Saturday, 22 November 2014



Agrigento from the Valli d'Templi

Just a one hour bus trip from the marina in Licata, Agrigento is the regional capital and the jumping off point to tour the Valli di Templi, Sicily’s best preserved Greco-Roman site. We stayed in a great little place called B&B Rabate, which is just outside the old hilltop town and has a fine view over the valley and a beautiful old church just opposite. Francesca the proprietor clearly loves her town and Sicily, and is very helpful with ideas for things to see, places to go and great restaurants to visit. She speaks only a little English, but our Italian is improving and we find the Sicilian people so expressive that it’s usually easy to pick up what they mean. Comfortable bed, good shower, everything very clean, nice breakfast – a fine place to stay if you’re in this part of the world!

Francesca and two of her children
On our first morning it was pouring with rain, so the visit to the temples would have to be postponed – but only for an hour or so, as it turned out. The rain stopped, the sun came out and the light was gloriously clear. Francesca dropped us off at the start of the walk and we were treated to the sight of the beautiful golden sandstone structures glowing in the sunlight, washed clean by the rain. The temple complex dates from the fifth to the fourth century BC, from the Greek city Akragas which was described in ancient texts as “the most beautiful city mortals had ever built” and also as “exceedingly opulent”.  The remains of seven temples and various other buildings sit along a ridge in the middle of the Akragas Valley, which is filled with olive and almond trees, with the Temple of Concord the best preserved. A museum holds the archaeological finds from this extensive site, including a giant male figure which formed a supporting pillar for the Temple of Zeus. A brother to this figure lies on his back at the temple itself, looking like an eternal sunbather.
 Ancient olive tree and the Temple di Concordia


The old town was a great place for shopping and exploring, with the tiny steep back alleys, interesting shops and surprising architectural treasures we’ve come to expect in this part of the world. The big difference seems to be that the old places are seldom pulled down to make way for the new. New interiors are created within 15th century walls, or added on right next door while the old stuff slowly crumbles away in scenic fashion. Highly visible are certain big developments that are sitting where they clearly shouldn’t be, because “someone knew someone who paid someone”.
Back alley, Agrigento 
The Street of Street Art (that's what they call it)

Via Atenea
 Via Atenea
Teatro Pirandello (Agrigento's Nobel Laureate of about 1934 or so)

We had several excellent meals, notably at “Opera”

The view from the window is out over the Valley d'Templi

and a great restaurant called Osteria ExPanificio.

For Christine’s benefit, this is what we had:-

Pappardelle with a rich and chunky wild boar and Porcini sauce.  A tiny touch of cream added.  It was strong and superb.
Ravioli stuffed with goat’s cheese and walnuts.  Melt-in-your-mouth pasta (not “al-dente” thank goodness!) with a creamy filling and crushed walnuts, plus crushed walnuts in the sauce.

Potatoes, cut into cubes and roasted in the oven with EVOO and Rosemary.  Simple Sicilian potatoes with flavour.  Excellent.
Panna Cotta with a reduction of raspberries.  Probably the best Panna Cotta the Admiral has had.

2 x aqua, one still, one with gas
660cl Moretti

½ litre of the house Nero D’avolo.  Not at all bad for a house wine.
1 coffee  €42 all up.

We took the local bus out to Port Empedocle, home of the dramatist Pirandello and also Andrea Cammilleri, author of the Montalbano novels. We established that he is alive and well, residing in Rome, that another Montalbano book (about number 18) is about to come out in English and that a statue of the famous Sicilian detective is about to be re-erected in Via Roma, the main street when new paving is completed.

Art Nouveau Customs House in Porto Empedocle
The "Wedding Cake" church in Porto Empedocle

Virginia d'Alessandro in her ceramic studio "Ceramicando" on Via Atenea.  We called a halt to the buying spree at 5 pieces.


Thursday, 6 November 2014

Marina di Cala del Sole, Licata

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.

View from the Castle over the cemetery and marina
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!)


