Rome to Elba, Italy
June 29 - July 25, 2004
Travelogue #1 Summer 2004
It is June 29th and time to return
to Rome, Italy and our sailing adventures. The trip is looong,
as usual, but with a new twist. We couldn't get a flight to Rome
so we arrived in Naples, 120 miles south of Rome. We rented a
real neat but very small car, a Mercedes Smart Car, to get to
Lido Ostia in Rome. From the driver's seat I can reach out my
window and wipe the rear window, outside! We have seen them over
here for the past 4 years and they will be available in the US
in 2005 or 2006. It took 23 hours to get to our boat; it was
1:30 AM Thursday July 1st when we arrived. It makes the trip
to San Carlos or San Diego seem like a cake walk with respect
to length of trip.
We made another trip into Rome
to see and photograph Michelangelo's Moses
one more time; as before this is a most fabulous piece of art.
We are here on Sunday and expect to attend services, but it is
in a very small chapel so we excuse ourselves. Again I have taken
a picture of the chains
that bound St. Peter. This church has very powerful visual
and spiritual artifacts.
We also got to spend an evening
with the Italian sailors we met in Salina in April. The O-ring
on the propane valve disintegrated and I went to Fiumicino to
find one. In the hardware store there was a young Pilipino who
said upon seeing us, "Are you from the United States?".
Sure, from Arizona, to which he replied, "I love the USA,
have an American Flag on my wall, sing God Bless America every
day and praise George Bush". He was truly excited to meet
two more Americans; it is great to be welcomed like this.
We spent the better part of a
week preparing to leave on our next leg. On Saturday, July 10
we left for a trip to Sardenia that was not going to happen.
It is but 130 miles and we figured 24 hours would be sufficient,
so we left at 11:30 am. At 9 pm we had only covered 50 miles,
due to several things. There was a building adverse sea, wind
on the nose, a 1.5 kt head current, and our autopilot was on
the fritz. It was very windy and uncomfortable, and this is supposed
to be fun, so we changed directions and tacked north to an anchorage
we would have otherwise missed. We are in Porto
Ercole and so are hundreds of other weekend boaters. The
weekenders are returning to their marinas up and down the coast.
This port has at least 3 forts overlooking a small harbor. The
harbor reminds us both of small harbors in Greece, with the activity
and harbor side restaurants. Porto
Ercole, named for Hercules, is in the Tuscan Archipelago.
There is a castle
overlooking the town, as there are in so many harbors.
This is a terrific place to visit,
or live if you don't need a large city to support your activities.
The village is perhaps half a mile in an arc about the bay and
but 100 feet deep away from the bay; some of the streets
on the upper level have beautiful arched passages. There is one
long street and it is behind the buildings that front the bay.
The other side of the street is mountain and trees, straight
up. Mostly there are apartments or condos, probably second homes
to the wealthier Roman population. It is but 75 miles to Rome.
It seems like everyone has a bay water view from their window.
I saw some advertisements of residences for sale; generally a
100 square meter apt sells for about 400,000 Euros or $500,000.
Nice price. The dress shops are small, perhaps 10 feet wide and
15 feet deep but there are many and the fashions are the latest
and really very nice.
There is a public plaza which
has a shady part in the mornings. This shady spot has a circular
modernistic stainless steel set of four benches where the elders
converge. Each of the benches will seat 4 men. The men look to
be retired, in great health, tanned, in short pants and sandals,
and gossip or solve world problems each morning. There are more
attendees than seats so the seniority system seems to be in play.
It is entertaining to stand nearby and listen to the pontification
in the smaller units.
The bay has three yacht clubs
and a few places for visitors. The boats are primarily motor
boats of the go fast type and 30 to 60 feet long. There are also
some large sailing vessels. There was also a smaller boat with
a larger than average pasarelle. The throaty roar of the procession
leaving and arriving is awesome, however there is extreme courtesy
and NO ONE speeds or causes a wake in the bay. We are anchored
in one end of the bay and no one seems to consider us an imposition
or resents us being in their back yard. Supposedly this bay is
known to but a few of the upper class and not at all discovered
by foreigners. I believe it. The Queen
of the Netherlands motored in on her yacht yesterday and
supposedly has a home over the mountain. There was a real first
class convoy of super cars and escorts meeting her. Her boat
is gone again today, but it will be back this evening. In walking
about, we saw two boats
on trailers which were adapted to wide loads, neat idea.
