After about 40 hours of sailing we saw Sardinia….😊
We choose to go to Porto Teulada on the south coast of Sardinia to make the distance to Sicily as short as possible.
This port is situated in quite beautiful surroundings but it’s about 7 km to the city and the military have a base close by so it’s probably not so easy and wise to stroll around….🚶♀️🚶♂️ However, we were only staying for one night to be able to catch up on sleep and get some diesel before our next night sailing to Sicily. We will come back to Sardinia again but for now we need to keep going…
And our first glimpse of Licata😃
When we set out from Norrköping in June we hadn’t yet decided where to spend the winter. We were thinking about Spain, Sardinia, Siciliy or maybe Malta but we were not sure…However, I am a member of a terrific group on Facebook called “Women who sail”and this group has several undergroups like “Women who sail the Northern seas”, “Women who sail South East Asia”, “Women who sail the Mediterrenean” et c. So I asked for recommendations in the Mediterrenean group, and the lovely ladies gave us some good places to consider 🙏
On the south coast of Siciliy there were two very nice options they said, Ragusa and Licata! When we sent requests to these two we saw that the price for spending the winter was almost similar and they both had quite big live aboard communities. What made us choose Licata in the end is that the Ragusa Marina is situated quite far away from the city (not in walking distance) while Marina di Cala del Sole in Licata is laying practically on the doorstep to the city and with a big foodstore only 5 min away. Very important when you don’t have access to a car!
The name Licata derives from the Greek Alukates, that means “salty” because the Salso river, that also means salty, ends here.
So the 12:th Octobre after a wonderful 24 hour sail we arrived in Licata! The marineros that helped us with the mooring and the staff in the ofiice were enormously helpful and kind. And we received a very warm welcome! It is a nice Marina with double breakwaters so we knew that we would be safely tucked in during the winterstorms.
I must admit that the first impression of Licata was not so good! So many of the -once upon a time- beautiful houses and gorgeous baroque palazzos are now sadly neglected and crumbling down. The streets are also neglected and broken and when we arrived there was a lot of garbage piled up everywhere. We were actually wondering where we had ended up…
But Licata really grows on you! After a (short) while you see through the worn and grimy facade and appreciate all the wonders that are still present here. Most of all the lovely people💕 This is not a touristy place so you will not blend in, but it doesn’t matter since they all make you feel so welcome.
We also like that the Marina is integrated with the city. There are no fences or locked gates anywhere and every sunday or other holiday the people of Licata are strolling around the harbor in their very best outfits😊
Licata, as all of Sicily and for that matter the whole of the Mediterrenan, has LOADS of history. Everybody has been here and left an imprint on the architecture, the people and the food.
Our first walkabout in Licata. There are about 20 churches, several beaches, many palazzos, monasteries and museums. It’s so much to explore….🚶♀️🚶♂️
One of the first things you notice when you come in from the seaside is the Castello Sant Angelo, built in the 16:th century, on top of the mountain. And spreading out on the slope beneath it is the most magnificent cemetary!
The cemetary is HUGE. It covers the whole mountainside and it’s a real city of the dead, with big mausoleums and houses several stories high! And there are pictures of the dead on every grave. At first we thought it was strange and a bit spooky but it’s really a nice idea if you think about it. You have your whole family history complete with dates and pictures on the grave, several generations back. Hmm! So that’s what great, great granddad looked like😏
And there are flowers, madonnas and candles absolutely everywhere. It’s touching and very impressive!
Those of you who have seen Doctor Who will also recognise the statues of the Weeping Angels!
Things to do in the Marina
There’s a big liveaboard community in the Marina with people from all over Europe and beyond and if you want to you can be busy every day of the week! You can go to Yoga, Pilates, Italian lessons, play bridge and other games and I actually learned to play Ukulele(sort of) together with a group of musicians here. Never thought I would be able to do that and it’s so funny!🎻😃
Every Sunday, if the weather permits it, there’s a BBQ! Everybody bring their own food and drink and have a nice time together. On Tuesdays and Fridays there’s Happy Hour at the Cafe Letterario, situated in the Marina.