Sunday, 26 October 2014

Santa Maria de Leuca and on to Porto Paolo (Terry)

Leaving Brindisi
We went to Santa Maria de Leuca after Brindisi and stayed for a few days in the marina there.  Not very nice:-  it rolls all the visiting boats terribly and it was hard to sleep.  Was hard to get on and off, too, and that was when there was very little swell outside!  For the first time ever, I was pitched getting off the passareille and ended up on the pontoon.  No damage, I rolled to my shoulder on the way down but it was a shock nonetheless.  The problem is that the visiting boats are all lined up along the entrance way, which gets the first of the swell that comes in.  It seems a little better further in and to the side away from the floating pontoons.

It is a Municipal Marina, owned by the town/city.  Very pleasant staff.  We arrived around 6:00am on the Monday morning and motored around outside a bit until I could see where to go.  At 6:45, we called the Ormeggiotore and he came out and helped us in.  In a first, and pleasant surprise, once the manager worked out we were staying longer than overnight, he got the Ormeggiotore to go out to the car and bring back a gift box of local wines (red and white), artisan pasta and artisan spaghetti sauce and also a very large jar of local olive paste.  All boxed up and laid out with cellophane etc.

We were going to stay until Saturday, as it's a nice town to be in, even if half-closed as all the tourists have gone home.  The town is famous for its many mansions, as the holiday makers in this part of the world were not dissimilar to the inhabitants of the Hamptons etc.  They competed for the best architects and the best designs.
This one's on the beachfront

With its own Cabana (there are a couple more with these as well, plus many not on the beach with their own guardhouses)

The link is worth a look.

It is also famous for its lighthouse, and almost on the same block, a Basilica.  From these heights runs a water cascade that is turned on only a couple of times a year but is quite a sight when it is.  Work is under way to install LED lighting, probably to give the illusion of a cascade while saving water.

 The walk to the Basilica and the Cascade

It really is a very nice place to be, except for the rolling in the marina.

We say what was forecast as a good weather window beginning Friday, with north wind on Saturday and Sunday, so we decided not to stay on and left on Friday morning.

Forecast was bullshit as usual.  Friday night turned into the voyage from hell.  Instead of 4-8 knot winds drifting lazily from all parts of the compass, we had 28-40 knot Westerly winds for hour after hour, side on.  The seas built and we got hammered and hammered.  Carol was still sick for two days from it.   That’s what you get for producing weather forecasts with computers and sidelining the people who used to do it.

The next day was better, but we got invaded by thousands upon thousands of some kind of fly.  Not normal ones.  Didn't respond to fly spray or surface spray, so I connected up the hose that washes the anchor to another hose and we washed them off.  They were on everything.  I think they got blown offshore in a swarm and just happened to find a boat to land on.  Luckily, they weren't bitey ones.

Things quietened down a little after that and we motorsailed lazily along recovering from the beating of the night before.

Then, early a.m. Sunday, just when I wanted to get some sleep around 1am, we ran into the annual Rolex Middle Sea Race off Syracusa.  Some of the contestants had called in to Leuca on their way to Valetta, Malta,  for the start.  We didn't know then that was where they were going, but there they were, coming back towards us.  One called "Oz" actually came down from Brindisi with us.  They were really moving and unfortunately they were moving straight towards us, about 30 or 40 of them.  With all the masts, their AIS wasn’t transmitting correctly – one minute you’d see a boat on the screen, next minute it was gone, then back again!  There was only a sliver of a moon and it was near impossible to see them unless they were skylighted agains the lights of Syracusa.  Those to seaward of us we couldn’t see until they were broadside to us. Took almost two hours of threading my way through them in the dark (they had right-of-way because they were under sail and we had the engine on).  No real danger in it, because as well as we could see them on our screen, they could see us.  AIS must be a race directive as we didn't pass any unaccounted for boats. 

 There may be no wind, there may be too much wind, but there is rarely nothing going on out here.

Finally we were clear of them and I tried to sleep.  No luck, as the radio piped up with "Common Sense, Common Sense, Common Sense, this is Italian Warship “Mars something”.   Perhaps it was the Maestrale?.  Not big enough for a Destroyer, too big for a PB, too dark to get a good look. 

