Tag Archives: Italy

“Pink” evening on St.Pietro

Yesterday at night the wind reached 35 knots. It made such a loud and horrible noise that I felt myself as if being in the middle of military airport at the beginning of war. The wind sang hellish songs and sent damns to all who hid in shelter in time. So did we. We had returned to St.Pietro, and the bay, where we stayed the previous time, should had safe us from fierce north-west wind. There were 10 other yachts, who found the shelter for that night there.

The “address” of the hospitable bay: 39°06.0270N, 008°18.2403E. This place is interesting not only because of the good anchorage, another reason to stop there – further in this post.

The map of St.Pietro that we have on board is ornated with pictures of pink birds – flamingos. In the middle of the town there’s a lagoon, where these birds are often seen. When we stayed in the town, I watched for them for two days – and saw no one. “Probably, they are seasonal”, – was my suggestion.

Isabel was leaving “Vagabong” on 9th of August. When she went to the town to discover the way to Sardinian airport, she found a couple of attractions, very close to our bay: ruins of an old church and a lake with… flamingos! On Tuesday I got a mission to see them.

Ruins of the church near "flamingo" lake.

I was lucky to find an English-Italian speaking guy, who helped me in communication with locals. With some difficulties we defined the spot. 1 km down the road – and it’s in front of me: half lake, half swamp. I recognised my “dream” birds from a distance: their light-coloured feather reflected the light of the sun, setting down, and were shining. There were many of them – probably, a hundred, maybe, more.

Birds look graceful, when they feed, bowing their long necks to the water, or walk in shallow water. But when they reach a deeper place, they start to look very clumsy and funny, lifting high their thin legs.

Their voice is quite grumpy, and they sound like a crowd of old angry ladies.

They heard me and hurried to escape to another part of the lake. I took my shoes off to be more quiet, but it didn’t help. They know well that humans are not those creatures that deserve trust.

When they rose from the water to fly away, I saw bright pink back of their wings. Almost as bright as a sunset…

Toy island St.Pietro

Sometimes we don’t need reasons to feel happy. We just don’t need reasons to feel unhappy.

Today is 7th of August. Or my goodness, almost autumn! In most of 24 years of my life the start of august brought a panic to my mind: after the last month of summer I’m close to winter, frosts and 4-months-long sleep. I always felt myself like a peasant, who survive – not live! – winter time.

Well, this august I spend in Mediterranean with perspective to avoid winter at all. Because the next destination is… Brazilian summer!!! That’s a high point – to move from summer to summer and never be back to winter time. Maybe, just for a couple of weeks for snowboarding…

But why do I still feel the same? Slight panic, a touch of despair… It lives somewhere deep inside me.

But back to Mediterranean sea. We’re on the south-west coast of Sardinia. Tonight wind blows from the east so we’ve found the shelter in a cosy bay with endless sandy beach and a bar. Lovely evening, walking along the coast and colourful and charming sunset. I was sitting on a deserted beach and watched, how pink feathers disappeared above Sardinian hills, quickly covered by dark blanket of night.

We came to the beach by dinghy, but back to the yacht I swam – water of the sea was incredibly warm and overwhelmed all my body gently and calm. I turned to my back and soon a falling star gave me a chance to make a wish. But what do I need? I have everything, as always, as at every moment of my life.

The last two days we spent on the closest to Spain Italian island – St. Pietro. Main town of the island – Carloforte- reminded me toy cities from cartoons. Clean narrow streets, a fancy marina and a bay, a long coast with palms and souvenir shops. Everything is so neat and nice. I would definitely like to spend here more time.

Despite its small size, town has many amazing places to spent evening. Searching for internet, we ended up in a bar that I would easily give 5 stars from 5. The bar “L’Incudine” on Via Roma, 78 –  I would become a constant guest of this kind of place even in Saint-Petersburg or Paris. Small but cosy, with books and paintings on walls, with English-speaking and friendly stuff and free WiFi (that doesn’t need registration as in many places in Italy). As we would say in Russia – with personality.

We stayed in marina of Carloforte – and that was the fanciest marina I’ve ever been: with restaurant and life music, nice showers and green carpet that covered all a quay (!!!), where children from moored boats had fun and rest. At the same time, that was a cheapest marina among European – 45 euros.

We were lucky to catch the finish of some regatta or rally. Most of yachts were French. Probably, they went from Cote-d’Azur to Sardinia. And French know how to have fun. Being back on board after 24pm, I slept with closed hatch and still heard well songs and jokes that they performed.

Boats, sailing near our shelter.


