#24 Pantelleria – Departure

What an island, Pantelleria! Planted in the Sicily Channel, closer to Tunisia than to Sicily, imposing, black, green…

Many, too many stories hide on this rock. Starting with Giancarlo and Cristian from Konza Kiffi – Azienda Agricola, two young brothers who after working in catering abroad decided some ten years ago to return to their homeland to be farmers and create real high quality products. It was an honor to harvest tomatoes with you in one of the most beautiful countrysides I’ve ever seen, the one of Piano Ghirlanda.

The countryside, which always meant life and work in Pantelleria and which still survives, I think, especially when compared to other islands. With billions of km of dry walls all in rather good conditions. But, as Giancarlo says, you must want to work hard and get your hands dirty, in order for the story of this Mediterranean countryside to be continued…

Then Donnafugata. Those of Ben Ryé, the best Passito di Pantelleria. That’s right, people who get their hands dirty while being modern and up-to-date. A huge thank you to Ivan Caronna and Antonio Rallo for welcoming me into their lovely estate and tell me about the mythical passito and the mysterious panteschi gardens. The Ben Ryé, ça va sans dire, a masterpiece of wine 

Some artist had to collect all the energy that emanates from the volcanic Pantelleria. I was delighted to see Sebastiano Fischer Ceramic Art. A story of passion for this island and some raku ceramics (and not only) just sublime, born literally from the belly of this island. Thank you, Sebastiano

Finally, a special woman. One of Italy’s first divers, which until last year, before losing almost definitively her eyes, was keeping educating new certified divers despite a clearly important age. Maria Ghelia, from Turin, fell in love with the waters of Pantelleria thirty years ago. She spent her life in building underwater knowledge especially among children, in schools. A magnetic woman with such a character, who had also drawn up a proposal, for once actually based on scientific analyses, for a Marine Protected Area that is still does not exist here.

Maybe more than ever I leave with the desire to come back. The beauty that is here, I’ve rarely seen it anywhere else…

But Lampedusa is waiting, despite the Scirocco blowing against my nose although weak. If I don’t melt on top of Maribelle tomorrow I’ll soon be there, in this other place so important for our good old Mediterranean…


Posted on: 12.Jul.2018   Leave a comment

#23 Favignana – Departure

As it already happened with the islands that frightened me the most by size or tourist influx (Capri, Lipari, Elba), even Favignana had great surprises in store.

The Gulliver sailing school, to start with, is a sailing school which, throughout the year, receives more than half of the children of the island, teaching them not only to sail (up to a national competion level), but also the rules of management and cohabitation within a structure that needs everyone’s help to exist. The legendary Peppone has been superbly directing it for over 20 years now. There are only a very few tourists’ children, those who spend all summer here; apart from them, Gulliver lives oblivious to the summer mass invasion.

This invasion, on an island close to the mainland and all in all quite cheap, attracts a lot of money. And the money attracts many interests. So it happens that the authentic heart of Favignana, the Borgo Marinaro of Punta Lunga, a true Mediterranean jewel, has for some years been in danger for the concessions requested by various foreign speculators who would throw away the fishermen from the village to fill it with yet other rubber dinghies meant to be rented to tourists during a couple of months a year. But Favignana resists, forming an association led by the smiling Norman Giuseppe Campo.

So it happens that the presence of Mafia here is strong and established. But Favignana resists. The association Casa Macondo has been entrusted with a house confiscated from Mafia, for example, where children, throughout the winter, have a safe and cultural meeting place that takes them off the road. Thank you so much to Barbara and Michele for having patiently explained all this to us, and above all for, without earning a penny, keeping this reality alive.

