Day 15: We cross Messina again

When I start wrinting this letter it is already my sixteenth day aboard the Acrobat . I Couldn’t write last night ‘cause I didn’t have the time. Yesterday, Diego gave us an extra morning break in Riposto before embarking for our next stage, which would take us back across the Straits of Messina to the Aeolian Islands. He did it ‘cause the ascent to Mount Etna deserved the prize, ‘cause he had to prepare a fairly long and difficult route to pass the strait at night and because he was also exhausted. But neither the extra hours of sleep nor the breakfast of champions that Admiral cooked for us nor the extra dopping got me to overcome the weariness, so I had to reach an agreement with my companions to double my night shift so I could stay a little longer in the cabin.

So yesterday I spent most of the day lying in my cabin, trying to read the book I bought in Naples and learning things from the history shared between the territories that were once the domain of the Crown of Aragon.

Several times I went up to help and breath fresh air. Once I just went up to enjoy the breathtaking view of the city of Taormina (a must see if you go to Sicily). A city clinging to the slopes of the mountains, with a privileged view of Etna and with much of the ancient Roman city perfectly preserved.

We dedicated all day to the trip to Lipari, capital of the Aeolian Islands, of which Stromboli is also part (so, in a way, we were returning in our steps). Later we will sail west to meet the island of Ustica, off the coast of Palermo, which will be our center of operations for a new stage of the project Sailing Living Lab, more focused on the scientific aspects. But we will not get there until tomorrow.

While our almogávares rested, ate and slept a few hours, the Admiral and I had to face the passage through Messina Strait at night. Fortunately, weather was way better than the last time and boat traffic had decreased considerably. Even though ferries continued to pass through the night, large cruisers were lounging on harbors on both sides of the strait with their occupants spending at night clubs and fishermen hurried their last hours in bed before dawn to have the merchandise at dawn in the respective markets, so there where less ships to watch.

The truth is that crossing the strait at night is a completely different experience: sailing illuminated by the glowing lights of Messina to larboard and the dimmed gloss from several Calabrian villages to starboard, seeing as the coast opens once we pass the Lighthouse and give way to a darker sea as we turned tu larboard and aimed the Aeolian Islands where we would arrive a few hours later, with the dawn astern.

Our arrival to the islands has been one of those memories to keep for many years, a moment shared with the rest of our mates, who appeared on the deck to take the relay just to find the sunrise behind our backs making the water shine that we sailed accompanied by a group of dolphins that followed our trail and surfing our prow while ahead the dark profiles of the Island of Lipari and its neighbor Vulcano grew as we came closer.

A bliss.

Day 16: Visit to Lipari

lipari

And so we arrive at the point where I am, in a small piazza in Lipari with the Acrobat in sight, moored in port, sitting in one of the cafes between a church and the ascent to the old fortress of the village, where we hope to find more remains of the Crown of Aragon, as we did in Ischia. The history book saysthat this island was dominion Aragonese and that there was Spanish military presence about 1540.

I came before the rest of the expedition to reserve a table on the terrace and order a tasting of pastries and local products. In addition, Diego has temporarily appointed me as media manager and I’m sending photos and videos to the guys from the cooperative dDialoGa, in Zaragoza, who are in charge of updating networks, talk to the media and are the ones who made the bulb logo that you liked so much . Taking advantage of the fact that we have Wi-Fi today, we have received a pdf file with an entire page from the Heraldo de Aragón in which they talk about Sailing Living Lab, I’m sure it’s the same one that Dad saw in the uncle’s bar the same morning that was published.

Heraldo de Aragon 24/07/16

Once we finish all the food these italian islanders are bringing, we will visit the historical part of the city, we will have lunch in a pizzeria (it is time to recover from the Neapolitan failure, when I did not have time left to even taste a pizza), we will dine and we will make a shallow review of this fist stage of the Acrobat’s travel trough the Mediterranean: The volcanic stage. We’ll leave this small and beautifull marina early in the morning and start what will be the second stage, in which we will make a 180 degree turn and move from the highest and hot summits of the volcanoes to the depths and cold of the seabed. Where we will try some of the technological innovations that we have on board and that have endured the vicissitudes of the trip without major problem. At least that’s what me tests show, we’ll know soon for sure.

This second part of the Route of the Crown of Aragon will be based on the island of Ústica, a marine reserve that according to comments must be very suitable for diving and is also in front of the north coast of Sicilia, but on its west end, a few miles north form the capital, Palermo. There we will meet another important member of the project: Lucio Bellomo, he will be our scuba instructor and a important part of Sailing Living Lab Project in the big travel around the world.

Lipari is a small town but very impressive, the historical center is dominated by a fortified area, another Castle like the one we saw in Ischia: it seems that the volcanic origin of this islands imply many discomforts to the population, but it ease the construction fortifications. The Castelo is next to the coast and at its feet, inland the village extends, with narrow streets sloping the hills, spnning the east end of the island, alternating small coves with cliffs and a rocky coastline.

A few miles north there’s a beach of turquoise water next to a pumita mine (that stone granma used to rub her feet). An exotic landscape full of tourists the explotation has left behind white cliffs, which are the ones that give that special color to the water. “Too hot to be there”, i’m sure dad thinks, you can watch it on photos. Besides, I think we will not get there and we’ll stay in the village and do some shopping instead.

to be continued…