August 23, 2017
After enduring some remarkable heat here in Sicily, it’s a little embarrassing to say that one of the foremost thoughts in our minds was to get to our air-conditioned apartment in Licata. After days of non-stop sweating except when we were in the water, we found on August 8 that our landlady had mercifully turned on the air conditioning in anticipation of our arrival! Temperatures hovered well over 100° F (40°C) for a week, cutting short our visit to Cantania. It’s an interesting city, but staying on the boat in the windless marina was just too much. We only lasted two days there… At least we got in a great meal at Trattoria de Fiori and did some critical shopping in the huge public market. We’ll be back in the city this winter, maybe to catch some music in the splendid Teatro Bellini.
Knowing that we could anchor in the protected harbor of Porto Palo, we headed out very early in the morning, and got the anchor down in time for a wonderful dinner with friends from Licata who were also anchored there – Gustaf and Harriet on Miss Sophie and Ann-Sophie and Jonah on Lady Annila. The harbor is interesting – open if winds come from the due south, but otherwise a clean, safe and pleasant harbor, and the swimming was wonderful. On our way to Porto Palo, we rounded the third “corner” of Sicily, completing our transit of all three legs of the Trinacria.
Coming back to Licata was like meeting an old friend again. Inevitably, there were a few changes over the summer – notably two of the familiar faces in the marina office were gone, and the Mayor (Sindaco) of Licata was fired by the town council a day after we arrived. Like most “politics,” it was not clear to us what was involved, although Mayor Cambiano had apparently annoyed some powers-that-be by forcing the demolition of illegally built buildings. The regional government has now appointed a Commissario who’ll be in place until elections next year. Garbage has piled up a bit, but life in the city goes on pretty much as usual.
In particular, nothing was allowed to disrupt the much-awaited holiday of Ferragosto. We knew nothing about this August 15th holiday before getting to Italy, but it was initiated by the Roman Emperor Augustus in 18 BC as a break from the hard (and, apparently even then, hot) summer work in agriculture. Later on it was converted to the Festival of the “Assumption of Mary,” but mostly everyone regards it as the one utterly unbreakable holiday of summer. The big supermarket in Licata is only closed two days a year – Ferragosto and Christmas.
Then, just a few days after Ferragosto, there is yet another festival for the town patron saint, Sant’ Angelo, who is credited with sparing the town from the plague in the 1600s. He didn’t save the town from being destroyed by the Turkish pirate Dragut in 1553, but there’s always that relaxed Italian perspective that “nobody’s perfect.” We got another chance for some great views from the balcony of our apartment. In the 1200s, Sant’Angelo reportedly lived in a house just a few doors down from us, so our street is always on the parade routes. The music is especially a treat.
We have a few weeks before our friends Andy and Anita come for a visit and some sailing, and then my older daughter Sarah and her companion Matt in October. Fortunately that’s enough time to deal with the shocking failure of Serafina’s transmission, only 300 operating hours after it was rebuilt in Greece at the end of last summer. We seem to have gotten to the root of the problem – a very old shifter lever that was not changed when we installed the new engine. Always nice to get to the bottom of something, and it’s been fun to practice Italian (the only means of communication) with Salvatore, the mechanic.
Birgit is in Germany for a short visit. I’ve re-started my Italian classes, and both of us feel at least some sense of linguistic progress from this summer’s travels in Italy.
Of course, even here in Licata we have been following the shocking news from the US, of open racists and Nazis, emboldened by a monster in the White House who neither represents the views of the vast majority of Americans, nor the best interests of the people of the US or the world. The huge, peaceful march in Boston this last weekend was a wonderful counterpoint to the bigots, and we hope there will be many more such manifestations of disgust at the murderous and backward racists, who unfortunately can count among their number the President of the United States.