From the gulf of Naples to Sicily, 17th of May – 1st of June
Setting off to leave the bay of Napoli Robert Jan checked the oil in the saildrive and found out that water was getting in from the outside instead of spilling oil from inside which was our last problem. Not good! Again the boat had to be hauled out of the water and a crane was found at Castellamare di Stabia this time. Robert Jan sailed single handed since I was on a trip back home for a few days. Fortunately the problem was solved quickly and when I returned we were finally ready to continue our voyage to the south.
From Procida to Stromboli, 130 NM, we sailed overnight and doing the last watch I could see the volcano of Stromboli emerge from the morning mists. A sight which was worth wile waking up the captain for.
The Stromboli volcano is the most active volcano in Europe and has been in continuous eruption for thousands of years now. The explosions make for spectacular fireworks and fountains of burning gas which are to be admired from a safe distance after a 300 meter climb. Large rocks and lava fall into the see while above us the eruptions take place at several places around the crater.
Next to the fiery eruptions it is the beautiful climb up the mountain at sunset and descending in the dark with headlights which make for a very special and memorable night. Unfortunately it was to be continued by a strong swell so with the rocky movements of the Kabaal sleeping was not very easy afterwards.
The other Aeolian Islands we visited, Salina and Vulcano, were equally charming with their laid back atmosphere but this could have been due to the tourist season not having started yet. It was slowly getting quite warm though so we thought it was time to enjoy a delicious granita after one of our island strolls. Very satisfying.
Then, finally, Sicily! Our first port was the pretty old town of Cefalù with its old Norman cathedral.
With all its Volcanos Italy still impresses most with its equally explosive mixture of culture, food, noise, fierce sun, nature and cities all of which are in abundance on Sicily.
Palermo is famous for its streetfood. Large daily markets set up in the narrow busy streets sell whatever you can think of in terms of food and other supplies. We spent many hours wandering around and sampling the delicious freshly made food.
I Segreti del Chiostro, meaning the secrets of the cloister, turned out to be all about sweet pastries. Seeing the different delicious looking concoctions it was almost impossible to choose one. Once obtained by a complicated system involving different counters and small tickets we found a seat in the nuns” courtyard. A nice and quiet refuge from the bustling streetlife of Palermo.
One of the most interesting sights of Palermo is the Norman Palace, a mixture of Norman, Byzantine and Arabic architecture. Inside you”ll find the Cappella Palatina, a stunning royal chapel with an awe inspiring amount of mosaics from the 12th century.
To admire the interior of the old 19th century Teatro Massimo we enjoyed a concert in one of its red velvet theater boxes.