Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Winter Based In Licata, Sicily. 21 November 2015 - 7 March 2016.

Short Visit To UK  24 Nov - 10 Dec 15.

      Before flying back to UK for a short visit we were able to view a couple of films in English in the local Cinema who provided a special showing for the yachties. We saw the latest James Bond film Spectre and Star Wars, a welcome change from our DVDs on Kisti Two.

       Leaving Licata gearing up for Christmas, we set off for a trip to UK. After flying into Gatwick, we trained down to Feltham to Zoe and Tom for an overnight stop. The following day we set off to Bristol to stay with Louise and do the usual appointments; dentist, finance and Specsavers.  We enjoyed a pleasant stay with Cathy and Andy then journeyed up to Feltham to meet Kate and Tom's parents at the Wedding Venue, Great Fosters that Zoe and Tom have chosen for the big day next year in October. We were impressed with Great Fosters, a Tudor manor house with attractive reception rooms and all geared up for marriage ceremonies and receptions. 

     Next in the whistlestop tour was a trip to Wareham to get the sprayhood repaired at Kemp Sails by Sarah who did a wonderful quick job for us. Then on to Bere Regis and a lovely stay with Alison and Martin, visits to the doctor, an inspection of our house and pub visit to meet up with friends.

Cathy, Andy & Guy Enjoying Breakfast At Wellesley Cottages, Dulcote.

       It was then back to Bristol to collect Guy's new specs, meet up with Robin Horder and other appointments before setting off to the Isle Of Wight to visit Kate and Rob and see their splendid new home. What a fantastic house and wonderful location it is for them. All the best for the future. Kate and Rob also showed us the Priory Bay Hotel, their chosen wedding venue which has all the makings of a lovely event in September. We had a couple of windy walks, one to a very festive Christmas Fair, supped on mulled wine, ate mince pies and watched the grey waves on the shore. We left on the Monday on the now defunct Scoot Ferry into Portsmouth and and then by train up to Camberley to stay with Nigel and Melanie. They were also in a lovely new bright home in Camberley and it was good to catch up with them and things regimental. We completed our very quick and busy but festive visit by returning to Zoe and Tom's flat followed by a very early start to Gatwick and back 'Home' to Kisti Two and Licata for our Christmas celebrations.

Windy Beach Stroll With Kate & Rob On The Isle Of Wight.

Christmas And New Year In Licata, Sicily.

       The festivities started with a Stag party for Ian and a Hen party for Melanie of 'Jigsaw' before we all met up to conclude the evening in the Las Vegas Bar. They then returned to England to get married before heading off to visit New Zealand.   

Crew Of 'Jigsaw',  Melanie's Hen & Ian's Stag Party.

         We entertained Craig & Corrine from 'Sea Too' along with his brother Kevin and partner Ann on Christmas Eve, who were visiting having brought with them half a chandlery shop of items for Craig. Dave & Alisondra from 'Whitesands' called in for Christmas Day drinks before we settled in for a fantastic meal of BBQ lamb and roasted vegetables along with all the trimmings. Yummy! Ginny bravely took part in the Boxing Day swim on a lovely type of UK summers day! New Years Eve was celebrated in style at the Gullivers Restaurant very well organised by Dave of 'Whitesands'. The alcohol flowed quickly while the meal came out in fits and starts but the Italians welcomed the sea gypsies with open arms and a wonderful evening was had by all.

Christmas Eve Dinner Aboard Kisti Two With Corrine & Craig From 'Sea Too' With Kevin and Ann.
Dave & Alisondra Of 'Whitesands"
Arrive For Festive Drinks.
Barbecued Lamb And Oven Roasted Vegetables For Christmas Lunch.
Boxing Day Swim From The Marina Beach.
Guy Behind The Camera! Ginny In The Sea.
Sea Gypsies' New Years Eve Party At Gullivers.
       The New Year started off with a wonderful day and sunset. In fact the winter this year has been much warmer with much less rain and storms that plagued us last year. Bodes well for the year ahead. We also put up our lights on 'Kisti Two' this year as the weather was so good.

Sunset Over Marina Di Cala Del Sole Licata, Sicily.
Kisti Two All Decked Out For The Festive Season.

Touring Around North West Sicily With John & Lorraine.
11 - 15 January 2016.

      Our friends from Malta, John & Lorraine came to visit us in Sicily on a short stay. John kindly hired a flat in Balestrate west of Palermo on the coastline and what a wonderful base it proved to be for our excursions.  We met up at Cantania Airport and then drove a very scenic route towards Palermo visiting many sights on route and keeping off the main highways.  Mt Etna looked stunning as we detoured around and on towards the historic Norman hilltop fort of Sperlinga, a fascinating defensive position built along a narrow rocky ridge and with rooms cut out of the rock. 

