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Armstrong Global Special

Sailing in Italy

 

info@armstronglobal.com

+44 20 3300 0792‬

info@armstronglobal.com

+44 20 3300 0792‬

The Amalfi Coast and Pontine Archipelago

Always to follow the LLLL rule: lead, log, longitude and lookout. Keep an eye around and always be sure of where you are and what you are supposed to have below your craft

A quintessential Mediterranean cruise awaits those who dare to challenge a route where surprises never end, thanks to a mixture of breathtaking scenery, delicious flavours and, alas, a very Italian lack of infrastructures. Be prepared to take the beauty with the discomforts, and use the following clues to enhance the former and diminish the latter. As you will read, as a general rule try to use the recommended anchorages and bays, because the cost of the seasonal pontoons, harbours and docks is only equalled by their lack of safety.

Suggested tour : Salerno – Amalfi – Positano – Capri – Procida – Ischia – Ventotene – Ponza – Palmarola.

Mileage (approx) : 95 – 110 miles

Difficulty : low – medium

History and art : the highlights of the area are endless, and certain are not to be missed: Amalfi catedral and cloister, Augustus Villa in Capri, the Roman Harbour in Ventotene and the villages of Positano, Ponza and Procida.

Gastronomy : You won’t have shortage of surprises when you sit down at the table in this area. Everybody knows the buffalo milk mozzarella, few know that it comes from this region. The locals like their suppers long and substantial, and you might experience a slight sensation of overfilling. When you eat around here, you understand the full value of a siesta and stop wondering why the locals close their businesses between 12 and 4.. The variety of fish is very wide, the local specialties endless. One for all? Pizza and mussels. Among the local ingredients we list Amalfi Sfusato Lemon, Bagnolese Pecorino Cheese, Castellammare Violet Artichoke, Gioi Soppressata, Ischia Cave Rabbit, Menaica Anchovies, Monaco Provolone, Mozzarella in Myrtle, Nassa Shrimp, Piennolo Small Tomato, Pietraroja Prosciutto, San Marzano Tomato, Traditional Cetara Anchovy Extract. Our crews will do their best to introduce you to the great potential of the area.
Local Wines: Wide variety, strong body, high alcohol levels for Campania wines. Taurasi, Aglianico del Taburno o Taburno, Aversa, Cilento, Falerno del Massico, Fiano d’Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Ischia, Sant’Agata de’ Goti, Solopaca, Vesuvio, lemon liquors (called “Limoncello”).

Recommended restaurants of the Blue Prawn guide : Ristorante ‘Da Silverio’, Ponza
Ristorante Caricala’, Procida.

General. We stress the fact that Italian law requires harbours and marinas to leave a minimum number of transit berths. Unfortunately this law is never enforced and to expect free kindness, water and sometimes even diesel is not easy. Big commercial harbours (Formia, Naples and Salerno) and some of the smaller ones DO have some FREE berths for visiting boats, and the port captains (COMPAMARE) are sometimes helpful, especially in contacted in the correct manner by radio using the appropriate codes. Even better using the English language (it puts them off balance and they are kinder).
The local population in the area is amazingly friendly in most cases, and this is true for fishermen, coast guard officers, and locals in general. Unfortunately this is not the case for people connected with yachts. Water can be hard to come by. Expect fishy kindness when you pay outrageously for mooring, but if you claim your rights as a sailor to use transit berths and water, expect unkindness and even aggressive behaviour. In case you claim a transit berth via official channels and they force the mooring people to give it to you, do not leave the vessel alone.

Weather: the area is right open to strong NW and SW winds and swell that must be expected at any time of the year. July is usually very calm. August can be tricky. Due to the lack of both, natural harbours and infrastructures, the weather (ch. 68, Italian and English) and the barometer should be monitored frequently. The only all around safe places, easy to enter even at night, are: Circeo (US military base, beware), Formia, Ischia Porto and Casamicciola (if you really have to), Porto Miseno, Napoli and Salerno. Night access and shelter from Northwest gales can be easily expected also at: Ponza, Ischia Ponte (S of the Castle), Procida-Corricella. Southerly gales are tougher to get shelter from: Ventotene harbour and Ponza E side. Easterly gales are rare. Anchorage is not abundant and rarely with good holding. Good at Ponza and Porto Miseno (sand and mud). Tricky anywhere else. Seasons: go their in June or September.

A typical 7 days cruise will be: Ponza, Ponza/Palmarola, Ponza/Ventotene, Ventotene-Ischia, Ischia/Procida, Procida/Capri, Capri-Salerno.

Ponza stands deservedly high in the list of the most beautiful islands of the planet. The village is close to perfection, some restaurants are genuinely good, and the beaches are stunning and the scenery awesome. Unfortunately things get a little worse when it comes to practicalities. Shelter is rarely good and nowhere complete, the hydrofoil captains should be shot, some restaurant owners hanged, the ‘marina’ owners skinned alive and the port captain jailed. The incredible ‘Chiaia di Luna’ cove, open to the west, is just amazing, with its sheer white cliffs, turquoise water, horseshoe shape and white sand. Unfortunately some brainless idiot among the authorities noticed that the cliffs could loose stones and decided to build a huge chicken wire to prevent other idiots to be hit. Moreover they closed the tunnel linking the beach and the town (built by the Romans around 2500 years ago and still working), thus preventing a good cook to reach the market and especially the very good fishmonger right by the ferry terminal. When this cove is uncomfortable, turn around the island and let go along the east coast, possibly far away from the town if you want to sleep in silence. Forget to ask for water to the seasonal pontoons by the town. Their prices are outrageous, their kindness very limited and their seamanship debatable. Good places to shop in town, but check the prices well. Go for the old ladies. At the right entrance of the harbour, 50 metres from the ferry terminal, there is an honest old lady with a grocery store. Right on top of her store, where the higher street enters the village, NW bound, W side, there is a tiny family restaurant that deserves a mention in the logbook, as does the fishmonger. The island of Palmarola, 3 miles W of Ponza, is a natural marvel and a NP. A must do day sail. Anchorages in the SE 40°55’38.08″N, 12°51’27.12″E

Ventotene is another amazing jewel where the admiration for the ancient Romans who built with little more than hammers a perfectly sheltered harbour, still in use, is counterbalanced by the pure awe for the double-barrelled idiocy of the modern genius who designed the new harbour, open right to the NW. This amazing engineering feat works like an amplifier for waves. These enter freely to pester the poor yachtsmen who paid an outrageous sum for the use the wharf to the local incompetent and amateur harbour crew. So you can either use the roman harbour (around 100 a night, but with a decent master and crew), or anchor right inside the new harbour, sheltering your vessel as close as possible to the NW notch of the cove, if there is room, and with a line ashore if possible. The coast guard has not much ado, so they’ll probably tell you that you are in the manoeuvring span of the ancient ferry coming in mid morning. Have fun. The best solution, of course, is to anchor outside the Roman harbour, weather permitting 40°47’40.45″N, 13°26’0.47″E. The village, the unique stairway and the magnificent squares are worth an expensive stop. Fish is scarce, meat have seen better days. Look for your food with care, especially in high season. The area E of Ventotene, marked by yellow buoys, is OFF LIMITS!!!!

