Only on the Mediterranean can some people be whole. Something about it is like music. Tell me the comparison is impossible, and I agree. Occasional bursts of song and random guitar chords from arbored garden and waterfront trattor√¨a cannot swell into a vast celestial symphonic background, sensed rather than heard. Yet, for me, it is so. Music creates mood, a receptiveness to beauty, and along the borders of this enchanted sea there are always vistas which affect me the same way: colors flowing down mountainsides to spill into the water, play of dawn and sunset, mist over valleys, breakers against granite, birds crossing a sky bluer than Dufy's palette, a distant headland coming closer and the village waiting beyond. Call it mood, call it awareness, call it inner peace or beatitude or joy in being alive, but there it is, that feeling for the Mediterranean and the shores it washes.
There was no wind at all as Oliana V crept out of the harbor of Portofino on a brilliant Sunday morning. It was early. I lounged against the mizzen rigging watching the town recede, guarded by the absurd ramparts of Castello Brown, perched on the crest of the hill above. At this hour the cobbled waterfront piazza was empty. The daily hordes of August trippers had not begun to swarm.
As I looked back, there were the empty tables of II Pitosforo, home of cappelli da prete and scampi ai ferri beyond compare; and the other tables of the other restaurants rimming the piazza, beyond fishing boats drawn up on rollers as they had been for generations. There was my favorite spot to sip a Negroni while engaged in the difficult evening task of wondering what to have for dinner, when everything was so good; and there, over the crosstrees of a voyaging British cutter, was the very window of my room at the Hotel Nazionale, so recently abandoned that the little maid who always bobbed and murmured grazie to anything said in my halting Italian probably had not even arrived to make the bed.
It was hard to leave, hard to leave. The moored fleet of yachts along the quay was doubled in the mirror of the harbor; each boat met a phantom counterpart at the waterline, inverted, masts poking down as far as up. I walked forward to look into the cove of Piaggia, and the entire Gulf of Tigullio lay over the bow: Santa Margherita and Rapallo and Chiavari, towns and isolated villas rising from the shore to the heights, tier on tier of man's colors in a vast natural amphitheater, surely one of the most breathtaking unions of land and sea on our planet. In the vastness, Oliana moved like a windup toy boat. Rhythmically the engine pushed us across the liquid mirror, the bubbles in the wake tiny bits of shattered glass breaking the otherwise perfect reflection.
For all its virtues, the Mediterranean cannot be called ideal for yachting. "It is always here the same," Lippo Riva, Oliana's owner, had said a few days before. "Either the wind blows too hard or there is no wind at all." He had Oliana V designed and built as a compromise for these conditions by the firm of Sangermani at nearby Lavagna, amply powered for the calms but with sail enough in her ketch rig to be smart in a breeze, a fine Italian representative of the modern breed known as motor sailers. Only four days previously she had entered the water after being blessed by a barefoot monk from a monastery in the hills above, to swim away like a newly hatched duck, fully found. Masts were stepped and rigging complete, sails shackled to halyards at hand for hoisting. The engine was ready to run, linens were in the lockers, the galley was stocked. There could be no nonsense about gradual commissioning: built on an open beach, Oliana was skidded directly into the sea, and departure had to be immediate.
Without pause we had taken Oliana to her mooring in Portofino, and there had spent two days stowing personal gear and checking installations. Now on this morning of bright promise we were off to the southward, with Capri as a final destination. "Come il dolce alla fine d'un pranzo," as Olli Riva, for whom her husband's boat was named, put it. "Like the dessert to end the dinner."
The antipasto was destined to be the island of Capraia, some 85 miles to the southward. But first there had to be a pause off the Rivas' waterfront villa in Rapallo to say goodby to their children and take aboard a few last-minute delicacies. Right here it is necessary to make a distinction about Mediterranean cruising, which, like all cruising, is not only a way of life but reflects the philosophy along the shores. For an Italian the ma√±ana of Spain becomes pi√π tardi—not tomorrow, just later. Translated into practice, it means never hurry to do something else so long as you are enjoying what you are doing at the moment. Meals are timed by the flow of wine and conversation, not the hands of a watch. So, after the Riva children paddled out in a rubber raft, we swam. An awning was rigged over the cockpit. Friends abandoned water skiing to come alongside and see the new Oliana. Champagne appeared. More friends arrived. Cheese and grapes were added to the deckhouse table. Clearly, it was to be a pi√π tardi cruise, so I happily turned off for the duration the time clock built into the Anglo-Saxon brain and filled a glass.
