, the larger Stromboli and the much smaller fishing village of Ginostra. There has been a pathway around the vulcano but it’s gone now (under reconstruction they say) so the only way to visit each other on this island is to go by boat. Together, both villages only have about 350 inhabitants.
There are no streetlights and Ginostra got electricity as late as 2004!
Ingrid Bergman, the famous Swedish movie star, fell in love with the director Roberto Rossellini here during the making of the movie “Stromboli” 1949.
It was a big scandal at the time since they were both married and the Catholic Church condemned them both!
Here you can visit the small red cottage where they lived during the moviemaking❤️
This seems to be a really fascinating and unique place and we would have loved to explore it, but since there are no harbors on the island you have to be anchored in the open sea, and unfortunately the hard winds and high waves gave us a very rough night so at first light this morning we had to leave for a more sheltered bay on the nearby island of Panarea.
After writing this we found out that there is a port for only one boat in Ginostra😃The smallest port in Europe!
Panarea is the smallest of the Eiolian islands, only about 3 square km, but in many people’s eyes it’s the prettiest of them all!
The name comes from “panaria” that means rugged, and so it is, but it’s also very lush and colourful with flowers 🌺everywhere and with the beautiful whitewashed houses with deep blue doors and details (reminding us of Greece)
Strange light over Panarea, strong winds coming…
Now we have been in two small and very pretty towns in the Gulf of Policastro in southwest Italy; Scario and Sapri
We are now at Capo Palinuro. It is supposedly named after Palinurus, the helmsman of Aenea’s ship in the roman epos Aeneiden. He fell asleep at the helm, went overboard and drowned here.
A local ghost story-There was a Roman fleet in the year 253 BC that was surprised by a storm, destroyed against the cliffs of Capo Palinuro and everybody on board drowned! But on moonlit nights you can see a galleon sailing around in the bay and hear the ghostly screams from the drowning soldiers😨
Be that as it may, this is an absolutely marvelous place in the National Park of Cilento.
The tourist crowds in July and August seem to prefer the more popular Amalfi coast, so we could go for anchor in a calm bay with crystal clear water where we had a wonderful little beach almost to ourselves!
The Bay is surrounded by spectacular limestone cliffs riddled with about 35! caves with lovely names.
Take your pick among Grotta Azzuro (the blue cave), after the color of the water, Grotta delle Ossa (cave of bones). This grotto was used as a grave in ancient times and you can still see some bones laying there!
Grotta del Sangue (the blood cave) that get it’s color from the iron in the mountain,
Cala Fetente (Fetid Cave) after the strong-smelling Sulphur springs in here and Grotta d’Argento (the silver cave) with Sulphur on the bottom that makes it shimmer like silver.
This is a place to come back to💙
Salerno has been a very pleasant surprise! It’s a big city with about 134 000 people but it doesn’t feel crowded at all.
It’s often overlooked by tourists because of it’s location between the more popular Amalfi Coast and the Cliento National Park
The city is divided into three zones: the medieval sector, the 19th century sector and the more densely populated post-war area, with its several apartment blocks.
The old medieval parts, di Centro Storico, are still intact and very well maintained and especially the atmosphere of Salerno Cathedral of St Matthew gave us goose bumps!
It’s built in the year 1080 and in it’s crypt is the tomb of one of the apostles of Christ, St Matthew the Evangelist.
He’s also the patron Saint of the city.
At the same period the Schola Medica Salernitana was built, the oldest medical school in the world and the most important source of medical knowledge in Europe in the early Middle Ages.
Salerno is well known for it’s hot nightlife and entertainment scene, called the “movida”. Show up in the area around the town hall in the evenings after 9:00 pm and join in. People gather in the street to chat, dine, stroll, drink, and hang out with friends. Nearly every night in the summer and every weekend night in the winter is busy with the “movida”. And don’t be surprised if you visit late and find yourself stuck in traffic at 2:00 in the morning!
After leaving the big and beautiful city Salerno we were sailing north along the spectacular Amalfi coast, but we skipped Capri.
We know it’s a beautiful island, but it’s so crowded and expensive that we will pass it by. They charge about 300 Euro/night for a ship of Hoppetossas size so NO!