View Of Mount Etna From The Road To Enna On Our Trip North
John And Guy Below The Impressive Hilltop Fortress Of Sperlinga.

      After a fascinating drive over the high hills of the "Region Delle Madonie' and the forests of trees that produce cork for wine bottles, we then reached the coastal town of Cefalu (Chefalu). We walked around the many narrow streets of this beautiful town ending up looking at the 12 Century Norman Cathedral built by Roger 1. It is a beautiful town well worth a visit along with the beautiful scenery of the coastline.

The Porta Marina, The Only Remaining
Of Four Gates That Pierced The City Walls.
Northern Coastline Of Sicily.
One Of The Many Narrow Streets
Of Medieval Origin In The City.
The 12th Century Norman Cathedral Built By Roger II In Cefalu.
The Nave Inside The Norman Cathedral With Splendid Mosaics Above The Altar.
Ornate Chapel Inside The Cathedral, One Of Sicily's Major Norman Monuments.
The View Of The Duomo's (cathedral's) Medieval Facade And The "Rocca"Rising Steeply Above The Top Of The City.


   After a hearty breakfast on the balcony, we then headed off on another adventure. We first visited Alcamo which did not have much to offer except an old renovated Arab fortress where we stumbled upon a fascinating collection of puppets and a stage. Unfortunately there was no show on hand for us but the detail of the puppets clothes were quite incredible.        

Sunny January Breakfast On The Balcony Of Our Apartment In Balestrate.
John, Guy & Lorraine.
Puppets Of Medieval Knights In The Arab Fortress 
Part Of A Display Of Theatrical Costumes And Posters.
The Exterior Of The Arab Fortress In Alcamo.


        We moved on quickly to the popular tourist spot of Erice, a fascinating and large hilltop fortified town that sits above Trapani on the north west coast of Sicily. We drove up into the mist, parked the car and walked around what felt like a deserted town! A builder suddenly appeared and it looked like a scene of 'Bring Out The Dead'! We walked around this clearly fascinating historical town in the fog and eventually found a cafe in the mist to quench our thirst and enjoy some Sicilian food. The mist lifted as we drove down to display a most wonderful view across north Sicily. Well worth a visit again if we stay in Trapani Marina.

Entrance To The Hilltop Town Of Erice - What Is There To See!
The Facade Of The Chiesa Madre
Set In The Lovely Paved Streets.
Hot Coffee And Snacks To Warm Up The Group!
Delicious Cannola Lorraine?
View From The Road As We Emerged From The Fog Looking North Towards San Vito Lo Capo.

San Vito Lo Capo.

       We drove down and along the coast road to San Vito Lo Capo at the end of the pennisula where the cliff and clouds are in the picture above.  It is clearly a busy summer seaside resort with lovely beaches but was fairly quiet on our visit. It gave us a chance to recce the marina. We returned to our flat before venturing out for a lovely meal at the harbour of Castellammare.

Impressive Fortress San Vito. 
The Crypt In Fortress San Vito.
The Marina At San Vito With Steep Promontory Rising From The Sea.
Harbour And Town Walls Of Castellammare.


        Our next adventure was into Palermo. We parked the car at the airport and caught the bus into the city. It has clearly been a fascinating and wealthy city, but the influx of refugees and usual city problem of too many people and cars left us with an image of a tired, dirty, old run down city living off its past. We did walk around however and manage to see some of the more interesting aspects,  the most fascinating of which was the Cathedral. 

Chapel Of San Cataldo Has Kept
 It's Arab/Norman Style With Three Red Domes.
The Fontana Pretoria In The Middle Of Palermo.
Due To The Nude Statues, It Was Known As 'The Fountain Of Shame'.
The Facade Of One Of "The Four Corners" At A Major Crossroad.
Built When The New Town Plan Was Begun Around 1600.
Inside The Cathedral Below One Of The Cupolas,
 With Blue Marble Columns.

  Piazza Della Vittoria.

       The area of the Piazza Della Vittoria is however a beautiful area to visit. Since the time of Roman rule, the Arab Alcazar and the Norman reign, this area has been the main military, political, religious and administrative heart of Sicily. The Palazzo Dei Normanni is a magnificent building which has always been the palace for the city rulers. It still contains Arab-Norman architecture and the Cappella Palatina church which is a fascinating example of Arab-Norman art with a stunning Apse. The Cathedral is on the site of an early Christian basilica, later a mosque and then rebuilt in 1179 as a Norman Cathedral. Various parts of the former Mosque were retained including several passages of the Koran. The portal was built in the 1400s and the gorgeous cupola in the 1700s. It is a stunning Cathedral well worth a visit.

