We returned to Italy over the weekend and watched the U.S. presidential inauguration Tuesday on CNN at the Gajeta Hotel in Gaeta with a small group from the hotel and the marina, including several fellow Americans.Despite what Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi says, everyone else in Italy seems happy to see Obama become the 44th president of the U.S. After watching the ceremony, we celebrated over Naples-style pizza at nearby Ciro’s Restaurant.
After purchasing our 1985 Tayana 37 in 2005, we undertook a major refit to prepare the boat for extended cruising. Right after the Annapolis Sailboat Show that year, we loaded up a one-way rental car and drove to Yarmouth, Maine. We were hoping to sail the boat back to our homeport of Annapolis so that we could finish moving aboard, and if all went well, to pack-up our household belongings and put it on the rental market. Then we planned to continue south via the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) to St. Augustine, Florida, the port we selected for refitting the boat based on the recommendations of several friends in the marine industry in Annapolis.
The leftovers from our Thanksgiving meal yesterday were almost as good as the meal itself. Lisa cooked up a storm all day after a busy day of “hunting and gathering” on Wednesday which included stops to the weekly market, her favorite bakery, the butcher shop, and PAM supermercado. It seemed as if half the town was involved in the pre-turkey day meal preparation. Natalina, the butcher’s wife, carefully prepared the turkey leg and breast and wanted to know all about how Lisa was going to cook the meal on her boat. She asked Lucia from the jewelry shop across from her on via Indipendenza, to translate for us. We laughed and snapped photos, clowning around with the turkey leg when Lucia instructed, “Show us some Leg!” Natalina actually pulled up her apron! After Lisa explained how the meal was going to be prepared and what was on the menu, Natalina exclaimed, “Mama Mia!” We delivered slices of pumpkin pie to several of the shopkeepers today — it was easier than having everyone on board.
Another Thanksgiving feast aboard Gyatso — our third since setting sail in 2005. We almost didn’t do it this year, but when another American pulled into the marina last week, our plans changed. Jayne arrived at Base Nautica, her winter port, with Aorangi, her lovely S&S Swan 47. She had to return to her home in Tuscany for a few days but didn’t have plans for Thanksgiving, so we all decided to celebrate together. Preparations began immediately (see 11/23/08 logbook entry). As you can see from the photo, we had a wonderful time drinking wine, eating turkey and pumpkin pie, and getting better acquainted with Jayne who runs a captained charter business with her boat.
Date: 11/23/08 (Sunday) Location: Coastline northwest of Gaeta, Italy
We spent the day yesterday sightseeing along the coast northwest of Gaeta in our rental car. A great day for it with huge waves crashing into the shore. Luckily things were fairly calm in the marina, and the weather has settled down again today, leaving behind the chilliest weather since arriving in Italy two months ago. It’s still in the 50’s, so you can’t feel too sorry for us! Preparations are underway for a full Thanksgiving day feast on-board, pumpkin pie and all. We even have cranberries this year, thanks to Jayne of Aorangi, our invited guest and the only other American in the marina.
We walked back from Italian language class on Via Indipendenza, a narrow street with numerous side-alleys built in the 7th Century that is now a pedestrian path lined with all kinds of specialty shops. We stopped in at one of our favorite bread bakeries, Forno Tuscano, for a fresh loaf of pane casareccio (bread baked in a wood oven) and a few samples of a seasonal treat that tastes like small spice cakes which are covered in chocolate. The next stop, just a few doors down on the opposite side of the alley is a deli “Mazarra Anna” where we picked up mozarella di bufalo (fresh buffalo mozarella) that we eat with vine-ripened tomatoes and fresh basil purchased at one of the numerous frutta e vedura (fruit and vegetable) stands. Finally, we stopped in at one of the butcher shops to place an order for turkey next week and walked out with two huge, aged steaks. We don’t eat much red meat these days, but somehow we could not resist. They were so big that Lisa had to cook each in a separate pan, but the effort was worth it. We paired them with the last bottle of Brunello that was hand-selected by Lisa’s brother Bill, a wine expert, while we were in Tuscany last month — a delicious combination.
We arrived here after a relatively uneventful, but long overnight passage from Sardinia. We motored and motor-sailed the whole way and decided to bypass Ponza, one of a small volcanic island group known as the Pontine Islands, since we arrived there in the morning and had a beautiful day for the remaining 35 miles to the mainland. We found the marina in Gaeta full to capacity, but they found us a space next to the fuel dock for a night. We then made special arrangements to leave the boat for 12-days while we took our trip inland to Tuscany with Lisa’s family. Upon our return, they found space for us to winter-over here. We are very happy and relieved to be settled into such a pleasant place for the next few months.
Nothing of note here as this was just an overnight stop for us. The purpose-built marina was almost empty, and we had an unhelpful dock-hand while securing the boat for the night. Luckily, no damage was done, and we left early the next day. The east coast of Sardinia is very rugged, remote and beautiful. We enjoyed the views and a pleasant sail, although it was the second day in a row where we experienced a sudden wind shift late in the afternoon.
A big city and busy port with everything a cruising sailor needs, that is if you like big cities and busy ports. Cagliari is also very old and historic with lots of charm, and although we found the marina facilities adequate, they certainly lacked the polished appearance of some of the fancier places we had been in Portugal and Spain. Everyone was helpful and friendly, and we managed to stretch our legs quite a bit on the long walks into the city center.