A Brescian in Sicily, our first story of 2015 – Part Four

adrian photo for autobiographical note (1)
Adriano Gatta

Adriano Gatta, Brescia DOC, class of 1956, free-rider, mountaineer, former judo national team member, photography enthusiast (the photos accompanying the story are his). We have already brought you his article in which he explained his conversion from powerboat racer to sailor: we now publish in installments, as they used to do in old-time newspapers, the (semi-serious) account of his sailing over (and under) the sea of the Egadi Islands, Ustica and the Aeolian Islands, with some points on the northern coast, completed last summer.


14a appears at times shrouded in mist....I am not the King of Spain but I would like to sail timelessly in search of an enchanted island, of the mythical not-found island of Guccinian memory.

And we made it to August 13; the program included a stop in Panarea this evening and the randez-vous with the …Golly for tomorrow in the late afternoon to Stromboli to see the sciara di fuoco. But the weather forecast predicts the arrival tomorrow of a nice mistral that might jeopardize the stop off the NW coast of Stromboli, and so the commander, that is me, decides to see Stromboli and the sciara this evening and so this is done, then, eventually, with the …Golly we will see it again tomorrow night.

15 stromboli the craterWe smotor past the north coast of Panarea and, after taking a look at Ginostra for a possible overnight stay, we pass the Sciara, which, even in daylight, still has its charm. Fumaroles everywhere and glowing lava boulders rolling down to the sea advise staying a little offshore, given also the prohibition of subcoastal navigation.

16 strombolium (2)At sunset we are at Strombolicchio where we go down with the tender to climb the long staircase in the rock that takes us to the top of this stacks about 80 meters high and that seems to be spit there by the volcano. The seabed of more than 40 mt discourages us from leaving the boat unattended and in turn, with the tender, first Margherita and I and then Beppe and Patti, go up to take some pictures of the sunset on Stromboli…….without words…..
We have dinner on the boat while waiting for dark, not before, of course, taking a look at tonight’s mooring, by the way already very crowded, in Ficogrande.Around nine o’clock we take to the W side of the island opposite the Sciara di Fuoco.

17 la sciaraWe remain floating ecstatically in front of the spectacle of this river of lava that then fans out, along with dozens of other boats and motorboats overloaded with tourists, some even coming from Calabrie( as they say here) and Milazzo.
Of course, after the eruption twenty days ago and the opening of a new crater, we missed the spectacle of lapilli flying in the starry sky, but on the other hand, at night, the incandescent flows descending to the sea have a charm……infernal !!!
<< good choice Commander; I just had a look at the weather and I guess Gigi and his people will see nothing tomorrow. Mistral and sea is forecast, and even the sunset in Strombolicchio is dreamed of…..>>
Beppe is right, and then since he discovered Lamma and Meteoconsult he spends all his time in front of the I-pad. The night passes, balky, on a seabed, which moreover is not even much of a keeper, of 14 mt. and an annoying grecaline but, for that matter, at midnight we ” dropped” the anchor in the first useful hole and sank into bed.

18 stromboli (2)In the morning we go ashore to visit the village with its two adjoining hamlets, Ficogrande and Scari. Don’t miss the “island bookstore.” a magical place, a gathering place to read and buy books while sitting in the shade of a patio overlooking the sea…..spectacular !!!
The town is very beautiful18 and, having arrived in the square, I am drawn to a sporting goods store that, along with hiking shoes for the ascent to the crater(forbidden these days because of the eruption), displays two pairs of skis…..

19 strobes you skiit’s true, I had talked about it with my ski mountaineering friends just last winter….scending the fiery sciara on skis.
I inquire at the store and ask if they rent skis and boots.
Don’t worry, I haven’t gone crazy, the one being skied is not the Hot Lava Sciara, of course, but a now-cold side branch.
<<no, no, we don’t rent skis, these were left here by those crazy people who came down years ago…..>>

hei, let’s not be offended, one of those crazy people, whom, moreover, I know well, is Giorgio Dàidola, a great skier and Telemark enthusiast( for the uninitiated, it’s the free heel descent)…… I look at Beppe, as addicted as I am to off-piste skiing ( or out of his mind ? ), and the promise is triggered: next year I’ll do the ski race with skis !!! <<Oh yeah, it’s called SCIara not for nothing, right ? Okay, to celebrate my 60th birthday I’m coming down from Stromboli on skis: cap, swimsuit, boots and skis and then, dive straight into the sea >>

<< except that Sciara stands in the street, what changes in clothing compared to when you ski up by us in the mountains ? you always go around half naked even in January !!! and then you don’t think you are doing it alone ? It’s very dangerous and you’ll need a doctor so I’ll book( Beppe is a doctor n.d.A.), then we’ll tell Marco who could sponsor us with the winter store in Brescia and Pino and Mario, and we’ll recreate the steep skiing group here in Stromboli >> and so between projects, watched with a mixture of astonishment and compassion by our spouses, we pull noon and, after having a full-bodied bee at a bar in Scari, jump in the boat and head to the long-awaited Randez-vous with the …Golly.

