30 July 2017 | Marina di Sant'Elmo, Cagliari
28th July Villasimius to Cagliari
We escaped from Villasimius and set off for Cagliari, our jumping off point for Sicily. We left in a flat calm but once out into the Gulf of Cagliari the wind picked up from the north-west reaching 15 knots. As Cagliari lies in the north-west corner of the bay we had to beat against the wind and waves. The wind was erratic, at one point dying to nothing whilst 50 yards ahead it continued to blow hard.
As we approached the harbour the wind gradually eased in the lee of the land and by the time we reached harbour it was almost dead calm again.
The harbour is huge with cargo and ferry traffic. We are moored in the Marina di Sant'Elmo which is the furthest away from the city centre. Importantly the facilities are good but the nearest shops/restaurants are a bit of a walk away, towards the centre. There are large shoals of fish that periodically thrash around on the surface, making a tremendous noise. Feeding off this abundant food supply are terns, an egret that uses our pontoon as a base and at least two dolphins that Linda spotted very close to the pontoon.
We have explored some of the city which has some interesting shops (so I'm told) and the usual large modern buildings of a capital city.
The old town, set high up above the port is a mixture that we have become used to in this part of the world; narrow streets, abundant churches, impressive fortifications and many flights of steep steps to exercise the cardio-vascular system. I am not convinced that it is the Mediterranean diet but these steps that contribute to the better health of the inhabitants.
The old quarter is quite extensive and would reward at least a week of exploration. Parts are very dilapidated with many ruined and abandoned houses, although a few stalwarts are attempting restoration. Unfortunately there is graffiti everywhere, largely political, disfiguring even the most historic buildings. Nevertheless it has great charm and a mixture of architectural influences, reflecting the various periods of Sardinian history.
Like most of Italy the city has an air of neglect, half finished buildings, lack of repairs to roads and pavements, in short a tremendous backlog of maintenance, adding in some ways to Italy's unique ambience.
Cagliari marks the end of our Corsica/Sardinia experience. Putting aside the winter damage which could have happened anywhere, on the whole the experience has been worthwhile. Previously these islands were largely an unknown quantity for us but they have more than repaid our time and effort. Corsica is a lovely island largely unspoilt and underdeveloped with a wealth of history. Calvi, Corte and Bonafaccio were particularly memorable but all the places we visited were of interest.
Sardinia was very different with the relaxed Italian culture contrasting to Corsican reserve. We found friendliness and a willingness to help everywhere. The Maddalena archipelago was the highlight of Sardinia but the east coast, whilst not devoid of interest is really a coast of passage rather than a cruising area.
Sicily is the next destination and we are heading for Palermo, just over 200nm away. The forecast is for very light winds and the passage should take about 36 hours. We plan to leave around midnight Saturday 5th Aug. and arrive around lunchtime Monday. Our 2 nights at sea will be accompanied by a full moon so we will have some light to guide us. Linda has gone home so the crew will be myself, another Geoff and Tony.