We have a busy time here!😉
On Halloween the local children went around the Marina “Trick-or-treating” or Dolcetto o Scherzetto” as they say here! So nice to meet the Licata children and their parents!
We had several Christmas celebrations; on the 22 dec an absolutely fabulous evening together with the locals where they brought so much food that we could eat it for days afterwards if we had wanted to😊, one on our own on the 24 dec because that’s when the Swedish population celebrate Christmas and one together with our fellow sailors in the marina on the 25 dec, because that’s when almost everybody else celebrates Christmas! This last one was also very nice because everybody brought dishes from their home-countries! We made Swedish meatballs, Janssons Frestelse (a gratin with potatoes an anchovies) and Spekulaas, a kind of Dutch soft ginger bread cake with almond paste😋 Our Christmas Tree on Hoppetossa we made from branches of wild Rosemary that’s surrounding the Marina. It’s really lovely with it’s tiny blue flowers and nice smell!
On New Years Eve we were invited to our neighbors George and Barbara for a real Hogmanay, a Scottish New Year celebration that’s actually going on for two days! That means that we had a wonderful time and were treated to a lot of good food and an enormous amount of very old and very tasty whisky😃
One Sunday in March we were cleaning up one of the piers in the Marina together with som local schools, scouts and the Italian WWF. In a few hours we had filled about 140 big, black garbage bags with mostly plastic and Styrofoam from the fishermen! So good to do this together with all the children. They are the future and maybe they can take care of our planet in a better way than we have done so far.🌄
Cooking with Marilia
Our friend Marilia Peritore invited us to come and cook Sicilian food in her beautiful house in the mountains west of Licata. She lives here together with her husband Angelo Augusto and their three lovely children. There are also five gorgeous dogs, numerous goats and chickens and a huge garden with a lot of fruit-and olive trees, flowers and herbs! 🌿🍊🍋🍇
We had three cooking sessions in the winter and three in the spring. We have made so many nice things, among them-Sicilian almond cookies, Mandorlate, with one 1 kg of almond in them! Jam with oranges from Marilias garden, Carobcookies made with seeds from S:t Johns bread (Johannesbröd in Swedish), Sicilian Arancine-fried rice balls stuffed with meat and cheese, served together with a lovely peperoncini marmelade, Pasta con le Sarde with anchovies, sardines, raisins, pine nuts and wild fennel that we picked ourselves 🙂 and Pasta N’casciata-a pastagratin filled wit porkmeat, tomato sauce, peas, hardboiled eggs and cheese!
It has been so nice to be welcomed into the home of this lovely family! Thank you so much, all of you, for your hospitality and friendship💗
Picking wild fennel!
Angelica and two of the lovely dogs
Dogs and cats of LIcata🐕🐩🐱😻
There’s a LOT of stray dogs and wild cats in Licata! On the pier in the Marina there’s a big family of cats living. They are actually quite well taken care of by the locals and by some of our friends in the Marina that goes out there every other day to feed them, pet them and give them medicines for cat flu and running eyes💕
The dogs are everywhere and most of them are of a very nice and friendly sort, although there are some packs that you would do your best to avoid. Especially if you are biking or happen to have another dog with you.
Various dogs and cats are frequently coming and going in the Marina. At one time there were two adorable puppies and a kitten appearing and they were of course very quickly adopted by the Boat kids! There were seven kids of various age living in the Marina at that time so the animals were very well looked after! But boaters have to leave eventually and fortunately there was a local woman that could take care of the dogs and put them up for adoption. The little cat was adopted by Christine, a fellow sailorwoman in the Marina and I think the puppies went all the way to a new family in Germany!
The story of Maya and Ben🧡
One day there was suddenly two new dogs in the Marina, quite big and very beautiful! We don’t know where they came from but we think that they have belonged to someone because they seemed to be used to people and wanted very much to play with us and to be cuddled. We also found out later that they were both sterilized. We guessed that they were brother and sister and we called them Maya and Ben.
Very soon they became everybody’s darlings and we all took turns taking care of them. They came with us wherever we were going and Ben even went out running together with some of our friends. We really loved these dogs but realized that we couldn’t have them on Hoppetossa even if we would like to.