Eventually, children and friends went ashore and, anchor up, Oliana's bow swung toward the open sea. Soon we left astern the crisscrossing wakes of skiers, and the water stretched ahead like moiré silk, incredibly blue, but only a few shades darker than the sky. Sunlight shafted into the depths alongside like a gigantic star sapphire. Gradually my eyes closed, and I dozed, to awaken to lunch set on the folding cockpit table. A tall bottle of Rhine wine in the center, sides dewy. Chilled glasses. A bowl of dark Spanish tuna overlaid by thinly sliced onions, a salad of tomatoes and diced green peppers, a cold roast of veal, a Danish ham, a basket of fruit and a platter of cheese. We dined, and somehow the entire afternoon had vanished astern, along with the land and recent memories, and faint on the horizon ahead was a new island, full of promise.
It was dark when Oliana crept behind an unseen breakwater. Above, silhouetted against the stars, I had the impression of a cliff crowned by battlements, a somber fortress still on guard against invading fleets long vanished. For a sailor, it is difficult to say which landfalls are most intriguing. It is exciting to watch by day an unfamiliar shore rise from the sea, taking on detail; and there is an especial feeling about making port at dawn or sunset. Yet somehow there is the fascination of mystery in closing the land in utter darkness, steering toward a winking pinpoint of light that gradually becomes brighter, finally to drop anchor without knowing what day will reveal.
With morning, it was plain that Capraia still drowses in the past. Only the first wave of the new discoverers has arrived, sun-seekers living in tents along the beach. A few skin-divers basking on inflated rubber boats explored offshore rocks, while girls in bikinis watched from ledges. The town on the hill above was almost empty. Lippo explained: "The young people go to find work in Torino or Milano or elsewhere in the north. Here there is ho cinema, no TV, no football." Houses of squared stones built to last through the centuries lined deserted streets, narrow in the medieval fashion, yet each with a glimpse of blue water at the end. Climbing toward the battlements dimly seen on entering, I remembered a prediction made by a friend in London two years before: "There is no place on earth combining good climate with seashore which will long remain remote."
The ancient fortress, entered through a nail-studded door, commanded by arrow slots in flanking towers, seemed to give the lie to the remark. This could not be invaded by modernity. Yet I was wrong. Even here the past is capitulating to the pressures of the present. An albergo—a small hotel—has been fashioned from the old chambers, and guests loll in deck chairs on the highest battlements.
Capraia possesses few beaches but many rocky coves, where the water lies still and clear. Because most of its trees were cut when the ruling city-state of Pisa needed ships to counter the fleets of rival Genoa, it has the clear-etched starkness of an Aegean island, a resemblance extending to the trattor√¨a on the quay a few feet from Oliana's stern. As in a harborside Greek taverna we sat at bare board tables under hanging grapes, sun filtering through the leaves, and sipped a tart vino rosso from the volcanic soil of Elba that had almost the lingering aftertaste of retsina. Yet there the similarity ended, with heaped plates of spaghetti and Italian vivacity.
From Capraia, Elba is a short run. When we had barely cleared the harbor we could see our next destination high and solid above the horizon. A warm breeze touched our shoulders in gentle reminder that we were supposed to be sailing sailors, and we hoisted main, mizzen and balloon jib to steal quietly across the calm sea. The Mediterranean carries an inescapable sense of men and ships which have passed before, and I thought it might have been just this way when Napoleon made the same landfall, his spirit to flare into the Hundred Days and the final fulfillment of destiny at Waterloo in a defeat so complete as to become part of the language.
Elba is beautiful on first impression, a feeling not dispelled by later acquaintance. The next morning we powered from the port of Marciana Marina to a beach resort at Badiola, dropping anchor off a crescent of pure white sand reminiscent of the Caribbean. While discovered, Elba has not yet been invaded: two hotels looked from one end of the cove over the sea, and tents clustered at the other, but there was no sense of crowding. We swam and water-skied behind boats hired from the shore, and then set sail to the westward, intending to spend the night at the fishing village of Marina di Campo. The wind seemed to be coming from behind each headland, forcing us to tack the length of the north coast. In sailing there are always compensations, and ours was the reward of island vignettes: tiny coves scooped deep into the rocky shore, boats and drying nets below lone houses, terraced vineyards surrounding villages high above.
