Thursday, 21 May 2015

Winter 2014/15, Licata, Sicily, Italy


     We arrived at Licata Marina at the end of October 2014 and after discussion with several members of the experienced sea gypsy community decided to stay. It was an excellent decision. The Marina staff proved to be very friendly and helpful. The price was excellent and the cost of living has proved to be cheap. The town had seen better days, but everyone we met were very kind and accommodating. It is a very Italian town not spoilt by tourists. The Marina is only 4 years old and all the facilities provided worked well. A purpose built BBQ area with boules and molkke facilities  was also provided plus a large room in the Office Centre for many activities. It is so good that we have booked in again for the winter of 2015/16 along with several others. The sea gypsy community consisted of about 100 personnel of many nationalities; Europeans, Australians, Kiwis, Americans and even a stunning Russian. Communication from Catania Airport was cheap and easy.
Marina Di Cala Del Sole,
Licata Marina, Sicily
Kisti Two Moored Up For Winter Below The Lighthouse.
Crematorium & Castle On Hill.
Licata Marina Front With Lawns & Restaurant.


    There was plenty to do throughout the winter due to a very vibrant community. The Sunday BBQ was always popular followed by Molkke and Boules competitions. Happy Hour was well attended throughout on Wednesdays and Fridays, first at Cafe Letterario then at the Las Vegas Bar where we were also able to watch all the Rugby Internationals. There was the usual gambit of Bridge players and fitness sessions of Pilates and Circuit Training. There were film nights arranged on Tuesdays where all were encouraged to dress up according to the film, music nights on Mondays, Italian lessons, Computer classes and Italian Cooking classes.

Weekly Sunday BBQ In Progress.
Craig & Lars Turning The Steaks & Shrimps.
Post BBQ 'Molkke' Competition In Action.
Winter Boules Competition.


       All the locals at Licata have stated that the winter of 2014/15 has proved to be one of the wettest, windiest and stormy for many, many years.  Despite the strong storms, the Marina has proved to be a very safe place to winter with no swell experienced. We did however spend several days well heeled over and had to place extra lines ashore all of which were attached to metal or rubber springs. We were instructed to evacuate our yachts once due to an incoming 'Hurricane' which thankfully just missed but hit Malta. Despite it all, we felt very safe in the Marina.

Calm Before The Storms.
Waves Breaking Over The Wall.

Waves Crashing Into The Marina Wall.

A Very Rough Night In The Marina.
Extra Mooring Lines Required.

Hurricane Briefing!
Kisti Two Riding The Storms.


      As Christmas approached, John Burns formed a choir of anyone who could make a noise resulting in a most enjoyable Christmas evenings celebration. This was also followed up with a trip to a winery to be shown the production and given a grand tasting session. There was also a Halloween Party organised in the Philips Room. 
Christmas Choir Led By John Burns.
Wine Production Briefing.
Oohhhh, Go On, I'll Hav Sum O That.


      We flew across to the UK in December to help Zoe and Tom move into their new flat in Feltham. After a mad 24 hours, us and the Radley family had them settled in, although somewhat shell shocked and bewildered! It is a lovely 4th floor south facing flat with 2 bedrooms and a community gym. The train station is only 5 minutes walk away and it only takes 45 minutes to get to work now. All facilities and shops are close at hand. We wish them all the best in this lovely flat.

A Toast To Christmas & The New Flat
With Tom, Zoe & Louise.
The New Flat Lounge & A Delighted Zoe.
    We trained up to Scotland to spend Christmas with Mary and were joined by Pieter and family on Christmas Day along with Jane and Stuart. It was fun to be in memorable surroundings again while both our girls were involved with their other families and in the new flat.
Christmas Lunch With Mary & Pieter's Family.
And What Did You Get?

    We were able to visit Kate and Rob up in Pocklington and see Peter and Hilary again. We managed to visit Cathy and Andy in Wells again for New Year and then joined Simon and Nicki Archer for a walk up Glastonbury Tor followed by a bizarre pub meal! It was also great to meet up with Nigel and Melanie on a few occasions.

Guy, Simon, Cathy & Andy Walking Up Glastonbury Tor.
Glastonbury Tor
Guy, Cathy, Andy, Simon & Nicki Enjoying The View.

