Once the thunder and rain storms had passed we ventured out. When we discovered that we were the only liveaboard boat we did begin to wonder if we had been right to leave the comfort blanket of Marina di Ragusa and its vibrant community.
Jayne Koehler, who is the port officer here came round to say hello and before long I was being whisked into town to be shown around.
To start with Jayne showed me Via Independenza which is an narrow alleyway full of small shops, stalls, wine merchants, tiellerie, (local pie shops), bakers, butchers, clothes shops, estate agents, bars, coffee shops, stationers, pizzerie, trattorie, casalinghue, ferramente – you name it, you can find it here.
She introduced me to most of the shop keepers and I felt warmly welcomed.
Later that day I showed Ian what I had discovered. We loved the quirky street. It is like a throw back. The signs above the doors have not changed in decades. It is scruffy but beguiling and everyone is so friendly.
The town is literally right on the door step of the boat and I think we are going to be happy here.
The next day, we walked down to the old part of town. The historic centre. The walk is a stunning stroll down a leafy boulevarde, along a huge promenade called the Lungomare. It must be four kilometres in length. Palm trees rustle over head and the tall flat topped pines cast a useful shade under their umbrella fronds.
We happened upon a tennis club which I would love to join….I made tentative enquiries, we’ll see if I’m brave enough to actually join.
We loved the winding streets, the steps and hairpin bends, the churches and old castle walls. We were fascinated to note that their was an international symposium of scholars of ancient manuscripts gathering for a two day conference on the future of studying manuscripts! Perhaps something was lost in translation but it was amazing to us that there even was such a thing!
We came across a talented artist in her ceramics workshop. Soon we were on first name terms. I hope to see her again. Maybe I can try my hand at decorating a ceramic tile?
On the way home we visited the wine shop. Wine is decanted into your own bottles. Luckily, in our bag, there were three we had the foresight to bring with us! We tasted the wine. I don’t know why exactly, as we were sure to buy! They were a bargain at E1.60 a litre!
Things were looking up!
The next day we walked across the isthmus to investigate the beach. On the northwest facing side of the Gaeta promontory is a massive beach. The beach concessions were in the process of dismantling fencing, umbrella holders and equipment, so, once that is done the beach will be the territory of the winter residents once more.
Our walk the next day was a more strenuous stroll up hill towards the Monastry of the Spaccata. This monastery/church was built into a split in the rock literally hovering a hundred metres from the sea below. The views were incredible from the top and we had the added bonus of people watching the congregation as the disgorged from church.
There are lots more walks around the Parco d’Orlando which we will do when it is less hot.
We have now discovered that there will be five other boats arriving for the winter. Of these the crew of three of them will spend most of the winter here. Another boat is being lifted onto the hard but they may visit for a holiday. So there will be a small community here, plus Jayne, the port officer.
Today we walked North along the prom into the strong winds buffeting the outer pontoons of the marina. It has been quite wild out and we, for one, are very glad of the breakwater effect that USS Mount Whitney has on our berth.
We have bought ourselves some bikes today which Dominic at the bike shop will buy back from us when we leave for half of what we paid for them. Seems like a bargain.
We have also hired a car for a few days so that we can do errands, shopping, gas refills, sewing machine repairs, laundry and most importantly go over the Appennines to Penne, Abruzzo to meet up with my great friends Paula, Lyndsay and Peter.