Brindisi is so good I visited twice!…..once on the way up to Venice and again on my final passage across to Sicily. I must have been in a rush to return because the 80nm passage from Albania took just 13 hours at an average of 6.1 knots.
The Appian Way was one of the earliest Roman roads that led out of Rome and ended in Brindisi, where one of the two columns at the end of the way, seen in the photograph above, still stands today.
I have not yet visited the southern foot of Italy and Otranto was the first place to see…a fabulous resort, ancient walled city with a dark history and a book named after it, “The Castle of Otranto”, regarded as the worlds first gothic novel. Heavy rain and strong wind has been forecast for a few days so a dash down to Santa Maria di Leuca to a marina with better facilities seemed a good idea.
The ultimate memories of Santa Maria di Leuca will be sitting in Martinucci bar watching the Italy football team crash out of World Cup qualifying, and reading “…southern Puglia where conditions are favourable for strong tornadoes” while the rain outside was turning the local streets into rivers! In fact a rare occurrence of a Mediterranean TLC (tropical-like cyclone) hit the Gulf of Taranto and brought 36 hours of wind-driven torrential rain!
This photograph was obviously not taken by me! It was a satellite photograph available on the internet on the morning it was taken.
Normal service resumed, and a long 70nm and great passage to Crotone ended in the dark at 23:00 hours. The next day, Monday 20 November, will be remembered for a forecast of “care-free sailing in wonderful conditions”!
I had almost forgotten that blue skies and sea breezes were so pleasant, and a short 20nm sail west to Le Castella was all planned. Just two nights in the small marina, but enough time to visit the wonderful old fortress. Then an early morning start for the passage to Roccella Ionica, but at at least I got to see the sunrise at sea. Roccella will be my last port on mainland Italy before sailing across to Sicily, and it also completes the whole east, west and south coasts of Italy during my Mediterranean adventure. While in Roccella it will be 10 years since I first stepped on a sailing yacht on a Competent Crew course in Gibraltar, and to make it a special occasion Sue & Chris Jones invited me for dinner on Nimrod of Malvern with Steph Marsh. In a very modern way Sue & Steph were Facebook friends before we actually met this weekend!
The next 97nm passage was the most difficult EVER! I chose to leave Roccella at daybreak and arrive in Siracusa at night because it is a huge natural harbour with various options for mooring. But I didn’t plan for the maelstrom sea between Italy and Sicily nor that the autohelm would not cope with the strong conditions. I arrived in the harbour at midnight and slept very well indeed! Siracuse is a fabulous place to spend a week recuperating from the physical tiredness of the passage. But I made it worse by falling over a low chain while out photographing in the light of the late afternoon. I also waited to be able to sail quickly down to the anchorage at Portopalo and then up the west coast of Sicily the next day to my final winter destination.. arriving in Marina di Ragusa on 6 December. This is my 50th port in six countries and 1900nm of travelling in 2017; an Adriatic adventure that began in Athens in April. I also caught up with Vic & Clare and Steve & Helena who are also spending the winter months in Ragusa.
Plans for a Christmas trip to the UK or a ferry trip to Valletta, Malta had been ditched in favour of Christmas Day on Mt Etna!……well, until it was unceremoniously changed at the very last minute! January 2018 will begin with a flying trip to the UK for a Boys Weekend with Alec & Elliot, the London Boat Show and other stuff…but that will be another new post!