Arenella to Cefalu on a turbo charged menstrual cycle
Sailing to Sicily’s capital, Palermo.
After being anchored at the old Mafia den that is Castellammare del Gulfo it was time to continue our sailing around the northern coast of Sicily towards the islands capital, Palermo and then onto Cefalu.
The new marina at Palermo was allegedly more stuck up than a vet giving an elephant colonic irrigation as well as being expensive. We had found a suitable cove for anchoring at Arenella, part of the suburbs of Palermo between this new marina and an older one. The sail there was uneventful for a change. A lot of the coastline along that part of Sicily was a nature reserve, some of which you can only go through if you don’t use an engine. As we approached Palermo the coastline took on a different appearance and seemed to be given up to the tourist industry with sea front hotels and villas.
No dinghies allowed.
We anchored in the cove at Arenella with Tinkerbell and Zarzen. It was ideal for the night providing the weather did not kick off and if it did we were a minute from either marina. We took the dinghies into the old harbour so we could go into the town and get provisions. In the more expensive marina they would not even let you enter in a dinghy even if you were wearing a full dinner suit and carrying candelabra’s.
Crossing the road is a deadly sport at this time of the month.
Female car parking
Arenella is not a tourist town. It is bustling with real life but it is also bit run down as well. Just getting across a road was a sport in itself with everyone determined to run you over. Everything you have ever read about Italian drivers was true here. To make it worse a lot of them were Italian women drivers and I am sure it was the wrong time of the month. Every male was fair game to them.
Coming back we passed a small row of terraced houses whose front doors emptied directly onto the street. In the front of one house was a large group of people dressed up in smart colourful clothes, drinking and laughing. Initially we thought it was a wedding but passing the front door we saw an open coffin propped up in the front room next to the door. It was actually a wake! The term wake comes from olden times where people were laid out in the house for two days to make sure they were dead rather than drunk. That is why it is called “A Wake” and I have had more than one on our journey to date. I just saw him as another victim of this month’s women drivers menstrual cycle.
Tinkerbell and Zazen were going to go into the marina at Palermo the following morning so they could look around the city but we refused to be victims of their extortion. Instead we left alone and had a wonderful sail around to Porticello.
Porticello does have a small fishing harbour that is not really suitable for yachts although in really bad weather you can tie up alongside the fishing boats. We were able to anchor in the bay behind the harbour wall in well sheltered, clear waters. For the first time this year we were on our own and there was not even another boat anchored in the bay. The fishing harbour at Porticello was a real throwback in time and a genuine, friendly Sicilian working harbour. The fishing boats were crammed in the harbour everywhere. There was oil on the water, it was scruffy, dirty, smelly and we loved it. We slowly motored towards the shore in the harbour not knowing what reception we would get from the group of fishermen playing cards on the front. There gruff unshaven appearance made them look as though they would quiet happily slit your throat whilst you slept. We decided it would be preferable to take our chances with them rather than the women drivers of Arenella. Instead they were very welcoming and told us where we could put the dinghy. They even told us they would look after it whilst we went into the Porticello and later helped us put it back in the oily water.
The town was clean and friendly and I even treated myself to a Sicilian burger. I have no idea what meat was in it but it tasted like a Sumo wrestlers jockstrap. It really was vile and probably as chewy. We only stayed one day as we were going onto Cefalu where we were to meet Tinkerbell and Zarzen again but the anchorage there had been perfect.
Cefalu. A stunning city and beautiful anchorage.
Our view from the anchorage
Cygnus III anchored in Cefalu
I know I have said it before but Cefalu is another one of those places you just have to visit, even if you are dead. We sailed around the bay anchoring on the far side of the huge rock there next to the marina and behind a long protective wall. Although the marina is next to you the anchorage has to be without doubt the prettiest one we have ever been in. Surrounded by beautiful looking rocks (and yes rocks can be beautiful but we have been a long time at sea) and secluded bays it was idyllic. We were able to have barbecues on beaches only accessible from the water and wake up to the most amazing views. We enjoyed Cefalu so much we stayed for a week and could well have stayed longer. Angelina decided yet again that she could easily live in Cefalu and I should buy her a house there. This now made 48 houses I was buying for her in various places we have visited. Even when the sea outside really kicked up in bad weather we were very safe and secure at anchor behind the wall.
The city of Cefalu. Sell your kidneys to get there.
The town taken from La Rocca
A short walk around the bay from the anchorage is the city of Cefalu itself. For a small city, Cefalù offers a great deal, including sandy beaches, winding medieval streets flanked with all manner of shops, excellent restaurants serving the freshest of fish and a unique Norman cathedral. Climb up the rock (La Rocca) overlooking the town and you will find amazing views, the remnants of the old impregnable town and a castle. It is a hike but well worth it. From the rock and harbour you have views of the very active but safe volcanic Aeolian islands off the northern coast of Sicily. In the town there are narrow streets and alleyways which bring the past to life and offer surprises everywhere. Cefalu really is one of the cities on Sicily that it is worth selling a kidney to see. Besides, you won’t need them in Cefalu anyway after the worst women drivers of Arenella have reversed over you a few times in their cars and turbocharged, hormone injected, menstrual cycles.