March, however, brought good weather and time to get out and about and do stuff again. The never ending list of boat jobs could continue, and the supplies of stuff brought from the UK were soon assembled and put to use around the place. New learning resources for kids had also arrived while we were away, and were put to good use immediately. With the improvement in the weather, marina activities also commenced with an Optimist regatta, for kids from all over Sicily coming to Marina di Ragusa to compete. Seeing these young kids going out and competing in 30kts winds outside the harbour without the slightest sight of fear, and fantastic skill was quite breathtaking. March also brought the festival of St.Guiseppi where statues were carried around the streets of Marina di Ragusa for all to behold, before being out back in their boxes for another year. And all manner of cakes & cheeses where produced and auctioned off in the main square to raise money for the church.
March also brought us Tilly, Toddy, Sophie, Juju to visit from the UK. Although only a short stay we managed to pack in quite a lot! We had a lovely villa in the old part of Taormina where we all stayed together with open fires, great roof terrace brunches and lots of laughs. We took in the sights of Taormina, managing to visit Isola Bella beach the last evening on a whim only to find a bon fire about to go out, which the boys resurrected and with a few beers we relaxed by the sea. It was such a great way to end the visit, and was Toddy, Audrey & Bertie's first beach bon fire. Catania market was vibrant and lively as ever, with the open fish market and numerous fruit and veg stalls and cheese and meat stands. And the fresh Oysters went down a treat. Syracusa which is one of our favourite Sicilian towns (from those I we’ve visited) didn’t disappoint as we were treated to an amazing lunch at the best deli with delicious Prosecco flowing. Seeing the mosaics at Villa Romana del Casale was something else. It show cases some of best mosaics in situ from the Roman world and was one of the most luxurious villas of its time. Year 310AD…. amazing what they accomplished and how well it is preserved to this day. It was really sad to say goodbye to these guys once more, but cant wait for our next fun get together soon!
Not so long after our trip to Taormina, it was slowly starting to come to the time when some of our new cruising friends would slowly depart. Our Aussie friends Duncan and Caroline on Maggie Drum where one of the first to set sail and was an impetus to get us to get going on the seas again too! However, no one left before we had our ‘provisioning’ wine tasting on Maggie Drum. With a few of us stowing wine from Sicily before heading out, we had a small blind wine tasting. Using socks to cover the labels (ingenious) we tasted, graded and named the wines. From a selection of wines ranging from 2.50-5euros, it was the cheapest which won the most points in the end! Needless to say this family fun boat may have a few bottles stashed in the bilges!
St Patricks Day also didn't pass us by either. It was celebrated in the local bar by a few of the Cruisers with some cans of Guiness, Guiness cake and a general away of Greeness and silly banter. We also attended a proper English Afternoon Tea organised by some of the Brits, with everyone dressed in their lar-di-da best and lots of tea, cakes and Pimms consumed.
In the final week the Marina staff organised a party on the main pontoon to say farewell to all. A great party with an array of local Italian and Sicilian dishes served and BBqd. Beer and wine on tap, and lots of kids running around the pontoons. It was a real blast and helped to make the last few weeks of our stay in Marina di Ragusa complete, with sunshine, laughter, parties and general happiness. Time for us to also say goodbye before our trip across to Malta to see Valetta and see some new family cruising friends we met the week prior. However, not before the big Country and Line Dancing Festival. We attended this on our last night and it was a real hoot. An Italian country line dancing bonanza with all welcome to join in with the 50 Cowboys and Cowgirls. Bertie and Audrey loved it and it was almost impossible to keep them out of the middle of the rows of dancers!
We set sail early the next morning, on a calm and bright day. It was great to set sail again! We had a great winter in Marina di Ragusa and are grateful to have met some of the people we did there and hope to see some of them again soon. More details of our crossing and first few days in Malta on our next blog!