Next morning the water lay under us as clear as a mountain pool. Near the anchor chain a small octopus was going through setting-up exercises, all eight arms flexing and unflexing—good for biceps and shoulders—and I thought I even detected a few deep knee bends. Donning mask, and flippers, I lazily swam down for a closer look, only to find that the water was deeper than it seemed from deck. The octopus continued his workout, and I returned to the cockpit to munch grapes and pignoli—the dried pine nuts that were the unsuspected yet vital ingredient of the sauce al pesto now being prepared by Gino, the Genoese sailor-cook, as we powered toward Bastia.
Al pesto may be the finest of the pasta sauces, as visitors to the northern seacoast towns of Italy will remember. Dark green in color, delicate in flavor, its name stems from a pestle, sometimes used for crushing the herbs. On a clean board Gino chopped a large handful of the washed leaves of fresh basil, together with a clove of garlic (more can be used, depending on your tolerance, but it should never be allowed to dominate). He worked back and forth with the blade of the knife until all was finely minced, then chopped in about one-third the amount of pignoli. Freshly grated Parmesan and Pecorino cheese were added—Sardo will also serve, though Pecorino is easier to find. All this was blended thoroughly, then doused with olive oil, and a generous amount of softened butter worked in. Salt came last, then tasting, with more of anything added to achieve finally a subtle balance of all: the result was a thick paste, glistening with richness, with the blended flavors of basil, garlic, cheeses, olive oil, butter and an intangible background note of pignoli.
When I came on deck most of the 32 miles to Bastia lay astern, and the mountains of Corsica rose steeply from sea to sky. As a reward for my time in the galley, Lippo brought forth a bottle of Zeltinger Langerbach '59, proving his opinion that "nothing is so cool and fresh in hot weather as a Rhine or Moselle wine." Lippo Riva is not only a sailor (in his previous Oliana, a small Sparkman & Stephens centerboard yawl "almost like Finisterre," he had dominated the Mediterranean ocean racing circuit) and a big game hunter (nine extended safaris to Africa, with a bag including some of the rarest trophies on the continent) but also a linguist and connoisseur of good living. Part of the reason for our visit to Bastia was to effect what Lippo jokingly called a coup tie main du vin, stocking French wines for the rest of the cruise at French prices.
We sipped, and swam almost below the ramparts of Bastia, then powered into the ancient harbor in the center of the old town, bypassing the large modern break-watered port slightly to the north. Awnings were rigged, and a faint breeze blew through. Almost apologetically the harbor master came to the foot of the stern boarding plank to give clearance. Bastia dozed in the sun. Around the quay, stone buildings leaned against each other, hunched and gray, like men tired by a weight of years. The present seemed dominated by a memory. Through every street strode the ghost of the island's famous son, the Little Corporal from Corsica. Endless souvenirs of Napoleon filled the shops; bronze busts and statues, crockery and glassware adorned by portraits, coins and dishes of copper—reminders everywhere of the brooding eyes under the forelock and cocked hat, hand thrust into coat and booted foot aggressively forward.
Yet in the late afternoon Bastia came very much alive. As the sun lowered, the park along the waterfront filled with people, the evening promenade dear to the Latin heart. Girls dressed in their finery pretended not to notice admiring swains, couples at small round tables dawdled over cloudy glasses of pastis, families strolled under the palms, while the sky paled and a cool breath stole in from the sea. Then suddenly it was dark, the sun gone below the mountain range behind the city. Lights winked on, and restaurants began to fill.
Corsica is French, but with typical Mediterranean overtones, probably stemming from the Mare Nostrum of the Romans, a common heritage that influences all life on its shores. In many ways it has a primitive feel, but tucked in the medieval waterfront streets of Bastia—streets so narrow that the houses almost touch above, so unaccustomed to wheeled vehicles that they become flights of steps—is a little bit of Paris: the marketplace. Under awnings were stalls with good things necessary to la bonne cuisine—mounds of cheeses, sausages, fruits, fish; salad greens and carefully arranged vegetables; in one section a golden bull's head surrounded by carved ears of golden corn surveying cuts of beef and veal. We trudged through with baskets, cheerfully poking and squeezing and bargaining, part of the ritual, finally to march back to Oliana with long loaves of French bread carried over the shoulders like rifles.