Something registered that they were talking to me and I answered on the second call.  All they wanted to do was set up a passing routine and we agreed on "Green to Green", which means both our starboard sides, instead of the more usual port-to-port.  They were a mile away so I suspect they were just going through a radio training routine for newbie bridge officers, and also practising their English.  No problem, except that Navies here take a very dim view of people not responding to Channel 16 calls.  They think that perhaps you are maybe sleeping a little bit and not paying attention J

Maestrale Class Frigate

Finally we arrived in Porto Paolo, where we anchored last year (Porto Paolo with a Koala Bar!)  As usual, the Admiral’s straight over the side for a swim and I was straight into the bunk for a catch up on sleep. 
After a good rest and a hot dinner, we left at around 21:30 for the last 13-hour trip on up to Licata and a full stop to 2014's cruising.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Carol and Kim's Excellente Adventure - Ostuni and Lecce

Terry spent the day in that time-honoured cruising pastime of ‘waiting for a bloke with a new part’, this time for our temperamental bow-thruster, so Kim and I set off for a day out in Lecce, the capital of the Puglia region. After purchasing our tickets in flawless Italian, we downed a wake-up cappuccino then hopped trustingly aboard the 10.17 leaving from Platform 3 for Lecce. Or so we thought. About 20 minutes into a pleasant journey through aged olive groves, the conductor arrived to inspect our tickets. “No Lecce,” he informed us with a theatrical look of dismay, “This tren to Bari!” Well we didn’t want to go to Bari, having just gone to all the trouble of sailing from there to Brindisi, so we hopped off at Ostuni, the next town, to make our way back. Small problem, the station-mistress told us with a tragic look not unlike the conductor’s, “Next tren 14.00” – about two and a half hours! She consoled us with a suggestion: “Look Ostuni (expressive gesture) Very nice!” So we decided to look Ostuni. We became aware of another small problem as we left the station and spied the sparkling white town of Ostuni atop a distant hill. The station was in a fairly deserted industrial area a long way from the town, but we happily encountered a friendly African trolley guy outside a supermarket who told us where to wait for a bus. Then he called the bus, which arrived minutes later “special for you!” The bus driver was another delightful friendly Italian who was very concerned for our welfare and gave us repeated, increasingly loud instructions on how to get around town and to catch the return bus.
Ostuni in the distance

Ostuni was a delightful surprise. It is a very old town with some fine buildings and a beautiful sunlit piazza. We naturally gravitated to “Kim’s Ristorante” where we enjoyed an excellent lunch of pasta, prosciutto and the awesome local cheese, “burrata” which is like “mozzarella on the outside, stracchiatelli on the inside”. A magnificent building of the type where you imagine Mussolini waving from the balcony towered over the square, and well-dressed folk with bundles of important papers kept arriving and leaving – clearly a place of civic authority. We had a bit of a wander but decided eventually to call a taxi back to the station. Antonio arrived in his black Mercedes and we enjoyed the scenic views back down the hill – troubled by the niggling thought that our bus driver was probably cruising the streets of Ostuni looking for us still…

So, back on the tren to Brinsisi, then on to Lecce. Kim had a bit of a kip while I chatted to a Pakistani-Italian jeweller called Mario/Muhammed, who suggested a few places of interest in Lecce (including, of course, his shop). The old town of Lecce was quite attractive, though it was the depths of siesta-time and not a lot was happening anywhere. We eventually found our way to the famous Baroque cathedrale, taking directions from several people, including a tribe of kids who took great delight in escorting us personally to the site. The cathedrale is the very definition of Baroque, with all sorts of bizarre creatures cavorting alongside solemn popes, saints and archbishops around its facade. Grimaldi described it as a “lunatic stonemason having a nightmare” – harsh, but you can see what he means! A quick prayer, a look around the creepy crypt and we were back on the street seeking directions to the stazione. “Dritto, dritto, dritto to arco, then poco, poco destra to semaphora, sinistra to stazione” accompanied by flamboyant gestures and mimes. Yep, we’ve got it, grazie!

Playing statues in the courtyard

Weird mummy figures appeal to the Madonna in the crypt...