The last Italian island

Cris decided to stop not on Sardinia itself but on the island nearby – the closest one to Ibiza. We felt that wind and waves do not allow us to be fast enough to get to the planned point on time. That’s why after 1,5 days and night crossing we anchored in a lovely bay of Sardinia. Picturesque rocks, blue sea with jungles of seaplants on the bottom, sailors, here it is: P. To di Piscinni 38°54.6217 N 08°46.7670 E.

I went to investigate the shore with amazing sandy beach and daffodils, growing on a dune.

When we arrived, there was quite crowded: several yachts and boats in a bay, the beach is covered with sunbathing bodies. We left the board for some beers,  that I’ve found in a kiosk on wheels near the road (by the way, local beer is not bad)). When we came home, there was no one: deserted beach and empty bay… Can not say that made us sad.

Early departure and a day crossing to the island St.Pietro followed. The forecast that we downloaded on Favignana didn’t really match the weather, moreover – wind was from the opposite side. Nature is caprisious and changes her mind fast. We tucked and spent a little bit more time on way. But if to say about me – I really enjoyed yesterday. Despite from time to time bumpy sailing and wind, changing strength from zero to almost 20 knots, that was a pleasure for me. Can’t wait for another crossing.

A couple of words about Sardinia. It’s beautiful! Rocky and very green at the same time. Views are stunning here. The island is huge, and we saw only its southern coast, but it impresses.  Probably, even more than Sicily.

Finally, we reached St.Pietro, filling sails with strong wind and enjoying view of windsurfers, flying like butterflies across the bay. There was no anchorage in the city. 45 euros for marina in Carloforte (eastern coast of St.Pietro island) – the cheapest among those places we’ve been in Europe. So tomorrow we head there: we run out of diesel, food, need laundry and internet. Enough reason to pay 45 euros.

Life seems great, does it? Actually, it is great, but still I feel myself like on a rollercoaster: up and down, every day my mood and desires change. I have everything I dream about. If to read my notes six months old, it’s hard to believe, how much life and world gift to me now.  This “yacht being” is worth leaving behind much more than I could expect before. Little is left – to learn to live only present day. Easy to declare as a life principle, hard to follow on practice. Future doesn’t exist at this point of time, but bothers me more than my past.  I stake nothing, because the only moment that exist is present moment, and it has already gone…





Making a wish – night in Mediterranean

This note is from the Mediterranean night. It’s 01:45 and my shift. We’re driven mostly by engine, because there’s almost no wind, and empty sails are flopping slightly from time to time.

Light from the computer is very bright and blind me a little bit. But we’re in the middle of the sea, and no one is around. Big cargo ship has just passed us from the right- but she was the first and only one for two hours.

My watch is from 12 to 4 – “dogwatch”, how sailors call it. This night is calm, very calm, more than we could desire, that’s why we need to use engine. Cris doesn’t want to spend another night sailing, so we try to keep speed.

At this moment I have the most beautiful ceiling in the world. There’s no chance to overwhelm this starry sky! Millions, billions sparkling dots. Or maybe these are holes in a dark canopy, and through them the light from some heavenly world flows gently and makes me dream…

And dreams… all dreams could be fulfilled here just for an hour! Stars are falling, huge meteors are crossing half of the sky. I watch this natural and the most amazing show – and don’t have anything to wish. Am I happy?

…I don’t know. This question is too short and too deep for me to answer. In my life I have already had many moments, when, like Goethe’s Faust, I could say: “Stop, the moment, you’re wonderful”. But I would never do that, because there are so many more and more beautiful of them in front of me. Yes, I’m young and hungry for life.

I imagine what would happen, if one of Big bear’s stars falls. Probably, the world will collapse. Our bear is more beautiful than Southern cross of the Southern hemisphere. Not much time will pass, and I will say “good bye”  to you, bear. For long? Who could know. And this unpredictable way is the miracle of our being.

View on one of the islands Egali from Favignana

Make love. Not war. Or Back to B.C.

Old forgotten mines, where thousands of people used to cut the stone.  Square artificial entrances to caves, created by people in order to satisfy their need in materials. They  face the sea, dot coastal rocks all along the shore. Ancient houses and fences are made from stones that were taken from mines. Paths and dusty roads lead from one side of the small island to the other.

Mines of Favignana

This place definitely reminded me Epic films about mighty Roman empire, its dwellers and servants.  And that is the place, where we anchored the last night.

This is how dweller of Isla di Favignana live.

