Crotone, Sicilian Drivers and Testicles
Trip Start May 22, 2006
81Trip End Aug 05, 2014
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We left Sicily at about 7.00 on Sunday to a fairly cloudy morning and started the 160 mile journey to Crotone in the Southern Italian province of Calabria. We had checked almost every forecast and they had said that the winds would be more or less favourable, no head winds and no strong winds.
What actually happened was that we had force 3 head winds all the way across to the Calabrian coast which, when combined with a beam sea from the previously strong winds, gave us a very uncomfortable passage. .Nonetheless the tedium was relieved by a whale which surfaced about 50ft from the boat, blew a couple of times and then disappeared with a majestic flick of his tail. We saw lots of dolphins but Gina was also lucky enough to see one actually stand up and swim upright on its tail
After darkness fell we experienced our first Mediterranean thunderstorm which we could see coming over the Calabrian hills. It gave us a spectacular, free, firework show from about midnight till 5 a.m.
At 5.30 I was awoken by a change in the wind and lumpier seas. The wind, which had fallen away, started to pick up from the North West, so we set full sails. Half an hour later the wind was showing over 40 knots (a force 8 gale). Once we had got the sails reduced to reasonable proportions the boat dealt with it like a true thoroughbred. She was easy to handle and tracked confidently, slightly to windward, through the increasing seas. Even when she had far too much sail up she didn't show any nasty vices at all but took it all in her stride - a remarkable wee boat. In the middle of all the chaos I switched on the radio to hear the weather forecast - it told us that the wind wouldn't go above a Southerly force 5 - don't ever believe Italian weather forecasters!!! The area we were in is called the Golfo di Squillace - the Gulf of Squalls.
After about 3 hours the wind died away and we arrived in Crotone in glorious sunshine
Crotone and Sicilian Drivers
On arriving in Crotone from Sicily the first thing we noticed was that it had a more laid back, country town type of atmosphere. The second thing was that the drivers were not half as aggressive as Sicilians.
Sicilian drivers will never give an inch. If you try to cross the road they will ignore you. Pedestrians will only get anywhere if they can prove that they have more, bigger and bolder balls than the motorists. One little old lady I followed across the road must have had testicles the size of a pair of baby hippopotami swinging beneath her ageing black dress. She walked straight up to the kerb, stopped for a milli-second to ensure that she had been seen and walked straight into 4 lanes of nose to tail, fast moving traffic. It was like the parting of the Red Sea, she walked across without a glance or acknowledgement of any car. Needless to say I was about 6 inches behind her - Respect!
On the face of it Crotone is a medium sized holiday/market town. However it has an area around its castle which must still look like it did 400 years ago. It is scruffy, down at heel, almost medieval, yet compares favourably with anything we have seen so far. It also has a great fresh produce market and some of the best cakes I have tasted anywhere. The Caffe Italia makes a cream Rumbaba to die and be resurrected for. We had not expected much here except a sheltered berth and the basics, so have been pleasantly surprised.
I have also managed to get my front crown fixed here. I just walked into a dentist's surgery and it was fixed there and then with a smile and the crossing of his palm with 50 euros. No fuss, no waiting - brilliant.
On Friday we hope to be able to leave on the 170 mile journey to Levkas in Greece.