16-20 July, Ischia
Ischia is a lovely volcanic island north of the Bay of Naples.
If you have read Elena Ferrantes wonderful Neapolitan quartet you’ll recognize Ischia as the place to go over summer. The island is easily reached by ferry from Naples, with an approximate travel time of between 40 minutes and one hour.
This small island, not more than 46 square km, has about 60 000 inhabitants but every year it’s a host of up to 6 million visitors!!
The many thermal spas with hot springs and volcanic mud makes it very popular with tourists from all over Europe, mostly Italians but also from Germany and Asia.
This huge increase of the population every year of course puts an enormous pressure on the islands infrastructure and ecosystem, and unfortunately the environmental problems are growing. Significant acreage of land previously used for agriculture has been developed for the construction of houses and residential structures and most of this development has taken place without any planning and building permission
And there’s no system for sewage treatment, so the sewage is sent directly out to the sea 🤯 There has been plans to build plants but so far the constructions have not been completed.
The surrounding waters are providing a habitat for around 7 species of whales and dolphins including gigantic fin and sperm whales. Lets hope that we can keep it like that!
We anchored outside of Gaeta for a week. Most of the time we’ve been almost alone in the lovely, big bay but when the weekend came… Mama Mia what a crowd😲 I must admit that we were a bit nervous when they almost anchored on top of us and Rein had to scare a few of them away! But mostly it was fun to watch all the people and in the evening they were all gone again.
Gaeta, or Caieta as it was named then, was once a strategic fortress for the Roman Empire and the old fortification walls are still standing. Nowadays Gaeta is the Homebase for NATOs flagship the USS Sixth Fleet
There’s a wonderful historic street, Piccolo Alley, where the ancient walking stones are still laying and with a number of small shops that sells regional handicrafts and local food, such as the black olives they are actually world famous for! And some of the houses are form the 11th-13th century.
Tiella di Gaeta
A special pizza from the region with various fillings. It can be diced calamari with parsley, garlic, oil, hot pepper and tomato sauce, or baccalà (dried codfish) and egg, zucchini and spinach….
Fun fact- A Latin text found in Gaeta dating from 997 AD contains the earliest known usage of the word “pizza”!
26-30 July Ponza
A bit difficult to get a good photo but wonderful to see!
2 Aug-8 Sep Sardinia
Another wonderful island to explore…
Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily and before Cyprus)
From about 1500 BC onwards, villages were built around round tower-fortresses called nuraghi. The era lasted from the 18th century BC (Bronze Age) to 238 BC when the Romans colonized the island. Today, some 7,000 Nuraghes are dotted along the Sardinian landscape but no written records of this civilization have been discovered,
Typical Nuraghi building ca 1500 BC
Sardinia’s indigenous language and the other minority languages (Sassarese, Corsican Gallurese, Algherese Catalan and Ligurian Tabarchino) spoken on the island are recognized by the regional law and each enjoy “equal dignity” with Italian.
Due to the variety of its ecosystems, which include mountains, woods, plains, largely uninhabited territories, streams, rocky coasts and long sandy beaches, the island has been defined metaphorically as a micro-continent!
A lot of animals are endemic here, which means this is the only place in the world were you can find them.
Like the small(135 cm) Giara wild horse, the albino donkey, Sardinian feral cat , Sardinian long eared Bat as well as many amphibians and birds of prey!
Three different breeds of dogs are also peculiar to Sardinia: the Pastore Fonnese, Dogo Sardo and Levriero Sardo (with only 100 specimens existing)
One night we abruptly woke up to a REAL thunderstorm, 40 knots and meterhigh waves in an instant! I almost flew away!😏
But our Hoppetossa managed to ride it out and we know now that we have a very good anchor!
We were also happy to be anchored in a place that was not so crowded! It was only one boat close by that we had to keep an eye on.
And afterward we were rewarded with this wonderful sunrise!
The day after there was another sudden thunderstorm with zero visibility and hail. A dinghy with a family that had been out swimming came drifting in the rain and had to come onboard Hoppetossa to wait for better weather! It was impossible for them to continue in the rainstorm and fog. Next day they came back with a bag of very nice local food, bread, cheese, sausage and wine!😃
Lorenzo Pintus with family, it was so nice to meet you all and thank you very much for a delicious treat!
