Shortly after we sailed out of the port of Menton, we crossed the border with Italy. We stroked the French guest team and put it Italian. After just 12 miles we made ready for anduve Sanremo.
"Portosole, this is Heron, Heron," we called in duty on the VHF, when the rifle aimed between the two mole fires.
«Hello Heron. This is Portosole. "Prompted the receipt immediately.
What on earth ?
In France last year we had a dozen ports. Not once did we get a response to our call. But here in Italy the answer was answered and even in English. The conversation continued, and when we had answered a few questions, it was concluding from Portosole.
"OK. Look for the ormeggiatori. He will guide you to your berth »
We looked around in the harbor. At the end of a pontoon a man waved to us. It had to be our ormeggiatori. We sailed to him and were received with a smiling "buono sera". We backed Heron into the square. When we were a few meters from the pontoon, the man pulled a line out of the water so we could reach it with a boat garden. Then he accepted our aft moorings, which he put in a ring before sending them back to us.
A sign with welcome to Italy or something similar was the only thing that was missing to make the reception absolutely perfect.
Sanremo is located in Liguria. It is one of the smallest of Italy's 20 regions. The coastline, called the Italian Riviera, runs from the French border in the west to La Spezia near Tuscany in the southeast. In the 1800 century, many wealthy Englishmen and artists settled in Liguria. Among others, Charles Dickens, Lord Byron and Shelley. In the 1830, HC Andersen also lived here. Specifically in the town of Sestri Levante, where an Andersen festival is held every year.
There are many ports on the barely 300 kilometer long stretch. A new port will be reached in a few hours. Perfect for 'daysailing'.
Sanremo was between the two world wars home of the European jetset. In the harbor there were some megayachts, but not nearly as large as in Antibes, France. On the whole, Sanremo seemed far less active than the cities on the French Riviera
Next stop was the city of Imperia.
In the long distance we could see the peninsula with the pastel-colored buildings with the great cathedral listed in the 1700 century as the most prominent.
In 2007, a company in a consortium with private investors began to expand the port. An 800 meter long breakwater was built on the Mediterranean. Following on from the old harbor, a new one was built with room for 1.300 boats. When the financial crisis set in, demand for yachts plunged. There were problems with the financing. The consortium went bankrupt and the construction work stopped. 8 years after the bankruptcy, the port is still not finished. Most of the many pontoons are deserted. Almost such a little ghostly.
But in the old harbor where we got a seat, life was apparently unaffected by the financial problems. Just apart from the fact that the municipality has taken over the administration and significantly reduced the harbor tax.
We stayed in Imperia for a couple of days.
Saw the cathedral, enjoyed the atmosphere in the harbor and the nice old town and got used to being in Italy.
After a couple of days we sailed to Loano.
At the entrance, we found out that there were problems with the electricity on board. We examined cables and connections. They all looked fine. An error on the electrical installation on a boat can be dangerous and we called an electrician - Carlo, who advertised that he spoke English.
"It's your batteries" sounded prompt from Carlo when we showed him the problem.
«How old are they? " he asked? and stared at us when we responded that they were at 10. season.
"You need to replace them now," he concluded without hesitation.
We had expected the batteries to last for the season and had planned to use the winter to install lithium batteries. They are based on a new technology that offers a number of advantages over traditional lead batteries. Yet lithium batteries are very expensive. This is one of the reasons why it's not so common to use them on yachts.
"It may be good, but I do not want to be the first" is another reason that Carlo pointed out before he installed a new battery bank of lead batteries next day.
Also in Loano there is a new marina.
The marina was completed in 2014, is well-integrated with the nice old town, has exceptionally good protection in all wind directions and the most luxurious facilities we have seen in any port to date.
One afternoon we sat down in a small tourist yard. The young driver led us at a fast pace up a steep and snowy mountain road that passed through a few smaller villages. Just to get inland and experience the mountain landscape and the clear clear mountain air.
The aim of the trip was Grotte di Toirano, which was worth a visit, as was stated in our Italian Waterways Pilot.
The caves discovered as late as in 1950 and 1960 revealed beautiful drip stone formations, skeletons from a bear species that were extinct for 30.000 years ago, 12.000 years old foot and handprints from humans and a small lake where there are unexplained reasons observed live fish.
"Shows its poverty towards the port", "Unsafe after dark" "A dirty harbor town"
We had heard very bad stories about Genoa and had planned to skip the city.
But the French couple on the neighboring boat spoke praise about Genoa and told them they would go there next day. We decided to change our plans and agreed to follow them the next morning.