Category Archives: Italy

CROSSING THE TYRRHENIAN SEA to the southwest coast of Italy


After many prayers for good weather, we did not get it all the way! The wind was not too bad, but we could not sail. The problem was the waves that hit us from the side that caused a lot rolling. Banging into the side-on waves was slightly bearable during the daytime – at least we have had the horizon to steady ourselves (looking at the horizon make you forget somewhat that the world underneath you are rocking and rolling and less seasickness usually results). When night falls, the situation tumbles to a totally different level altogether! I could tell Johann was not 100% – he did not want to eat any food…he will rather nibble on something later. I did not feel like eating a meal either, but I am of duty and could go to bed for 2-3 hours! After 2 hours, Johann was clearly relieved to see me up and about… he was pretty pale looking … and could not part with the toilet for longer than the duration of a short sentence! Apparently that has been going on for the entire time that I was sleeping soundly down below! Poor thing … I was well rested and sent the Captain to bed for as long as it takes to recover (with a anti-seasickness tablet). The next day he was less pale, more talkative but still wary when it comes to the choice of meals. I am off the hook again (no cooking day2!!)

Stugeron ... saved a life ... how sad that it has been taken off the market!
Stugeron … saved a life … how sad that it has been taken off the market!

The perfect flat seas, hardly any wind eventually struck us at daybreak just past the Pontine Islands as we near the Italian coast. Except for turning green for a while, it was just another fortunate moment for us – to enjoy the crossing without serious challenges! Reading the notes of Andrea and Ian Treleaven (Letters from the Med) and Rod Heikel’s Italian Waters Pilot …made us realise just how lucky we are! It can be a hair-raising life threatening experience (to be caught out in 45 -50 kts wind, with a yacht with all sails down and still doing 10 kts!) – with no place to rest or hide if the weather turns foul!
Land at last ... and if I am not mistaken ... its the Isle of Capri!
Land at last … and if I am not mistaken … its the Isle of Capri!

We could not make up our minds if we should go straight to Solerna or Naples ( on the South West coast of Italy) to get the Charts and keep going while the weather is good … as we expect to motor most of the time around the Italian South-west coast. Isle of Capri put a spanner in the works of that idea! It was a perfect clear calm day, mid-morning when we arrived there and for a more perfect day one could not asked for! We there and then pulled into Marina Grande de Capri ! At a massive cost of €275 per night!! We could only afford to stay for one! If we stretch the boundaries a little we might get almost 2 days out of it!

Sadly Naples did not do it for me …


Naples with Mt Vesuvius in the background
Naples with Mt Vesuvius in the background

We were forced to go into Naples to get the electronic charts we need to travel all the way around Italy and on to Croatia. It is vital seeing that we will lose our internet connections with the Italian sim cards on the IPad on the way. By the way – it I amazing and very impressive how far off shore we could still get internet to download the weather. We could often not even see land and still had good 3G available!

I had two huge loads of washing to do but have often wondered what Naples is like, and this little monkey would not like to miss out on anything! 🙂 I left the boat with all the washing lying scattered all over the floor in sorted piles … all sorted to be washed and took the train in to Naples with Johann.

The train trip on its own was an experience and I had nervous flashbacks to my last Italian train station in Rome! To say the least – it is chaotic and nerve racking! You destination on the big overhead electronic display board is not always as indicated on the ticket and the time of departure get announced only 5-10 min prior to departure which means a mad run to the platform by hundreds of people as soon as it gets announced! Crazy, crazy!

Taken from the bus on the way to Naples
Veggies and fruit farms along the road to Naples
That is the picture I have of Naples in my mind!
That is the picture I have of Naples in my mind!
Haphazard parking in Naples
Haphazard parking in Naples

The countryside on the way tells a story of very efficient usage of soil for the plant of fruit and veggies and we passed large olive groves. We were travelling all around the famous Mount Vesuvius just outside of Naples. It is best know for its eruption in AD 79 that led to the burying and destruction of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The explosion at that time released a 100 000 times the thermal energy released by the Hiroshima bombing and killed 16 000 people! It is amazing to think that it forced a cloud of stone and ash and fumes 20.5 miles up in the air and was spewing lava and pumice at the rate of 1.5 million TONS per second up in the air!!! (alias Wikipedia) Amazing!! I could not help to wonder, as we drove all around it, what the damage will be today should it erupt again!
Vesuvius is the only volcano that has erupted on mainland Europe within the last 100 years. It is regarded as the most dangerous volcano in the world because of the population of 3,000,000 people living nearby and its tendency towards explosive eruptions. It is the most densely populated volcanic region in the world.

Arriving at Naples we were blown away by how filthy it is in the city! Rubbish was piling up everywhere and no wonder … Italians did not think much of literally throwing (not discreetly dropping) a cigarette bud, a paper or a banana peel on the pavement! It was shocking! I hate generalisation when it comes to large amount of people or nations, and I was very sceptical when reading Rod Heikel’s Italian Waters Pilot when he said the Italians are quick to tell you they have the most beautiful country in the world, but as they tell you that, will throw a piece of plastic wrapping on the ground! The contrast between how well they dress (particularly the men) and the lack of pride they take in conservation of their lovely country are vast! They will have long pants, a cardigan and sometimes a scarf on in blistering temperatures of 35 degrees (just for the sake of looking the part!) … neat and tidy on their person, but the opposite is true when it comes to their surroundings. You often hear that they say Italy has so many historically beautiful and significant sights, they cannot maintain them all perfectly! Well, even at some of the really big and famous sights in Rome, it was mind blowing that it looks like no one really cares other than for taking your money … and lots of it too!

I am getting side-tract…Back to Naples – the buildings were shabby with paint jobs well overdue, the streets dirty and everything appears neglect. I haven’t got much positive to say about Naples and if I could chose, I would never bother to go back, unless I am travelling through to Pompeii or the Island of Ischia … where we unfortunately did not go due to a lack of time … another “Next Time!”
Sorry Naples 🙁 but thank you at least for our maps!

Massive amount of tacky uninteresting buildings...
Massive amount of tacky uninteresting buildings…
Another lovely building - because it is in private hands I guess?
Another lovely building – because it is in private hands I guess?
The street here is so narrow that none of the cars have side mirrors left!
The street here is so narrow that none of the cars have side mirrors left!
Beautiful and Ugly ... sharing the same space!
Beautiful and Ugly … sharing the same space!