Isola di Favignana is one of the three islands that create Arcipelago delle Egadi, to the west of Sicily. There are ferries – Ustica lines – that connect Sicily, Ustica and Egali.  When for a while we stopped at the bay of the town, ferries were departing and arriving almost every 30 minutes, causing much waving.

The town of Favignana is a really charming place. It’s small but full of life. Especially on Friday night – amount of people, walking, parting and having dinner outdoors on central streets, reminded me about big cities. But that doesn’t make it overcrowded, moreover – adds something to provincial charm.

Port of Favignana

On one of the shores of the cosy town bay there’s an old maison, where Tuna museo is situated. Sounds yummy, hey? If we would stay longer, I would definitely visit it.

Lovely bay of Favignana, where we spent the first night.

We were staying in different bays of Favignana for four days. The main reason was face wind and waves that didn’t allow us to head to Sardinia. Warm sunny days, turquoise water and amazing landscape surrounded us all these days.

On the hill, the highest point of the island, – Fort di Sancta Caterina. It’s very touristic sight, even excursions by donkeys are held to the top of the hill. Their stable is near the place, where the ascending road starts. This road is an easy and fast way to get to the top.

Fort di Sancta Caterina

I do not choose approved and explored paths, so decided to conquer the hill from the other side, rocky and bushy. 40 minutes of rock-climbing – and I’m on the top, completely happy and with scratched legs. From there I could see all island, including “Vagabond”’s anchorage, the town, mines and desired fortress – like on a palm.

Pleasant walk along the edge to the top of another hill – and the fort is right in front of me. I entered it from “prohibited” side that was indicated with thorny fence to prevent tourists to explore “wild” and rocky hills of Favignana.

In the fort I met two guys from Sri Lanka. They’ve been working on the island for five months. And that was the first time they climbed the hill. Back we went civilized way and together.

And then I lost my road : ) No one is surprised, yep? We returned to the centre (guys decided to join me on my way to the boat), from where we went to the anchorage before with Cris and Isabel. Then I lost the way again. So we decided to ask the direction in a very load bar. Cool guys -barmen got a map from nowhere and showed the right street.

These meetings per chance, random people, support and smiles are great treasure of my life. These are people, who create my world, who enrich me and make me feel. They are stars, sparkles of my life way – amazing personalities that join me for a moment, for a hour, for the whole life.

People, my neighbours, brothers and sisters, are those who greet me on my way, who wave me farewell, who give me a hand and support, when I can fall, who smile to me, when I’m sad.

And I try to pay the same coin – with open hand, mind and heart. I love you all!

With these cheerful  words I finish this chapter. Make love, not war.

These carvings we found in one of mines of Favignana.

And some tips for sailors.

    • Cosy bay with transparent water and mines: 37°55.8884 N, 12°21.0553 E;
    • Anchorage with small marina (for motorboats) on the side of the island, opposite to the port (I. to Preveto – I. ta Longa): 37°54.9323 N, 12°18.4392 E.


“Vagabond” in the wonderland

And the day before yesterday we saw a volcuno eruption! We were anchored in the marina and waited for Cris, who went to the shore to met Leo and David before their departure to Barcelona. Me and Isabel were enjoying warm and calm evening on the deck, when she noticed a fire stream on a mountain slope. I suggested these are “human made” lights. But further spectations showed that was definitely a volcuno. Probably, even Etna. The light grew bigger and brighter, then broke into pieces and started to fade.

That is not a huge even for Sicilia, where vulcanos are a harmonic part of environment. But for us – it was!

Trying to imagine how was the life in the old castello on the entrance to Trapani port many centuries ago...

And yesterday we saw … dolphins!!! Not in a dolphinarium but in the wild! We sailed from Palermo to Trapani, and they appeared from nowhere and joined “Vagabond” for a while. They were rushing from board to board, jumping from water and showing their grey backs. Incredible creatures! So pleasant to be their guests.

Paradise dwellers

This is a story about the paradise…

The lighthouse of Ustica

In Palermo our crew grew bigger: Cristiano’s friends and his brother from Brazil has arrived, Isabel from Poland joined the crew. All worries that we had, searching for Internet and car rent, were forgotten.

The next destination of “Vagabond” – the island Ustica in Tyrrhenian sea.

Map of Ustica on the main square

This day was a significant day for me. Precious feeling has returned to me – feeling of harmony with the world, being one piece with it, long time ago forgotten, always missed. Not a moment, not a mood but constant and strong feeling.

The beautiful sensitive yacht responsed for movements of steering wheel in my hands. Healing salty sea touched the hull and tried to get us from time to time. Sicily was disappearing slowly, turning into colourful and sunny mirage behind.