Then one morning in January we found our sweet Maya laying on the grass, very, very sick. She didn’t want to move, eat, or drink. The Marineros fetched a veterinary who told us that she had probably been poisoned with strychnine! He gave her som medicine intravenously and we hoped that she would be alright, but two days later she died!😢 We have no idea who did this but as to why, we know that some people think there are too many stray dogs and this is obviously their way of dealing with it!
Now we began to worry about Mayas brother Ben but there’s no way you can keep a dog like that with you at all times and one month later he was also gone 😢💔together with 50 other dogs in Licata and 30 dogs in the neighboring town Sciacca! There are no words to describe how we felt, and still feel, about this horrible deed! Strychnine poisoning is a very painful way to die and to treat these trusting and lovely animals like that surely deserves a place in hell!😡🤬
Some of us were interviewed by the local newspaper, Qui Licata, and we used that opportunity to at least try to describe how devastated we were about this, that these dogs were our dear friends and that we were seriously considering to never come back to this region again!
Hopefully this will give the authorities something to think about since they sorely need the tourists and their money, and bad ratings are spreading very fast on social media!
We love you and miss you Maya and Ben, and you will always have a place in our hearts💕
The lovely people of Licata
One of the best reasons to travel is of course to meet all the wonderful people from every corner of the world. The hard thing is that you have to say Goodbye😢 We are not used to that yet(if ever)!
Here’s a few of the lovely people we met in Licata the first winter 😍 but there are many, many more.
We’ll miss you! but we know that we will meet some of you again….💖
Other places we visited while wintering and friends and family that came to us!
Shortly after our arrival in Licata we rented a car to visit other places on Sicily. A good decision!
On a hillside outside of the city Agrigento lies the Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi in Italian). It’s an enormous archeological park that covers 1 295 hectare so it takes a few hours to walk around. Built around 510-430 BC, this was a big Greek colony with about 100-200 thousand inhabitants! Now you can see eight beautifully preserved temples and some other remains, like graves and tombs.
My son Joel and his girlfriend Jessica visited us in March and then we took another trip to the Temples. And this time we also took the time to visit the “Garden of Kolymbethra” situated in a valley below all the temples. Its also big, five hectares, with a wonderful variety of flora like myrtle, willow and poplar trees, ancient varieties of lemon, mandarin and orange trees, mulberry bushes, prickly pears, carob, almond trees and olive trees. What a delightful place 💚 Some of the citrus fruits you can’t find anywhere else and here you can pick them an try as many as you like!
Among other wondrous fruits we found Chinotto , a very small bitter and delicious citrus fruit used to make the Italian soda with the same name. They taste a bit like grape fruit and the soda that’s made from them is dark like Coca-Cola and bittersweet. The almond trees confused us because some of them were in bloom while others already had fruit! I don’t understand how that is possible but this place is magical so….😏
When my daughter Linn and my granddaughter Alicia visited us over New Years Eve we thought it would be too much walking for Alicia in the Valley of the Temples so instead we went to Agrigento, or Akragas as the Greek colonists named it around 580 BC. Then the city was overlooking the sea that’s now several kilometers away. Agrigento is a modern city but the old center is beautiful with its winding alleys and baroque palaces. It was siesta time when we were here and then, as almost everywhere else on Sicily, the streets are completely empty and most of the shops are closed. We will be back!
In October we visited Modica and we liked it so much that we went there again together with Linn and Alicia! The city is clinging to two steep hillsides with a deep valley in between. Once there was several rivers running in the valley but after a terrible flooding 1902 they were covered up, and that part is now called Modica Bassa(Lower Modica) while Modica Alta(Upper Modica) the older city is climbing up on the mountain sides. It’s a nice but very steep climb up to the old city so together with Linn and Alicia we took the small tourist train instead. The city is famous for it’s special chocolates. It’s very rich, dark and crumbly and made from ancient Aztek recipes that the Spanish conquerors brought with them. The traditional flavors are vanilla and cinnamon, but you’ll find all kinds of flavors nowadays, like chili pepper and sea salt. We even found one with sweetened meat in it! but that was a bit too much for us!😳
In the autumn there’s a chocolate festival called Chocobarocco which lasts for a few days and includes a range of historical and chocolate-related events, activities and displays, from chocolate sculptures to chocolate massages.😏
We like this city🖤
Enna-the city in the sky
This city is situated 931 meters above sea-level so it’s really putting it’s beautiful head up in the clouds!