Ischia is rightly famous for its spas, of which there is a vast choice around, for the fashionable village of Ischia Porto, Lacco Ameno and St.Angelo. Ischia Porto is the main harbour, looks that its piers are made of pure gold (at more than 100 euros a night for a 12 mts) and the hydrofoils barrel in criminally to raise a real tsunami. If you have money, it’s a magnificent place to stay, but remember that the old guys helping you with the lines are always unofficial, never to be tipped and seldom competent. There are several excellent food shops and fishmongers between Via Roma and Via Regina Elena. If you want to sleep quietly, anchor with decent shelter and good holding S of the bridge linking Ischia Ponte and the magnificent Aragorn Castle 40°43’47.02″N, 13°57’44.97″E. The north coast is not that attractive, although spa lovers might find solace in the historic hotels at Lacco Ameno. St. Angelo in the south coast is calmer, nicer and one can hop to sleep well in northerlies just off the small harbour. When you visit the island, go high. Avoid high season. There is a marina in Casamicciola, which combines both, price and lack of charm

Procida is smaller than both, Capri and Ischia, and its small villages still conserve a delightful charm, especially Corricella. The small village, just a neighbourhood of the only town basically, has a splendid tiny (and almost useless) haven and conveys that unique feeling of quiet southern villages where you really do see people around doing just social chit-chat. The bay in front of the village is wide, pleasant, with decent holding, well sheltered from the N and W, with just a rock in the middle (3 metres deep) and no ferries around to bother your stay 40°45’32.56″N, 14° 1’43.30″E. True, the local Sunday power boaters can be worse. But overall the island is a must, definitely to be preferred over Ischia in case of tight schedule.

Porto Miseno is less than 4 miles from Procida and provides the best shelter in the whole area, with some mooring buoys and some area for anchorage. A huge marina was impounded for mafia some time ago, and looks like a ghost harbour. If weather is bad, go there, and you’ll be in a pond. Moreover, as you will notice while sailing in, the area is devoted to mussel farming and the final product can be found everywhere, is delicious.

Pozzuoli to Sorrento. The area is worth a page of its own, but I’d rather visit it from the land. Naples, Ercolano, Pompeii are probably worth a journey of their own. They are not, unfortunately, boater-friendly (to say the least…).

Capri is a place that one should really see. The island was Emperor Augustus’ private estate and no one ever thought him an idiot for that choice. The ruins of his villa command a great view and deserve a visit. Overall, Capri is just a perfect place. Unfortunately, everyone thinks so, and the place is packed of both, peasants and rich celebrities. Outrageously expensive. The harbour is surprisingly the cheapest of the area, but to find a berth is a desperate enterprise. If they offer you a berth on the first pontoon, right by the entrance where the NW swell and, worse, the hundreds of hydrofoil-killers come in, refuse. Anchor outside or, if the wind is from the N, sail around this beautiful island and anchor by the Faraglioni in the S bight of Marina Piccola 40°32’32.48″N, 14°15’5.54″E. Bottomless and wide open, but ok in calm  weather. No advice on restaurants or shops. There are simply too many tourists around to expect a fair bet. Just anchor safely, go ashore and walk around, leaving someone aboard if you want to enjoy the perfect alleys, rich villas, great cafes and commanding views. Most old timers agree that there is too much new money around. Well, that’s the same everywhere!

Amalfi Coast is long, straight and steep, which usually means a spectacular place to visit from land and a nightmare for the sailor. And the rule is confirmed. Nature and the locals, including the authorities, make this a tough place for boats to visit. The only decent harbour is Amalfi, and there’s expensive room for very few vessels. Just anchor off the coast and listen to the forecast. Due to the nature of the coast, you’ll have the boat always in sight, at least. Also keep in mind that many places between the point and Amalfi, including the small islands off the coast, are OFF LIMITS, and the coast guard is not there to give advice but just to fine people. The places to see are of course Amalfi and Positano, although in the latter place you’ll even find it difficult to leave the dinghy ashore, because the local boatmen despise independent sailors. There are tons of places to eat and drink, although not cheap at all. For a more interesting stop, make it to Salerno, a cheerful, charming and pleasant city. There are many excellent restaurants, pizzerias and taverns (try the Cipolla). The fishmongers and grocery stores are full of cheap and delicious stuff, great wine at low prices, great leather shops and so on… The harbour is a busy commercial hub, with a couple of ridiculously expensive marinas inside. You can either raft alongside one of the wharves with little traffic (the coast guard here minds its own business) or better still anchor right between the E breakwater and the beach, where you can swim as well. You save miles walking between the town and the harbour and the weather is usually calm. If it blows from the S, hop into the harbour and find yourself a suitable spot.

Sicily – the Aeolian Islands

The unique combination of beauty, poetry and sheer power offered by the Seven Pearls of the Mediterranean is unmatched by any other corner of the world. In no other place you can, in the same evening, swim in deep blue waters under a thundering volcano when the sun sets, enjoy the best Swordfish Roll with caper sauce, sip a glass of that sweet ambrosia called Malvasia, then sail under the-never ending fireworks of the ‘Lighthouse of the Mediterranean’. thenyou can enjoy amazing cocktails at the ‘Barbablù’ restaurant, share Ingrid Bergman’s feelings when she fell in love, here and then, on the set of Rossellini’s masterpiece ‘Stromboli, the Land of God’, or again stroll along the paths where Philippe Noiret played Pablo Neruda in the movie ‘Il Postino – The Mailman’. But it’s not over yet: capers, amazingly deep blue waters, the most fascinating alleys and witewashed houses, and the still struggling fisherman’s heritage in a place where time indeed.

