We have just made landfall at Reggio Calabria, on the toe of Italy’s boot, after a hair raising motor sail through the Straits of Messina. The Straits are only one and a half miles wide at the narrowest point between Sicily and Italy, opening out to about five miles where we are now. It was a very busy passage for ten miles, which took three hours against a strong current , as the Straits are full of ships. We passed liners, tankers, cruise ships and large and small yachts going in all directions, as well as looking out for ferries which constantly cross between Messina in Sicily and either Villa San Giovanni or Reggio in Italy. In the middle of all this activity were fishermen, in open boats powered only by oars, nonchalantly casting their nets into the sea, like a scene from the Bible.
We are here for one night before sailing back to Sicily, to Taormina, tomorrow. Just for a change we are not in an almost unbearably picturesque location, but facing onto a concrete wall, with behind us a motorway, a busy railway line and shabby blocks of flats and major asphalting work being carried out on a pontoon beside us. Still, we are very happy. The sun is beating down as usual. Although we avoid sitting in direct sunlight, usually choosing the shade of the sails or a portable umbrella when we are on deck, and covering ourselves with anti-sun burn cream, we are both burnt to the colour of dark brown leather.
We are going to eat on board tonight. The food in Sicily has been disappointing so far. The Sicilians love rather stodgy and greasy pastry wrapped around bits of sausage or cheese and spinach and a plate of these nibbles appears every time we order a drink at a bar. Then there is the ubiquitous pizza or spaghetti covered in a not very interesting sauce. We should be eating fish, but there is something off-putting about eating fish when we are constantly looking at the sea. The Sicilian red wine made from the Nero d’Avola grape is very good though, and after two days and nights in Malazzo, eating stodge and drinking red wine, we have decided to give the stodge a miss tonight, and just have the red wine with a cheese omelette and garlic and tomato bruschetta .