|Marina di Cala del Sole|
|One of the famous sunsets, after which the Marina is named|
We are comfortably settled in our winter haven here in the southern Sicilian town of Licata, and so far all is going well. The marina provides excellent all-round shelter and the dock staff are helpful and vigilant – they were very much in evidence last week when the wind blew up, checking docklines and making sure boats were safe. The office staff are great, the bathrooms are clean and functional and – joy of joys! - there is a self-service laundry with industrial standard washers and dryers! (Who ever imagined that that would be cause for celebration?) We have a real international community of cruisers here once again – fellow Aussies and New Zealanders, Brits, French, Brazilians, Germans, Dutch, Indonesian, Swedish, Finns and Norwegians, plus the locals of course. The Sunday barbecue seems to be a universal cruising tradition, and Licata has its own version accompanied by games (boules and the Finnish bowling game, Molkky) on our specially constructed courts.
The marina adjoins the town and is a popular spot for families and couples to make their evening passagiata. Everything is close by, including an excellent supermarket. Licata town itself is a bit run down, but many of its baroque buildings have been attractively renovated and there are some fascinating hidden gems – grotesques and carved balconies, tiny cavern-like shops, memorials like the statue and home of the physicist Filippo Re Capriata. It is an everyday working town rather than a tourist town, with village-style remnants like the old carpenter's workshop, unsigned and down a back alley - everyone just knows that's where Giovanni's place is. Ambitious plans are in place for the marina complex, so let's hope it doesn't change all that.
|Grotesques on the façade of the bank|
And it’s Sicily so the food, even in the most ordinary places, is sensational. Besides fantastic pizzas, our local pizza joint serves Peroni on tap and about five metres counter space of fresh salads, vegetable dishes, pasta, breads, fruit and desserts. At the other end of the scale is La Madia, Licata’s Michelin star restaurant which is supposed to be one of the best in Italy (to be sampled later, perhaps, on a special occasion!)
|Deli counter in an ordinary supermarket (Antonio is Terry's best friend in Sicily!)|
We did go with friends Louise and Gary from Takamoana to an exceptional little restaurant called L’Oste E il Sacrestano where Chiara and Chef Peppe delighted in explaining each dish of the delicious six plate tasting menu. The restaurant specialises in showcasing the fresh foods of the region, particularly its fish, vegetables and olive oil. Every single bite was a sensation, from the lovely peppery oil to the cherry tomatoes cooked in vinegar and sugar, to the rich creamy potatoes, the smoky marinated octopus, the fresh home made pasta, the fresh tuna, the sea bass which was absolutely perfect … Peppe finished by preparing dessert at the table – a delicate concoction of coffee, artisan ice-cream, chocolate and marscapone mmm! The dishes were an ideal size, so each could be appreciated and you left feeling satisfied rather than stuffed. Our hosts were so friendly and knowledgeable – what a great showcase for Sicilian food and hospitality!
|Peppe prepares dessert|
So far I have seen every character from The Godfather, including several scary incarnations of Luca Brasi and some well-dressed elderly gentlemen who seem to command a lot of respect. Famiglia is certainly the core of life here, including those who have passed on. Every day is busy at the very prominent hillside cemetery, but All Saints Day saw virtually the whole town turn out, with vast bouquets of chrysanthemums, to commune with the dead at the family vault.
The weather is beautiful, the food is sensational, the company is good, the boat is safe. Next week we will do a bit of travelling around the local area. There are good vineyards in the hills, and much to see in Ragusa and Agrigento. Not to be missed, of course, is Montalbano’s villa – I hope it will stay warm enough to do the morning swim!
|Cruising crew celebrate Hallowe'en (the local kids have learnt that boats are a good bet for Trick or treat!)|