Weather and anchorages: in summer there are only two dangers: westerlies (easy to forecast, and channel 68 is kind of reliable) and thunderstorms, that can bring sudden 40-knots blows in pitch black visibility   They are easy to spot. You do not want to be in stromboli if one arrives. I sailed two years in Patagonia/Magellan strait but sicilian thunderstorms stand up the challenge. In westerlies, the best anchorages are Salina E side S of harbour, Panarea Milazzese (best overall anchorage) and even, with a line ashore, the E side of Stromboli, just under the grey slide mid island (surprisingly very calm). Both NW and SW tend to come more from W. In thunderstorm you might just have to switch side of any island for a couple of hours. Lipari is never a good anchorage for the endless ferry traffic. Vulcano E side nearly bottomless. Filicudi nice in good weather. Forget Alicudi altogether. Nice small anchorages if you can get into, some bays on the W side of vulcano and Lipari. The anchorage in Stromboli is just off the NE tip of the island. Acceptable holding in 15 metres. Watch for foul anchor in rocks in Ginostra, Cala Nave and Basiluzzo.  Day anchorages for swimming, not to be missed: Panarea: Basiluzzo-NE corner, Lisca Bianca, and Cala Nave (NW corner of Panarea). Filicudi: rocks W of the island and cave. Salina: Pollara (W side, where they filmed ‘The Mailman’. W sides of Vulcano and Lipari. Breezes: thermals from NE in calm days between 1 and 5. Good for sailing.  Dangers: apart from the rocks, easy to spot but not at night, SE of Panarea and W of Filicudi, none whatsoever. You just need a long anchor chain, and possibly a delta-cqr

Harbours: small, crowded, noisy and unpolite. Forget them. To fuel up: Salina. Water: the island are now in deep water shortage, and to get water will not be easy. I hope you have a watermaker, otherwise slip a 50 euro note at the salina fuel dock. I spent two months without a harbour last year, it can be done. The deck will suffer a little but I explained the clients about the water shortages. Milazzo: a commercial harbour. No diesel (too shallow) and water at the marina if they are in good mood. DEFINITELY shop at the fish market right behind the barbour. Supemarkets deliver (just ask). Wine shop and excelent butchery between the first and the secon street behind the habour end (the marina end). Shop at the market: swordfish and tuna a must, and cheap. Just broil them fast or make sushi or tartare (good recipes on our website for the sicilian specialties). Mussels are safe and very good. Clams also. Prawns not to be relied upon.

Natural beauty, seascapes and landscapes

The seven islands forming the archipelago are all volcanic, with Salina boasting two twin cones reaching 3,000 feet. Stromboli, itself over 3,000 feet, is very active and Vulcano mildly so. The 5-hour return night hike on top of Stromboli is something you’ll never forget. The landscape is one of strong contrasts, black sands, small but very high islets with vertical walls and crystal clear waters, red lava forming small coves and deep caves, pillars of frozen rock jumping out of the sea. Each island has its own features and peculiarities, but all of them can embrace the voyager with that magic spell that made this area our favourite in the world, hands down.

Local insight

Life on the islands of the archipelago is very peculiar out of the busy months of July and August. The local population is somewhat odd, to say the least… You might meet local fishermen that could star as Robinson Crusoe, Australian expats with an artistic touch for gardening, restless travellers who got charmed and cannot move again, German wine producers who forgot their homeland altogether, Dolce & Gabbana, I mean themselves in person, the Princess of Belgium, Sicilian butchers with Swiss butcheries, a refined gay set, fishmongers with a Pavarotti talent, the Italian President and a very rude, but still powerful for his firm hold on the Ginostra transport monopoly, donkey man. Just get lost in the alleys and by sunset you’ll be sipping with the locals.

Art & Museums

Alas, not the area’s strong point. Even if Lipari and Salina occasionally boast interesting venues, it’s a shame to loose time into any building that does not serve food or booze. BUT never forget that Palermo and Catania are close by, and Reggio Calabria is the home of the world famous ‘ Riace Warriors ‘.

Gastronomy & Wines

You won ’t have shortage of surprises when you sit down at the table in this area. The locals like their suppers long and substantial, and you might experience a slight sensation of overfilling. When you eat around here, you understand the full value of a siesta and stop wondering why the locals close their businesses between 12 and 4… The variety of fish is very wide, the local specialties endless. Among the local ingredients we list Salina capers, Ustica lentil, Nebrodi provola cheese, Modicana cows, Minuta olives, Magghia Masculina fish, local tuna and swordfish (Pesce Spada) and Vastedda del Belice Cheese. Among the ‘must try’: Pasta alla Norma, Swordfish Rolls (involtini di Spada), involtini messinesi, cannoli (in Salina)
Local Wines: Wide variety, strong body, high alcohol levels for Sicilian wines. Alcamo, Contea di Sclafani, Contessa Entellina, Delia Nivolelli, Eloro, Etna, Faro, Malvasia delle Lipari, Marsala, Menfi, Monreale, Moscato di Noto, Moscato/Passito di Pantelleria, Moscato di Siracusa, Riesi, Sambuca di Sicilia, Santa Margherita di Belice, Sciacca, lemon liquors (called “Limoncello”).

Restaurants: Ginostra (puntazzo), Stromboli (Barbablu), Panarea (Pina)

Highlights:

  1. Stromboli: it’s impossible to overestimate the subtle charm and violent beauty of this unique island. With its continuous volcanic fireworks, the fiery furnaces of hell are closer to the sky than the tolling of the churchbells. Sometimes, with westerly winds, a violent thunder remind the bar-going visitors that indeed one is standing on an open scar on the Earth’s crust. The pirotecnic show can be either leisurely enjoyed sailing at night under the Sciara of the W side, or deservedly admired from the top after a 3-hour hike. The main village is a continuous surprise of tiny alleys, shouting fishmongers, perfect whitewashed houses, small squares, tiny shops and trendy bars (Barbablù on top of the list). The tiny village of Ginostra, on the SW corner, is a magical place. All this, alas, comes at a price: there is no safe anchorage to speak of. Staying here during a gale is a serious affair and requires a perfect mastering of anchorage techniques with lines ashore and a constant lookout. Reserve for Stromboli your calmest days. Foodwise the supermarket is rather depressing, but the butcher behind the port can raise the spirits of any good trencherman. Fish can be purchased from a supremely voice-gifted chap who goes around shouting ‘Fresco pesce’ (fish fresh) around noon in the main square.
  2. Panarea: the trendiest destination in the archipelago, Panarea flies high in the central days of August and rapidly falls into a quiet somnolence for the rest of the year. The good anchorage of Milazzese allows tranquil stays in westerlies, and a good starting point to walk around the alleys of the island. Restaurants here tend to be more pricey than good quality, so are the shops. Not a lace where to stock up, but certainly Panarea offers the best swimming spots in the area at Basiluzzo, Lisca Bianca, Cala Nave and Cala Giunco.
  3. Salina: this double-cone island offers good shelter just S of the Santa Marina harbour. The town of Santa Marina lives around the main street, running between old Sicilian houses, stylish balconies, nice shops and big churches. One can walk up and down this street without getting bored. The fishmonger right at the harbour is among the best in the islands, so is the butcher in the main street. Try a fresh cannolo at Matarazzo, right behind the terminal. Another interesting destination is Pollara, the vilage on the W end where the movie ‘The Mailman’ was filmed. The bay at the bottom of the cliff is spectacular, its waters crystal clear.

