Our time in Sicily was explosive. From the candlelight procession of San Francisco de Paola and battle worn archeology sites to firery street markets and lava belching volcanos, the largest island in the Med kept us hopping.
We got waylaid for five days in Trapani waiting for good winds. This gave “the Bagels” (our nickname for Jennifer and Campbell) and us opportunity to explore the rich archeological sites in this area. Segesta was particularly fascinating, one of the best preserved doric temples in the world. It was built in 430 BC by the Elymians, one of the earliest peoples of Sicily. Story has it that they started construction to impress their allies and once they had their support they never bothered to finish it. Later the whole area was occupied by the Romans and they didn’t finish it either.
It amazed me how many different peoples settled and occupied Sicily. In Palermo we visited the largest Norman palace in Europe originally an Arab palace, in Taormina a Greek amphitheater, in Marsala a Carthaginian warship, and everywhere Roman roads, baths and mosaics.
We spent a day in Palermo soaking up the exotic flavour of the chaotic, rambling street market with truck tire sized tuna heads illustrating the days catch, two-meter zucchini, meats, cheeses and everything including the kitchen sink.
We overnight sailed to the Aeolian islands were it is said the Greek God of Wind gave Odysseus all the unfavourable winds in a leather sack to ensure his quick and safe return to Ithaca.
Aeolus was smiling on us as well with five days of favourable weather to explore this volcanic archipelago. Of the seven inhabited islands we visited two. On Vulcano we hiked up to its steaming crater, Sol even went right down into it. The putrid smell of sulphur belched from numerous vents on its flank.
We anchored for the first time this spring off a beautiful black sand beach. The sunset with black lava spires jutting out of the water was breathtaking.
On Panarea we met Derek from South Africa who invited us to his little slice of paradise overlooking the glistening sea.
Leonie and Sol rode Marinella and learned a new marble game while the happy chicken roamed around them.
A highlight was a challenging hike around the entire island with stunning vistas to the three active volcanos – Stromboli, Etna and Vulcano.
We weighted anchor after dark and motored north to marvel at the fireworks of ‘the lighthouse of the Mediterranean’. Every 15 minutes Stromboli shot lava high up into the starlit night. The show got bigger and brighter the closer we approached. At midnight we stopped off the northwest coast and watched and cheered every explosion. Natural fireworks to usher in Campbell’s birthday.
We sailed overnight southward and passed through the Strait of Messina to another Sicilian dream destination, Taormina. We timed the passage through the strait perfectly and caught a southerly current, the boat topping out at 9.4 knots at one point.
We anchored in a large bay directly under the hilltop town, which is beautiful but overrun with tourists. The Ancient Greek theatre was closed for a concert by famous Italian songstress Laura Pausini, but we got a glimpse from high above after climbing up to the church Madonna Della Rocca.
We said goodbye to “the Bagels” in Riposto, after a great 17 days together,with snow-capped Etna towering over the marina.
Now we are making our way to Greece via Calabria and Apuglia.