I set about to get the autopilot
repaired; recall that this instrument was to have been replaced
with a new one in March in Marmaris, Turkey where Raymarine did
a 100% instrument replacement due to a series of problems. To
have instrument failure in an unfamiliar place is not comforting,
but to be here in this small village and almost no one speaks
English, I expected a monumental problem. With the Internet on
board, I went to Raymarine, service centers, Italy, a spot on
the map north of Rome and what do you know there is a service
facility less than 1 mile away. And they spoke excellent English.
The replacement instrument will be shipped from the UK to Milan
and thence to Cala Galera and our boat this week.
If one has to be stuck in a place,
this is the one. I really don't care if we have to stay through
the weekend. This place is cool, calm, friendly, clean and quiet.
There is a place that I can see at this moment where Renneckar
could live forever. He wants a place with all of these attributes
plus where he can see the movement of boats in and about the
harbor. This is it.
As a by-the-way, in Europe they
have what is known as the T9 system for keying messages on the
cell phones. This may also be available in the USA but it was
new and confusing to me. Rather than repetitive clicks on the
number pad to get what you want, just tap a key with the letter
desired once and go to the next letter in the word. Again just
tap the key once. By the time you are on the third or fourth
letter, the T9 system has figured out which word you want. In
case you are typing a really strange word you will be allowed
to tap it in the old way. The system is in 7 languages. For example,
in the standard method, to type HIGH you would tap the 4 key
2 times for the H, the 4 key 3 times for the I,
the 4 key once for the G, and the 4 key 2 times for
the H. In T9 you would tap 4,4,4,4 and the system
has it figured out that you want the word HIGH. Go to www.t9.com.
I had to figure it out to send messages and now it is easy.
The replacement computer for
the autopilot has arrived, is in place and functioning as it
should, all is well. We can not make up our minds where we want
to go next or when to leave. I believe that is because it is
so nice here you don't want to mess with the tra-la-las. However
we have some miles to make and know that Barcelona is not going
to come to us, so we are leaving Saturday. But first we must
sample another pizza, and it is as good as remembered. Then we
must also eat our evening meal at one of the quay side restaurants
and have a double dose of sea food. Sounds like a fun day to
me. The antipasto is a buffet of about 16 items and included
are clams, mussels, crab, octopus and a lot of vegetable selections.
Saturday morning, July 16, and
we are leaving Porto Ercole for Isla
Giglio about 10 miles away. This must be the Italian replacement
for Catalina Island. This morning there have been at least 80
boats leaving both here and Cala Galera headed for Giglio. It
looks like the Christmas parade in San Diego Bay, without the
lights. Giglio is a small island and we hope there is room for
us when we arrive. There are at least 8 power yachts in the 70
plus foot variety, plus dozens of the fast cigarette type 40
footers. It is a crazy mess, but we will join them. Once in the
bay at Giglio we find some sand for the anchor and set up for
an afternoon and night on the hook. We were there for an afternoon
display of the sailboat mating dance.
We are enjoying very nice weather. The day time temperatures,
once leaving Rome, have been in the mid to high 70s. The nights
are cool and we frequently wake to a 67 or so temp in the cabin.
Summer has set in and the rain clouds are gone. It is bright,
sunny and with light winds.
When we started our journey from
Izola, Slovenia to Corfu, it was necessary to go closer to Italy
than to Albania, for political reasons among others. We were
given first hand reports of mischief along the Italian coast.