Then comes Filicudi, try if you can lay out a line to the dock in the village to the S side.

 

Tuscan Sea

WHERE THE ROMAN EMPERORS WENT ON HOLIDAY

This typically Italian itinerary provides a unique balance between nature, history, art and gastronomy. An ideal extension of a holiday in Tuscany, ‘Cypresses and Wine’ gives the opportunity to dive in the blue waters of Elba, to feel the magic of a lonely Roman villa at Giannutri, to get lost at the village at Giglio, to sail to the impressive Capraia island and to discover the Scottish landscape of Capo Corso and its windswept hills. All these emotions you can duly wash down with excellent Brunello or Vernaccia, while sampling the variety of the Tuscan cuisine. And let’s not forget the Park of Argentario and the beauty of Porto Ercole

SAILING SEASON

April though November (but if you swim in November we give you a discount)

NATURAL BEAUTY – (seascapes and landscapes)

The long coast of Elba Island provides numberless bays and coves for quiet nights. For a more dramatic landscape and if you love Scotland, add the Corsican diversion. The Island of Capraia is among the most spectacular in the Mediterranean, but if you agree that jewels are usually small, then visit Giannutri!

LOCAL INSIGHT

One wonders if there still is such a thing as a ‘native’ in Tuscany, now that most English celebrities and every retired German couple have bought land and property in every corner of Tuscany, thnece started making wine and olive oil… Still, they did a very good job, preserving a heritage many Italians were losing to rush behind easy profits. You might find that the language barrier does not exist around there.

ART & MUSEUMS

The Roman Villa on Giannutri is a magical place, even if most art is close by, in Pisa and Florence. The villages at Giglio and Elba, and Centuri harbour (Corsica) are worth a visit.

STYLE, ELEGANCE & SOCIAL LIFE

The area of Porto Ercole and Argentario, with the close-by Capalbio, have always been a favourite among the smart and not too noisy set. Venues in the whole area are common, and fortunately targeted well far from the youngsters.

GASTRONOMY & WINES

Where to begin? Tuscan cuisine is appreciated in the world for its fine natural and flavourful ingredients, it’s a typical expression of the Mediterranean diet, considered among others, the most wholesome and tasty. Olive oil, pasta, fish and first choice meat: with this few basic ingredients the tuscan local chefs can create exceptional dishes.

Among the produce of which Tuscany is of some importance is white truffles, a much appreciated variety. Other ingredients such as wild asparagus and herbage also contribute to the rediscover of simple flavourful dishes (pappa al pancotto, ribollita, hearty vegetable soups), where olive oil is the star ingredient, strictly bought from the local olive press.

 

That easygoing Italian way of life that visitors find so alluring and desirable, la dolce vita, is indisputably linked to the Italians’ instinctive knowledge of how to drink and eat well. In today’s society, many ancient culinary traditions and characteristics of Italy’s distinct regional cuisines are still commonplace, even more so here than other parts of Europe. Traditional recipes passed down through the family are worth their weight in gold. The dinner table is the scene of many conversations, debates and decisions; favorite foods evoke happy memories, good health and comfort.

As for local ingredients, the Fiorentina steak is renowned, the unique Colonnata Lard, the savoury Bottarga from Orbetello, several types of cured meat like the Tarese and the Biroldo. Local specialties that must be tried are the famous Caciucco alla Livornese, the local tomato/garlic/oli based fish soup, the Ribollita, a vegetable and bread soup, cabbage crostini, pappardelle with hare sauce, roast loin of pork, the Stracotto (braised beef) and the Frittata di Carciofi (artichoke omelette).

Wines: world renowned Brunello, hianti and Vernaccia.

SAILING DIRECTIONS

A cruise in the Northern Tyrrenian will typically start and end either in the Elba area or in the Argentario area. The main highlights might be chosen, according to preference, in the following list.

Elba. Even if rather big is size, being the third island in Italy, it might indeed provide enough varieties for a whole week, with its different landscapes, romantic fishing villages, hamlets hidden among the hills, ancient castles, not to mention the white beaches and emerald bays!!

Giglio. This small island has a magnificent harbour and a short hike will take you up to the ‘Castle’, a pure Genoese citadel with its alleys, shops, ladies drying theit laudry by the windows and elders playing cards in the bars.

Giannutri. This tiny Island, with two magnificent coves, is definitely worth a stroll, love among the ruins style, with old marble columns and walls coming out of the perfumed pines and bushes… a magical atmosphere.

Pianosa. those who loved the literary cult ‘Catch 22’ will certainly desire to stop in this former prison island, and they will discover that the tiny harbour is pictoresque but there is not a single WWII airfield… pity.

Capraia. Another former prison, closed a decade ago, Capraia deserves a visit for its dramatic wilderness and romantic harbour. Where, by the way, there is a very good restaurant. Conveniently located between Corsica and Elba, is a nice stopover, especially for hikers.

Argentario. Attached to the mainland by a thin isthmus, the Orbetello lagoon, the Argentario peninsula is a natural reserve where many members of the old money erected their summer retreats. The balance of nature and architecture is a rare example along the Tyrrenian coast, and Porto Ercole, an ancient fishermen’s village with unspoilt atmosphere is the sparkling center of the area.

 

Cape Corse. The northern tip of Corsica is something one does not expect in the Mediterranean. One of the windiest places in the Med, actually windier than Ushuaia, in the Beagle Channel (Argentine Patagonia), its high but not steep profile is as green and barren as a Scottish mountain. The famous ‘Custom House Hike’ will accompany the curious hikes among spectacular bays, seabird nesting points, old Genoese towers, white sand dunes and bright meadows. Macinaggio is a convenient and rather nice port, while Centuri, on the wind side, is a tiny fishermen’s village that, weather permitting, will impress in one’s memories.