The Cathedral Square With The Many Different Styles Of Architecture Showing The Development Of The City. 
The Main Portal Of The Cathedral and It's Catalan Gothic Carved Portico With Three Pointed Arches.
The Main Choir and Altar.
Looking Up Into One Of The Many Beautifully Decorated Cupolas.
Palermo Cathedral Portal.
The Piazza Della Vittoria With The Palazzo Dei Normanni In The Background.
Built By The Arabs And Enlarged By Arab Craftsmen To Become The Palace Of The Norman King Roger II.

Well Earned Lunch In Restaurant In Piazza Marina, The Main Square In Old Palermo.
Drinks and "Nibbles" Back In Balestrate After Long Sight Seeing Day.
The Gang in The Bar a At The End Of Another Full Day.
Evening View From Our Balcony Down To The Beach.

Monreale Cathedral.

        John had very cleverly saved the best visits to last, first to Monreale Cathedral then out to Greek and Roman ruins at Segesta. The Monreale Cathedral is the pinnacle of Arab-Norman art and absolutely stunning. It was founded in 1172 by William 11 with a benedictine monastery next door. The interior is remarkable with fascinating gold mosaics representing episodes from the Old Testament that force you to look upwards to the glory of God. The gilded wooden ceiling is remarkable as well as the 228 double Norman columns supporting arches of Arab inspiration that surround the cloister. The cathedral is dominated by a fantastic mosaic of Christ Pantocrator with his blue robes, a style which dominates most of the cathedrals in this area. We have included several pictures here that we hope gives you a flavour of what a remarkable Cathedral it is.

John Dwarfed By The 1185 Interior Of A Door Into The Cathedral.
Gilded Mosaics Above And Plain Walls With Mosaic 'Ribbons' Below.
The Main Altar And Intricate Gilt Mosaic Work Over Upper Arches And Around Windows.
Detail Of The Gilded Wooden Roof Timbers.
More Detail!! The Very Clever Design Takes Your Eyes Upwards.
Side Aisle And Confessional Boxes. The Story Of Episodes From The Old Testament
Are Depicted High Up All Around The Cathedral In Stunning Detail.
Side Chapel With Mosaic Tiled Floor And Tombs Of William 1 & 11,
The Norman Kings Who Lead in The Construction.
Details On Some Of The Tiled Floors.
The Middle Apse With The "Christ Pantocrator" Mosaic, (12th-13th Century)
View From The Carved Choir To The Altar.
Closer Detail Of The Gilt Mosaics.
Just Stunning?
John And Lorraine In The Cloister With Arab Inspired Arches.
A Corner Of The Cloister With Supports While Renovation Is In Progress
The Cloister Is Supported By 228 Small Double Columns With Carved Capitals And Mosaic Patterns Inset Into The Columns.
A View From Inside The Shady Cloister Over The Formal Garden.
A Long View With The Cathedral Looming Above The Cloister Arches and Garden.
Carved Capitals And Almost Fully Renovated Mosaic Zig Zag Patterns On Columns.
Carved Figures And Patterns On A Capital. 
Intricate Mosaics On A Set Of Double Columns.
The Front Facade Of The Monreale Cathedral Complex With Bell Tower and clock.
The Exterior of the Apse Showing Interlaced Arches.
Another View Of The Exterior Of The Apse With Multi Coloured Motifs Of Norman Decoration.
Drawing Of The Interior Of The Cathedral With Information On The Individual Parts Of The  Extensive Mosaics.
King William II With Model Of The Original Cathedral.
One Of The Many Small Residential
Passageways Around The Cathedral Complex.


      After some refreshments, we drove out inland to Sagesta. This ancient capital was built in the green hills of Castellammare Del Golfo by exiles from Troy. The majestic Doric temple still stands in splendid and solemn isolation on a hill facing Monte Barbaro where the ruins of the former city of Segesta can be found along with the 3rd Century BC Amphitheatre 65m in diameter looking north out to sea. A walk around the area makes you realise what a clever defendable location Segesta was, but it survived  sacking and ravages in the area.  A fascinating location to finish our tour of North West Sicily with John & Lorraine. They returned to Malta the next day, John having driven about 2000km over 5 days! We are most grateful to share the experience with them both and learn so much more about Sicily. It is a fascinating island in the centre of the Med where nearly every great nation has raided and occupied it over the ages.  Yet the locals of Licata have proved to be very kind and helpful people throughout our stay here.