This theme continued for the past four years with reports from
many nationalities and while visiting several countries, Be
very careful in Italy. This created a mindset in me of
hesitation to even visit Italy, let alone stop and enjoy the
country. In our first few weeks we were in the very south part
and then in Sicily itself, horror of all horrors. To set things
straight, Italy is a most wonderful country. Surely things can
happen that aren't pleasant and are even provocative, but this
is a great place to sail and visit. Italians are very industrious,
ingenious and friendly. There seems to be a great economy with
no homeless on the street. The show of affection between fathers
and children is a joyful thing to see. This is a country where
they have great industries, food, agricul [rest of paragraph
We sailed to the island of Elba, where
Napoleon was exiled. We are in Porto
Azzurro on the SE side. This island is to Tuscany as Catalina
Island is to Southern California. Everyone who can, comes out
here often and especially on the weekends, the water is extremely
clear. We arrived on Monday morning with the plan to circumnavigate
the island before the next weekend. Azzurro has only one reason
for being, it is to accommodate the tourist. They have a great
many apparel shops, souvenir shops, wine
shops and more restaurants than is necessary. The town quay
is compact and very crowded with power boats. The distance from
one quay to the next one is about 120 feet. Thus with opposing
40 foot boats tied to each quay there is but 40 feet between
their bows to turn around, not enough room to enter. However
there is a large bay just outside the harbor and by night fall
there must be 40 boats at anchor. It is only about 300 yards
to town. We really do enjoy a walkabout to see the small paths
between houses and then a plate of grilled sword fish. Some even
go so far as to have a pizza in the mix. After that you have
dessert which in our case was tiramisu.
We are on our way to Porto Marina
di Campo which is further west but still on the south side of
Elba. This is a much smaller place but still alive with tourists.
We are now cruising in the company of tourists, mostly Italian,
but there are more French than earlier and a few from the Czech
Republic and the Netherlands. There are not a lot of Germans
in this area. We are still the only Americans. One night here
and we are off around the west end of Elba to Marina
Marciana on the north side. This place is very nice with
a fabulous anchoring area just off of the beach and behind a
breakwater. From the marina one can see a small village, Poggio, quite high on
the mountain. We took a bus to Poggio and took a picture of Marciana from the hill
top. After walking the town we got on another bus which took
us around the west end of Elba and back to Porto di Campo and
Portoferraio. This was a closer look at the cliffs and beaches.
The anchoring is becoming crowded, boats anchor closer due to
the raw [rest of paragraph missing]
Now we are in Portoferraio and
again in the public anchoring area. However, this time there
must be 100 boats at anchor. It is close to the docking area
for the ferries and they put out a bit of wave action when they
arrive, so every half hour you rock and roll for a minute or
so. There is a fort
on the hill overlooking the bay and below the fort is the old
town. There one finds food and entertainment. The entertainment
tonight is a couple of guys playing guitars. They seemingly know
every song of the 50s thru the 70s. If you speak with one of
them he has an Italian accent, but he sings the American lyrics
with absolutely no accent. Learning songs is a universal way
to learn a language. They are playing in a pedestrian area that
is soon packed with listeners. The music lasted longer than we
did, we left at 11:30. I would buy a disc if they made one, they
were really that good.
We have walked the town a bit
and saw some lovely gardens, Kathy
is pictured in front of someone elses garden. She would
live to have one like this, but in Tucson? Also as we were walking
in the marina I saw the old Dennis Conner, Stars
and Stripes. It is on blocks and it appears they are
readying it for the upcoming summer series of races in the area.
The one in September is on Sardenia, The Rolex Cup.
Last night we had a bit of a
storm move through, starting at 4:15 AM. I awoke to find that
we were in touch with another sail boat. In our exchange of words
I told him that I had out 20 meters of chain rode in the 10 feet
of water. He was startled, he had only 10 meters out and that
was the reason we came in touch when the wind shifted. He wasn't
going to let out any more chain, and it is hardly the time to
have the necessary conversation in Italian no less, so we moved.
The weather is supposed to return
to nice tomorrow so we will be off up the western coast of Italy
with the Marina at Pisa, on the Arno River, as our destination.
From there we plan a few days ashore in Pisa, Florence and the