 

 

 

The Amalfi Coast and Pontine Archipelago

Always to follow the LLLL rule: lead, log, longitude and lookout. Keep an eye around and always be sure of where you are and what you are supposed to have below your craft

A quintessential Mediterranean cruise awaits those who dare to challenge a route where surprises never end, thanks to a mixture of breathtaking scenery, delicious flavours and, alas, a very Italian lack of infrastructures. Be prepared to take the beauty with the discomforts, and use the following clues to enhance the former and diminish the latter. As you will read, as a general rule try to use the recommended anchorages and bays, because the cost of the seasonal pontoons, harbours and docks is only equalled by their lack of safety.

Suggested tour : Salerno – Amalfi – Positano – Capri – Procida – Ischia – Ventotene – Ponza – Palmarola.

Mileage (approx) : 95 – 110 miles

Difficulty : low – medium

History and art : the highlights of the area are endless, and certain are not to be missed: Amalfi catedral and cloister, Augustus Villa in Capri, the Roman Harbour in Ventotene and the villages of Positano, Ponza and Procida.

Gastronomy : You won’t have shortage of surprises when you sit down at the table in this area. Everybody knows the buffalo milk mozzarella, few know that it comes from this region. The locals like their suppers long and substantial, and you might experience a slight sensation of overfilling. When you eat around here, you understand the full value of a siesta and stop wondering why the locals close their businesses between 12 and 4.. The variety of fish is very wide, the local specialties endless. One for all? Pizza and mussels. Among the local ingredients we list Amalfi Sfusato Lemon, Bagnolese Pecorino Cheese, Castellammare Violet Artichoke, Gioi Soppressata, Ischia Cave Rabbit, Menaica Anchovies, Monaco Provolone, Mozzarella in Myrtle, Nassa Shrimp, Piennolo Small Tomato, Pietraroja Prosciutto, San Marzano Tomato, Traditional Cetara Anchovy Extract. Our crews will do their best to introduce you to the great potential of the area.
Local Wines: Wide variety, strong body, high alcohol levels for Campania wines. Taurasi, Aglianico del Taburno o Taburno, Aversa, Cilento, Falerno del Massico, Fiano d’Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Ischia, Sant’Agata de’ Goti, Solopaca, Vesuvio, lemon liquors (called “Limoncello”).

Recommended restaurants of the Blue Prawn guide : Ristorante ‘Da Silverio’, Ponza
Ristorante Caricala’, Procida.

General. We stress the fact that Italian law requires harbours and marinas to leave a minimum number of transit berths. Unfortunately this law is never enforced and to expect free kindness, water and sometimes even diesel is not easy. Big commercial harbours (Formia, Naples and Salerno) and some of the smaller ones DO have some FREE berths for visiting boats, and the port captains (COMPAMARE) are sometimes helpful, especially in contacted in the correct manner by radio using the appropriate codes. Even better using the English language (it puts them off balance and they are kinder).
The local population in the area is amazingly friendly in most cases, and this is true for fishermen, coast guard officers, and locals in general. Unfortunately this is not the case for people connected with yachts. Water can be hard to come by. Expect fishy kindness when you pay outrageously for mooring, but if you claim your rights as a sailor to use transit berths and water, expect unkindness and even aggressive behaviour. In case you claim a transit berth via official channels and they force the mooring people to give it to you, do not leave the vessel alone.

Weather: the area is right open to strong NW and SW winds and swell that must be expected at any time of the year. July is usually very calm. August can be tricky. Due to the lack of both, natural harbours and infrastructures, the weather (ch. 68, Italian and English) and the barometer should be monitored frequently. The only all around safe places, easy to enter even at night, are: Circeo (US military base, beware), Formia, Ischia Porto and Casamicciola (if you really have to), Porto Miseno, Napoli and Salerno. Night access and shelter from Northwest gales can be easily expected also at: Ponza, Ischia Ponte (S of the Castle), Procida-Corricella. Southerly gales are tougher to get shelter from: Ventotene harbour and Ponza E side. Easterly gales are rare. Anchorage is not abundant and rarely with good holding. Good at Ponza and Porto Miseno (sand and mud). Tricky anywhere else. Seasons: go their in June or September.

A typical 7 days cruise will be: Ponza, Ponza/Palmarola, Ponza/Ventotene, Ventotene-Ischia, Ischia/Procida, Procida/Capri, Capri-Salerno.

Ponza stands deservedly high in the list of the most beautiful islands of the planet. The village is close to perfection, some restaurants are genuinely good, and the beaches are stunning and the scenery awesome. Unfortunately things get a little worse when it comes to practicalities. Shelter is rarely good and nowhere complete, the hydrofoil captains should be shot, some restaurant owners hanged, the ‘marina’ owners skinned alive and the port captain jailed. The incredible ‘Chiaia di Luna’ cove, open to the west, is just amazing, with its sheer white cliffs, turquoise water, horseshoe shape and white sand. Unfortunately some brainless idiot among the authorities noticed that the cliffs could loose stones and decided to build a huge chicken wire to prevent other idiots to be hit. Moreover they closed the tunnel linking the beach and the town (built by the Romans around 2500 years ago and still working), thus preventing a good cook to reach the market and especially the very good fishmonger right by the ferry terminal. When this cove is uncomfortable, turn around the island and let go along the east coast, possibly far away from the town if you want to sleep in silence. Forget to ask for water to the seasonal pontoons by the town. Their prices are outrageous, their kindness very limited and their seamanship debatable. Good places to shop in town, but check the prices well. Go for the old ladies. At the right entrance of the harbour, 50 metres from the ferry terminal, there is an honest old lady with a grocery store. Right on top of her store, where the higher street enters the village, NW bound, W side, there is a tiny family restaurant that deserves a mention in the logbook, as does the fishmonger. The island of Palmarola, 3 miles W of Ponza, is a natural marvel and a NP. A must do day sail. Anchorages in the SE 40°55’38.08″N, 12°51’27.12″E

Ventotene is another amazing jewel where the admiration for the ancient Romans who built with little more than hammers a perfectly sheltered harbour, still in use, is counterbalanced by the pure awe for the double-barrelled idiocy of the modern genius who designed the new harbour, open right to the NW. This amazing engineering feat works like an amplifier for waves. These enter freely to pester the poor yachtsmen who paid an outrageous sum for the use the wharf to the local incompetent and amateur harbour crew. So you can either use the roman harbour (around 100 a night, but with a decent master and crew), or anchor right inside the new harbour, sheltering your vessel as close as possible to the NW notch of the cove, if there is room, and with a line ashore if possible. The coast guard has not much ado, so they’ll probably tell you that you are in the manoeuvring span of the ancient ferry coming in mid morning. Have fun. The best solution, of course, is to anchor outside the Roman harbour, weather permitting 40°47’40.45″N, 13°26’0.47″E. The village, the unique stairway and the magnificent squares are worth an expensive stop. Fish is scarce, meat have seen better days. Look for your food with care, especially in high season. The area E of Ventotene, marked by yellow buoys, is OFF LIMITS!!!!