Several times we tried to leave the north coast of Sardinia and sail south or west, but it seems we are not allowed to leave, the weather gods obviously have other plans for us!
Thunderstorms and hard winds are coming again and again, so for the fourth time! we returned to Olbia were you can lay at the town quay for free, quite sheltered, with good stores close by and wait for fair winds!
But one morning we and 5 other ships were told to move away pronto! because a very big military ship was coming they said! So we went for anchor in the bay close by and waited, and waited…And the ship came, but it turned out to be the enormous(90 m),luxurious yacht of a Russian oligarch! Yes, it’s a rich mans world we know!
For several weeks the weather has been very unstable, with winds from all directions in the same day, sometimes accompanied by heavy thunderstorms so we’ve had to move up and down the coast in order to find shelter. We love the deep bays, especially in the north and in the neighborhood of Isola Tavolara, an island we have now seen from almost every possible direction several times!🙃😊
We have sailed along the east coast of Sardinia and spent a few nights in Cagliari (Casteddu in Sardinian) the capital city of Sardinia at the south side of the island, in the big Golfo degli Angeli(Bay of Angels).
A beautiful, ancient city with a history that goes about 5000 years back in time. It’s very green with a lot of unusual trees and flowers; Jacaranda, Ficus, date palms, wild olive, pine…
Last stop is Teulada, the same place we were almost a year ago when we came sailing from Sweden.
And after that we’ll leave the impossibly clear and dark blue waters of Sardinia and set course for Sicily and the Egadi Islands…
9-16 Sep The Egadi (Aegidian) Islands
We left Sardinia in the morning and about 35 hours later we arrived at Marettimo, the most remote of the five small Egadi Islands off the west coast of Sicily! Marettimo, Levanzo, Favignana, Formica and Maraone.
The small islet of Formica is privately owned and you are not allowed to go on shore but it’s so small, 302 x 206 m, so it would be almost impossible anyway. The islet of Maraone is even smaller, 600 x 80 m, and there is nothing on it so we didn’t go there. But we visited the other three!
We were able to sail almost the whole time with the help of our windwane, that has really proved it’s value now!
Magical to fly silently through the night!
The Egadi Islands Marine Reserve is one of the largest in Europe and it’s a real paradise for snorkelers, scuba divers, hikers or just plain nature lovers!
They are famous for the crystalline water, the many sea caves and grottos and their rugged, wild nature! You are allowed to go for anchor at some places here, but the Posidonia sea grass (home to many, many small creatures) is quite vulnerable so instead you can pay a sum and use the numerous buoys that are placed around the islands!
For 30 Euros a night and 120 Euros a week (2018) you can sail around the islands of Marettimo, Favignana and Levanzo as much as you want to!
Marettimo the most remote island is a quiet and kind of sleepy place with a very charming village! It has a year round population of about 300 people who mostly make their living from the sea.
It is also the home of about 500 plant species, many of them indigenous and very rare,
and more surprising, a large family of English Setters running around on their their own mysterious business😃
There are no cars on the island and most of the transportation is done by donkey! The local population of Marettimo welcome visitors but have no desire for the increased tourism the other islands have seen. It’s a nice and quiet place.
We were anchored at the other side of the island from the small town in a bay that is a real paradise for divers (and others). However there’s no Internet, it is supposed to be a completely free zone from electronics. That’s a nice idea but since I need to work we had to move on..
Levanzo is the smallest island, only 5,8 sq km, with dramatic cliffs and wonderful hiking trails.
There is 1 small village, 1 bar, 2 restaurants and 2 shops! Peace and quiet is what you’ll find here💙 Hoppetossa in the bay
Favignana, also called Farfalla because of its butterfly shape, is the biggest and has a very long history as a tuna fishing community.
There’s a lot of mythology and stories on these islands but I just have to tell you-
The fantastic story of Zu Nillu
The house Zu Nillu was built in the mid-19th century for the stone quarry’s owner, a hard-working man, who like most Sicilian men of the time, yearned for a son to one day take over the family business. In 1867 his wife became pregnant and the next year a baby girl , Petronilla, was born. The quarry owner was very disappointed but something amazing was about to happen! After 17 years and 364 days as a female, on her 18th birthday Petronilla became a man!