     There is not much in Licata except for a wild west castle on top of the hill and a must visit to the crematorium to look at all the Mausoleums. The locals go for picnics to chat to their ancestors! The view of the Marina from the top is excellent.

Licata Wild West Castle!
The Crematorium, Harbour & Marina.
Kisti Two Beside The Lighthouse.
The Crematorium & Castle.
The Family Mausoleums.


       We have discovered that there is an enormous amount of culture to be visited on Sicily. Some of it is quite outstanding and stunning. Our first venture was to the town of Palma Di Montechiaro where we visited the beautiful church and Palace featured in the famous film Il Gattopardo ( The Leopard ), a famous Italian film that Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale both starred in.

Palma Di Montechiaro Church
Glorious Church Roof.
Roof In The Palace Of 'Il Gattopardo'.
The Convent Where Babies Could Be Left!
     The Valley Of Temples.      We stopped on route to Agrigento to visit the very famous and amazing 'Valley Of Temples'. This was basically a long line of ancient Greek Temples 5th century BC. They are a must do on any ones visit to Sicily. We have now been 3 times mainly due to visitors!!

The Temple Of Hera
The Temple Of Concord.
'Our Friend 'Joe' At The Temple Concord.
The Intrepid Explorers.
John, Lyn  & Guy ( With Fungus! )

      The Roman Villa Del Casale.         The next exploration was to the Roman Villa Del Casale where you spend about 2 hours walking round a most amazing large Roman Villa with the most stunning mosaics in every room and open space. The details is just so accurate and so many of them are very true to life. Every part of Roman life and mythology is depicted and they are regarded as most exceptional Roman mosaics in the world. Another must on any ones visit to Sicily. Simply stunning!

Fishing Mosaic.
Detailed Animal Mosaics
The Bikini Sport Stars.
Just Awesome!
Just Glorious.
Such Beautiful Detail.


      We planned a visit to one of the famous Carnivals of Sicily at Sciacca. We booked in to our B&B only to be informed that the Parade and Carnival had been cancelled due to a monster storm that had damaged most of the floats. A good night was still enjoyed with others in a wonderful pub we found and a restaurants with excellent food.
Rain Damaged Carnival Floats.
The Washed Out Stage.

    Guy decided to be a true mariner and grow a beard. This process aged him by 20 years as well as being mistaken on numerous occasions for another sea gypsy, Craig Shore. After being asked where his dog was for the 50th time, it was time to remove it much to Ginny's delight!

Guy With Fungus!
The Ancient Mariner!

     We made another visit to UK in March to shop and perform some administration. This also gave us the opportunity to have a lovely family lunch in London. It was great the Kate could make it from Pocklington and that Louise could join us from Bristol.
Family Lunch In London.
Ginny, Guy, Kate & Zoe.
Kate, Zoe & Auntie Louise.

We were able to join the crowds of onlookers for some of the daily processions for the Easter Week Celebrations. The 'Fraternity' members from the churches around town carry their own statues on specific days during the Week leading up to Easter. Daytime and Evening events brought big crowds out to watch. Lights were hung up along the main routes and made for an entertaining few days to be in town. Italians celebrate Easter as a religious holiday unlike the British.
The Start Of Processions Over Easter.
Christ Carrying His Cross Through The Streets Of Licata.
The Crowds Bring It All To Life.
Christ on The Cross With Madonna
The Fraternity About To Take Christ Down.

      The end of April saw Ginny's sister Louise and her friend Jane come out for a short visit. We hired a car for three weeks and completed 2500km visiting various places and getting 5 years worth of culture crammed into 3 weeks. We survived the most awful Sicilian driving and were able to return our car back without a scratch or dent. Apart from the obvious, we also spent one day visiting all the  Italian TV Detective Montalbano film locations including a meal in his favourite restaurant , the Rusticana in Ragusa. We also found his flat on the beach and the Villa used by the mafia Godfather. They were also able to experience Happy Hour in the Las Vegas Bar and a Sunday BBQ. It was an exhausting 6 days.

Jane & Louise With Caltagirone  In The Background.
The 152 Tiled Steps.
Louise Resting En Route.
Recovery Time!

Montalbanos Mafia Dons Villa.
Louise & Jane Waiting For The Godfather!!
Jane & Louise At The Valley Of Temples.
Another Pit Stop From Culture.
Las Vegas Bar Experience!
St Georges Day BBQ.
The Sphinx With Plastic Surgery!
Jane & Louise At Romano Villa Del Casale.


