Sailing around Stromboli
Over the last few days I’ve seriously questioned myself as to whether I’ve died and have gone to heaven. My life has changed so much and it’s flowing so perfectly that I find it hard to believe that my life is truly my life.
Before we left the UK to start our around the world sailing adventure, I couldn’t have come close to speculating how unbelievably amazing it was going to start off. Every day I seem to be yelling out, ‘this is the best day of my life.’ Things seem to keep getting more and more spectacular. Let me talk you through our latest adventures…It almost seems too good to be true and that’s why I’m wondering if I am, perhaps, in heaven!
Sailing from Riposto, Sicily to Reggio, Calabria
We left our mooring at Riposto with an exciting passage plan that included viewing Sicily’s beautiful North West coastline, seeing the worlds most amazing Bronze statues on mainland Italy and then heading for Stromboli, a volcanic island located in the Aeolian Islands. Fortunately for us, we had two Italian crewmembers join us. Stefano, a friend we met a few weeks ago when first arriving in Sicily and his girlfriend’s daughter, Silvia.
Mooring up in Calabria in a commercial port
Stefano managed to get us a free short-stay mooring on the mainland to quickly stop off to see the Riace Bronze statues. As if on cue, a taxi drove up to our boat and offered to take us to the museum and back for a small fee. Considering that our 4-year-old daughters little legs don’t move too quickly, we opted to take the drivers offer. We could only stay at the mooring for a couple hours so we needed to be quick.
The Riace Bronze Statues were the most remarkable statues I’ve ever seen!
My husband, daughter, cousin, Silvia and I were whisked off to the museum where the taxi driver made sure that we skipped the line and went straight in. I felt like royalty! Stefano stayed back on the boat to keep an eye on her. We literally moored up along a concrete standing where ships often moor. If we went to the marina we would have been charged and our travel to the museum time would have increased quite a bit. Silvia helped us to quickly find the exhibition and we watched a movie about the history of the statues. Then we entered an empty room that removed dust from us proving how valuable the bronze statues are.
Once the doors opened and the statues were in front of us, I was in absolute awe
Sienna yelled out, ‘You can see his willie!’ and then giggled for a while. After being a typical kid, she then started asking several questions like, where did they come from? How were they made? Why is a finger missing? What is the bit on his arm (location for a shield that wasn’t recovered) and on and on. She’s still to young to understand the significance of the statues, but she definitely demonstrated an appreciation for them. The Riace Bronze statues are the most amazing artifacts that I’ve ever seen. The detail was incredible considering that they’re super old. I felt a strong appreciation for the human body. To give you a little background on the statues, here’s a bit from Wikipedia (Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riace_bronzes)
The Riace bronzes (Italian Bronzi di Riace), also called the Riace Warriors, are two famous full-size Greek bronzes of naked bearded warriors, cast about 460–420 BC and found in the sea near Riace in 1972. The Bronzi are currently located at the Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia in the southern Italian city of Reggio Calabria, Italy.
The Bronzi are on display inside a microclimate room on top of an anti-seismic Carrara marbled platform. Along with the Bronzi, the room also contains two head sculptures: “la Testa del Filosofo” and “la Testa di Basilea”, which are also from the 5th century BC.
Although the Bronzi were rediscovered in 1972, they did not emerge from conservation until 1981. Their public display in Florence and Rome was the cultural event of that year in Italy, providing the cover story for numerous magazines. Now considered one of the symbols of Calabria, the bronzes were commemorated by a pair of Italian postage stamps and have also been widely reproduced.
The two bronze sculptures are simply known as “Statue A”, referring to the one portraying a younger warrior, and “Statue B”, indicating the more mature-looking of the two. Statue A is 203 centimeters tall while Statue B stands 196.5 centimeters tall.
Our time in Calabria was very short but boy did it pack a punch
After spending 15 minutes with the statues, we left the museum and our taxi driver headed back to the boat. We asked him to stop off at a bakery for some fresh bread so our driver made a diversion. He not only took us to the bakery, but he negotiated a discounted price for us. There was a lot of yelling back and forth and in the end we left with 3 loaves of fresh bread. Before leaving the hands of our taxi driver, he gave us a bottle of red wine and a bottle of white. We all said ‘grazie’ (thank you) and got back into the boat. Simon asked Stefano why the taxi driver gave us the wine and he replied that we paid a good amount for the trip and he was showing his appreciation. Again, I was feeling like royalty!
