SUMMER READINGS From the Aeolian Islands to Sardinia, via the islands of Campania/1

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COVE JUNCO PANAREA-1Giovanni 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 first part can be found here is taken.

Ferragosto is approaching and Blue Gal comes alive again with presences: Sylvester, who brings a dowry box of Havana, and Ambassador Ino Cassini, in whose Genoese veins flow generations of sailors: to the point that in the 1970s, having to take up the post of First Secretary at the Italian Embassy in Algiers, he went there by boat, on a small English sloop with a propeller solcometer.

The elegant and majestic beauty of Vulcan
The elegant and majestic beauty of Vulcan

Now the sea is really crowded. And on the ground it is even worse. In Scopello we anchor in front of the former tuna fishery turned into an elegant hotel: at night it is a charm, but during the day the roadstead fills with barges. We go up, among the almond and olive trees, to the Zingaro reserve, to the home of friends from which there is a spectacular view of the island of Ustica. We stop at Fossa del Gallo, under the Limestone Cape, and Cefalù, to review the Cathedral.
Then Blue Gal sets course for the Aeolian Islands. These are “black dot” days: conitnuous bustle of motorboats, ferries, hydrofoils.
Vulcano is a frenzy of boats and discos, with Canadairs gliding over a giant fire. Lipari, just hit by an earthquake, is besieged by Coast Guard patrol boats and Civil Defense helicopters. In Filicudi, where the locals disappear, submerged by the tide of vacationers, mooring at Pecorini’s illegal buoys is a feat that requires diplomacy and highbrow knowledge: the “Biennalina,” a kermis of local and foreign artists that attracts droves of VIPs and onlookers, is in full swing.
We take refuge in Salina, in Barbara Alighiero‘s rustic surrounded by figs, lemons and malvasia grapes, in Malfa. Barbara directs the Italian Cultural Institute in Beijing (where she lives in a hutong, one of the surviving alleys of the imperial capital). In Malfa she has gathered some of her travel treasures, Kashmiri fabrics, Buddhist statues, Persian miniatures, which she has managed to fit, without jarring, into the stark, rough decor of an Aeolian peasant house.

On Blue Gal there are two of us left, Gabriella and me. To shorten the crossing to the Gulf of Policastro we decide to stop in Panarea. We set our sights on Cala Junco, the most protected and alluring anchorage on the island, where I expect a chaotic gathering of boats. Instead, to our amazement, we observe through binoculars a single sail at anchor. Is there a strong undertow? Is a gale expected from the east?
The mystery deepens below: the boats are there, hundreds of them, lined up like cars in a supermarket parking lot, sails and motors, dinghies and megayachts. But they are all anchored between Milazzese Cove and the harbor. Then I understand: from Cala Junco to the village there is but a path; one has to walk half an hour to throw oneself headlong into the bedlam of restaurants, pizzerias, ice cream parlors and pashminerias that seem to be the only destinations coveted by holiday vacationers in the ferragost. I learn of a motorboat that sails out of Salina every night at 11 a.m. and returns at 5 a.m., loaded with veterans from panariotic dances. And of rafts with DJs and speakers for parties on the water.

Discover all of John Porzio’s reports!

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