Our Last Views of Valletta
always nice when you leave early in the morning
It was finally time to leave Malta and head for Sicily – what we figured would be a 12 hour passage. As a result we wanted to get an early start so we could arrive in Sicily during daylight – always a good idea when going into a port that you have never been to before. A bonus of early starts is the beautiful sunrises that you are treated to. We got our anchor up at 5:50AM and were on our way with clear skies and a flat sea. Looked more like a motoring day for a while, but the forecast promised some more wind later in the day. Unfortunately we had to go through a period of time with 3’ foot swells which are not the best as with little wind they do not help with the speed or comfort. As we both said it is good that neither of us have any tendency for seasickness. The wind finally picked up later in the day (later than predicted) but it filled in and our speed picked up making up for our slower than normal progress in the morning. All in all a good crossing as we were able to knock
off an hour from our original prediction of a 12 hour passage. We were going to anchor out but when we got close to Marzamemi the winds piped up to about 20 knots and we were tired and felt that a night in a marina would be a nice treat. Fortunately for us as well this marina was highly recommended by other cruisers and it was not too expensive. For our 12 meter boat (40’) it costs 45 euro per night and that included all the electricity and water you could use (time to fill up the water tank!) and decent shower facilities.
We were going to leave the next morning, but decided to take a day to just relax as we had been going every day that we were in Malta. It gave us time to clean the boat (again, having free water and they even provided the hose so we didn’t’t have to drag ours out!). We decided to stretch our legs and walk into town – we had heard it was a sleepy fishing town and it appeared to be very quiet as you were walking there, but when we got to the heart of the
It Was A Little Cool For the Captain & Crew
on the start of the passage early in the morning
town there were plenty of people there as a tour bus had just dropped off a load of people. They had quite a few shops that were busy as they were offering local products made from tuna – everything from tuna pate to tuna combined with a number of ingredients for dips. Of course there was also plenty of olive oil and other local Sicilian goodies on offer too, but we were able to resist them all and moved on to just walking around the rest of the town and finding a small store where we could buy a loaf of bread and a couple of other items we needed. A very pleasant village which has developed its seaside offerings with a few tour boats and diving opportunities.
We checked out with the marina office that evening as we planned on leaving about 7AM the next day but just before heading to bed we both decided that another day was in order as Bob wanted to service our outboard motor and they had a place here that they had boats on the hard so figured he could find a place to work (rather than on the dock). It worked
out better than we had hoped as they found a motor stand for Bob to use and a place in the yard with plenty of shade. Now all we had to do was get the engine off the stern of the boat, onto the dock and up to the yard. With the help of a wheelbarrow (and of course Bob’s strength) we were able to accomplish that without too much trouble.
I forgot to mention that another bonus of this marina was the fabulous wi-fi! Those of you that have it very conveniently in your home may not realize how dependent you become on it, but when you can’t get good wi-fi all the time you would realize how excited you can become when you get great wi-fi and even more so when it is included in the price of the marina! Now we could download podcast that we enjoy listening to, download some apps that we had heard about but couldn’t’t get before easily, update our apps and I could upload some blog entries that I had written before but waiting for good wi-fi. Don’t get me wrong, we have had wi-fi, but it is at a cost
either with our google phone or with a sim card that we had gotten for our cell phone. We like to keep that as much as possible for those times when we can’t get wi-fi anywhere else. We also always check into wi-fi whenever we are at a café having coffee or any other locations that we wander to.
After being in the marina now for 3 days it was definitely time to go so went to pay the night before leaving and they gave us a 5 euro break on our bill – what a nice surprise! We would definitely recommend a stop here if you are sailing in this area as the 2 brothers and father that run the place are very accommodating.
Now off to Siracusa, a place with plenty of history and streets to wander through in the old part of the city. We also need to do official paperwork here as we must obtain a document called a “Constituto” for Italy. We did this two years ago when we entered Italy, but we needed a new one for this year. That time we did it in the first town we entered and they
were not as familiar as they are here with giving these out to pleasure boats. It took us a little time to find the right place as we could see the building marked “Coast Guardia”, but we found we first had to get to the police (frontier police) to be officially checked into the country with our passports. We were told we had to come back in 2 hours when they would be in the office so as it was 2PM we decided to finally get some lunch. We had been anxious to get some of that wonderful Sicilian pizza so found a place to do that – unfortunately we had forgotten how big the pizzas are and we now know we need to order one and share it, but even with that the pizza was as good as we remembered – to be back in Sicily again!!
We went back to the police department at the designated time and got officially checked into Italy – now they kindly told us that we need to see the harbormaster, not the coast guardia to get our constituto and we were off to that office. This took a little bit of
time, but it wasn’t bad – just some more explaining first of what we needed and then filling out paperwork. We then were told we can’t pick up the constituto now, but we must come back 1 or 2 hours before we decide to leave Siracusa to pick up the completed paperwork as they must stamp it when we leave. That means we won’t be having a real early start when we do decide to leave as the office doesn’t open until 9AM and we will need to take the dinghy ashore, walk to the office and then communicate our needs to whoever happens to be on duty that morning – oh well, fortunately our plan is for a shorter hop from here up the coast so won’t need that early a start anyway.
