SUMMER READINGS From the Aeolian Islands to Sardinia, via the islands of Campania/2

ventoteneGiovanni 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 second part can be found here is taken.

At dawn we are left with the black silhouette of Stromboli on our starboard side. The volcano, which they respectfully call Iddu here, spits fiery lapilli and is shrouded in a blanket of sulfurous clouds. In the afternoon we spot the peninsula’s shoreline and call the small harbor of Scario, which Heikell’s Italian Water Pilot describes as one of the most pleasant on the coast: they want 150 euros for one night. Then we contact Marina di Camerota: there is no place. is fortunate, because the deserted anchorage we find in the roadstead southeast of Cape Palinuro is perfect: sandy bottom, shoals of wrasse and a sky quilted with stars.

Sunset falls as Blue Gal approaches the Amalfi Coast.
Sunset falls as Blue Gal approaches the Amalfi Coast.

Heading up north we glide along a beautiful and yet overcrowded coastline.
In Acciaroli, where we would like to stop for shopping, the confusion at the harbor mouth is such that we are forced to desist. The fabulous white beach of Ogliastra is also unapproachable: we round Punta Licosa without stopping and continue to Amalfi, buoyed by a pleasant breeze. We arrive under a red sky of clouds ablaze with sunset, and immediately I catch sight of the Cathedral steps. It encloses the Cloister of Paradise: with its intertwined arches and slender twin columns, it is one of the masterpieces of Arab-Norman art, the marvelous fruit of the meeting of East and West.
We wheel ourselves in front of the amphitheater of the glorious Republic that gave seafarers the compass (how many ships and how many lives it has saved over the centuries!), giving bottom at a fair distance to two immense yachts with helicopters on the deck and crew in impeccable seafaring uniforms: both fly Caribbean flags-shadows.
The ruins of the arsenal excite the imagination: I imagine the Amalfitans hauling ships ashore, the shipwrights, the smell of pitch from the caulking, the sacks of spices, the shouts of the merchants. On the main street, the delicate landscape of the village, interwoven with pastel-colored facades and fleeing architectural planes and temporalities, is as per italic custom gouged by the obscene flood of boutiques, clothing stores and “local products”: a profusion of “organic” limoncelli, citrus jams, taralli and cedar liqueurs. Flavors change in the land of Campania: from cannolo to sfogliatella, from sfincione to real pizza, from pecorino to mozzarella. And from the guitar to the mandolin, which among the tables of outdoor restaurants endures-and wretchedly insists! – for the delight of holidaymakers from beyond the Alps.

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In Sant’Angelo d’Ischia, a piece of the cliff is cemented over, but port work is stalled

The wind does not deign to rise in the Bay of Naples, which looks like a highway. And in the flat calm, garbage and plastic bottles floating on the surface are even more visible. The pit stop for fuel on Capri is a nightmare: two hours in line for speedboats in fetid water that smells like sewage and an incessant trumpeting of hydrofoils and barges unloading sweaty tourists.
I read an amusing Capri anecdote in the Diary that my father wrote during a cruise aboard the splendid ketch Ganymede: “At the Cit, this morning, was Moravia: still fit despite his illness and the operation he had undergone. has aged and the nose has become more hooked, more Jewish. He asked in a hen-pecked voice for news of trains to Rome.”
A Sant’Angelo d’Ischia we make a stopover to visit my mother, who for many years has been spending her summers at Donna Luisa’s, at the Garibaldi boarding house: rejuvenating thermal waters, sublime flavors, cascades of purple bougainvillea, hints of basil and lemongrass, the blue table of the sea and the outline of Capri on the horizon. They tell me, again, a nasty story of procurement, complaints and paperwork.

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

 

Discover all of John Porzio’s reports!

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