Thursday, May 28, 2015

Close Reach To Ragusa (Sicily!)

 Hi Everyone,

We had a good sail from Malta to Marina di Ragusa, Sicily. Winds were ten to fifteen increasing to fifteen to twenty or twenty-five from the West Northwest as we got further North towards our destination. Seas one to two meters on a cool but sunny day. A reef in the main and about one third of the genoa handled it fine and the HydroVane steered like it was on rails . It was a little wet but a "spirited" sail and it got us into Ragusa in time to relax and enjoy the evening. 

My favored perch going to weather. Under the dodger!
Janet  enroute to Ragusa
Before leaving Malta we did go up to the old capitol of the island, Medina, and enjoyed the citadel's quiet, narrow stone streets inside the massive fort.  We had a lovely lunch. It was a nice goodbye to Malta.
Medina Walls
Medina Street Scene
Good bye Malta!
Carol Argosy of "Sea Bird" met us at the docks in Ragusa, a very nice surprise,  and we've been socializing with  Steven and her. They put their very cool Nordhaven 62 on the same ship as us from SE Asia to Turkey two years ago and we've been friends ever since.

Carol and Steven Argosy of Sea Bird
 The marina at Ragusa is new, very modern and very well equipped. The staff is friendly and efficient and knows exactly what most yachties desire most of the time. We've got a secure berth, hot showers, cold drinks, chandleries, ATM, internet, etc, etc. Very cushy for a reasonable price this time of year. Soon that price will be going way up "for the season"  but we will have moved on.

The countryside itself is more richly agricultural than I had expected. Around Ragusa its winter wheat fields and olive groves in gently rolling terrain. Further west it becomes a little higher and more broken country with vineyards, orchards and vegetable fields often under acres of clear plastic green houses. The old Greeks would have been surprised but I think they would have approved. Its a fertile land.
Around Agrigento
We took the bus up into the city of Ragusa itself and the old city of Ragusa Ibla. Ragusa is bustling and modern. Ragusa Ibla was wiped out in the great Sicilian earth quake of 1693 but was so loved that it was soon rebuilt as a very Baroque town and reoccupied. Today its classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ragusa Ilba
Cathedral St. Georgio, Ragusa Ilba
 Yesterday we rented a car and have spent the past couple days exploring southern Sicily. Driving here is not as bad as I had expected. People are not totally insane and the roads are passable. But the secret weapon is GPS, in our case in the form of my iPhone 6 and iMaps for navigation. The highway system is chaotic, the roundabouts innumerable and the routes poorly marked,  if marked at all. The mapping systems are amazingly good and I'm sure our times enroute would have tripled, not to mention the increased aggravation factor, if we didn't have these GPS route finding and navigation systems. The best of paper maps just don't show what you need in this kind of country.
Basilica di San Nicolo, Cathedral, Noto
We drove northeast to the town of Noto where is supposedly found the prettiest Baroque street scene in all Sicily. The old town was lovely and to make it perfect we witnessed a funeral street procession right out of the "Godfather" brass funeral band and all.  A couple hundred mourners trailed the flower draped casket carried above a dozen or so men behind the band and the hearse. Perfect!
Funeral procession, Noto
Today we drove quite a bit further in the opposite direction along the coast to Agrigento and the "Valley of the Temples" as the sight of the ancient Greek city of Akragas is now called. In 400BC it was one of the four largest cities in the western world and Pindar called it the most beautiful inhabited by mortal man.

Temple of Juno, 450 BC
 Today its still a lovely sight with a number of structures remaining in place including the best preserved Doric temple anywhere, the "Temple of Concord". Its a yellow sandstone "Parthanon" like structure. A little smaller and not quite so graceful as that in Athens, but much better preserved. All the columns are intact and most of the interior walls. The remains of the city walls and various structures stretch for a couple kilometers through an olive grove above the surrounding valley. Its all very sweet.
Temple of Concord, 450 BC
So tomorrow remains undecided. Its very windy now in the marina but its supposed to calm down tonight. We'll drive to somewhere I'm sure. Very nice cruiser fibes around Ragusa these days.

Temple of Hercules, 6th Century BC
Love to all,
Bill & Janet

PS: All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.
Marlon Brando would be proud


Laura Hussey said...

Sounds like you two are having a great,retirement adventure! Laura

LJP said...

It all sounds so great! Any refugees visible? What are the prices like for food? Love your blogs....

Unknown said...

You two make ancient history come alive !! Your photos are great too.

Unknown said...

The photos from the ancient are like the Greek ancient and the names are also Greek.
Beautiful pictures also from the village. Thank you for sending us so nice things..