Next stop – sailing around Stromboli
Up in the cockpit, we all enjoyed a meal of leftovers from the night before. We gobbled down bruschetta, pasta with homemade red sauce, couscous with roasted vegetables and feta cheese and a green bean salad. As usual, I moo’d with delight throughout the whole meal. As us girlies quickly cleaned up, Simon and Stefano headed out the Straight of Messina (Silvia’s lives in Messina) towards the Aeolian Islands. The plan was to sail into the night and hit Stromboli around 3am. (Below is a cheesy shot of Simon and I as we pass one of the Aeolian islands)
Will we see some volcanic action or not?!
At 7:30, I put Sienna to bed and joined the rest of the crew up on deck. There was very little wind so we motored towards Stromboli. In the travel guides, I read that it’s often possible to see flare-ups from the active volcano, so I was anxious with anticipation. Would we see anything? Would it be too cloudy? What does a flare-up look like? Would we actually be able to see Lava? The sun went down and everyone peacefully sat in the cockpit quietly. My cousin, Loryn, read her Kindle. Silvia grabbed a blanket and curled up on the seat to get cozy. Simon and Stefano chilled out as we progressed towards the Aeolian Islands. Around 9pm I went down below to read. It didn’t take long for me to fall asleep, but I woke at 3am and re-joined the crew. Thankfully, there was enough wind to sail around the island rather than having to motor. The sea was flat calm and the only noise you could hear was the flapping of the headsail struggling to stay full.
With massive anticipation, we all sat staring into the darkness admiring the dark outline of the volcano
Later on, we discovered that all of us where trying to will the volcano to do something! After 20 minutes or so, nothing happened. There were clouds at the top so we thought, perhaps we can’t see through them. And then something happened. The cloud base at the top of the volcano turned orange and a rumbling sounded through the air. Loryn and I yelled out, ‘Oh my gosh – look, look, look!!’ Stefano joined us in the view but poor Simon was downstairs grabbing something.
He missed the orange glow but heard the rumble
Another 10 minutes went by and then suddenly, a massive flare shut up, perhaps 50 meters, into the sky and lava spewed out of the mouth of the volcano. I couldn’t believe my eyes – I was watching a volcanic eruption from the absolutely serene surroundings of my boat. Furthermore, the backdrop was the Milky Way. The sky was blanketed with stars. I kept thinking, ‘how lucky can I be?!’ We saw a bit more activity and noticed the sun was on its way up.
I felt overwhelmed with gratitude
The volcano erupted and I was there to see it. My whole body felt energized with appreciation and awe. How many people get to see such a sight? I felt massively grateful. It didn’t take long for tiredness to set in! Feeling exhausted from the day and night’s events, I went back to bed. Upon waking up, I had no idea where we were! I noticed that we weren’t moving so assumed that Simon and Stefano must have anchored somewhere.
Where the heck are we?
I got out of bed, climbed out into the cockpit to discover Loryn, Simon and Stefano all sleeping out in the fresh air. I looked up and noticed a massive volcano towering far above the boat. We were moored right at the base of Stromboli! Words cannot adequately convey how I felt. Every cell in my body had a perma-grin. I couldn’t stop smiling and thinking, ‘wow – this is the most amazing thing ever!’
Stromboli by day was amazing too!
We pulled up the anchor and then circled the island in the daylight. We were able to see all the detail that we couldn’t see in the darkness of night. Three sides of the volcano were covered in greenery and one side was full of a smooth blackness. It was very apparent as to which way the lava flowed out! And unbelievable, we saw houses and people who live on the volcano. I just couldn’t believe that people would want to live there!
Could things get any better?
As if things couldn’t get better, we then enjoyed sailing past the island of Panarea to Salina island were we moored up in a marina. The whole crew disembarked with towels and toiletries. A shower was desperately needed for all! After enjoying a lovely, hot, shower Stefano directed us to a taxi and we were taken to the town of Malfa where we had an aperitif overlooking all the Aeolian Islands. The view was breathtaking. Amazingly breathtaking. We were able to look out and view all the islands we passed in the night. (From left to right – Stefano, Loryn, Silvia, Sienna, Me and Simon)
Seriously – am I in heaven and don’t know it?
We met some friends of Stefano and Silvia’s, while enjoying drinks. I had a Bloody Mary followed by a Mojito and accompanied with Sicilian cheese, dried tomatoes, olives and crotons. The view was spectacular and food and drink made my whole body smile.
At one point Stefano told me to stop smiling as my face was going to start to ache
Around 6pm, we left Salina Island and motored over to Lipari Island where Stefano treated us to a wonderful meal of pasta, fish and dessert. I don’t think I can be any more grateful for my new friends, my family aboard, the amazing sights and the incredible food. I’m totally in love with Italy and I’m not sure how I’m ever going to want to leave.
I wonder where we’ll be in a couple weeks time? Who knows 🙂