Then the wisdom of Maria Guccione, from the height of her 80 years but much younger than many, who told us about her fights in the past and, with eyes still almost injected with the blood of passion, explained how them fights should still be carried out: with passion, of course, but also with technical knowledge and actions from the base, politically. Writing a post on Facebook, the modern version of the concept of “fight”, serves almost only to unload personal anger. Fighting is another story …

And finally, the sympathy and obstinacy, also very Mediterranean, of Paolo Balistreri, a marine biologist who tries and tries to work on his island, where with one of the largest Marine Protected Areas of the Mediterranean it would be natural to find a job. Especially when you’re really good at what you do. I wish you with all my heart to make it, Paolo.

And finally finally, in Favignana there is the most beautiful “arena”, the outdoor summer cinema, ever in a fantastic former tuff quarry / hypogeum garden!

I forgot the fantastic hospitality of an atypical, fun, professional, absolutely authentic diving center, the one owned by Vincenzo and Ciccio, Egadi Scuba Diving. A big thank you too.

But now, after too much waiting, the new tracker has arrived and it will send my position in real time again. I can safely sail again! To us two, Sicily Channel: Pantelleria, I’m coming!


Posted on: 9.Jul.2018   Leave a comment

Disappointment (and anger) about Pianosa

After Capraia, where I’m stuck by nice westerlies, the next island in my plan was Pianosa. A critical island, which has been inhabited for decades only by the inmates of the Porto Azzurro (Island of Elba) penitentiary plus a few guards, and by Giulia Manca who manages the only hotel whose employees are the inmates themselves.
Pianosa is at a fundamental historic moment: the transition between being an island-prison and a possible huge touristic attraction with its splendid sea protected by a marine reserve, some very important Roman remains (great catacombs in particular), and a fascinating land.
I felt the urge to relate about Pianosa perhaps more than for other islands, because the future is being written right now, whereas for the others the important decisions were taken a few decades ago with the beginning of mass tourism in the sixties.

Now, in Pianosa mooring is banned by the Parco Nazionale Arcipelago Toscano (Tuscan Archipelago National Park), because of the marine reserve and for the presence of the inmates, I suppose. One can only reach it from the Elba Island with a private boat allowed to do it. However, mooring permission is not infrequently issued for scientific and / or sociological reasons – at least that is what they official say.
I had therefore officially asked my beloved Tuscan Archipelago National Park for this permit months ago, explaining that my boat does not pollute – it’s a sailboat with an electric engine – and that any inmate who wished to steal Maribelle would not have gone far. My reasons were sociological, clearly, because I was visiting all the italian minor islands with my solo sailing trip and I thought it was essential to relate the situation in Pianosa for the reasons mentioned above.

But since in this country you have to lick asses to get something, my friends from the National Park refused my pledge with few, ridiculous words. Thank you, Tuscan Archipelago National Park, you might have lost – or wished to – an opportunity to talk about Pianosa’s critical transition, which attracts so many wealthy interests…

Conclusion: I have to find myself another 33rd island!


Posted on: 8.Jun.2018   Leave a comment

#12 Ventotene – Departure

So we leave also Ventotene behind… and with it, its magic atmosphere, its pastel-colored houses, the incredible Roman Port, the gently volcanic glimpses of its sea. But above all its most Mediterranean essence, which after all means culture and sense of welcoming.

We met Ventotene’s bookseller, Fabio Masi, in its stunning, inimagginabile for an island with 300 residents, Libreria Ultima Spiaggia Ventotene, where thanks to Predrag Matvejevic unreal encounters can happen. Then Salvatore and Elena from the Archaeological Museum who explained to us the history and its importance in the present. The legendary Petra of the Circolo Velico Ventotene (Ventotene Sailing Club), where many, really many children learn to sail.

And finally a special mention to Valentina and Stefano from Diving World Ventotene, who welcomed us and gave us a taste of the island’s underwater world, a Marine Protected Area. And above all to Pietro Pennacchio, owner of the Hotel Mezzatorre Ventotene, who hosted us understanding, with simplicity and great open-mindedness, how important it is to talk about small islands and their future.

Heading towards Ponza now!


Posted on: 21.May.2018   Leave a comment