Roccella Ionica marina was very nice, peaceful and very friendly set between miles of white sandy beach and surrounded by pine trees. Unfortunately, it's a long way from anywhere! We cycled into town but discovered there was very little to see and very few shops. We bought groceries in a tiny supermarket and bought pizzettas for lunch by the beach but that was pretty much Roccella done.
We thought we'd explore further afield and so the next day cycled into town and caught the train to Locri - this area of Calabria is called Locride, after the town, and so it should have things of interest. We got off the train and wandered for a while but soon realised that apart from a few more shops there wasn't much else. We knew there were ruins close by and so thought we'd find a bus - there wasn't one! We got a taxi there hoping it wasn't too far as we didn't really know where it was! The Greek ruins of Epizephyrii were, as always, interesting given our fascination with old piles of stones. It was quite a sizeable site dating back to the 8th century BC but not a lot remained. The most amazing sight though was the spring flowers, often completely obscuring the ruins but they were stunning. It was worth the trip and the entry fee for them alone. Thankfully, the walk back to town was about 5 km and along a path beside the beach and so very pleasant - we did have to take our shoes off and wade through a stream at one point though!
We successfully retraced our path to exit Roccella without going aground again (the dredger was just starting work!) and motor sailed to our next stop, Le Castella, 40 miles away. This area of Italy doesn't seem to have the lovely old towns so full of character, along the coast that we've come to expect and Le Castella was no exception. Not only did it have little character but it was very much closed and had a sad and empty feel. It's saving grace was its beautiful Aragonese castle built on a causeway out of sand coloured stone giving the appearance of a giant sand castle.
We only stayed 1 night before heading for Crotone, 20 miles away. At last, we had good wind and we sailed properly, for the first time this year, all the way, averaging 6.2 knots. The sea was a bit choppy but we were both smiling. The mooring in Crotone was interesting as the wind funnelled into the marina giving us 30 knot gusts as we tried to reverse into our allotted space! Not text book but any mooring with no damage is a good one!
We arrived here on a national holiday celebrating Italy's liberation in the 2nd world war and so Crotone was very, very closed on our first explore. We opted for a long, delicious lunch instead - when we eventually found a restaurant open.
Crotone is a largish mostly modern town spread along a long seafront, but it is capped by a ruined castle and old town. We enjoyed exploring it all and found some wonderful views from the castle and narrow alleys to get lost in. The shopping was good so we treated ourselves to some new clothes and generally chilled out for a few days.
We are moored in the old port and from the castle we could look down into the new commercial port, where we could see half a dozen large motor and sailing yachts run aground by the harbour wall. They all looked relatively new and expensive. Our Italian may have let us down, but we understand that these boats were carrying migrants and were illegally dumped there after they offloaded their passengers in the harbour. This is our first firsthand experience of the current problems in this part of the Med.
The winds that greeted us when we arrived seem to be a feature of Crotone, while there are calmer spells the wind has become more than a little tiresome, however after five days here it looks as if we will have a window to move on to St. Maria di Leuca, 70 miles away tomorrow. Leuca will be our final stop in Italy before we get to Greece.
Click here for the interactive map of our travels