Sunday, September 28, 2014

Siracusa...and, finally...Marina di Ragusa

Cannot get more Italian than this!
Ham and cheeses at the daily market.

Wine and cheese.  Think we might be in Italy?

Boat maintenance at sea.  Could not stand the worn
leather covering a moment longer.

As always, click on any image for larger view.
After 5 days in Crotone there was a relatively favorably weather forecast for our next overnight passage to Siracusa on the eastern side of Sicily.  Only 26 hours of reasonable weather and then it would turn really rough for another 5 days.  Do we chance it or not?  Yeah...go for it!

Arriving Siracusa

We were up well before daylight, waiting for sky to lighten enough to see clearly how to exit that very shallow harbor at Crotone.  We left the harbor accompanied by a dozen or so small fishing boats and one large catamaran following closely behind us.  Weather was exactly as forecast for the first 8 hours and we made good time.  

Getting closer to Siraacusa

And then the afternoon winds picked up.  Right on our nose, yet again.  Motoring into 20 knot winds and 3 meter waves is not our idea of a good time.  It was supposed to be 11 knots off our beam.  So much for that prediction.  Nothing to do but keep motoring onward as there are no places to stop all along that long section of coastline of the sole of the boot of Italy.  At least no places to stop for vessels that draw 2.1 meters draft and with higher winds from the west.  Onward!

Part of the newer city of Siracusa
And dodge all those cargo ships and tankers heading into and out of the Messina Strait. All day and night long.  Thankfully we have AIS and radar...and we used both constantly.

At one point I was checking our position to confirm we were on course and saw a VERY long vector of another vessel with AIS appear suddenly.  It was approaching us dead-on!  That vector dissected our boat icon straight down the center.  We were on a head-on collision course.  I clicked that target to get info and saw that it was traveling toward us at 43.7 knots!!!  That is the fastest vessel we have seen.  Ever.

Ancient fort at entrance to Syracusa anchorage harbor
I immediately changed course 20 degrees to port so that the other boat would know my intentions and that he should pass on our starboard side.  As he zoomed past we could see that this was likely some type of military craft.  It was dark OD green in color and had all black trim.  Really a sleek looking boat.  It was flying some sort of British ensign but it went by so fast that neither of us got a good look at it.  This boat was obviously responding to the incident that we had been listening to on the VHF radio.  The captain of a cargo ship had been reporting that he had plucked 53 live persons from the sea and that there were multiple dead bodies still in the water.  Several warships had responded that they were on the way to the scene.  And an Italian military helicopter was on its way too.  

Rear side of ancient fort as seen from our boat at anchor

Later we learned that this was a raft of refugees from somewhere in Africa or Syria that had sunk.  The news article stated that it sank 40 miles off the eastern coast of Libya but that had to be wrong.  That location would have been more than 300 NM from our position at the time.  We would not have heard the radio traffic, and it was loud and clear.  I think it was much closer to the Italian coast than the news reported.

Top of the cathedral as seen from our boat at anchor

We arrived in Siracusa mid-afternoon and spent the rest of the day just vegging out.  The wind was too high and the anchorage too rough to want to launch the dinghy to go ashore that day.  The next day we went ashore and walked around the Old Town of Siracusa on the small island.  

THE Sandwich Guy

Masterpiece in making
We found the market stalls for fresh veggies and fruits.  Also found the 'sandwich guy' who was so highly recommended by Trip Advisor.  A friend who visited here earlier this summer had told me that we simply must try one of these sandwiches.  His shop is tiny and there was a decent waiting time to get served.  Eventually we got to the front of the line and ordered a sandwich.  In Italy, a panini is not what we Americans think of as panini.  We know panini as a toasted or grilled flattened sandwich.  In Italy, any sandwich on sliced type bread is a panini, whether toasted, grilled or served cold.  A 'sandwich' in Italy means a sandwich on a baguette.  This shop served the baguette type cold sandwiches.  We did not know what to order so I told him to make us whatever he thought would be best.

