06/16/2012, San Remo,Italy
We bid a fond farewell to Menton and motor sailed along the picturesque coastline taking care to exchange the French for Italian courtesy flag as we crossed into Italian waters. We were also careful to observe the correct procedures as we were exporting Trilogy from France and wanted to be sure we were not breaching the regulations in any way.
So as we approached San Remo we called the harbour master on the radio to arrange for a berth and mentioned that we were an Australian registered sailing yacht seeking customs and immigration clearance. The confusion began when the Portosole harbour master advised that we must go to the old port where the Customs authorities were located. The next call to the old port received the response that we could not come into the port but must go to Portosole and then walk around to Customs.
With our yellow Q flag flying we berthed and walked around to Customs to be told that we should be speaking with the Coast Guard. The next hour and a half was spent with three less than efficient coast guard officers while they made multiple phone calls, consulted several manuals and then called in a more senior officer.
It came as a small surprise to learn that we needed two duty stamps and we were directed to the local tobacconist shop with a handwritten note from the Coast Guard explaining what we needed. Armed with the two 14 Euro stamps and back at the Coast Guard we were then provided with a folder titled 'Costituto In Arrivo Per Il Naviglo Da Diporto' which contains photo copies of our ship's papers, passports and visas. I take this to be a transit log that we must keep for when we depart from Italian waters.
We have given up on trying to get our passports stamped after three attempts.
It also turns out that San Remo is hosting a very big sailing regatta - the 60th Anniversary Giraglia Rolex Cup - so we have been treated to the latest racing yachts ranging from the super maxi 'Alfa Romeo', now owned by a Slovenian, a maxi from Saint Petersburg, TP 52s and Swan 43s and everything in between. Friday 15th is the last day with prize giving at the San Remo Yacht Club. We were also treated to a major fireworks display which would rival our New Year's Eve celebrations in Australia.
The old town part of San Remo dates back to the Middle Ages and seems to be built like a maze of very small alley ways to confuse the barbarian pirates that hassled the region. Many buildings span these alleys to form tunnels that are so dark they need artificial light during the day.
There is also a quaint Russian orthodox church (San Basilio) which has distinctive onion shaped domes similar to it's namesake in Moscow. It was built in 1912 by Russian nobles who holidayed in San Remo before the World War.
Along the waterfront is a dedicated bicycle road that follows the original route of the coastal railway much like the rail trails in Victoria.