Amazingly, the railway station eventually appeared in front of us and after several double checks, we boarded the tren back to Brindisi. When the conductor appeared, we looked smugly sympathetic as one poor guy discovered that he was on the wrong tren – he wanted to go to Bari! A rather tedious wait at the grotty bus station for the Number 5 to the Marina, a hair-raising ride back and we were ‘home’ in time for Aperols and a great meal at the marina restaurant.
Dritto, dritto...

Sometimes the best days happen quite by accident! Thanks, Kim, for being such wonderful company and remember that your Common Sense T shirt entitles you to come aboard any time, anywhere.

Monday, 13 October 2014

A small slice of the Adriatico (guest blogger Kim)

I was excited and a little anxious as I left to meet Carol and Terry on board Common Sense. I had had an amazing stopover in Dubai staying with lovely Lisa and her boys – what a fantastic city! A night in Rome was noisy and a good introduction to life in Italy.

Carol and Terry met me at the station in Bari and we took the bus (first of many!) back to the marina. After settling into my cabin, we went off exploring in this interesting port city. In the first few days I must say “Eataly” with its astonishing array of Italian products, the old guys playing poker at improvised tables all along the waterfront and my first swim in the Adriatic would be highlights. I was immediately reminded that the Italian people are friendly, warm, laid back and very expressive. 

A "small" selection of Eataly's Formaggio

They don’t mind squalor, cigarettes and dog-poo infested environs as long as they can eat good food and laugh a lot! Carol and I took a trip to Polignano where we enjoyed a superb four course meal, then spent a couple of days recovering from it. 

Domenico Modugo - born and lived in Polignano, writer and singer of "Volare"

We also took a tour to see the fascinating ‘cave city’ of Matera, once the ‘shame of Italy’ for its terrible poverty and mortality rates, now a site for tourism and movie sets. Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ was filmed there, and a Ninja movie was in progress while we visited. 

The oldest, continually inhabited town in Europe

Next up was Alberobello, with its cute conical stone houses known as tulli. Apparently these were constructed so as to be easily dismantled when the taxman came to visit. “House? What house? This is just a field of rocks!”

Gianluca and Kim in Alberobello


We motored to Monopoli (wind on the nose - what Terry calls a #$%# Noserly) a walled town of many churches and a central cathedral. In the café in the piazza I was introduced to my new favourite drink – Aperol Spritz – and enjoyed one or two each evening from then on. We got lost in the narrow, winding streets, finding all sorts of interesting things but not the cathedral we were looking for! We swam in a lovely little bay and watched a local guy clean his daily catch of about two dozen octopus. More good food – seafood, pasta, gelato, cornettos, cheese, bread …

The inside harbour of Monopoli

The back streets of Monopoli

We headed off to Brindisi, unfortunately in rain and quite a heavy swell – still no real sailing. There is a good sheltered marina here where I enjoyed my Aperol each evening and a swim every morning. We dinghied into town for a wander and some shopping, and Carol and I took the train to the regional capital of Lecce – with and accidental side trip to Otuni [see the next blog for this story].

The evening's aperitif - Aperol Spritz

All in all, an amazing holiday. I feel very relaxed and would certainly join you again aboard the good ship Common Sense. Fantastico! Arrivederci Italia and grazie Carol and Terry!

 Polignano dessert

Friday, 26 September 2014

Adriatic Cruise - Chris's Journey Aboard Common Sense

Terry and Carol have kindly welcomed me into their life on the boat 'Common Sense' and it’s been a truly wonderful experience. I will cherish the fond memories of exploring the streets of Otranto, Brindisi and Monopoli, sharing meals on the boat, shopping for local food, finding hidden treasures just around the corner and so much more. Thank you for allowing me to photograph every food experience before we bought it, prepared it, and ate it, so that I could continue my Italy food blog. Mostly I just enjoyed their lovely relaxed company. Thank you both so much.
This is my experience of life on their boat sailing in the Adriatic Sea.

Sunday 21st September - Sailing from Otranto to Brindisi
 Up at 730, brekkie, pack up, check out with Guardia Costiera who really were not interested.