Doric Temple Built In 5th Century BC By Exiles From Troy.
36 Doric Columns Support The Pediments And Entablatures.
The City Of Segesta Was Built Above The Temple Where The Theatre Is Also Sited.
Unusually The Theatre Looks North With A Backdrop Of Hills And Sea.
The 3rd Century Theatre Was Hewn Out Of The Top Of Mount Barbaro.
The Temple (5th C. BC) Miraculously Survived The Sacking And Ravages Of The Time.
Calm Setting Among The Hills Above The Gulf Of Castellammare.
Holiday In Fuerteventura 29 January - 5 February 2016.

      We returned to UK in Jan/Feb but as Guy had booked us too long a spell, one month, we broke it up with a visit to Fuerteventura for a weeks holiday. Our first non boat holiday for many years and it was wonderfully relaxing and proved a useful recce for a winter location on board Kisti Two in the future.

View From The Beach Just Outside Our Hotel.
 View From Our Balcony Which Often Had Sailing Yachts Anchored Off The Islands.
Visit To England & Scotland 23 January - 18 February 2016. 

        Our visit to UK involved the usual mad dash around visiting family and friends. We arrived to stay with Zoe & Tom completing a bit of DIY and the usual tidying! We then went down to Bere Regis to have a fun stay with Ron & Mary this time. More Doctor visits and scans followed but we were able to gatecrash the Briantspuddle Burns Night and enjoy a good plate of haggis. We met up with Joe in Gosport and the lovely Tanya and old friends Sharon & Simon. We went to visit Katie on the Isle of Wight where we were able to see the plans for house improvements that were of course rejected by the council! Hopefully new plans will get the nod. Guy managed to watch Rugby while the girls were out shopping. We then went up to Bristol to stay with Louise, shop and again visit Cathy and Andy. Ginny was recalled for another scan while Guy and Zoe met up with Alan and we all travelled up to Scotland to meet up with Jane, Stuart and Christopher . We stayed with Mary who looked after and fed us superbly with old Malawian recipes, local beer tasting and time to watch the 6 Nations. We also managed an emotional visit to Guy's fathers grave on the 10th anniversary. We managed a useful pit stop on our drive back down to Bristol enjoying a good pub lunch with Pieter, Tracey, Alessandra and Jonathan. After another short visit to Tom & Zoe, from where we flew back out to Sicily after a rather dangerous taxi drive to Gatwick!

Winter Walk With Cathy And Andy With City Of Wells In The Background. 
Wrapped Up Well For The Wintry Weather.
Guy In His Element?
Zoe Visiting The Grave Of Her Grumps In Scotland.

Life In Licata, Sicily 18 February - 31March 2016.

       Sea Gypsy life in Licata continued with walks, BBQ's, progressive dinners, happy hours and skippers meetings where more alcohol was consumed than good ideas floated, maintenance and repairs as usual. Guy enjoyed watching the conclusion of the 6 Nations on TV, although commentary in Italian can be quite amusing. We have watched Vikings, War & Peace, Wolf Hall and Allo, Allo to keep up to date.  Ginny has continued with Pilates and lost a considerable amount of weight while Guy has put it on while struggling with a torn ligament which has taken all winter to heal and more time is still needed! There have been far fewer storms this year and the temperature level even by night rarely dropped below 10C so shorts have been the order of the day most of winter. The Marina is now a hive of activity with crews preparing to leave heading off in all directions although a large gaggle of us plan to winter on Crete next. 

Stormy Seas Outside The Harbour.
Waves Breaking Over The Harbour Wall - A Wet Walk!
View From Our Pontoon Of Waves Crashing Over The Outer Breakwater.
Another Sunny Sunday BBQ.
Easter Celebrated With An Egg In The Sunshine.
Spring, Time For Evening Barbecue Suppers.
Future Plans.

       Ginny is heading back to UK for one last quick visit while Guy will get Kisti Two lifted out and prepared for summer. We then plan to sail to Malta to check the rigging and service the liferaft. We will then head off to sail around Sicily clockwise and back to Malta late May. We will then sail across to Corfu via Siracusa early June with friend Sarah and then head south late June along the Greek coast down to Agios Nikolaos on east Crete where we intend to arrive early September.  We thank all the sea gypsies of Licata and the marina staff for making our two winters here such fun. Time to move on again. Fair winds and safe passages to you all.

The Sea Gypsies Of Licata Prior To A Progressive Dinner Night.
Happy Days And Safe Passages To You All.