For my benefit Lippo planned to make a detour to include an island with one of the world's most romantic names, Monte Cristo. Lying by itself almost midway between Corsica and the Italian coast above Rome, it is rarely visited, a game sanctuary not open to the public. As Oliana bucked a fresh sirocco, the southeast wind off the Libyan deserts, there was plenty of time to wonder what it would be like. The first impression was of a single rock pinnacle, hazy and unreal, a fragment broken from the moon. Earlier, I had had difficulty persuading myself that an island of Monte Cristo actually existed, and was not part of childhood fantasy, like the mythical count himself. Now as I watched it come closer—watched the craggy peaks compound, saw the carelessly strewn boulders—I thought it strange that chance should have directed a writer to choose such a perfect background for a story which had captured the imagination of readers. For Alexandre Dumas never visited the island he made famous, but picked Monte Cristo for his novel because he liked the name.
There is a single valley slashing down the center, a narrow vertical band of vegetation dividing the stark granite mass. The valley terminates in a small cove, gripped between two rocky arms. Smooth enough to form a harbor in easterly winds, it becomes a seething inferno during a mistral, so that any vessel entering must always be ready to put forth at the first sign of a shift. Ashore is a single house among the trees above the cove, and a keeper to protect the game on the crags from Ponza fishermen. High above, Lippo pointed out the walls of an ancient building, almost indistinguishable from the towering cliff it crowned. Once, as he told the story, it had been a monastery. For many years the inmates lived blamelessly, walking barefoot to tend meager gardens and vineyards, chanting prayers from dawn to sunset. But the gaiety that swept Italy after the Middle Ages, the upsurge of spirit that flowered into the Renaissance, infected Monte Cristo, too. Rumors reached the Pope of full barrels of wine being rolled up the paths, to return empty; of songs other than hymns lifting to the sky; of merry monks pursuing bucolic maidens among the peaks. As a mark of papal displeasure, the monastery was closed and the monks scattered.
With dawn, the wind went around, not to the dreaded northwest mistral, but into the south, a mezzogiorno. Squalls rifled down the valley to snatch at our stern, secured by a loop of line over a boulder ashore. The sky was pale lavender, although Oliano still lay in deep shadow. Thick clouds touched by the sun flowed across the upper peak, writhing and tortured, putting forth icy-white tentacles, which slithered down the valley to be suddenly snatched into nothingness by another savage gust. When it blows on the Mediterranean, it can blow hard. Yet I had the feeling that this was a harbor like Great Salt Pond on faraway Block Island, where terrain funnels a wind into more velocity than outside on the open sea.
And so we found. Setting main, mizzen, forestaysail and jibtopsail, Oliana rounded the point to meet only a moderate breeze, which soon trailed away. By 9 o'clock we sat in a row along the top of the deckhouse, sipping wine and eating hunks of bread and a nameless cheese from the market in Bastia, looking out over unruffled water.
It was afternoon when the engine brought us back to Corsica. Passing the deep and almost landlocked bay of Porto-Vecchio, Oliana swung south to skirt Pointe de la Chiappa and cut inside the Cerbicales Islands. Behind long, sweeping beaches we could count five distinct ranges of mountains lifting tier on tier to the central spine, white sand perimeter and green heartland, wholly unexploited, happy reminder that there is always somewhere else to go when old haunts get too crowded. Every point was topped by the conical stone lookout towers that have become to me the hallmarks of the northern Mediterranean littoral, relics of the last wave of invaders, the roving corsairs of the Barbary Coast.
Soon we neared the Strait of Bonifacio, the narrow gateway between French Corsica and Italian Sardinia. In the days of sail, this was the scene of some dramatic—and many tragic—incidents, famed as a graveyard of ships and crews. Nearing, we could see why. Huge boulders lay singly and in clusters, some barely breaking the surface, a patternless rock pile scattered by the mischievous children of some superrace. It would be a passage of terror in the darkness of a winter gale, and I remembered with a shiver the poor souls aboard the French frigate La Sémillante. They had sailed from Toulon on February 14, 1855, to be caught by a mistral the following day. That night the ship struck He Lavezzi, a rock like the back of a surfaced whale on the north side of the strait, and 773 perished in the boiling caldron.
But now it was calm, and from the bow I stared curiously ahead. Every important trade lane had its iron door and lock in the old days, not only to control passage for political reasons but to exact tribute from hapless merchants. I felt that a strait which had been important since the dawn of civilization must have a rather special guardian, nor was I disappointed.
Nature and the labors of men long dead have combined to make the fortress town of Bonifacio one of the most impressive ruins in the world. Built atop a sheer rock promontory rising perhaps 300 feet above the surf creaming at the base, the town walls are almost a continuation of the cliff itself, altered only by narrow windows and arrow slits. Unbroken, the battlements run inland to the end of the peninsula, curving toward the harbor in a wall that hardly dips as the elevation lowers.
