Monday, 13 June 2016


A deep ravine cuts a jagged line down the steep slopes to the waters edge where a cluster of pastel-coloured houses nestle above the shoreline, each one framed in white stucco, a gallery of water colours on the shore.  

The Hotel Sirena sits centre stage, its large terrace covered by a faded white awning. Stone steps lead down to a small square paved in black slate where a yellow plastic football is being kicked around by a group of youngsters, the surrounding houses providing the amphitheatre to their dreams of stardom.  Small fishing boats have been dragged out of the water onto the large smooth black stones, faded red nets are heaped up in large black tubs on the shore.  This is Peconini a Mare on the Aeolian Island of Filicudi, a huge mountainous rock, once an erupting volcano, now just a barren island with 400 inhabitants. 

We pick up a mooring buoy in the still black water, so deep that our echo sounder can’t find the bottom, yet we are only 50 metres from the shore.  Suspended all around us are Medusas, a word so much more apt than the English jellyfish; they trail their venom in long tentacles behind their bulbous pulsing pink bodies, waiting to catch the unwary.  Nico helps us to tie up to a mooring buoy and when we dinghy to the small dock he is there again, greeting us with a smile, “Buonasera Juno”, and leads us to the bar on the dock where he dispenses small glasses of sweet white wine from a plastic water bottle.  We sit on wooden chairs, our feet resting on the railings, looking out across the bay to Juno, the only yacht in the mooring field catching the last rays of sunshine as the sun sinks behind the mountainous backdrop; and we chat.

Nico tells us that he was born on the island of Stromboli and after working in Palermo, he has settled in Filicudi where he has lived for the past thirty years, running the local scuba diving school and tending the moorings that he rents out to visiting yachts. I ask him what he does in the winter months; “mangare, dormire, tranquilo”, “eat, sleep, relax”, he puts his palms together and rests them against his cheek. He proudly shows me a picture of his kitchen on his iphone, ‘mi cuchina’, and puts his hand to his lips and kisses his finger tips, a look of ecstasy passing across his tanned handsome features.  After dinner in the hotel Sirena, the owner climbs on a chair and fiddles with a device mounted on the ceiling that projects a football match onto the large white wall of the restaurant. It is the Euro championship and the football-mad Italians can’t miss a minute of the action, even their precious food subordinated by the thrill of the beautiful game.

Before we leave in the morning, Nico motors across to us in his little day boat and takes our moorings fees, then hands us his card and a plastic bag of capers – “un regalo”, “a gift” he says and with a wave he calls after us “a la prossima”, and we slip away from the shore in the calm morning sea. Caroline remarks that is the people that we meet that make the places memorable, and Nico’s simple kindness has made an indelible mark on our memories of Filicudi.


  1. Yay! It's blooming cold here! But then we did get to see Queen last night at the festival...

  2. Sounds lovely Frewie - as always! Good to hear about your and Juno's adventures...
    Consuelo xx