Set off at 9:00.  It’s a very calm flat day and we had to motor all the way as there was not enough wind for sailing. Common Sense needs about 15 knots to sail by itself. Today we have got minimal sail up just to assist in stabilising the boat. It’s interesting to watch all the different size vessels pass by. Terry and Carol have this amazing chart plotter system that also provides info on position of ships, name, size, what type of vessel, cargo, coordinates, where they are heading to and all contact details, a radar detects all small craft and the automatic pilot steered us all the way to Brindisi complete with ETA.

We had tea and chocolate topped digestive biscuits (Carol's favourite) on the way. After a couple of hours of motoring, still no wind we have a simple lunch of salad, bread and chicken on the deck and afterwards we all snoozed, read and updated our emails etc.  It was calm, warm and an easy, pleasant trip. We arrived at Brindisi marina at about 400pm about 7 hours of motoring.

Settled in at the Brindisi marina, had a real shower and then Terry's famous 'chicken stew' served with croutons spread with truffle paste. On the morning before setting off on a long sail Terry prepares some chicken pieces, lots of carrot, celery and onion, it all goes into the pressure cooker for about 10 minutes and then rests in the sink covered by a towel. It's ready to eat after a long day at sea mmmmm food for the soul.

Monday 22nd - Brindisi Marina
I'm in heaven waking up to the sound of water gently lapping on the side of the boat. It's quiet here apart from the occasional plane flying over, a speed boat passing by. It's a hot steamy morning looking out over the glassy water and there’s not a breath of wind.  The silence is broken with the sounds of Jimmy Buffet playing in the background while we chat and have brekkie on the deck.

Trip to the shops in Brindisi
Terry is busy hooking up the dinghy to winch it from the deck and down into the water. The heavy outboard motor is carefully manoeuvred down and Carol secures it to the dingy ready for our trip into Brindisi. It's the equivalent to getting into the car to go the shops, same but very different. Everything is harder and takes much longer on a boat. We putter out of the marina past the castle on the point, two large Grimaldi liners are docked amongst the cargo ships and we go past a UN distribution depot. The wake of passing boats gently rocks us. We pull up on a small jetty near three large tugs which become a familiar sight constantly going in and out of port several times a day.  We set off looking for a sign to the Centro. An old lady waves us in the direction 'dritto, dritto' straight ahead.

 The smell of bread baking draws us into a little bakery where we purchase some pane, panini and some little baked olive snacks. Across the road Carol is getting some peaches, an avocado, tomatoes, and she is carrying a large bunch of pale asparagus mmmmm I am thinking ahead maybe some pine nuts to go with that. The streets are narrow, dirty and run down we avoid walking under some of the shutters and balconies, they look like they could fall down at any minute. We look up at some beautiful old stone carvings set high up on a corner of an old building. The ornate rusted balconies look stunning against the old stone, there are the occasional bits of greenery, these are much sparser than the abundance of greenery in the north of Italy in Spoleto.

We go into a little 'enoteca' and Terry buys some salami and prosciutto while Carol and I practise our Italian and ask for some fresh pasta.  Packets of orecchiette and other pasta are brought out to us, pale, mixed sizes and shapes, wholemeal, organic, flecked. Terry in the background 'not that wholemeal s.....' . Some fresh ricotta and other cheeses of different consistencies, goat or cow’s milk, we decide to try the goat ricotta . The lovely friendly shopkeepers help us and another customer joins in with the Italian/English interaction and after a few photos we leave. The Italians are encouraging and helpful in our attempts to converse with them in their own language; equally some like to practise their English. There are still many that don't speak English and my limited Italian has been useful. I will continue my classes back home.

We stop in at the Farmacia to buy some fish oil and we get some directions to the Vodafone  shop. Finally we find it at 1.10pm and it has just closed for siesta time, in Italy everything bar a few cafés close between 1:00pm and 4:30pm for siesta. It can be quite frustrating when you are trying to sort something out.

We are getting hungry and decide to head back to the boat to have some of the yummy food we have bought for lunch. Not before one more stop at the Conad supermercato to pick up some radicchio, Parmigiana and I found some All Bran!