It was now about 5:30PM and the seas had picked up with lots of whitecaps in the bay which will make for a very wet ride back in the dinghy. We decided to do a little wandering around the old part of the city and wound up at the duomo square (cathedral) where there were plenty of people in uniforms as it appeared that a
The Anchorage is Large in Siracusa
the port tells you the coordinates of where to anchor
ceremony had just finished recently. We asked around and found out that it was a 205 anniversary celebration of the Carabinieri. This is a branch of the police here in Sicily. With the festivities today was not a day to head into the Cathedral. We did a little bit more walking around the old town but then decided we needed to head back to the dinghy as we didn’t’t bring our lights and wanted to get back onboard Tsamaya before dark. Well, the wind hadn’t cut down and we both got drenched on the way back as well – this is one of the down sides of anchoring out, but the price of our overnight stay is a great one – free!
We need to get some laundry done so wanted to get it into the place that was recommended to us early in the morning the next day and that is also when the water is flat so going in toward shore we didn’t’t get wet which was great for walking around town all day. We dropped off the laundry and then decided to buy a ticket for the hop on/hop off bus. We knew we could walk
to all of the places we wanted to see, but figured this way we could fit more places in to the day. The first place we got off was at the very modern church that is dedicated to Madonna Delle Lacrime (Madonna of Tears) dedicated in 2004. It was quite controversial as you could probably imagine when you see a photo of it. We could have hopped back on the bus, but decided to walk the 8 minutes to the Parco Archeologico della Neapolis as the day was turning out to be warm and as Bob keeps saying “only mad dogs and Englishmen should be out in the heat of the day” so thought it would be good to do our outside activities as early as we could. It worked somewhat but it took us longer than we thought to get through the park so did run into the afternoon heat.
There was plenty to see as contained in the park is a Roman Amphitheatre. It had originally been thought to have been built between the 3rd
C. AD, but recent studies now date it as being from the 1st
C. BC. It’s the largest in Sicily
and was used for gladiator fights. The premiere feature of the park is the Greek Theatre which was originally built out of the surrounding hillside in the 5th
C. BC with improvements made in the 3rd
C. BC. No matter how many times we see these dates in relation to places we have been visiting, we still have a hard time rapping our heads around what magnificent structures were built at that time. It is wonderful that they still have productions shown here to this day. From the higher seats you can actually see the bay of Siracusa – quite a bonus for those seat holders!
In a limestone cliff a cave was dug under where the amphitheatre is located to hold prisoners. It reminded some of the shape of a human ear therefore it is called the Ear of Dionysius. The story goes that prisoners were kept in the cave and due to the wonderful acoustics Dionysius would stand outside and listen to everything the prisoners were saying. While we were in there a couple people decided to test the acoustics by breaking into song while a group of middle school aged kids had a great time making
The Maniace Castle Located at the Point
as you enter Siracusa Harbour since 1232
noise just to hear their own voices! It seemed that they must have pent up all of their shouting til they got here!! As you walk down to the entrance of the cave there was a wonderful microclimate allowing for a great display of plants. On a hot day it was a wonderful break to be able to walk through this shady area.
We had heard that the Duomo of Siracusa was worth seeing so headed there the next morning. We had walked by it the previous day but didn't have a chance to go inside. It is quite unique as it truly incorporated the temple that stood there before. We know of other churches that have been built in the same location of those that have worshipped before, but this one kept the columns of the temple and incorporated them into the structure. The façade is Baroque, but the structure incorporated the Greek Temple of Athena that was built in 480 BC. In the 6th
C. AD the temple structure became the exterior walls of the church and additional arches were added to the interior to create 3 naves. In the 7th C. the Bishop was so impressed
he moved the Cathedral to this location increasing its importance. The marble floor was added in the 15th
C. An earthquake in the late 17th
C. destroyed the Norman façade giving them an opportunity in the 18th
C. to add the Baroque façade that is seen today. You can definitely view the columns on the outside and we were actually surprised to see that when you walk inside you can see the remainder of the column. This is true recycling at its best.
After the few days of seeing the sights we kept it low key for the next couple of days. We did get off the boat on one day as we had learned it was market day and always enjoy those as it truly heightens the senses with all that you see, hear, smell and taste! It doesn't hurt also that we get some great produce on these days.
The next day was a day to stay the boat as it was quite windy and we really didn't feel like taking a very wet dinghy ride. We also had plenty of work to get done on the boat as we get behind with that when we
get to a new location where there is plenty to see.
Our last day here we took quite a long walk around town. We went out to the point where the Maniace Castle built between 1232-1240 is located, saw numerous beaches being heavily used and just enjoyed wandering through the alleyways that make up the older sections of town. We put on a lot of miles which is always good, especially as we know the next morning we will be starting on an overnight passage.
On June 10th the plan was to leave Siracusa but one last check of the weather is always a good idea. If we were true sailors we would wait until tomorrow, but as we are traveler’s who sail we decided today would work and we were geared up and ready to go. Alarm went off at 5:30AM and our anchor was up at 6:23am. We put the main up but there was no wind in the beginning. We got lucky and some wind started to fill in as predicted. We were on our way farther north on the east coast of Sicily to Taormina, as it was highly recommended as a place to
see while we are in the area. We are already enjoying being back in Sicily and looking forward to the next stop.
Tot: 2.497s; Tpl: 0.067s; cc: 13; qc: 27; dbt: 0.0393s; 2; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb