Amalfi, Capri and Ischia
06 June 2014 | Coast of Italy
We enjoyed harbor hopping up the Italian coast from the Straits of Messina up to Amalfi. Yes, this is the town for which the famous Amalfi Drive is named. This is a very curvy dangerous road which we drove last year on our land trip with Dave's brother. This year it was quite a bit easier to sail along the coast and enjoy the spectacular scenery from the water. We splurged and got a berth in the small harbor of Amalfi town itself. The harbor is so packed with boats that the marina staff came on board at the harbor entrance and actually drove the boat into the berth. We had a lot of respect for his driving ability since we would have never attempted to go in such a tight fit between other boats and so close to the rocks on shore. But it was a worthwhile splurge (120 euros) because we were right in the heart of Amalfi town. We took a short local bus trip up to the mountaintop village of Ravello which has spectacular views over the ocean. The town was getting ready for the annual Ravello Festival. The concert stage is set up overhanging the cliff from the Villa garden. A performer definitely doesn't want to exit backstage there!
From Amalfi we stopped one night on the famous island of Capri. We didn't go into the marina since we learned that a berth here would be about 400 euros per night! Instead we anchored on the south side and discovered about 200 other boats doing the same thing. It was crazy to observe how close the local boats anchored to each other, and to us. But we knew from prior experience that they would all be gone before nightfall. We saw a young couple with 2 kids using a stand up paddle board around the anchorage. We hadn't seen too many of these SUPs here in the Med so we greeted them. They are from Australia and had a beautiful 55 foot sailboat named Miss Behavin. In the evening we enjoyed happy hour on their boat and got a tour. They had sailed from Australia to Thailand and then had the boat shipped from there to Turkey (just as almost everyone does to avoid the Somali pirate situation).
Next stop was the island of Ischia which is larger than Capri and frankly more beautiful with lush green steep hillsides. There are several marinas and harbors here and we selected the anchorage under the huge castle of Aragon. It was built in 1438 by Alfonso V of Aragon on the ruins of a 474 BC fort, to guard the island from pirates. It sits atop a small island attached to the rest of the island from the mainland by a narrow bridge. At night it is lit up and makes a beautiful view from our boat. Napoleon and Admiral Nelson fought here as well. In modern times, it is a popular spot for posh resorts with natural volcanic thermal spas. Hollywood filmed movies here including parts of "Cleopatra" with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
Once again this anchorage was crammed full with local boats small and large, mostly from the nearby harbors of the Gulf of Naples. We had arrived before 11 am so we had the pick of the spots but by 1 pm, there were easily several hundred boats all anchored on top of each other. This was Sunday, so as predicted the weekend crowd all started leaving about 6-7 pm. Naples is only about 15 miles away and most of these power boats could get back in one hour or less and it is daylight here now until almost 9 pm. It made for good entertainment watching the many crossed anchors as they all started to pull up other anchors with their own. The demonstrative Italian language added to the entertainment. Thankfully, our anchor was still in its spot after all this, and Dave dove down to check on it to be sure By nightfall, there were only 3 sailboats here and we safely took our dinghy ashore for a casual dinner in the town which is a close walk.
After once again studying the predicted weather, we have decided to skip several insignificant harbors and go direct to Porto di Roma which is a 24 hour trip. So we are doing an overnight trip once again. Next blog from Rome.