It feels a bit odd when you plan to leave a place like Sardinia: we only spent ten days here and we were just starting to get a taste of it. But we had a good weather window to cross to Sicily and get to the destination we had been envisioning for a while: the Tyrrhenian Sea.
See you later Sardinia!
To go from Villasimius to the Aegadian Islands, we had to cover 160 nautical miles, but this time we really wanted to do some proper sailing and avoid using the engine as much as possible. According to the forecast, we would have had some constant 20-25 knots of westerly wind, which would have allowed us to make an almost direct course to the Aegadian Islands. We set sail from Villasimius and just one mile out of the anchorage, the expected wind started to blow: it was light at the beginning but it quickly increased to reach the strength we were expecting. It was adrenaline-intense sailing, with Bolero surfing the waves at more than 9kn! We covered many miles during daylight before we decided to reduce sails in preparation for the night.
Although we only had the reefed genoa deployed, we were still able to make good speed, and more importantly, we knew that even if the wind had increased, the person on watchkeeping would have had an easier job to handle the situation.
When the wind blows at those speeds, the sea state tends to deteriorate pretty quickly. Waves reached 2 plus meters height and firmly pushed us during the entire crossing. While it’s always better to get waves from the stern (back) than from the bow (front), it also means that the boat is VERY rolly, and standing still or moving around can be a big challenge. Sleeping is almost impossible: it feels like you are in a big extremely loud washing machine. Neither you are reassured by the idea of being completely alone in the middle of a windy and rough sea at night, with some thousand meters of water below a tiny boat hull: something that reminds you how vulnerable we are and how respectable Mother Nature is. Still, we never felt we were in danger, so fear was not part of the equation: probably we were too focused on enjoying the adventure and ensure we were making the right choices (which you never know are right until they turn out to be the wrong ones).
After the long windy night, we experienced again that unique feeling you have when the sky turns red as the sun is about to rise: the sunlight brings a safe feeling as you can finally see what’s around you, knowing that you’ll soon spot land and will be resting like a baby.
A new chapter of our adventure: the Aegadian Islands
At 6 am we could clearly see the silhouette of the rocky island of Marettimo. 5 hours later we were “already” admiring its crystalline blue waters. Unfortunately, at this time of the year, leisure boats can’t really stop at Marettimo: anchoring is prohibited year-round (it’s a protected area) and buoys are not installed till June (something we were expecting), so we took some relatively close pictures to its small village and bays and continued our journey to the close island of Favignana.
As we were getting closer to its coasts, we decided to call Giampaolo, the owner of La Darsena, one of the pontoons available in the small port of Praia, the only village in Favignana. Giampaolo has been incredibly friendly and made our stay in Favignana even more unforgettable. I can only recommend him to anybody looking for a berth in Favignana (if needed, you can reach him at +39 333 681524). The island is a very well-known tourist destination and can get really really crowded in summertime, but now – partially also due to Covid-19 restrictions – there were no tourists and the atmosphere was the one you would probably find in small and remote fishing villages, where everybody knows everyone, shops are family-run and people feel relaxed.
We first thought we were going to stay two days in Favignana, but already after the first night moored in the paradise, we decided to extend our stay for another 5 days. The decision allowed us to discover and explore this incredibly colorful small island: we rented two bikes and managed to see all its coves. Cala Rossa is for sure one of the best bays we have seen in the Med – the colors of its water will stay well captured in our memory for a long time.
One week in Favignana
It was then time to discover Sicilian cuisine. We tested all types of local food: tuna (Favignana is famous for its tuna fisheries), octopus, arancini, caponata di melanzane, cannoli siciliani, ice cream, and much more. There must be tons of books on Sicilian gastronomy. It’s almost a given that any Italian rates very high the typical Sicilian plates and unique pastries. Their cuisine shows traces of all cultures that have existed on the island of Sicily over the last two millennia, with strong Greek, Spanish, French and Arab influences.
From Favignana, we then took a ferry to the nearby island of Levanzo, the smallest of the Aegadian Islands. We spent the day there and although we couldn’t visit the Grotta del Genovese (an archaeological site which testifies to how life flowed 12,000-13,000 years ago), we enjoyed a relaxing day walking around the coastline: Amaia was brave enough to have the first swim of the year – she said the water was not that cold, but my warm Latin soul wasn’t convinced by the judgment of a Basque lady, too much used to cold Atlantic water.
We spent the rest of the week working during the day and enjoying some very relaxing evenings: the so-called “il dolce far niente” is something we gotta experience a bit more. We should stop saying this, but believe me that leaving Favignana wasn’t an easy decision: we truly loved the quietness of the island and will keep some great memories of our stay here.