Ischia is rightly famous for its spas, of which there is a vast choice around, for the fashionable village of Ischia Porto, Lacco Ameno and St.Angelo. Ischia Porto is the main harbour, looks that its piers are made of pure gold (at more than 100 euros a night for a 12 mts) and the hydrofoils barrel in criminally to raise a real tsunami. If you have money, it’s a magnificent place to stay, but remember that the old guys helping you with the lines are always unofficial, never to be tipped and seldom competent. There are several excellent food shops and fishmongers between Via Roma and Via Regina Elena. If you want to sleep quietly, anchor with decent shelter and good holding S of the bridge linking Ischia Ponte and the magnificent Aragorn Castle 40°43’47.02″N, 13°57’44.97″E. The north coast is not that attractive, although spa lovers might find solace in the historic hotels at Lacco Ameno. St. Angelo in the south coast is calmer, nicer and one can hop to sleep well in northerlies just off the small harbour. When you visit the island, go high. Avoid high season. There is a marina in Casamicciola, which combines both, price and lack of charm

Procida is smaller than both, Capri and Ischia, and its small villages still conserve a delightful charm, especially Corricella. The small village, just a neighbourhood of the only town basically, has a splendid tiny (and almost useless) haven and conveys that unique feeling of quiet southern villages where you really do see people around doing just social chit-chat. The bay in front of the village is wide, pleasant, with decent holding, well sheltered from the N and W, with just a rock in the middle (3 metres deep) and no ferries around to bother your stay 40°45’32.56″N, 14° 1’43.30″E. True, the local Sunday power boaters can be worse. But overall the island is a must, definitely to be preferred over Ischia in case of tight schedule.

Porto Miseno is less than 4 miles from Procida and provides the best shelter in the whole area, with some mooring buoys and some area for anchorage. A huge marina was impounded for mafia some time ago, and looks like a ghost harbour. If weather is bad, go there, and you’ll be in a pond. Moreover, as you will notice while sailing in, the area is devoted to mussel farming and the final product can be found everywhere, is delicious.

Pozzuoli to Sorrento. The area is worth a page of its own, but I’d rather visit it from the land. Naples, Ercolano, Pompeii are probably worth a journey of their own. They are not, unfortunately, boater-friendly (to say the least…).

Capri is a place that one should really see. The island was Emperor Augustus’ private estate and no one ever thought him an idiot for that choice. The ruins of his villa command a great view and deserve a visit. Overall, Capri is just a perfect place. Unfortunately, everyone thinks so, and the place is packed of both, peasants and rich celebrities. Outrageously expensive. The harbour is surprisingly the cheapest of the area, but to find a berth is a desperate enterprise. If they offer you a berth on the first pontoon, right by the entrance where the NW swell and, worse, the hundreds of hydrofoil-killers come in, refuse. Anchor outside or, if the wind is from the N, sail around this beautiful island and anchor by the Faraglioni in the S bight of Marina Piccola 40°32’32.48″N, 14°15’5.54″E. Bottomless and wide open, but ok in calm  weather. No advice on restaurants or shops. There are simply too many tourists around to expect a fair bet. Just anchor safely, go ashore and walk around, leaving someone aboard if you want to enjoy the perfect alleys, rich villas, great cafes and commanding views. Most old timers agree that there is too much new money around. Well, that’s the same everywhere!

Amalfi Coast is long, straight and steep, which usually means a spectacular place to visit from land and a nightmare for the sailor. And the rule is confirmed. Nature and the locals, including the authorities, make this a tough place for boats to visit. The only decent harbour is Amalfi, and there’s expensive room for very few vessels. Just anchor off the coast and listen to the forecast. Due to the nature of the coast, you’ll have the boat always in sight, at least. Also keep in mind that many places between the point and Amalfi, including the small islands off the coast, are OFF LIMITS, and the coast guard is not there to give advice but just to fine people. The places to see are of course Amalfi and Positano, although in the latter place you’ll even find it difficult to leave the dinghy ashore, because the local boatmen despise independent sailors. There are tons of places to eat and drink, although not cheap at all. For a more interesting stop, make it to Salerno, a cheerful, charming and pleasant city. There are many excellent restaurants, pizzerias and taverns (try the Cipolla). The fishmongers and grocery stores are full of cheap and delicious stuff, great wine at low prices, great leather shops and so on… The harbour is a busy commercial hub, with a couple of ridiculously expensive marinas inside. You can either raft alongside one of the wharves with little traffic (the coast guard here minds its own business) or better still anchor right between the E breakwater and the beach, where you can swim as well. You save miles walking between the town and the harbour and the weather is usually calm. If it blows from the S, hop into the harbour and find yourself a suitable spot.

Sicily – the Aeolian Islands

The unique combination of beauty, poetry and sheer power offered by the Seven Pearls of the Mediterranean is unmatched by any other corner of the world. In no other place you can, in the same evening, swim in deep blue waters under a thundering volcano when the sun sets, enjoy the best Swordfish Roll with caper sauce, sip a glass of that sweet ambrosia called Malvasia, then sail under the-never ending fireworks of the ‘Lighthouse of the Mediterranean’. thenyou can enjoy amazing cocktails at the ‘Barbablù’ restaurant, share Ingrid Bergman’s feelings when she fell in love, here and then, on the set of Rossellini’s masterpiece ‘Stromboli, the Land of God’, or again stroll along the paths where Philippe Noiret played Pablo Neruda in the movie ‘Il Postino – The Mailman’. But it’s not over yet: capers, amazingly deep blue waters, the most fascinating alleys and witewashed houses, and the still struggling fisherman’s heritage in a place where time indeed.

