Roccella Ionica - Italian mainland
06 June 2009
After several lovely days spent in Syracuse, it was time to move on to mainland Italy to reach either Santa Maria di Lucca on the southeast tip of the heel or Otranto, just around the corner on the east coast. With weather checked and shopping done, especially the fantastic local red wine at just 1.40 euros a litre, we set off at 6.30pm on a 2 night passage.
20 miles out from Syracusa, we saw what looked like small candle flames on the water? When we got closer, we could see that there were four of them in a long line across our path. A fishing boat came towards us, explained that the lights were to show where their nets were, and asked us to follow them as they escorted us around their drift nets.
Not much traffic about over night and not much wind either the next day and what there was was right on the nose. So much for our good wind weather predictions!. We always have Channel 16 on the VHF when travelling and at about 4.30pm we heard an announcement for gale warnings. We changed to the relevant channel to hear that a Wind Force 7 and thunderstorms were predicted ahead of us. We decided to turn around and make for Roccella Ionica as we were some way from the next available port and weren't sure when the weather was going to arrive. It made us feel a bit sick to turn around for a 3 hour journey retracing our steps but it had to be done.
Our pilot book advises avoiding entering the marina at night due to the moving sandbank and dangerous seas at the entrance with an onshore breeze. It was dark and blowing when we got there but we managed it even though our hearts were in our mouths.
When we got in, friendly faces of friends from Malta and Syracuse were there to meet us. The next evening some of us went to the pizzeria in the marina where you order pizza by the metre and had a fun evening.
Whilst our stay in Roccella Ionica wasn't an expected one, we are really pleased that we stayed there for a few days whilst the weather passed through. Not only did we spend some more times with friends, but the marina was free (something to do with EU funding and the local 'Dons') and we had plenty of water to top-up our tanks and wash the boat. We climbed to the highest point in the town to see the ruins of an old castle and watch tower that gave us a great view of the beautiful coastline with miles and miles of empty beach and turquoise water. Hopefully, we will pass through again on our way back later in the year.
Jun '09 marina was free for up to 5 nights stay which included water. Conad supermarket is other side of railway, below a restaurant. Safest way to get there is to go out of marina, down promenade until you come to a crossing that goes under the road and railway, turn right and walk back on yourself. Supermarket is on left and is very good. Climb up to the old castello on the hill for great views of the coast.