Monday, 23 July 2012


The taxi journey from the marina into Rome is not propitious. The young driver is a troubled soul who seems unsuitable for a life on the Italian roads and he gesticulates and groans at every indiscretion by other drivers and then slumps in his seat, seemingly finding it all too much to bear. Eventually we arrive in the centre of Rome at Via Condotti and we are greeted by Francesco, the duty manager of this stylish 5 bedroom hotel and he produces a map of Rome and scrawls all over it highlighting the famous landmarks that we have to pack into our short stay.

The Amalfi Coast

After the isolation of Stromboli, Amalfi is a riot of colour and noise. The entire coast is set against a backdrop of mountains with sheer drops to the sea below and the occasional smudge of terracotta where villages have grown up around natural harbours on this uncompromising coastline. Amalfi is busy: we call ahead on the VHF and a deeply bronzed man in a white vest with a mop of bleached blonde hair and a flashing smile greets us in a red rib and directs us into the port.

Monday, 9 July 2012


We slip away quietly from our anchorage in Panarea at eight in the morning before the rest of the bay awakes. Panarea lies on an underwater platform and unlike the bottomless bays of Vulcano and Lipari it is surrounded by shallow water and numerous reefs, where small day boats anchor and sleep away the hot hours of the day. The most dramatic of the surrounding islets is Basiluzzo which rears out of the sea, with dramatic rock faces of vertical grooved strata like giant organ pipes hanging over the dark caves below where the swell gurgles as it washes in and out. Gulls cry as they circle the cliffs high above us and we glide over the aqua marine blue sea with huge boulders on the sea bed passing under our hull. 

Sunday, 8 July 2012


The most southerly of the Aeolian Islands is called Vulcano, and it lives up to its name. Approaching the island we see smoke drifting from the top of the crater as we round the top of the island and into the bay where we drop anchor. Kerry and I go ashore in the rib looking for fresh bread and we walk along a beach of black sand which looks like mud but behaves like sand. People lie on the black sand on their towels and deckchairs but the sea looks inky black even though it is clean and clear - all very odd. We ask the way to the supermarket and we are directed down a small lane where a powerful whiff of sulphur greets us.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Strait of Messina

The market in Ortigia is a riot of colour and smells. There are stalls piled high with fruit and vegetables and fish counters awash with fish of every possible variety. Shoppers mill around the busy stalls where grizzled merchants hold court, bellowing across the street to advertise their wares. A fishmonger uses a large hatchet to chop three blood red slices off a huge slab of Tuna, his cigarette never leaving his mouth, then throws in another slice for free with a grin and a roar. We buy three varieties of tomato, small round peaches, a bunch of fresh basil and big globs of mozzarella; 'half buffalo, half cow' we are told by a very charming and persuasive woman who convinces Fatty to buy armfuls of cheese, olives and even home-made beer which we lug back to the boat in the searing midday sun.