The present town was begun about 300 A.D., although Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans had previously established garrisons. In 833 a Pisan count undertook to improve the fortifications as a barrier against Saracen invaders. Between 1091 and 1283 it was fought over by Pisa and Genoa, finally to become a colony of the Genoese. In 1397 it underwent the first of a series of major assaults, this one by Spaniards. During 1528 it was ravaged by the plague, the population reduced from 5,000 to 700; recovering, it was subjected to a French-Corsican siege by land, while being assailed from the sea by a Turkish fleet. Women fought on the walls along with the men, until an honorable surrender was finally arranged, but the Turks broke their word and massacred the garrison. And so it went, century after century; war, famine, pestilence, death, assaulting the battlements, while below ordinary men and women tried to live their lives. There were a few relieving periods of grace among the turbulence. In 1215 St. Francis of Assisi arrived to take refuge in a grotto, and in 1625 the town with great pomp and ceremony received the bones of its patron and namesake, the martyred St. Boniface, which still repose in the central church.
As Oliana crept under the walls, a narrow entrance opened, once commanded by batteries on either side of the channel. Really fine natural harbors are rare on the Mediterranean; this is one of the best, winding like a narrow fjord deep into the land, beyond the reach of any sea tempest. And at the end we found a village much like what Portofino must have been years ago. Fishing families lived above dim shops along the single cobbled street forming the quay. Portly matrons leaned on windowsills to gossip with neighbors. Men in blue jackets mended nets or unloaded baskets of fish and Crustacea—both clawed and clawless lobsters, unusual to take from the same water, together with giant spider crabs. Except for the tobacco shop, which also sold postcards, the stores were still oriented to local needs: inexpensive wine sold by the pitcher instead of the bottle; twine, hooks and sinkers; plain work clothes backed by musty shelves of thick sweaters and underwear, testimony to bitter winters.
The next day a mistral was blowing, but it made little difference in the snug toe of our sock, especially as we had planned to explore the old town on the heights. Arriving by a cobbled road so steep that even the donkeys tacked uphill, we found something of a ghost city, just being rediscovered and perhaps repopulated, as the Volkswagens had infiltrated by a less precipitous route. Before Columbus sailed on his first voyage of discovery, 8,000 people lived in Bonifacio; now there are fewer than 2,000. Streets of ancient houses still stand, empty and gutted, although the thick stone walls could shelter men for more centuries to come. Yet unfortunately, through poverty and neglect—perhaps compounded by notions of sanitation which have changed little since the Middle Ages—Bonifacio lacks charm away from the waterfront.
But as we left, the battlements crowning the cliffs were as impressive as before. The mistral had tapered off during the night. Astern the mountains of Corsica lifted through successive stages of green to purple distances, while over the bow Sardinia seemed almost a mirror copy. Long seas swept in from the open reaches to the northwest, breaking on meeting currents in the strait, until the whole surface was a pattern of deep blue and creaming white. For once sailing the Mediterranean was just right: not too much wind, not too little, and from the desired direction. Happily we tasted salt spray as Oliana drove through under full sail.
Small islands cluster off the north coast of Sardinia, an archipelago of winding passages and sheltered coves, not unlike the skerries of Sweden. We anchored for lunch and a swim, then proceeded into the harbor of Maddalena. It had begun to blow again, and we were content to moor in a row along the quay and visit other yachts we found there. Ineradicable in the memory of Mediterranean cruising are the sandals on the stern of every boat, lined up like shoes outside a mosque. The well-dressed yachtsman is almost invariably barefoot abroad; the richer the owner and the more opulent the vessel, the more informally clad he is likely to be. The true Mediterranean look is built around fishermen's blouses, faded slacks, work shirts and bikinis, although caviar and Blanc de Blancs may be served on deck.
Our next run was to be the longest of the cruise, 160 miles to Ponza, first of the steppingstones leading into the Gulf of Naples. Passing Cape Ferro, we had a glimpse of the archipelago beyond Caprera, small islands and peninsulas looking like small islands, scalloped by bays and beaches, a garden spot to explore some other day. The sun set dark red, not bright to the eyes but like the stylized sun in a Japanese painting.