  Tom and Zoe came out for a weeks visit at the beginning of May. Yet again, it was a busy week with all the old cultural visits and new territory to Siracusa where we enjoyed a night in a wonderful B&B. 

Zoe & Guy At Caltagirone.

Shortest On The Left, Tallest On The Right - GO!
Ginny, Zoe & Tom With Mt Etna In The Background.
Zoe & Tom At The Top Of The 152 Steps.
Valley Of Temples Again!
Ice Cream Pit Stop
    We were able to enjoy the Licata celebrations of their Patron Saint St Angelo. This involved a big market, street dancing and stages with bands. The culmination was the procession of horses all dressed for the occaision with individual dancing horses arriving in Piazza St Angelo. the youngsters are dressed as sailors and in the evening the men (marineros)  ran with the platforms through the town and market. unlike the sedate easter processions!

Little Marineros.
Street Dancing
The Dressed Up Horses.
Guy, Zoe & Tom.
Zoe, Tom & Ginny.
Ragusa Cathedral.
Ragusa Hill Town.
St George In Ragusa Cathedral
Ragusa Cathedral Roof.
       Ortygia.      We had a most wonderful time in Siracusa staying in a lovely Italian B&B overnight. We spent the afternoon on the Island of Ortygia which has a most amazing Cathedral. It was initially a Greek Temple of Minerva. The columns of the temple are incorporated into the new Cathedral and can be clearly seen. It became a Muslim mosque and finally a Baroque facade was added in 1728. It is a stunning Cathedral with a lovely square outside where we enjoyed a thoroughly delicious meal. We also found the temple of Apollo.

Zoe At Siracusa.
B&B Room In Siracusa
Siracusa Cathedral.
Siracusa Cathedral.
Siracusa Cathedral Square.

Siracusa Narrow Streets.

Aahh, The Good Life.
Supper Outside The Cathedral.

A Small Pizza For Tom!
Smile Says It All.

Guy Planning The Next Route
On The B&B Balcony.
          Siracusa Archaeological Park.    The following morning, we visited the Archaeological Park, Greek Amphitheatre, Catacombs and Archaeological Museum. They were all fascinating and our Archaeological visitors were delighted and shattered at the end of the day. We were also amazed at the scale of it all.
Entrance To The Orecchio Di Dioniso,
The Quarry For The Greek Amphitheatre.
Siracusa Greek Amphitheatre.
The Catacombs .
Roman Carved Tomb From The Catacombs.
Smile Says It All!
Venus Anadyomene.
Roman Copy Of Greek Statue.
Guy Or Craig?
Zoe Posing With Greek Statue.
       Morgantina And Roman Villa Del Casale.     The final visit was to an ancient town of Morgantina colonised by the Greeks then taken over by the Romans. The sheer size of the ruins is extraordinary and Tom and Zoe we just amazed again. This was followed by a visit to the Roman Villa that just knocked them backwards. The last day of the visit was a much needed day of rest! 

The Archeologists At Morgantina With Mt Etna.
Zoe Snapping Away
The Whole Town Of Morgantina.
An Archeologists Dream!
Zoe & Tom, Aaahhhhh.
End Of A Wonderful Visit.

     As soon as the visitors had gone it was time to take Kisti two out of the water to prepare her for our summer cruise. The coppercoat proved fairly successful as she came out cleanish except for the bow thruster. 3 days later, we were back in the water all sorted.
Kisti Two Fairly Clean On Exit.
No Wonder The Bowthruster Didnt Work!
Spray Clean Time.

Anti foul On The Prop.
Ginny Holding Up Kisti Two With Coppercoat Patches.


     It is now time to move on. There was time for one final dinner and dance with friends in the Oasi Beach Restaurant and host Yura and Massimo, the owners of the Las Vegas Bar for a farewell drink on Kisti Two.
Celebratory Meal At Oasi Beach Restaurant.
Captivated Guy!!
Las Vegas Farewell On Kisti Two.
We Will Be Back Next Year.
Yura & Massimo, The Proprietors Of Las Vegas Bar.

     We shortly depart for Malta then Greece and hopefully the blogs will be more frequent again.