I feel calm and confident now. What’s that – forgotten or never known? I have no reason to run. And no wish. I’m here already, in the best place in the world.

Port of Ustica

In several hours we were on place. The island was completely different from touristic Vulcano that we visited before. We anchored not far from a beautiful lighthouse that is on photo at the beginning of the post.

The small idilic island is just 9 km across. Taxi driver Pippo took us to the town. I haven’t been to many places like this one. Clean streets, white houses, terassas with awesome view on the marina. And flowers, flowers, flowers…

By scooters we explored the island. Beautiful, beautiful!  Despite complains of Leo and David, we all climbed the hill and were regarded with another incredible view.

I don’t remember names of a lighthouse or a town. But the usland is so small that you can walk around it. The amazing place is a square – close to the marina, with restaurant on a terasse. All houses on this square are ornated with pictures.

Beautiful portrait on the wall of the restaurant
For whom does he waiting for? Probably, you : )

We met the sunset in a warm and fun circle. Cristiano’s friends from the boat “La Palapa” joined us for a party with beers and brq. We danced, swam naked and played music (the drum was a 5 liters beer can – and yes, I loved it! Miss my djembe)). And the night was beautiful.

That day was a perfect day. The island is a real paradase. I couldn’t expect in overcrowded Europe. So, please, my friends, don’t tell too many people about it – let it stay a paradise : )

Vagabond - my small world

Chapter 3: on board of “Vagabond”

After sleepless night in a bus (8-hours drive) we arrived to Reggio Calaria, a town on a continental side of Messina channel.

The bus ride was tiring but not useless. The road goes along the coast, and the coast of Southern Italy is incredible. Rocky cliffs, hills, covered with olive trees and vines, blue Mediterranean sea and plenty of multilevel coastal towns, settled in bays and harbours.

Ferry to Messina – and I’m on Sicily! So close to the aim of my bus journey, the town Taormina, where the boat “Vagabond” was waiting for me. And here’s a point, where my plan starts to be useless.

First I missed the stop in Messina. The next one was in more than an hour drive, in Catania. The point, where I realised the fact of a missed stop,  was a turn to Taormina that we passed. HERE I remembered that I needed to hop off in Messina. “Well, lets look around. Not every day on Sicilia”, – I finally decided. And have a relaxing ride to Catania, admiring landscapes of the island.

Taormina - view from a high point

In Catania we stopped on a bus station, so there was no problem in finding the bus to Taormina. If the previous bus was typically touristic (very good bus, by the way – clean, with smily drivers and even snacks and drinks served. The company is called “Interbus – Ibus”, here’s the link. The ticket from Roma to Messina costs 32 euros, ferry is included), the bus Catania-Taormina was typically public. People attacted it, seiged and took with a battle. Happily, poor driver was able to hide in his seat in proper time.

The public was diverse: Africans, Arabs and a few Italians. There were many sellers with their goods, so I worried a bit for  my bag, which was in a lugguage section. On every stop people opened it to take their numerous things.

The ride was fun: I talked to my neighbour from Bangladesh and watched the scenery through the window.  The result of my unattentiveness:  I was late to Taormina for four hours.

Taormina is a resort town, not far from Etna volcano. I could see it from a distance, with an smoke above its head. The town has three bays with beaches and anchorage for yachts. I ended up on the top of the hill, on a bus station. While going through a winding road up, I saw several yachts, anchored near the rock.

Funny thing was that about the boat I didn’t know anything, except the name of the yacht and the first name of the captain. With this poor information I ended up on a beach.

I asked Rescue service, and they told me that haven’t seen the boat with the name “Vagabond” in the nearest bay. They I rushed to the diving school – but they didn’t know anything useful for me. Finally, I decided to find a restaurant with the internet, write an email to the captain Cristiano and wait.

The waiter, whom I asked about WiFi, spoke English very slightly. But he spoke French! Not perfect but better than me – italian. I explained a situation to him. Probably, because of my desperate face or just his kind nature , but he gave me his notebook with mobile connection to the net.  At the same time, another guy from a restaurant tried to help me, calling to stations all over Taormina and asking about “Vagabond”. Finally, he found some guys, who saw a boat with this name.

Meanwhile, I wrote an e-mail to Cris  and – oh miracle! – he called me in a minute! We were lucky to get the connection, and soon a white dinghy brought me on board the yacht. Chapter 3 of my journey has started…

Vulcano, one of Ionian islands

I’m in Palermo now, the capital of Sicily. The city that I would never want to leave. Yesterday we spent several hours trying to find internet. Today we can’t hire a car.