Almost finished

He sliced the baguette and hollowed out the center somewhat.  Drizzled with flavored olive oil. Lined up sun dried tomatoes.  Next was fresh mozzarella.  Some fresh basil.  Then some black olives.  Topped with shaved prosciutto.  Last was another drizzle of flavored olive oil and a few scrapes of fresh lemon zest.  This sandwich was pure heaven.  And very filling.  Glad we split it because neither of us could have eaten a whole one.

Temple of Apollo, 595 B.C.

We walked around the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, constructed circa 595 B.C.  Found a park bench and shared our sandwich.  Then walked for a couple of hours through the Old Town area.  The streets are more like narrow alleyways.  Really a neat place.

Difficult appliance delivery on ladder

On one alleyway there was a home appliance delivery in progress.  The delivery driver first put a ladder in place that had a platform upon which the clothes washer was placed.  They plugged into an electrical source inside the building.  And up went the washing machine to the top level of the building where it was man-handled inside through a window.  What a neat way of doing this!  They would never have managed to get that appliance up there via the very narrow and twisting stairs inside.  Smart.

Cathedral in background

We walked until we found the beautiful Cathedral of Syracusa which is dedicated to the patroness Saint Lucia.  The exterior of this building is beautiful.  Screams the very essence of Italian architecture to me.  The exterior appeared much newer than the interior.  It costs 2 Euro per person to enter the cathedral.  That is a first for us.  Never before been charged a fee to enter a church or cathedral.  It is not a museum.  It is an active church.  

Beautiful Cathedral of Syracusa

Interior main area

One of the small rooms.
Shhhh!  Don't tell we took
a photo.

Another church across plaza from cathedral
Off to the side were several rooms; I do not know what these are called.  These were very ornate and photos were not allowed.  In the back was a large room like a chapel.  Within it were 4 confessionals.  

Electric candles
No. No. No.
At several locations there were electronic candles.  Rather than making a donation to light a candle, one puts a coin into a meter-box and the electric candle burns for a designated period of time.  Nope -- not doing that!  Bill normally lights a candle and says a prayer for his brother John at each church we visit.  But he refused to use an electric candle.  It is just not the same.  Better for the interior of the church to not have all that candle wax building up on the walls and ceilings; but just not the same for those of us who are accustomed to lighting a real candle in a church.  A part of the future in which neither of us wants to participate.

We walked more and absorbed the atmosphere.  On one street there was a clothing shop for infants.  In the window was a dress that I very much wanted to buy for our new granddaughter.  But the shop was closed for the long mid-day break and we were not hanging around for another 2 hours just so I could buy that dress.  Oh well, it was not meant to be.  It probably cost way too much anyway; it did look expensive.  Everything in that shop looked too expensive for my pocketbook.  The baby would not know she was wearing a beautiful dress anyway.

Bill at a fountain in old Syracusa

Judy on one of the many arched tiny
bridges leading from old Syracusa
to the newer town of Syracusa

Southeastern tip of Sicily

That evening we checked weather forecast for the next week and decided we would make a run for di Ragusa very early the following morning.  We both enjoyed Siracusa and would have liked to stay there a few days.  But not with the weather that was predicted for the next week.  

These kids are eating pizza topped with
french fries.  And we think American
junk food is too fatty!

We were out of the harbor by 05:00 the next morning.  The swell was already awful!  Five hours of rolling side to side; 15-20 degrees to starboard and 15-20 degrees to port; over and over again; for 5 hours.  Like a pendulum.  We were both delighted to round the SE tip of Sicily.  It was like someone had flipped a switch.  Instantly calm and flat seas.  Oh, thank you, Lord!  A few hours later we were docked at the fuel station at Marina di Ragusa.  After topping off the fuel tank we moved to our winter berthing location on the western breakwater wall of the marina.  We think we will enjoy being here.

Okay, what is this?  The white thing. It is lemony and delicious.We bought it at a bakery by pointing and have no idea what to ask for next time.  Like a crispy cookie on the outside and soft moist lemon heaven inside.  Would love to have the recipe.

1 comment:

  1. so glad you have made it safe and sound to your winter home. We are in Bari, just returned from a 3 day land trip to Rome. Need a couple days here to provision and such and will then be headed south again. May see you yet.


Your comment will be posted after we confirm that you are not a cyber stalker.