A southerly breeze carried us to the “heel of the boot” of Italy on Monday. We’re in Santa Maria de Leuca, a small summer resort town that is in the process of closing down for the season. A tall white lighthouse marking the Cape beams its light above the harbor at night. After sailing 160 miles in four days, we were ready for a lay day or two while waiting for the winds to become more favorable for crossing the Gulf of Taranto to the “sole of the boot.”
More than the lunch of spaghetti alle cozze (mussels) for me and spaghetti alle vongole (clams) for David, we knew we had arrived in Italy again when we sank our teeth into the crusty, dense bread I brought home from the small supermarket in town. The round loaf is deceptively heavy. You can taste the wood-fired oven in the crust. The experience leaves you wondering how many generations they’ve been using the same yeast. Its like sourdough, only better, and something we’ve only found in Italy and in small villages on the Eastern Black Sea coast of Turkey. It’s the same difference between pizza dough made in Naples compared to anywhere else in the world.
The rustic bread is great onboard a sailboat because it stays fresh as long as you don’t wrap it in plastic. I found a bread made near Galaxidhi, Greece with similar properties. The baker explained to me that they used a different leavening agent than the bread found in most bakeries. I can only imagine that whatever makes it so special has its origins in ancient Mediterranean culture.
We returned to Gyatso in Greece two weeks ago, stopping-over for two nights in Athens along the way. Visiting the Parthenon and the new Acropolis Museum, opened in 2009, were at the top of our list while we recovered from jet lag and organized our trip by bus to the boat in Preveza. We wandered over to the museum, just a few blocks from our hotel, the first afternoon. It has wonderful views of Acropolis Hill, which were especially beautiful when cast in the golden light just before closing at 8:00 p.m. We were up early the following morning and climbed Acropolis Hill before it was completely mobbed or became unbearably hot.
We both found The Parthenon by Mary Beard to be an interesting read while in Athens. Having seen the Elgin Marbles at the British Museum, it gave me a better understanding about how all of the pieces fit together and what all of the controversy is about. Even with cranes and scaffolding in place on the most recent round of restoration underway since 1986, the Parthenon itself and the original pieces now on display in the museum, were well worth seeing. Even so, we have found the Greek temples outside of modern day Greece to be far superior in terms of their preservation than anything in Athens today.
Gyatso was pretty much as we left it but in need of a wash down. We completed a few minor maintenance items, including having a diver clean the bottom and scrape the propellor free of barnacles before setting off again. We wanted to anchor out and watch the blue moon rise and found Lakka on the island of Paxos the perfect place. A sunset swim in the turquoise blue water, followed by dinner in the cockpit under the full moon — it looked golden to us — couldn’t have been a better start to this leg of our voyage (we started the previous leg of our voyage under the super moon last May).
The next day, we motored most of the way in light and variable winds to Corfu, hugging the coast to get a closer look at the historic port before heading to Giouvia Marina for a night. We wished we’d anchored out or stayed at one of the Yacht Clubs closer to town because we didn’t like the huge, high-priced marina any better this time than the last time we visited.
We cleared out of Greece the following morning and sailed to the tiny island of Erikoussa for another night at anchor before crossing the Ionian Sea.
Tomorrow (Thurs) we plan to set sail for Crotone, another stop en route to Sicily, our final destination for this year. But first, we’re going ashore for pizza just to confirm that we’re really in Italy again.