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Our Wakes: 2018

Start season 4 and last miles in Italy (30 April-1 June 2018)
At the end of April, we left Marina di Ragusato to start our journey to Greece.  Catania was a mandatory stop as we were expecting some friends on the 23rd of May. We therefore had plenty of time to move, so we decided to spend most of the time in the bay of Syracuse that is well protected but also has a free pontoon. Syracuse is a city in which you never get bored. During our stay, the city celebrated St Lucia the saint of the city. The celebration lasted a whole week. The first procession is to move the statue and relics of St Lucia from the cathedral to a nearby church where she stays for one week. The next Sunday, she is carried around the city before being returned to the cathedral. Like any religious ceremony in Italy, it is amazing to see how many people are praying for the saint. Children are allowed to kiss the base of the statue, a way of asking for her blessings. On the 23rd  of May, our  friends came on board and we could start to sail Terus to Greece. We first moved northwards to Taormina and soon thereafter to the east. We had several legs of about 50 miles (80km) each day and stopped for the night at Rocella Ionica, Crotone and Santa Maria di Leuca, at the end of Italy. The weather was quite favourable, so we could do most of it sailing on a calm sea, a real pleasure. None of those harbours had anything particular, but in St Maria di Leuca we decided to rent a car and visit the countryside. The first city we visited was Gallipoli, an old harbour with an impressive fortress, but also numerous churches, including a beautiful basilica with an impressive fresco of Saint Agatha, the patron saint of the city. Afterwards we moved to the city of Alberobello, located 100km north. This city has a unique type of house. They are called “truli” and are built with no cement. They are mostly round with one floor and under the ground floor, there is a big reservoir to collect rainwater. The houses are all white, but the roof is dark with sometimes a painted sign on the roof that is supposed to protect the   house. We reserved a night in a truli house and they are very quiet inside. Lecce was the next city on our agenda and we were impressed by the big buildings. Some people say it is a bit like Florence. What is for sure, is that the numerous churches and a big cathedral highlight the fact that Lecce is an important religious city. We even saw a door with the sign “Religious tribunal”. Besides the numerous churches, you can also find the ruins of a Roman theatre that show that the city is very old. Otranto was the next place, and the first impression was that the city is mainly a resort. There is a big fortress, but we were not attracted to it.  Walking along the street, we suddenly discovered a little basilica. She is dedicated to the Annunciation of the virgin Mary and building started just after the year 1000 AD. Inside you find beautiful paintings, but on the right side, there is a little chapel where more than 800 skulls decorate the walls. In fact, the skulls belong to soldiers who were killed by the Turks in 1480. Pope St Francis the 2nd made them saints in 2013. In the crypt, you see a big room with a large number of thin columns. Before you leave the basilic do not forget   to look at the floor decorated in beautiful ceramics. If you have time, it is worth visiting a small Byzantine church devoted to St Peter. The paintings rich in gold are worth a look. After Otranto, we drove along the coast and could see the sea that separates Italy from Albania 100 km away. The next morning, we left the Marina early as our leg to Greece was about 50 miles. The sea was calm, but a good wind allowed us to do the journey under sail at an average speed of 6 to 7 knots. Just before crossing the border into Greece, we caught an 8 kg white tuna that ended up on our plates. In fact, it was so big that we ate tuna for 2 days and could offer some to Australian friends we knew from Ragusa. At 5 pm we dropped anchor for our first night in Greece.
St Lucia procession
St Agathe
Lecce: St Croce
Otranto: Basilica
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