After an hour of sailing, we passed Capo Noli and had a full view of the Gulf of Genoa. We changed the course and headed directly to Genoa. Visibility was good. Right ahead we clearly saw the northern Appeninas behind Genoa , which was more than 25 miles away.
The Ligurian Sea is located in the Naval Reserve Pélagos, where water depth and flow conditions provide particularly good living conditions. All eight different species of whales live here. Among them, the fin whale, up to 22 meters in length and weighing up to XNUM tons, is the world's second largest animal.
We looked at the whales, nervously and slightly nervously. A blow with the tail of a fine whale can as easily as nothing beat a boat of Heron's size for stinging. We didn't see anyone, but when we were in the middle of the bay, a bunch of dolphins appeared up to starboard.
Genoa's port is Italy's largest and the third largest port in the Mediterranean. We humbly embarked on the long and wide entry that the yachts share with the large passenger ships. After 1,5 miles, we ventured Porto Antico, which lies right by the city.
Genoa is the capital of the region of Liguria and has a long and eventful history.
Caruggi, the old town, lies down to the harbor. Here are elegant shops, restaurants, bars and cafes in streets where the old houses are so close that you can barely see the sky when you look up. But the old city is not just modernized idyll. Here is also a 'red light district' that may contribute to giving the district its nuanced reputation.
We walked up to Spisnata Castello with 360 degree's view of the city. Took the elevator down and found via Garibaldi, which was adorned with umbrellas of different colors. Saw and heard an opera singer singing arias accompanied by an iPad and had lunch at Piazza de Ferrarie, while watching the great fountain and the nice old buildings that house the opera and the old stock exchange.
After two days we went on to Portofino, which we knew from a motive in a jig saw puzzle Pia once had put.
Portofino looked exactly like the motive from the jig saw puzzle. Pastel-colored well-kept old buildings, some with a cafe or restaurant where a couple of guests sat under a awning. A church tower. A small room with green trees. A blue sky. Turquoise colored water in the harbor, where there were a couple of fishing robes. A quiet, harmonious and relaxed atmosphere.
There were no available anchorages next to Portofino, and we sailed a few hundred meters to the harbor in the neighboring town of Santa Margherita Ligure. When we had moored, we went into the fresh clear water from the beach, a few steps from the harbor, walked in the city and enjoyed the atmosphere.
We were getting closer to high season, and when we asked the harbour master. if we could stay one more night, he shook his head . In the late afternoon we sailed to the port of Lavagna.
The next day we went to the Cinque Terre, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
After a couple of hours of sailing we came to Monterosso al Mare, the northernmost of the five cities that make up the Cinque Terre. There are good depths all the way to the coast, and we sailed close to the towns, which looked like chipped into the tall steep cliffs. From the seaside they looked inaccesible although on the land side there is nice access through a trail system.
Late in the afternoon we aporoached Portovenere, which is well protected in the entrance to La Spezia bay
The bay is also called the Poet's Bay because many poets and writers have stayed here for short and long periods. One of the first was the English poet Percy Shelley, who in 1822 wrote in a letter about his summer stay that "My only regret is that summer must ever pass ..."
From Portovenere we sailed further south and reached Pisa in Tuscany.
"Denmark one goal after five minutes" shouted our ormeggiatori when we started to back Heron in the designated berth. "There is a television at the cafe," he continued, pointing eagerly to a building not far from us.
When we had moored, we hurried to the cafe. Two men sat at a table talking while they looked up on a TV screen once Denmark fought 2. half of the World Cup match against Australia. We sat at the table closest to the TV and followed the game without our "eeej", "kom nuuuu", "pass on yoooo" apparently contested the two men.
We took the bus to Pisa to the miracle site with the crooked tower. There were a lot of tourists here. Many were busy taking a photo, pretending to prevent the tower from toppling over. We must have such a thing as well. We struggled through the crowds of people into a suitable place to take the trick photo. As I put all my effort into holding the tower, I was pushed by an angry man. Per reflex I felt in her pockets. And yes the purse was gone and the same was the angry man. It was no different than to immediately block the Visa card and comfort itself with the pickpocket after all, having only got away with the scrotum and that it would have been much worse if now…
We had almost just moored at next harbor, Cecina, when four men from Guardia Costeria went to our pontoon. To our surprise they went all the way to the end where we lay.
«Where are you from?» Asked the oldest kindly and in good English.
When we answered Denmark, the man went on "what harbor in Italy did you first arrive in? »
and when we responded to Sanremo he continued "did you register in Sanremo? »
Before we reached "open market", "Schengen", "we did not know that ...." added the man.
«You should have, but it is our fault so no problem. Which harbors have you been in? »
We stripped all the ports we had been in and when we were done, the man asked "What about Lavagna? »
Correct. We had forgotten it in the strip.
But from where did he know we had been there?
We did not get any answer. On the other hand, we were told that Guardia Costeria, like us, used Windy for water views and that they had received migrants as far north as in Rome. «See our boat? We are four onboard. They were about 50 in a similar boat »told the friendly Coast Guard before he wanted us a good trip.
The last city we called on the mainland was called San Vinzenco. On the pier there were two green lighthouses.
When we got closer we could see that one was the 7 meter high statue "Il Marinaio" or the seaman standing next to the green light house scouting across the sea towards Elba.
In the city there was celebrated midsummer or La Festa di San Giovanni, as it is called in Italian.
In Denmark, we mark midsummer by lighting a bonfire with a witch on top. A well-known person then keeps a speech when the witch is burned and, according to the old folklore, flown to the block mountain. In Sweden, midsummer is marked by celebrating fertility by dancing around the corn bar, eating crayfish and not consuming insignificant amounts of alcohol. In Italy, midsummer is a church feast. It marks John the Baptist's birth, which quite conveniently took place exactly 6 months before Jesus was born.
San Vinzenco became the last port we visited on Italy's mainland before heading towards Elba, where we arrived in Porto Azzurro in the middle of the afternoon.
The idyll was complete. A nice town with a harbor promenade with restaurants and cafes, a clear blue water beach and hiking trails with fragrant flowers along bays with bounty beaches.
"This is the first holliday without our children and we're going to stay here the whole time", our Dutch neighbour trusted us almost apologetically when we prepared to leave after three days.
We had headed for Marina Di Campo on Elba's west side. The Marina's guest berths were on a concrete pier that was so high that we would not be able to go ashore when we had moored.
It was late afternoon. If we sailed on to Bastia we should approach the harbor in the dark. Sailing back to Port Azzurro was not a good idea because all the guest berths were certainly taken.
We decided to spend the night anchoring and sailed to a small bay where two other sailboats were already anchored.
When the echo sounder measured a depth of 3 meters, we let the anchor go and put out the entire anchor chain on 25 meters. (About three times as much as we needed)
The anchor had a good grip, the 4 forecast models on Windy agreed on the wind direction and many other boats were also anchored in the area.
When we turned on the anchor light in the evening, we felt out of comfort zone when we thought that reading time turned out to open sea.
But the worries turned out as so often before to be unnecessary.
We got a quiet night and woke up to a nice quiet morning where we could see the bottom and the fish on the three meter of water we still had underneath us. We jumped in, swam once around Heron, let the sun warm us and enjoyed the silence and calm.
Then we started the engine, pulled the anchor up, headed for Bastia in Corsica, and after an hour of sailing, we replaced the Italian guest flag with the French.