SUMMER READINGS From Brindisi to Roccella Ionica/5

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stalls cirò marinaGiovanni Porzio is one of Italy’s greatest reporters and a passionate sailor. In his book “The Sea is Never the Same,” he recreated the essence of reportage, that is, “reporting” from a journey news, but also stories, feelings and images. It is from this very book that the story whose fifth part can be found here is taken.

It is the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Cirò Marina, and we follow the procession through the streets of the town. It does not compare to the overflowing Sicilian religious gatherings, much less the blazing, spirited Baroque Holy Week processions of Seville, where praying or crucified Christs parade in a cloud of incense, carried on the shoulders of barefoot and hooded penitents, and Virgins descend dancing on beds of jasmine and rose petals to the banks of the Guadalquivir. But it is still an authentic gathering of people and worth exploring.

Cirò Marina, procession of Our Lady of Carmel
Cirò Marina, procession of Our Lady of Carmel

Except for the priest, children and a few elderly people, it is only women who walk with candles in hand behind the statue of Our Lady mounted on a pickup truck and preceded by the pastor, who microphone in hand intones songs and prayers with the help of a croaking sound system.
On the waterfront are candy stalls, nougats and cotton candy, posters of Padre Pio, Jesus and Michael Jackson, a merry-go-round with fake palm trees lit up in shocking pink neon, bars with deafening disco music and a guy with an electric piano singing Morandi e Caetano Veloso. Some bored young people are smoking and frolicking, leaning against the balustrades or riding on parked motorcycles.
But is it possible that there is not even one man? All unbelievers or emigrated to Aspromonte? Perhaps the answer lies in the carabinieri helicopter that wakes us up at 6 a.m. by landing a few meters from Blue Gal: a full-scale raid, with plainclothes and military officers combing local homes and establishments. We will later learn that in the raid, several ‘Ndrangheta bosses were arrested in Calabria and Lombardy.
What a miracle, however, the marina of Roccella Ionica Where we arrive the next day! There are, on the coast, horrifying uninhabited ecomonsters, illegal concrete pours, pillars of cottages that have never been finished; and riding a bicycle along the provincial road 106 with no signage is suicidal.

Cirò Marina, procession of Our Lady of Mount Carmel where there are the women of the village
Cirò Marina, procession of Our Lady of Mount Carmel where there are the women of the village

However, the Marina delle Grazie is welcoming: new floating docks, water at the dock, clean berths and only 20 euro fee with regular tax receipt. Management is not private but entrusted to the Maritime Authority, which charges a fee to maintain the docks, subject to registration with the Coast Guard. The adjacent beach is immaculate, and the few bathing establishments with umbrellas lined up are unobtrusive.
In the harbor, fishing boats unload quintals of shrimp and prawns of every color and size: red, gray, pale pink. A riot of shellfish leaving immediately on refrigerated trucks bound for the fish market in Milan (but didn’t they ban shrimp fishing?).
The land breeze falls as soon as the sun comes out: we have to pull in the jib and resign ourselves to starting the engine. Too bad, we had deluded ourselves into thinking that we would cross by sailing to the Sicily. Muttering among the crew, accustomed to the frothy and vigorous Greek meltemi…
Between Roccella e Cape Spartivento there are no harbors or ridges, only long, wonderfully deserted beaches and sheer rocks: the marinas of Bova Marina and of Saline Ioniche are inaccessible, under everlasting construction.
The bonus is that this is precisely why mass tourism does not come.
No inflatable boats-watercraft and very few sails: in Roccella there were only two Swedish boats, one Norwegian, one French and two Italian boats. At sea, you don’t see ships as far as the Straits: we are not on the trade routes. It’s smooth sailing in the middle of nowhere. time to leaf through a manuscript found among my father’s papers.

SUMMER READINGS From Brindisi to Roccella Ionica/1

SUMMER READINGS From Brindisi to Roccella Ionica/2

SUMMER READINGS From Brindisi to Roccella Ionica/3

SUMMER READINGS From Brindisi to Roccella Ionica/4

Discover all of John Porzio’s reports!

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