It is also said to be located at the exact middle point of Sicily and because of that it’s nicknamed “Ombelico (navel of Sicily”
I had to borrow a picture from Lake Pergusa, a beautiful place in the neighborhood of Enna. Thousands of birds are resting here on their way to and from Africa . Bird watchers can easily spot teal, wigeon, shoveler, pochard, coot, marsh harrier and erruginous duck. That’s great, but I have to admit that I don’t know what kind half of these birds are😂
Among the mammals that stroll around here are porcupines and weasels, reptiles and amphibians such as marsh turtles and these we know anyway.
Carnival in Sciacca and Licata
As in all Catholic countries it’s Carnevale one week every year and on Sicily it’s a BIG event! We visited Sciacca, a neighboring town that is famous for their parades of bizarre and funny figures. And as you can see on the pictures, there’s sometimes a political message!
Unpublished poems in Sicilian dialect are recited by poets on the street and their satire is inspired by both local and national political personalities. The floats and masked groups parade along the streets of the historical center starting on fat Thursday, when the key of the city is symbolically given to the king of Carnival, Peppi ‘Nappa, until fat Tuesday, when the King’s Float is burnt at the stake! Impressive!
Also in Licata a lot of people, mostly children, are parading in the most fantastic outfits!
During the Carnival week we had our friends, the lovely family Zeegers, staying with us on Hoppetossa. Together with them we visited Sciacca.
Together with Joel and Jessica we visited Caltagirone, a town famous for its beautiful ceramics! The name derives from the Arabic“qal’at-al-jarar” (“Castle of vases”). And almost all the buildings in the old town are decorated with ceramic tiles!
The highlight of the city is the 142-step monumental Staircase of Santa Maria del Monte, built from 1608 in the old part of the town. Each step is decorated with different handmade ceramics with styles and figures derived from their very old tradition of pottery making. Once a year, on the day of the city’s patron saint, San Giacomo the 25 July, the staircase is illuminated with thousands of candles in different colors! 🙂 I think that would be a wondrous sight!
Easter and Feast of S.t Angelo in Licata
Jill with handbag in Easter mode, made by our friend Alessandra💛
Easter here on Sicily is quite different from how we celebrate it in our part of Europe. During the Holy Week every Sicilian town has its own traditions and processions. The cities becomes a great theater scene re-enacting the Passion of Jesus on his way to the crucifixion. It’s magnificent!
Every town on Sicily has it’s own patron saint and here in Licata it’s San Angelo(1185-1222) From 3-6 May every year there’s a fabulous celebration in honor of this saint in Licata. San Angelo was a Carmelite priest and miracle worker (he had saved seven lepers) that suffered the martyr death in Licata 5 May 1222, killed by a vengeful knight that had been accused by San Angelo of sleeping with his own sister.
Even though San Angelo died in 1222 he is said to have protected Licata from being raided by Turkish pirates in 1533 and also from the bubonic plague in 1625.
On 5 May the bones of S:t Angelo are taken out of it’s resting place to be run (literally) around the town carried by barefoot men, women and a lot of children dressed in old fashioned white and blue sailor costumes! We were invited to our friend Marilias balcony overlooking a plaza where the sailors are passing through and it was amazing😮
The festival continues for a week with a lot of music everywhere and there are market stands all along the main street which is then closed off for traffic! And that’s a relief😉
Dear visitors from Sweden
So happy that my children could visit us! Sometimes I miss them enormously!💖
We also made two visits to Sweden to meet our loved ones💗 and to find new tenants to Kvarnen, our beautiful little house in the forest between Skärblacka and Finspång!
But now it’s time to say goodbye to Licata, at least for a while! We have decided to sail around Sicily, Sardinia and the Italian mainland the coming summer and we will be back in Licata in October for another winter.
Our first stop will be Syracusa….⛵