After midnight a light no brighter than a star appeared on the horizon ahead, separated from its fellows by twinkling in a timed pattern. Gradually it lifted to be abeam as the night paled softly into presunrise colors. Ponza in silhouette resembled a crouching antediluvian monster, the lighthouse a weird blinking eye atop a horn, a long, low neck rising to an arched spiny back, the rest of the island curving away into a tail raised at the tip. As we slowly rounded the point, stars faded and the land took on color and detail in the recurrent miracle of dawn, a moment when everything looks and feels different, the greatest loss of urban man, sequestered from nature by towering buildings and an artificial rhythm of existence.
The port of Ponza opens at the head of a tapering bay, behind a small inner lighthouse and a church faintly Moorish in outline. Detached villas dot the outer approaches, some perched like ospreys' nests atop cliffs that drop sheer to the sea. Rounding a breakwater, the town came suddenly into view, square houses of stone, painted in pale shades of yellow and pink, accented by green shutters and tiny wrought-iron balconies. Below, in a long horseshoe around the quay, warehouses and small shops are almost like caves dug from rock, as their roofs form the central street. Yachts moor along one side of the harbor, fishing boats on the other. Tables under striped umbrellas look down on both, and pedestrians may amble in indolent ease, because automobiles are not allowed to invade the waterfront. As a backdrop, terraced vineyards run up the mountainsides, green against the granite peaks. Coupled with clear water and a good beach not too far from the center of the town, blessed by a total lack of commercialism, Ponza, I felt, was my discovery of the summer.
Quite the reverse was Ischia. After the small, quiet harbors lying in Oliana's wake, it was a rude return to civilization. Always before I had thought of it as midway on the discovery scale between Capri and Ponza, but the first impression was like the Riviera of Nice or Cannes: noise, cars, neons and people. Yet, in fairness, there is a cult of visitors devoted to Ischia, and deservedly so. It is a big island, with plenty of room to be most things to most travelers. Perhaps it is the greenest of the southern Italian islands; there are wonderful stands of pines cheek by jowl with the flowers of the tropics, and beautiful views of the sea from the heights.
But the best views include Capri, and how can any island within sight fail to suffer by comparison? Only once since my original visit to Capri years ago had I wavered from my conviction that it is the most beautiful single place in the world. Then I had sailed aboard Staghound into Papetoai Bay of faraway Moorea, one of the enchanted suburbs of Tahiti, and felt that the magic quality of Capri had been surpassed. Now, seeing it again in the soft light of late afternoon, my first love returned. Capri is the most favored creation of nature on this planet.
Yet, alas! in almost equal proportion to its loveliness Capri has been desecrated by man—not the ancients, although it has been lived in since the dawn of history, but by the modern tripper and heedlessly rapacious shopkeeper. There is a change from year to year, accelerated rather than diminished: garish pottery, neon signs, shoddy souvenirs spilling into the cobbled streets, plodding sightseers, music boxes blaring Isle of Capri, no space to sit at the tables in the piazza, once like a dolls' stage set; noise and bustle and hurry, daily excursion steamers, during August flooding in 50 times the population of the island each morning, to drain it away each night, leaving behind enough to fill the hotels and nightclubs.
So what do you do when the discovered places get too crowded in midsummer? You get back aboard a cruising vessel or take an island steamer and sail away, perhaps to Corsica, or to Elba, or to Ponza—especially Ponza. Or perhaps you up anchor and begin a new cruise, around the corner of the Sorrento Peninsula to Positano, and start again from there.
Oliana's voyage, typical of leisurely Mediterranean cruises, took two weeks to cover eight islands between Portofino and Capri.
Strait of Bonifacio
Mediterranean Cruising Travel Facts
Yachting season off Italian coast runs from April to October; peak months are July and August when demand raises charter prices 10 to 15%. Normal rates range from $10 per day for a 15-foot sailboat with auxiliary outboard to $300 per day for luxurious cabin cruisers sleeping eight or 10 with crew of four. Fee includes wages but not crew's food. RECOMMENDED BROKERS: In Rome, Pepito Moncada, Via Eleonora Duse 5/G, features auxiliary sailboats with berths for four to 10; also has small fleet of motor sailers, which are slow for long voyages but popular for fishing or for short trips to nearby Sardinia. In Genoa, Alberto Dellepiane, Via Giancarlo Odino 2/9, offers cruising boats with six to eight berths for $200 per day. In Palermo, Pietro Cuccia, Via Stabile 124, has some of best charters in Mediterranean, but is all booked up for the current season. When boats are available he requires minimum charter of one month on larger craft, 15 days for others.