Weather and anchorages: in summer there are only two dangers: westerlies (easy to forecast, and channel 68 is kind of reliable) and thunderstorms, that can bring sudden 40-knots blows in pitch black visibility   They are easy to spot. You do not want to be in stromboli if one arrives. I sailed two years in Patagonia/Magellan strait but sicilian thunderstorms stand up the challenge. In westerlies, the best anchorages are Salina E side S of harbour, Panarea Milazzese (best overall anchorage) and even, with a line ashore, the E side of Stromboli, just under the grey slide mid island (surprisingly very calm). Both NW and SW tend to come more from W. In thunderstorm you might just have to switch side of any island for a couple of hours. Lipari is never a good anchorage for the endless ferry traffic. Vulcano E side nearly bottomless. Filicudi nice in good weather. Forget Alicudi altogether. Nice small anchorages if you can get into, some bays on the W side of vulcano and Lipari. The anchorage in Stromboli is just off the NE tip of the island. Acceptable holding in 15 metres. Watch for foul anchor in rocks in Ginostra, Cala Nave and Basiluzzo.  Day anchorages for swimming, not to be missed: Panarea: Basiluzzo-NE corner, Lisca Bianca, and Cala Nave (NW corner of Panarea). Filicudi: rocks W of the island and cave. Salina: Pollara (W side, where they filmed ‘The Mailman’. W sides of Vulcano and Lipari. Breezes: thermals from NE in calm days between 1 and 5. Good for sailing.  Dangers: apart from the rocks, easy to spot but not at night, SE of Panarea and W of Filicudi, none whatsoever. You just need a long anchor chain, and possibly a delta-cqr

Harbours: small, crowded, noisy and unpolite. Forget them. To fuel up: Salina. Water: the island are now in deep water shortage, and to get water will not be easy. I hope you have a watermaker, otherwise slip a 50 euro note at the salina fuel dock. I spent two months without a harbour last year, it can be done. The deck will suffer a little but I explained the clients about the water shortages. Milazzo: a commercial harbour. No diesel (too shallow) and water at the marina if they are in good mood. DEFINITELY shop at the fish market right behind the barbour. Supemarkets deliver (just ask). Wine shop and excelent butchery between the first and the secon street behind the habour end (the marina end). Shop at the market: swordfish and tuna a must, and cheap. Just broil them fast or make sushi or tartare (good recipes on our website for the sicilian specialties). Mussels are safe and very good. Clams also. Prawns not to be relied upon.

Natural beauty, seascapes and landscapes

The seven islands forming the archipelago are all volcanic, with Salina boasting two twin cones reaching 3,000 feet. Stromboli, itself over 3,000 feet, is very active and Vulcano mildly so. The 5-hour return night hike on top of Stromboli is something you’ll never forget. The landscape is one of strong contrasts, black sands, small but very high islets with vertical walls and crystal clear waters, red lava forming small coves and deep caves, pillars of frozen rock jumping out of the sea. Each island has its own features and peculiarities, but all of them can embrace the voyager with that magic spell that made this area our favourite in the world, hands down.

Local insight

Life on the islands of the archipelago is very peculiar out of the busy months of July and August. The local population is somewhat odd, to say the least… You might meet local fishermen that could star as Robinson Crusoe, Australian expats with an artistic touch for gardening, restless travellers who got charmed and cannot move again, German wine producers who forgot their homeland altogether, Dolce & Gabbana, I mean themselves in person, the Princess of Belgium, Sicilian butchers with Swiss butcheries, a refined gay set, fishmongers with a Pavarotti talent, the Italian President and a very rude, but still powerful for his firm hold on the Ginostra transport monopoly, donkey man. Just get lost in the alleys and by sunset you’ll be sipping with the locals.

Art & Museums

Alas, not the area’s strong point. Even if Lipari and Salina occasionally boast interesting venues, it’s a shame to loose time into any building that does not serve food or booze. BUT never forget that Palermo and Catania are close by, and Reggio Calabria is the home of the world famous ‘ Riace Warriors ‘.

Gastronomy & Wines

You won ’t have shortage of surprises when you sit down at the table in this area. The locals like their suppers long and substantial, and you might experience a slight sensation of overfilling. When you eat around here, you understand the full value of a siesta and stop wondering why the locals close their businesses between 12 and 4… The variety of fish is very wide, the local specialties endless. Among the local ingredients we list Salina capers, Ustica lentil, Nebrodi provola cheese, Modicana cows, Minuta olives, Magghia Masculina fish, local tuna and swordfish (Pesce Spada) and Vastedda del Belice Cheese. Among the ‘must try’: Pasta alla Norma, Swordfish Rolls (involtini di Spada), involtini messinesi, cannoli (in Salina)
Local Wines: Wide variety, strong body, high alcohol levels for Sicilian wines. Alcamo, Contea di Sclafani, Contessa Entellina, Delia Nivolelli, Eloro, Etna, Faro, Malvasia delle Lipari, Marsala, Menfi, Monreale, Moscato di Noto, Moscato/Passito di Pantelleria, Moscato di Siracusa, Riesi, Sambuca di Sicilia, Santa Margherita di Belice, Sciacca, lemon liquors (called “Limoncello”).

Restaurants: Ginostra (puntazzo), Stromboli (Barbablu), Panarea (Pina)

Highlights:

  1. Stromboli: it’s impossible to overestimate the subtle charm and violent beauty of this unique island. With its continuous volcanic fireworks, the fiery furnaces of hell are closer to the sky than the tolling of the churchbells. Sometimes, with westerly winds, a violent thunder remind the bar-going visitors that indeed one is standing on an open scar on the Earth’s crust. The pirotecnic show can be either leisurely enjoyed sailing at night under the Sciara of the W side, or deservedly admired from the top after a 3-hour hike. The main village is a continuous surprise of tiny alleys, shouting fishmongers, perfect whitewashed houses, small squares, tiny shops and trendy bars (Barbablù on top of the list). The tiny village of Ginostra, on the SW corner, is a magical place. All this, alas, comes at a price: there is no safe anchorage to speak of. Staying here during a gale is a serious affair and requires a perfect mastering of anchorage techniques with lines ashore and a constant lookout. Reserve for Stromboli your calmest days. Foodwise the supermarket is rather depressing, but the butcher behind the port can raise the spirits of any good trencherman. Fish can be purchased from a supremely voice-gifted chap who goes around shouting ‘Fresco pesce’ (fish fresh) around noon in the main square.
  2. Panarea: the trendiest destination in the archipelago, Panarea flies high in the central days of August and rapidly falls into a quiet somnolence for the rest of the year. The good anchorage of Milazzese allows tranquil stays in westerlies, and a good starting point to walk around the alleys of the island. Restaurants here tend to be more pricey than good quality, so are the shops. Not a lace where to stock up, but certainly Panarea offers the best swimming spots in the area at Basiluzzo, Lisca Bianca, Cala Nave and Cala Giunco.
  3. Salina: this double-cone island offers good shelter just S of the Santa Marina harbour. The town of Santa Marina lives around the main street, running between old Sicilian houses, stylish balconies, nice shops and big churches. One can walk up and down this street without getting bored. The fishmonger right at the harbour is among the best in the islands, so is the butcher in the main street. Try a fresh cannolo at Matarazzo, right behind the terminal. Another interesting destination is Pollara, the vilage on the W end where the movie ‘The Mailman’ was filmed. The bay at the bottom of the cliff is spectacular, its waters crystal clear.