We wind our way back to the waterfront through the narrow little streets. Then into the trusty dinghy and we chug past the ships, some large tugs follow us on their way out to pick up a ship. Lunch on the deck with Dreher lemon beer, my new favourite drink. It's the perfect refreshing low alcohol drink, it would go down well in Australia.


Radicchio salad with avocado, capsicum and ripe Roma tomatoes.
Goats cheese ricotta.
Prosciutto and salami
Crusty bread drizzled with local peppery EVOO.

Sounds of Afternoon siesta.

It's quiet here. The water gently laps on the side of the boat. I love the clinking sounds of boats, masts swaying and creaking, mooring ropes squeaking and straining against the jetty, I lie here listening to the sounds of a marina full of boats and settle into the soothing and gentle rocking of the boat. Turkish towels pegged above us to stop the afternoon sun sneaking into the siesta space on the deck.  Occasionally I hear a voice reminding me that I'm in Italy, a young girl calling out 'bella', a man in the distance calling out sailing instructions in Italian, his pupils in their small yachts trail behind him linked to each other in a line. It's bliss!

Carol’s washing is turning into an all day affair with both the washing machine and dryer taking hours! I see Carol's ever calm demeanour where nothing is a problem.

After drinks in the marina bar we head back to the boat. A few drops of rain and more expected tonight. I cooked for the first time on the boat in the very compact but well equipped kitchen. Everything has its place there are little cupboards in every possible space, a fridge space, several pantry nooks brimming with supplies, a pot cupboard, cutlery, crockery even a garage with every possible tool, nuts and bolts you name it they are prepared for anything. The emergency life raft and supplies sits under the table. There are gas detectors....everything clips shut so there are no loose bits and pieces floating. Another new cooking experience that requires some efficient use of space and utensils

 Fresh pasta with truffle paste (from truffle hunt near Citta di Castella) and parmigiana  

Asparagus  drizzled with truffle infused balsamic  sprinkled with toasted pine nuts and shaved parmigiana.  

Tuesday 23rd

5:00 am. Woke early this morning to the sounds of a wind change, wind had picked up through the night and there was some banging and unfamiliar noises. Terry and Carol were up in a flash and realised that their boat had been pushed back from the front mooring line (lazy line) and was now drifting back into the jetty. They worked hard to secure the boat, a marina person helped and another experienced yachtie came on board to help. After lots of winching and tying down of ropes in 40 knot ++ winds with gusts of 46-50 knots they finally managed to secure the boat. Lots of other boats around us were also having problems. These winds were not forecast and caught people unawares. This weather will pass around 11:00am to 1:00pm today, the rest of the week is forecast for light winds.
This really is something else sitting in and feeling the brunt of every wind gust, it certainly heightens your awareness! Banging, clanging, straining ropes and the wind whistles as it pushes boats and masts around. This is new experience that I haven't been aware of when comfortably surrounded by four walls in a secure home.
We spend the day reading and sleeping until the wind passes.

This evening we bus it into the town centre with a couple of recommendations of where to eat. In typical Italian fashion the city and shops come to life at 4:30. Passagiatta is in full swing, Brindisi is a lovely city, lots of interesting old buildings, a palm lined town harbour where yachts can moor placing them right in the centre of the city. Lots of interesting little alleys and enotecas and great shops too.

We find the lovely little Italian fish trattoria Siamo Fritto in the piazza Mercato, looks great, we decide to eat there. And what a treat it is, so much to choose from. We order some beer, half a litre of rose and with it comes the complimentary bread and olive taralli biscuits.
We have some delicious marinated anchovies drizzled with lovely green EVOO and a touch of pesto, the dressing begs to be mopped up with some crusty bread. Then some crispy fried calamari followed by a seafood risotto which has my undivided attention as I wade through the tasty sticky rice clinging to the mussels and prawns. Terry has pasta with tuna and tomato. We all finish with a cleansing limone sorbet and I can't resist a glass of limoncello. All up this cost us approximately 21 euros each (about $30).

Our bus driver is obviously in a big hurry to get home, he races through the streets and doesn't have time to take our fares, just waves us off the bus.