The Grecale is, as predicted, turned to Mistral and, having to cross Gigi who, only with 3, I say three, women, is arriving from Maratea, we are also okay with that. Around 1 p.m. contact on vhf, on the usual channel 69, and about an hour later we see the beautiful Grand Soleil 50′ pop up on the horizon. Frantic search for berth( it’s August 14) in “roadstead”(that’s an understatement) in Scari on a seabed of M…. 12 mt, very hard sand and volcanic stones. The sea reinforces, nothing but enough to convince Gigi to forgo the Sciara and the sunset at Stombolicchio and make us dance the night away. The awakening, after the night’s shackerata, is not the best and so what better than a nice breakfast in the square in Stromboli sitting at the tables of a bar on a wonderful terrace overlooking the sea that, as the mistral rule dictates, gives us blue sea and clear sky ?

After bingeing on hot brioches and shopping at the market, we arrived at the classic hour to let go of your moorings when you’re dealing with five women…… that is noon !!! we put the sails ashore( you saw how good I was, I didn’t say let’s hoist or, even worse, pull up) and aim for Panarea, the island of the nightlife. We pull an edge toward Basiluzzo and the other islets-Dattilo and Lisca bianca-and arrive, in the middle of Ferragosto, at Panarea. I feel like I’m on the set of Vanzina’s ’97 movie of the same name; mega inflatable boats with blaring music that even vibrates the water where they float, mega ferridastiro and a compilation of characters that are nothing short of…..pietose.

It may be my age, but I can’t stand certain attitudes and so what do I do ? I’m going to laugh it off and take pictures of everything and everyone like a Novella 2000 paparazzo( but does it still exist ?). We manage to place the two boats close together in the roadstead east of Cala Junco, which these days, alas, does not show its best side….

We give up going ashore, imagine the mess that will be there and opt for an August bank holiday all together with Ape on the Bravo Papa 3 and dinner aboard the ..Golly( always with the three dots). Good choice, around us only empty boats and the sea that has finally calmed down gives us a beautiful evening among friends….ah yeah that’s right, I had not yet introduced you to the newcomers….. On the …golly, in addition to Gigi, the owner and his partner Lucilla called Lucy, two mutual friends Elisabetta, of course called Betty and Giuliana, for everyone Giuly who came aboard in Maratea where there was also a crew change for them.

And to complete the list, on Bravo Papa 3: Adri, Marghe, Beppe and Patti
This of abbreviated names more than a fashion, in the boat, is a requirement.
Whenever there is a need to call one for maneuvers, it is much more convenient to abbreviate. The decision to forego visiting Panarea on the evening of Ferragosto was a winning one; after a quiet night, in the morning, around 9 a.m., we go ashore with the tender and explore the town. Semi-deserted streets, empty stores.

20 panarea (1)Panarea is truly a treat and I think out of season it is at its best From a fisherman we buy a tuna about 7 kg that we will eat for dinner tonight in Vulcano where we have booked in the marina , in the east harbor. A big bang !!! 140 and 180 euri respectively for the 40′ and the 50’…..’stìcazzi…… but we needed water, light and…. calm sea….the rest we are in August in the Aeolian Islands…..

20 panarea (2)Having opted to descend to the southernmost island and then ascend again touching Lipari, Salina, Filicudi and Alicudi we enjoy a nice cross-river sail, first to the Lipari pumice quarries, where we give bottom for a swim, and then we stay out to tack in the channel between Vulcanello and Lipari with a nice mistral that the Venturi makes strengthen up to 18-20 knots, until dusk.

The much-desired quiet berth turns out to be, unfortunately, and also because of the smell of sulfur, a bedlam…. hellish undertow, mess of blaring music, boats squashed side by side like sardines, people pulling your water rod out of the socket and attaching their own, perhaps inadvertently using and taking away your fitting, charterers who think they own the port…..in short, total delirium……beata Ustica and Marettimo…..
not even the splendid tuna cooked by Lucy at dinner can reconcile the spirits.

At midnight I check on it before going to bed and see a tender drifting in the bay; with my dinghy I retrieve it, there is no identification plate, it’s a hard keel, nice, and it has a can of gasoline on board, I look around, there is no one, I tie it to BP3, between us and the Golly, then tomorrow we will see who lost it…..
I wake up to photograph the sunrise and the tender is gone….I find it beautifully tied to a charter. I ask for an explanation and the “skipper” tells me it is his……

Of course it will be so, but, politeness would like, that, before you pick it up, you could have asked and still then, at the very least, thanked them for getting it back…….mah……
We take a walk around the village to blow off the anger of the sleepless night(despite the earplugs) with the fenders sizzling, we pick up a beautiful fish market/restaurant and make reservations for dinner.
In the meantime, the harbor has emptied, especially from the charter-casinists; we had thought of leaving but decide to stay another night; also because we want to walk up to the crater in the morning. Dinner at “The King of the Fish” turns out to be a welcome surprise, very rustic decor, sketchy but friendly waiter, menu selection made directly on the fish counter.

There are 9 of us and we try a little bit of everything, both raw and cooked: tuna, amberjack, scampi, prawns, shrimp, swordfish, bream…..35 € per head; wine, water, dessert, coffee and ammazzacaffè included, of course….CONTINUE



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