I can forgive everything – car, internet – but not lack of air. Despite it’s on an island, stetched far along the coast, it’s so dusty here…

Tomorrow we’re leaving to an island Ustica in Tyrrhenian sea. Just 9 km across. Can’t wait to leave Palermo.

City of thousand streams

Il Colosseo, or Coliseum

Rome counts not centuries but thousands of years. I guess, in theory – sums that are necessary to restore all the historic buildings of the Ancient city, it’s possible to built a new city.

Roma has only two metro lines. More romans just can’t afford not damaging an enomous historic layer. Archeological excavations  all over the cityis a feature of modern Rome.

Rome is extremely hot in summer. Small compensation for hot weather is public water. You can find it in Rome almost everywhere, at least if to speak about touristic centre. Small fountains and pots of various shapes, forms and architecture. Mostly preserved from previous centuries, they still frankly do their job. Near the Colosseo (or simply Coliseum, as it is known all over the world) we even stood in a line for a while to make a shot. Actually, being in Italy I wanted to drink all the time.  Not really pleasant feeling but finally I got used to it.

Lusiano near the historic public water spot not far from Vatican

Cats is another famous feature of Rome. But we haven’t seen many of these fluffy creatures: just several on streets. One was also noticed on a place of archeological excavation. Moreover, they established a charity project for cats and put a stand with their photos near the historic spot.

This is a parking in the centre of Rome. Wish I would have such a house : )

Anyway, all cats are scary of people in Rome. For me, who miss her cats dearly, that was a great dissapointment. Dream about hugging something fluffy and murmuring : )

Skipper and Lusien - my dear cats

All roads lead to Rome?!

From Nice we took another bus for 1 euro: number 100 that goes from station J.C.Bermond in Nice to Menton, a small town on the border with Italy.

Again we had two variants:

  1. To go through Florence and take the route E35 to Rome;
  2. To take the road E80 along the coast.
Menton - French side

In Menton I said “A bientot” to France. But for several hours after that I was so happy to meet French drivers. At least, I can say something to them. In Italy I feel myself dump…

Lusiano taught me several words:

Bongiorno – Good afternoon

Buonasera – Good evening

Grazie – Thank you

and “the perl” of my Italian vocabulary:  vai a Roma? – are you going to Rome?

We just said “goodbye” to a man who picked us up in Ventimiglia (the first town in Italy after the border). He told us that 30 years ago, while hitch-hiking in Italy, he was stuck in Ventimiglia for 24 hours. Finally, he took a train. He confessed: that was the worst autostop in his life. Well, nothing has changed in Italy for the last 30 years!

A bientot, dear France!

In Menton we were waiting for a lift for more than an hour. Two women, driving out of a parking, stopped on a turn and our glances crossed. They said to me something – and finally we got a ride. The first question the driver asked was a joking about killers-autostoppers… hmmm…Bad reputation of hitch-hiking in Italy in action.

In Italy people have a point that taking a hitch-hiker “on board” is a doubtful and probably dangerous adventure. As my friends told me, the situation is not better in other coutries of Southern Europe, like Spain and Greece.

What will be further…

In Ventimiglia we tried to catch a car on the entrance to the route E80 – unsucessfully. Then Lusiano found a huge truck parking nearby. We spent about 40 mintutes to ask drivers who were awaken. Everyone’s departure was appointed for the next morning. But we got used to stay in shitty places in wait for a ride, so it’s fine : ) And view is awesome here, just have a look))

Picturesque truck parking in Ventimiglia, Italy

Following drivers’ advice, we camped just in the middle of parking, near administration building. Not to loose our “bon chance” we posted a paper on wall with just two words: “Genova. Roma”. And in 20 minuted a Bulgarian driver Christoff ordered us a lift and invited us to spend night in his car.

The next morning it’s appeared that his plans had changed… Then we were picked up by ex-hitchhiker, I already wrote about that above.

… Way to Rome was long and tiring. It was the longest time I’ve ever waited for lifts. We reached Genova by E80, then another small town – Messa. There we were stuck again: in the middle of the day, when the sun heats the most. A couple of hours waiting… We were already going to have a nap under the bush, but I decided to make the last attempt. And found the man who was going to Rome through Florence!!! That was our “lucky ticket”. Several hours of driving – and we are in Eternal city!!!

Eternal city

Output: autostop in Italy doesn’t really work! In France we got 5-6 lifts a day and still had much time to relax on a beach. In Italy we spent all these hours on a gas station.

And noone speaks English, of course : )