Mon 17 Sep 2012 14:14

POSITION : 35°54'•15 N and 014°29'•91 E

Finally arrived in Sicily, and ahead of the bad weather. Actually after Otranto we sailed 2 days and one night through, managing a gale force BF 9 ( 45 kts ) wind during the night, just after Crotone, which is roughly at the beginning of the sole of the italian boot - so to speak. Anyway, burnt some flesh away on my hand, but Fati and boat all sound and ok. But it was a long trip that brought us into a marina called Riposto ( like : taking a brake). Not very exciting place though, very expensive marina, but honestly, it's the sicilian people that make the difference. They are warm people, open to foreigners who show any interest in them, and respond with an open heart that is incredible. And then there are these beautiful women. Whilst I recommended the Ladies to visit Brindisi, the Gentlemen of this world should come and see sicilian women. And they can ride ! Really ! I mean they ride their Vespas ( scooters ) in such a fashion that makes Casey Stoner on his Honda look old.

Etna in lee is no good idea !
Anyway, Riposto lies straight under the vulcano Etna . 
The picture shows the old bugger in the morning fuming away his stink, and when you are on the receiving end of the wind, you think you have applied under your armpits a deodorant called 'Hot Magma' or something to that effect.

And outside the marina,  sicilian life starts immediately, and as in all other places of this world, society shows itself with all pros and cons.

Let me start with the cons first, in order I can finish later on a high note.

What I already saw and experienced in Naples and its surroundings, you also experience here: The rubbish 
( rifiuti ) on the streets or better along the streets.  Of course it is an administration problem, but isn't that too easy as an excuse ? I mean, the world has many poor areas, but it does not mean necessarily that is has to be dirty. Where has all the  money gone that was and still is being pumped into this region. The streets have as many potholes as a swiss cheese, can't they be fixed ? Can't the many unemployed that truly exist here, do a service for their community. Wouldn't it be good to be proud of having a clean place to show the world. To me even Cape Verde, which I visited some years ago on my first transatlantic adventure, made a cleaner impression than what I see here. And that was really 'Third World ". Come on, proud people of Sicily, take a broom and get going. Do you really want to be compared with Cape Verde ? This beautiful land of yours deserves your respect. Nothing more to be said, I guess.

And then there are the individuals, lovely peole, and funny as well :

 The        fishmonger, shouting 'Venga, Venga' ( come here ) every 10 seconds. Just imagine this job over a whole day. And fish in Sicily there is in abundance !


in case you need your shoes repaired, here is the man.  However you might have to find your shows between many others lying around on the pavement. But who cares, I guess..


and a doctor is always at hand, with spewing Etna close by, you definetly need a specialist for respiratory problems. Who needs Saatchi&Saatchi for advertising in Sicily !

And for those who remember the marvellous stories of Don Camillo and Peppone, so well immortalised with Fernandel as Don Camillo, the local priest who tries to outsmart his adversary Gino Cervi as Peppone, the equally smart communist mayor : The stories were composed by Giovannino Guareschi , describing post war Itlay in a ficticious village, but I am sure still alive and kicking somewhere here in Sicily. The picture might prove it .

Honestly I believe that this first ever european sitcom is only toppled by 'Only Fools and Horses', written by the late John Sullivan. The people of Peckham will forgive me when I equally say that I am sure that Rodney and Del Boy surely exist somewhere, even today.

And finally Salvatore, the fruit and vegetable seller, whose son has a classic dance school in London, and who is well know in the market hall of Riposto to sing as loud as he can. No wonder I called him Caruso, which he took to his heart, and on the picture he is singing literally his heart out and into into my ear:  'It's time to say good bye' performed so spendidly by Andrea Bocellii. No wonder I started to feel like Sarah Brightman, so I really left in a hurry - of course after the kisses on the cheek, sicilian style. 

                                   Well, I could go on and on, but there are other stories waiting. 

Like the most beautiful place I stumbled across by accident. called Isola Bella (beautful island ) close to Taormina, between here and Messina. I just saw a sign 'LaPlage Resort', turned the car and found an amazing place. I took a picture later from higher up, so you get a feeling for the place. The Director of this marvel is called Guiseepe Marchese, he is actually from Naples, and he knows a friend of mine, Michele Apichella from Vico Equense,which is close to Sorrento. Now didn't I tell you THE WORLD IS SMALL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Isola Bella, Taormina

I can truly say, if you want to stay in a marvellous place, go there. Of course I will discuss with Mr Marchese a commission fee for all the thousands of people who will now come and visit the resort. But do I really want that ? Pls people, just go in 10's at a time, and pls organise yourselves in such a way, that you spread over the whole year., and not all just in August. So we avoid huge traffic jams on the ( of course bumpy ) road in front of the resort.

Anyway the rest of the trip is quickly told. On the 15th of September off to Syracuse, and then arriving on the 17th in Malta. This concluded the first leg of our journey, all together so far 628 nautical miles logged, some sleepless nights in between, and specifically at the end a lot of wind. A LOT OF WIND !

And before I forget it, I know you have been waiting for this : When we arrived in Malta Manoel Island Marina, the third person on the platoon I asked to explain me something, said that he had seen my boat. and when I looked at him I instantly recognised him as the nice chap who helped me last year in Hvar / Croatia on my return from the Ionian Islands with my ropes when leaving. Honestly I even don't know his name, but he is from CJ Marine Services, Malta, and was on board a large motor yacht as an engineer when he thought I might need some help. He will also help us tomorrow doing the provisions. What a nice chap. Now have I mentioned it before ? In case I haven't here it comes .........
( it all depends on you though )