The Italian Jobs

Sunday August 17th.   Marina di Stabia, Bay of Naples

As a postscript to our Bulgarian Opera trip we include a short four minute recording of the Bulgarian Morning Television Show in which your correspondents make their European TV debut.  It also shows a few snippets of the production which was remarkably interesting and colourful.

 

Waiting at the station shortly before the phone was stolen

Waiting at the station shortly before the phone was stolen

Saturday August 2nd.

Our planned tour of the Vatican was curtailed when Julie’s mobile phone was stolen from her handbag in the Rome metro. Sadly, “find my phone” did not find my phone and we slunk back to Porto di Roma having missed the tour and feeling somewhat down.

 

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The amphitheatre at Ostia Antica

The return of Jeremy the following day cheered us up so we braved the Italian train system again and visited Ostia Antica, the ancient port of Rome at the mouth of the River Tiber. It had covered with silt after the fall of the Roman Empire and only discovered in the early 1900’s. A huge area of well preserved buildings complete with amphitheatre which has performances today. It was late Sunday afternoon, so free of charge.

 

 

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Venus

Monday August 4th. Porto di Roma had been our safe harbour for 17 days, at a very reasonable rate for Italy in high summer. It was where we met the owners of a Moody 47, Johanem,. We also discovered a community of barnacles had made our hull their home during our time at the marina. The paddle wheel of the speedometer was completely clogged with living matter.  We stopped the boat outside the harbour to scrape them off alongside the late Steve Job’s super-yacht, Venus. A futuristic design with huge walls of glass and full of Mac computers. Log back in working order we had a great sail to Anzio,and anchored off the beaches where a less than wholly successful landings were made by allied forces in 1944.  There we met up with Johanem again.

 

Tuesday 5th. A fast run to Isola Ponza, part of the Pontine Islands, to anchor under spectacular walls of white volcanic rock falling into aquamarine water.

Jeremy and the barbecue

Jeremy and the barbecue

At last crystal warm water. Jeremy and Terry did an amazing job scraping barnacles off the waterline. Next day a trip into the charming town of Ponza with its pastel houses and cobbled stoned lanes, we anchored in a bay just outside Ponza Harbour amongst the largest number of boats we have ever seen. There was an easterly wind causing a huge swell and chop overnight which meant very little sleep. It was still rough when we weighed anchor so we were unable to get the outboard or dinghy on board until we sheltered in Ponza harbour while dodging the ferries and tourist boats.

Thursday August 7th. We thought Isola Ventotene (where Mussolini incarcerated those of a persuasion other than Fascist and Nero’s wife, Octavia was exiled at the request of his mistress Poppea Sabina) would be our next stop, however we took one look at the only anchorage there and decided another sleepless night would be inevitable so booked into Marina di Procida, another 24 nautical miles towards the Bay of Naples. We tied up safely in a tight space only to be disturbed by an Italian Jeanneau 49 reversing too quickly into the berth next to us. We fended him off and only discovered the white scratches on our port side the following day. No wonder they apologized profusely and gave us 2 bottles of expensive wine!

Procida is a small island close to the larger island of Ischia, which with Capri, comprise the islands of the Gulf of Naples.

Procida from the anchorage

Procida from the anchorage

It is another charming town complete with castle high above with colourful houses and churches sweeping down to a very sheltered Calla di Corricella on the other side of the hill. We met up with Nick and Juliet on Johanem, by chance in the bay so had a very jolly evening on their boat. Nice to be at anchor on Jeremy’s last night. Back to Procida marina to drop Jeremy to the ferry to Naples and wait (all day) for an engineer to diagnose a generator problem. The impeller needed replacing, so fixed in an hour as we had a spare on board. We watched the sunset from the castle then wandered down to the little harbour in Corricella. It was full of small fishing and motor boats. Restaurants along the water’s edge were busy, we got the last available table as the full moon rose over the castle.

The Madonna comes every five years.

The Madonna comes every five years.

As we finished our delicious pasta there was a great commotion as a lit up fishing boat full of local dignitaries arrived carrying an enormous icon of the Madonna which was motored through the harbour to the excitement of the locals and ceremoniously paraded under fireworks up the cobbled streets to her resting place in the church. We learnt from a glamorous Roman, out for the night with her ex-boyfriend (they had come from Naples to this restaurant on his speed boat) that this festival only occurs every 5 years and it’s very good luck to be there when the Madonna arrives. We doubted this relationship would be re-kindled!

Sunday 10th. We circumnavigated Isola Ischia, a nature reserve, stopping in the bay of Sant Angelo for lunch, the sand was so fine our anchor slid along it. Fine for a lunchtime stop but not good overnight holding.

Monday 11th. We sailed for Capri with blue skies and a gentle breeze. While attempting to put down an anchor off Marina Grande, who should sail into the bay but Caroline and Paul Frew on Juno, whom we hadn’t seen since Cagliari.

The narrow passage at Faraglioni where Italian warships are said to pass through at 35 knots.

The narrow passage at Faraglioni where Italian warships are said to pass through at 35 knots.

After several attempts to dig into the weed we admitted defeat and made for the southern side of Capri passing through Isola Faraglioni, pillars of rock emerging from the sea on the south east corner. We anchored near Marina Piccola in sand and had a magical evening watching the moon rise above Faraglioni. Sadly, this was short lived, a swell came in from the south and the wind dropped so we were tossed from side to side all night.

Tuesday 12th. All thoughts of going ashore in Capri were squandered so we made a hasty retreat to the beautiful bay of Sorrento, where we swam before going into the tiny Marina Piccola, right in the centre of the town, mostly frequented by superyachts. We were the only owners washing down our boat!

Sorrento

Sorrento

We anchored off Sorrento the following day, loved seeing Caroline and Paul for lunch and had a quiet night.

Thursday 14th. Rather reluctantly left Sorrento for the safety of Marina di Stabia to find a chandlery before a public holiday on Friday. This new marina is vast, very smart but in a ghastly area. We had arranged to visit Pompeii and Mt Vesuvius on Friday so it was convenient although didn’t prove successful finding a replacement for our propeller anode.

Friday August 15th. We joined Caroline, her son and his girlfriend at Pompeii for an early tour of the ruins.

Overlooking Pompeii and standing on remains still to be excavated.

Overlooking Pompeii and standing on remains still to be excavated.

Another amphitheatre.

It is truly impressive, however, in two and a half hours we saw only a quarter of the town.

The path to the crater.

The path to the crater.

We then took the tourist bus to Mt. Vesuvius. A 4 wheel drive bus winds up the side of the volcano, dropping the tourists at the site of the 79AD crater, we then walked a further one and a half kms up the side of the well-known mountain,

The crater of the 1944 eruption.

The crater of the 1944 eruption.

which is in fact another crater and the site of the 1944 eruption. The views are spectacular over Naples and its bay and to walk on a volcanic site is awe inspiring.

 

 

 

Two weeks after the most successful Italian job, our cockpit chartplotter is still working, mostly. It does have a mind of it’s own and requires sensitive handling to give us navigational data on deck.

 

 

After a day of housekeeping we will begin the next leg of our adventure, the Amalfi coast then on to the Aeolian Islands with our next crew, Deborah Humble.

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