Discover Italy by Sea

Few people realize the large number of islands off the coast of Italy, all of which are delightful to visit aboard a Nicholson Yacht Charter.  Combine ports of call along the Italian mainland, and excellent cruising itineraries can be had.

There are four groups of islands off the west coast of Italy that have been delighting sailors for centuries – The Tuscan Archipelago north of Rome, the Pontine Islands just north of Naples, the Neapolitan Islands in the Bay of Naples, and the Aeolian Islands off the coast of Sicily.  Whether you visit them all on your yacht charter will depend where you start and end your cruise, how fast your yacht is, and how long you cruise for.

THE TUSCAN ARCHIPELAGO

Elba, Pianosa, Capraia, Montecristo, Giglio, Gorgona, Giannutri

Giglio is a charming fishing village off Rome, known for its crystal clear water, where the harbor bottom is easily seen. If there’s room, your Captain can tie up stern to; otherwise, you can anchor off and take the ship’s tender into the main harbor. Giglio is an excellent overnight stop on a private crewed yacht charter itinerary.
Perched at the top of Giglio is a medieval walled city that rivals the French city of Eze. Giglio Castello, still an operating village, is surrounded by medieval stone walls complete with 10 towers. During your cruise, take a trip up to the top to wander the little winding streets, a village stopped in time. Have lunch in one of the restaurants offering simple local food, and sample the local amber colored wine called Asonaco. A town bus toils up and down the switchback roads from the harbor to Giglio Castello throughout the day
Capraia is different from other islands. There is a small port and village around the Castle from the 16th Century, which was built by the Repubblica di Genova.  The rest are volcanic rocks, wild nature, fragrances and sea.  The water temperature is a little warmer around Capraia, indicating that this 5 million year old volcano is not quite dead….

THE PONTINE ISLANDS

Ponza, Palmarola, Zannone, Gari, Ventotene, Santo Stefano

Going to Ponza is all about living and breathing il mare. You either own or rent a boat, and you spend your days puttering up and down the coast, swimming in coves and grottoes that aren’t accessible by land, picnicking under the unrelenting Mediterranean sun, and developing a killer tan. By sunset, everyone goes for the evening passeggiata on the same street and for aperitivo drinks at the same bars.
Ponza also offers a rugged coastline of towering cliffs, caves and sheltered bays. An ancient Roman tunnel through a mountain leads to the island’s main beach, Chiaia di Luna (pictured above). Shafts cut in the mountain light the tunnel.
Navigate Ponza’s scalloped coast, drop anchor in its sheltered bays, read a book in the shade of its cliffs and explore its ancient grottoes.  The most intriguing of these is Pilate’s Grottoes, a series of cave pools that were carved by hand. Bring a flashlight and mask and swim inside. Locals suggest that the grottoes served as pools where fish, primarily moray eels, were raised for the Roman elite. But the statues and artwork that have been discovered suggest a more luxurious use, perhaps as saltwater swimming pools, a noble dining area or a cult site.
Ponza has a path carved into the rocks that leads uphill to Cala Frontone, an informal restaurant and small museum operated by Gerardo Mazzella. “When I began to build up here, everyone said I was crazy.” His simple endeavor has turned out to be a huge success. Sailboats and yachts drop anchor in Frontone bay and their passengers make the hike up to this rustic spot for its homemade island food and sweeping views across the bay to Porto.  The museum displays antique fishing and herding implements, peasant clothing and photographs that recount the story of Ponza’s dual nature. “The Ponzesi had to be good at two things to survive: fishing and farming. They were skilled fishermen, but the island is fertile and they learned to cultivate the earth, too.” On menu, locally grown lentils and cicerchie, a chick pea-like legume cultivated on the island since antiquity, are the basis for hearty soups, while savory pies are filled with leafy greens and local cheese. Fried moray eels are served with a wedge of lemon, and octopus is stewed with potatoes.
Weather & Sea Temperatures

Prevailing winds along the Tuscan coast are from NW or W and are mostly moderate, rarely rising above force 5, “a fresh breeze” during summer.  Close in to shore, the wind blows out of the South, so it matters not which direction you sail….  The most notable feature of the Tyrrhenian Coast is a SW seabreeze that kicks in late morning and blows at little more than Force 2 – 4 (light to moderate) until the evening.

Summer air temperatures can sometimes reach 104 degrees fahrenheit, especially in the south, although 85-95 degrees is more common. Sea temperatures during July averages 78 degrees Fahrenheit, adequate for swimming from the end of May until October.

NEAPOLITAN ISLANDS

Capri, Ischia, Procida

Capri is underlaid with limestone, which has been eroded by dissolution over the years, forming fantastical ridges, towers and sinkholes in the rock. This process over time separated Capri from the mainland.  Harsh jagged caves have formed there, the most famous of these being the Grotta Azzurra or the “Blue Grotto”, now known to have been a Roman bathing place. This lagoon is haunted by a dazzling shifting turquoise blue. Small openings in the back of the cave admit daylight which, reflecting on the limestone floor and walls, creates a fantastical and magical atmosphere.
Located in the Gulf of Naples, Ischia is a volcanic island with activity still smoldering deep in the roots of the island, forcing hot springs filled with minerals to spout through the island surface in many locations. These hot springs, which each have a different mineral combination, have long been lauded for curative properties. A number of spa resort hotels with mineral baths are located all over the island, along with “water gardens” for bathing in a variety of waters at various temperatures in one location. The volcanic soil is supporting a burgeoning local island boutique wine industry.

AEOLIAN ISLANDS

Lipari, Stromboli, Salina, Volcano, Filicudi, Alicudi, Basilozzo, Ustica

The highlight of the Aeolian Islands is the active volcano on Stromboli, as where else can you anchor underneath an active volcano and watch the active volcano “fireworks” while dining on deck?
Ustica, an island off Sicily, is the tip of a sunken volcano, green and fertile, with spectacular grottos and exceptionally clear water, drawing thousands of scuba divers each year. Local dive guides can lead you on a magical underwater archaeological tour to view ancient Roman amphorae and evidence of nautical activity since the beginning of recorded history.
There is a museum on Lipari off Sicily worth visiting that traces the history of civilization in the Aeolian Islands from the Stone Age. Agriculture is predominant in these islands with the rich volcanic soil, and restaurants commonly serve the catch of the day as the main menu item.

Let us discuss your needs and help you decide which yacht is the best for your purposes.

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