Wednesday 24th - Brindisi

We dinghy into Brindisi, this time we moored right on the central town dock placing us close to everything.
Shopping - we sample and buy some local fresh cheese, baked bread and a few supplies. Terry's shopping list is 'lollies, chips and hot salami', I suggest 'fruit and veges'. This stirring of the dietitian continues. I suggest a chickpea and tuna salad for dinner, Terry says sausages or pork chops. 

Sitting in Piazza Cairoli waiting to meet Terry and Carol I have an unbelievably creamy and delicious amarello gelato, another heavenly food experience. 

We visited a few historical sites including the Palazzo Granafei where we stumbled across an amazing photographic exhibition by Salvatore Valente. His stunning photographs were of scenery, portraits and of people from all over the world.  Keryn's motto of 'take 3 more steps' paid off once again with this unexpected discovery.

It is siesta time and the city closes down. We find a little bar to have a snack.
Mini tomato and mozzarella pizza and a lemon beer.
Two old Italian men sit at the table next to us, chatting, smoking, sipping an espresso and they eat some kind of cream filled pastry. I watch them thinking I must try one of these.
After asking 'che cosa il dolce gli uomini mangiare'  (what are these men eating) I am served a  brioche like cornetto filled with creamy custard dotted with dark liqueur soaked raisins that oozed out with every heavenly bite I took. OMG how am I going to survive when I have to curb my eating heaven.

It's now 4:30 and the city is coming to life again. We stop in at a little jewellery shop that keeps drawing us in. They have these lovely necklaces with little Puglia dolls typical of the area. Carol and I can't resist making a purchase. We then head back to the boat on our dinghy.

Back on the boat Carol and I snack on the local cheese and taralli biscuits that we bought along with a glass of Greek rose left over from Terry and Carol's time in Greece.  It has that typical retsina flavour which is a bit of a shock after the Italian rose however a few sips later I am not even noticing it. I prepare one of my versions of chick pea salad for dinner.

Tuna in oil, chick peas, olives, cherry tomatoes, blanched green beans, rucola, quartered eggs and dressed with EVOO and lemon juice.

Thursday 25th - leaving Brindisi for Monopoly

Up at seven for an early start. Over brekkie and checking the weather report we see storm warnings forecast for later today and strong winds settling in for the next couple of days.
The plan was to get to Bari in two legs with a stop in Monopoli. Each leg is about a 6-7 hour day sail.
I need to be in Bari in 3 days to catch my train to Milan and Terry and Carol are picking up another friend in Bari the day after I leave.
Terry is reluctant to sail today with the storm warning so it looks like we're stuck in Brindisi for a few days with the back up plan for me to train it to Bari if needed.
Terry checks in with the marina staff and another local experienced sailor who suggests that today is our window of opportunity to make a move before the strong winds set in.
A decision is made - we pack up and set off for Monopoli and hopefully we beat the storm.

It's calm, cool but not cold, and overcast as we sail out of the marina and through the ever busy port of Brindisi. A large Grimaldi ship is coming in followed by a rescue ship, military aircraft fly overhead, tiny fishing boats dot the harbour and we plot our way to Monopoli. Onto auto pilot, after a while there is enough wind to partly put up the genoa and main to help us along, though not enough wind to sail independently. The boat needs about 14 knots of wind to get it moving and are currently getting about 5-6 knots. We are travelling at about 6.7 knots with a combination of wind and motor. It's calm and flat and no sign of any storm.

All along the coast there are settlements, pockets of Greek style white buildings, probably beachside holiday towns.  Plumes of smoke dot the landscape all the way from Brindisi. It is the season for burning off and cleaning up of the olive groves. I also saw this from the train as I was travelling down to Brindisi from Lecce.

Sailing/motoring like this is very relaxing, I write my blog, do Facebook, Carol reads and draws, we have morning tea and then lunch (left over tuna and chickpea salad) and there's time to chat and snooze. We arrive in Monopoli at 3:00pm. 
The end of my holiday is getting closer and I will be sad to leave this idyllic lifestyle, however I have two precious friends and some wonderful memories to look back on. 

Thank you