No one knows exactly why or indeed how this happened, but documents of the births and deaths certificates attest to the fact that Petronilla was indeed born female and died male!
Petronilla, who soon changed his name to Nillo (or Nillu in dialect) eventually replaced his father as head of the quarry, where he remained for the rest of his long life. Indeed, Nillu was still going strong at 99 years of age and died celebrating that birthday in 1968.
His life has inspired a novel and a movie and the house, Zu Nillu, is still standing there!💗
Tuna fishing (mattanza) has been the main thing on the Egadi Islands as long as people can remember
The tonnara on Favignana was one of many that was owned by the Florio family in Sicily, and it was here that they tried out and perfected new industrial processes, including a groundbreaking technique for preserving tuna in olive oil and the invention of the key-opened tin can!
The big scale, industrial fishing is now in the past but the tuna is still very much on the menu here! Dried, cured, roasted…..and very tasty!
While on Favignana we had a visit from our dear friends Angelica and Love, on their way to Spain💗
We are leaving the Aegidians and sailing for Sicily again..
16-23 Sep Trapani
On the northwest corner of Sicily lies the beautiful city Trapani.
There’s an ancient legend related to the name. In this legend, Trapani was growing from the sickle which fell from the hands of the goddess Demeter while she was seeking for her daughter Persephone (who was kidnapped by Hades) Because of the curving shape of the harbor the Greek called the city Drépanon which is the Greek word for sickle.
As on the Egadi Islands much of Trapani’s economy depends on the sea. Fishing and canning are the main local industries, with fishermen using the mattanza technique to catch tuna. Coral is also an important export, along with salt, marble, and marsala wine. The nearby coast is lined with numerous saltpans. These saltpans were formed by the evaporation of seawater and are situated along the coast road between Trapani and Marsala.
The city is also an important ferry port, with links to the Egadi Islands, Pantelleria, Sardinia, and Tunisia. And it has its own airport which makes it attractive for the tourists.
The weather was very unstable when we arrived to Trapani and we had to stay for a week before we could continue along the coast but it was not a punishment! The city is beautiful and we were safely tucked in, for anchor under the shadow of the magnificent Castello della Colombaia (260 BC) in the very sheltered bay outside the city.
24-29 Sep Sciacca
On our way back to Licata and stopping for a while in Sciacca (pronounced Shaqqah)
Sciacca is a historic fishing port on the southern coast of Sicily.
We’ve been here before during their wonderful Carnival, in February last year.
It’s a nice city spread out in layers and climbing up the hillside from the big fishing harbor down below.
The town is North African influenced and the name comes from the Arab word Saqqah, meaning crevice.
It’s not a very touristic place although it is famous for it’s beautiful ceramics and thermal baths . This is old volcanic ground and the extinct volcano Mt Kronio rises up behind the city. Sciacca still attracts visitors for its thermal spas. At the Terme di Sciacca establishment a large range of treatments are available, many of them available as part of the Italian public healthcare system.
Interesting fact– There are many shops selling attractive, colorful majolica plates and tiles , among them a majolica illustrating the strange tale of Ferdinandea (Graham Island), an island part of the underwater volcano Empedocles, which emerged from the sea nearby Sciacca in 1831. It was briefly claimed by the British (and three others) and then it promptly sank back beneath the waves five months later! It showed signs of volcanic activity in 2000 and 2002, forecasting a possible reappearance; however, as of 2018 it remains 6 m under sea level.
Overall this is a very authentic and everyday Sicilian town and we like it💙
But hard winds are coming and it’s time to go back to our lovely Licata for another winter hibernation, and of course the necessary repairs and renovations after four months out at sea!
Our Hoppetossa has been fantastic but now she needs some attention🛠👨🔧
30 sep Back in Licata!
We’re back! And one of our first stops was of course “La Dolce Vita”. The bestest ice cream place in the Mediterrenean💛💛
A room with a view…
In Taormina in June I looked out through one of our portholes, found it beautiful, and had the idea to take pictures from this window on some of the places we were going to visit. Sometimes we have a room with a very nice view and sometimes not….😊but this is the collection from our summer this year.