#27 Ortigia – Departure

Ortigia is Siracusa’s downtown. While getting there, although no one notices it, you cross a 30 m-long bridge. Which undoubtedly makes Ortigia an island.

Ortigia is also the history of Siracusa. It was the most important Greek colony of all to the point that it won against its Greek “parents” in a historic war hundreds of years before christ. And the colony was born in Ortigia and not on the mainland.

By including it on my itinerary, I was wondering how much of an island Ortigia is today, and how much its inhabitants feel its island essence. Once again, two days are too few to understand this, but I had some clear proofs that a sense of insularity exists here too. They came from Massimo’s visible emotion when he was telling us about its daily crossing of the bridge to go to work to create charming jewels, some of which inspired directly by Ortigia’s Greek history. Or from the stories about the small town lifestyle from a late “ortigiana”, Tiziana, of the Enoteca “a putia” delle cose buone (where food is awesome and the atmosphere impressively nice).

I mean, there’d be a lot to say and investigate. But it’s not my purpose right now. All I know is that Ortigia is one of Italy’s most beautiful places, Piazza Minerva is in my opinion (and according to Emanuele Crialese too) the most beautiful square in Italy, but the cost of an apartment at the square meter is around 10 thousand euros, and so this balance already partially destabilized by an exorbitant amount of tourists is fragile and put at risk day by day. I wish there were more people like Paola, owner of a lovely B&B, a cozy woman, with so much desire to share and totally devoted to her Ortigia. Thank you so much, Paola…

Anyway. Now I set sail towards another atypical island, the historic centre of Gallipoli. To reach it, the longest leg so far awaits me: 240 miles of Ionian Sea.

 

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#26 Linosa – Departure

What should I write about Linosa… Perhaps the most authentic one, the best to stand against mass tourism, welcoming tourists instead of robbing them in such an impersonal way as it happens in so many other places.

In Linosa it is difficult to arrive, you can’t find a more remote island in Italy. Therefore who comes here does it with total awareness and a fully open spirit, ready to discover an island that is not just beautiful landscapes or crystal-clear sea, but most of all unforgettable people.

And me, I met so many wonderful people in those that were supposed to be three days and eventually became eight because of Mistral. Everything started with Claudia, Giovanni and Francesca of Terraferma Diving, one of the best diving centers I’ve known, a diving center that is also the cultural center of Linosa – which is even more awesome considering that hardly ever in Italy diving rhymes with culture. A cultural center where welcoming is the first rule, and the second is sharing: the pillars of the Mediterranean spirit. I don’t know how to thank you guys, and by the way this is not the right place to do it.

The diving center is called Terraferma because the friendship among its members was born on the set of Terraferma, Emanuele Crialese’s film that was shot a handful of years ago right here in Linosa, a masterpiece. And who did I meet and interview? Of course Emanuele Crialese himself, a sweet man, full of poetry and sensitivity. It was a great privilege and a great source of inspiration to meet you, Emanuele. Thank you too for opening up and understanding it all straight away.

Then an amazing man and an impressive professional, Claudio Palmisano, a photographer who for six months a year lives here in a house he turned into a small photo studio. Among a thousand other things, Claudio studied a method to create underwater panoramic photographic compositions that render the grandiosity of Linosa underwater landscapes. In a world where post-production mostly takes away the picture from reality, in a quest for sensationalism, Claudio works in the opposite way: post-production serves to approach reality in the best possible way. And these seascapes are the obvious evidence. I beg you to take a look at them, following this link. Your sushi, your pizza, your fun, Claudio: unforgettable indeed…

Then there was Michele, who apart from kneading the bread for the only bakery every night, brought the cows back to Linosa with great passion. Here, 25 years ago, there were more than 500 cows; until stupid European laws, distant and careless of isolated and remote realities such as this, imposed their elimination. But Michele is trying again for personal use of course. Two anecdotes: cows eat cactus leaves, which here are used to delimit the land, and ricotta is made using sea water.

And finally Piero Zambuto, a sculptor who draws inspiration from the immense energy of Linosa, who also opened to us the doors of his world, made of research of the perfect shape, between female nude and poetry of stone and wood.

Now heading to Ortigia, first of the two atypical islands (the other one is Gallipoli), 150 miles away with the creepy silhouette of the least Mediterranean island, Malta, in between. But the spirit of Linosa will stay in my mind for so long still…

 

Posted on: 25.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

#9 Capri – Departure

And so it is, we leave Capri too, with new friends and a great curiosity to discover this crazily Mediterranean and artistic island trying to defend itself against the invisible and dangerous claws of unbridled tourism.

Thanks to Costantino Esposito and Giuseppe from Marina di Capri for the enthusiastic welcoming despite the preparation for a huge Formula 1-style regata with unbelievable sailing boats.
And then Nabil Pulita from Blue Capri for his wise explanations, Annarita from Kaire Arte Capri – Associazione Culturale for letting us know, walking amidst the culture, from which deep roots comes the justified myth of Capri. Franco Senesi of Liquid art system for keeping the artistic tradition alive in a modern way. And the guys from Caprionline for trying to create a sustainable tourism based on quality instead of quantity. And finally the “professor” for the appartment in the wilderness away from everything, hidden in the myrt bushes and a with a great view on the lighthouse.

All this, not even in two days, has been Capri. Wow…

And now, Procida, here we come!

 

Posted on: 12.May.2018   Leave a comment