Then comes Filicudi, try if you can lay out a line to the dock in the village to the S side.

 

Tuscan Sea

WHERE THE ROMAN EMPERORS WENT ON HOLIDAY

This typically Italian itinerary provides a unique balance between nature, history, art and gastronomy. An ideal extension of a holiday in Tuscany, ‘Cypresses and Wine’ gives the opportunity to dive in the blue waters of Elba, to feel the magic of a lonely Roman villa at Giannutri, to get lost at the village at Giglio, to sail to the impressive Capraia island and to discover the Scottish landscape of Capo Corso and its windswept hills. All these emotions you can duly wash down with excellent Brunello or Vernaccia, while sampling the variety of the Tuscan cuisine. And let’s not forget the Park of Argentario and the beauty of Porto Ercole

SAILING SEASON

April though November (but if you swim in November we give you a discount)

NATURAL BEAUTY – (seascapes and landscapes)

The long coast of Elba Island provides numberless bays and coves for quiet nights. For a more dramatic landscape and if you love Scotland, add the Corsican diversion. The Island of Capraia is among the most spectacular in the Mediterranean, but if you agree that jewels are usually small, then visit Giannutri!

LOCAL INSIGHT

One wonders if there still is such a thing as a ‘native’ in Tuscany, now that most English celebrities and every retired German couple have bought land and property in every corner of Tuscany, thnece started making wine and olive oil… Still, they did a very good job, preserving a heritage many Italians were losing to rush behind easy profits. You might find that the language barrier does not exist around there.

ART & MUSEUMS

The Roman Villa on Giannutri is a magical place, even if most art is close by, in Pisa and Florence. The villages at Giglio and Elba, and Centuri harbour (Corsica) are worth a visit.

STYLE, ELEGANCE & SOCIAL LIFE

The area of Porto Ercole and Argentario, with the close-by Capalbio, have always been a favourite among the smart and not too noisy set. Venues in the whole area are common, and fortunately targeted well far from the youngsters.

GASTRONOMY & WINES

Where to begin? Tuscan cuisine is appreciated in the world for its fine natural and flavourful ingredients, it’s a typical expression of the Mediterranean diet, considered among others, the most wholesome and tasty. Olive oil, pasta, fish and first choice meat: with this few basic ingredients the tuscan local chefs can create exceptional dishes.

Among the produce of which Tuscany is of some importance is white truffles, a much appreciated variety. Other ingredients such as wild asparagus and herbage also contribute to the rediscover of simple flavourful dishes (pappa al pancotto, ribollita, hearty vegetable soups), where olive oil is the star ingredient, strictly bought from the local olive press.

 

That easygoing Italian way of life that visitors find so alluring and desirable, la dolce vita, is indisputably linked to the Italians’ instinctive knowledge of how to drink and eat well. In today’s society, many ancient culinary traditions and characteristics of Italy’s distinct regional cuisines are still commonplace, even more so here than other parts of Europe. Traditional recipes passed down through the family are worth their weight in gold. The dinner table is the scene of many conversations, debates and decisions; favorite foods evoke happy memories, good health and comfort.

As for local ingredients, the Fiorentina steak is renowned, the unique Colonnata Lard, the savoury Bottarga from Orbetello, several types of cured meat like the Tarese and the Biroldo. Local specialties that must be tried are the famous Caciucco alla Livornese, the local tomato/garlic/oli based fish soup, the Ribollita, a vegetable and bread soup, cabbage crostini, pappardelle with hare sauce, roast loin of pork, the Stracotto (braised beef) and the Frittata di Carciofi (artichoke omelette).

Wines: world renowned Brunello, hianti and Vernaccia.

SAILING DIRECTIONS

A cruise in the Northern Tyrrenian will typically start and end either in the Elba area or in the Argentario area. The main highlights might be chosen, according to preference, in the following list.

Elba. Even if rather big is size, being the third island in Italy, it might indeed provide enough varieties for a whole week, with its different landscapes, romantic fishing villages, hamlets hidden among the hills, ancient castles, not to mention the white beaches and emerald bays!!

Giglio. This small island has a magnificent harbour and a short hike will take you up to the ‘Castle’, a pure Genoese citadel with its alleys, shops, ladies drying theit laudry by the windows and elders playing cards in the bars.

Giannutri. This tiny Island, with two magnificent coves, is definitely worth a stroll, love among the ruins style, with old marble columns and walls coming out of the perfumed pines and bushes… a magical atmosphere.

Pianosa. those who loved the literary cult ‘Catch 22’ will certainly desire to stop in this former prison island, and they will discover that the tiny harbour is pictoresque but there is not a single WWII airfield… pity.

Capraia. Another former prison, closed a decade ago, Capraia deserves a visit for its dramatic wilderness and romantic harbour. Where, by the way, there is a very good restaurant. Conveniently located between Corsica and Elba, is a nice stopover, especially for hikers.

Argentario. Attached to the mainland by a thin isthmus, the Orbetello lagoon, the Argentario peninsula is a natural reserve where many members of the old money erected their summer retreats. The balance of nature and architecture is a rare example along the Tyrrenian coast, and Porto Ercole, an ancient fishermen’s village with unspoilt atmosphere is the sparkling center of the area.

 

Cape Corse. The northern tip of Corsica is something one does not expect in the Mediterranean. One of the windiest places in the Med, actually windier than Ushuaia, in the Beagle Channel (Argentine Patagonia), its high but not steep profile is as green and barren as a Scottish mountain. The famous ‘Custom House Hike’ will accompany the curious hikes among spectacular bays, seabird nesting points, old Genoese towers, white sand dunes and bright meadows. Macinaggio is a convenient and rather nice port, while Centuri, on the wind side, is a tiny fishermen’s village that, weather permitting, will impress in one’s memories.

 

 

 

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