June 9th, 2015 Crotone, Calabria
On Riposto marina they have a security guard at the entrance, just where Exotica was berthed, on Sundays and public holidays between 1400-1100 hours, we never discovered why. Not so last Wednesday. Terry was having a cleansing ale in the cockpit after oiling the decks in the midday sun, when a very excited Russian lady rushed onto the passerelle and plonked herself beside him so her friend could take a photo of her with the “captain”! She then realized there was another crew member, so insisted Julie also got into this photo shoot. Bemused, we let her friend, who spoke minimal English, join us, whereupon they produced a carton of Vino Rosso, so we felt honour bound to produce some glasses. These two 60’ish women have come to Sicily to find work! Never did find out what Nellie did but Margeurite looks after an old lady. She is also a singer, she announced, then proceeded to serenade us with Verdi and Russian ballads. She didn’t have a bad voice but we don’t think she will ever realize her dream to sing opera in Italy!
June 4th, at sunrise, we said farewell to Sicily and had a tremendous beat across the Straits of Messina in 15-20 knots. Exotica was flying at 8.5 knots in a choppy sea. Once under the lee of Calabria the sea calmed and wind dropped so for the next 7 hours we relied on the iron genny, the only thrill was a pod of dolphins playing with us.
We stopped in Roccella Ionica for 4 nights. It has to be the most friendly marina in Italy and is famous for it’s restaurant which serves pizza by the metre. They will do a half metre but refuse to do any smaller size.
The town, 3 km away, has a castella which is being renovated with EU money. Walking down from the castle through the village we were stopped by a local, who speaking English, asked where we came from. “Australia”, we said, whereupon his face beamed and announced he lives in Hornsby! He and his wife had emigrated to Australia 50 years ago and return to the old family home in Roccella every 2 years.
This coast hosts long, sandy beaches which were deserted but the umbrellas and lounges are set up ready for the start of the season, June 16th. We hear July and August there is standing room only.
Hired a Fiat Panda to explore the Locride Region. There was supposed to be a waterfall in Bivongi, which, despite driving round in circles for what seemed like hours, we never managed to find. But we loved the mountain town of Stilo with it’s tiny, winding streets, many churches, crumbling houses and magnificent views of the wide, stony riverbed flowing down to the Ionian. Julie had the local specialty, a sort of cod pie – with unfortunate consequences.
Waited until the weather settled to continue along the “Calabrian Riviera” to Crotone, across Golfo di Squillace. We had been warned that even if the rest of the Mediterranean was calm the Gulf of Squalls was always very windy, but for us it was glassy smooth. These are 60-70 nautical mile passages so we leave at sunrise.
Crotone, the town where Pythagoras set up his school of mathematics and vegetarianism, has been somewhat of a backwater for the last 2000 years but has now been regenerated by the 4 oil rigs just off shore which have brought employment to this fishing town.
There is a fine 15thC castle, many fish markets and large churches.
When you are next in Crotone you must be sure to avoid Restorante Gambero Rosso. NIcely situated with a good view of the beach and the oil rigs, we waited over an hour for a small piece of grilled fish. People having pizza seemed to get served straight away. We left in high dudgeon getting a significant discount off the bill.