Isola Di Marettimo

Another beautiful night sail, once again watching the moon rise, although this time over sea. It started as it’s usual orange, then blood red, before turning to a brilliant white and illuminating the sea. The waves reflecting and refracting its majestic light made for an awesome and tranquil scene. Alex wanted to stay up for all this and we laid together staring at the heavens, discussing and exploring constellations. Out the blue he described how to find north using the Ursa Major ( The Plough ) and Polaris, I was impressed. Every few minutes, we would see a shooting star as it skimmed the earths atmosphere. I then asked Alex to momentarily, turn of the navigation lights so as we were in total darkness and showed him a different Universe in the sea below as Aria sliced through the water, disturbing the sea and agitating sea plankton making them sparkle like little stars and sometimes in larger pools of light.

Alex eventually retired and Massimo and myself started our night watch. It was 0200 as we approached Marettimo. Massimo had already planned to anchor off the South East corner of the island, in a bay called Conca. We arrived there at 0300 and edged our way in, but in my opinion it was unsuitable. Firstly there was swell and secondly there was no way of knowing what the seabed was like, it also looked pretty exposed. So I suggested we head for the small and only village and harbour of the island, located on the mid eastern side of the island.

As we approached and then entered our strange new home, it seemed completely different to photograph we had studied. No berthing pontoons to be seen, we later found out these are seasonal and removed for the winter months. As we edged closer to the beautifully and delicately illuminated village I decided the only option was to reverse onto the harbour wall, as pulling alongside was impossible due to one foot protruding concrete just above sea level. So we motored out some 50 metres dropped anchor and started reserving toward the harbour wall whilst letting out chain. We aimed for a spot where two sets of stone stairs dropped to form a one metre platform and this is where Massimo stepped of and I then threw him one of our stern lines, which he secured to one of the bollards on top of the harbour wall. We were successfully and safely in. After securing our other stern line, we briefly explored our location and situation, and decided to stay. We made Aria secure and retired for the night.

Google Maps image of marina with visitors pontoon clearly visible – this was not there when we arrived and is only in place in the high season

Alex and I awoke are 0830 and went on deck and then onto the harbour wall to briefly access and view our new surroundings. Everything looked so different to the night entry we had performed a few hours earlier, as if transformed and repainted by glorious sunlight. Quaint little white houses with blue shutters peppered the skirt of the harbour and soaring terrain towered above the only village.

Alex, enjoying land after two days at sea. In the background you can clearly see the steps we aimed for to assist with getting ashore and mooring
Maretimmo – looking out to sea
The small village of Maretimmo
Seal sculpture with Aria in the background

After a leisurely breakfast on deck we decided to take a walk up towards the “Casa Romane” some Roman garrison buildings, well worth a visit. There is also a small Byzinetine church which is open to the public together with a small calling to prayers bell outside.

Santa Maria delle Grazie

Chiesetta Bizantina – near the Roman ruins
Alex and Massimo examining the font in the church

The calling to prayer bell near the church

It’s a really pleasant and easy walk up to the ruins and even more pleasant coming back down through wooded pines and almost African style forna.

Many routes are available

There are 18kms of walking trails on the island, including a summit trail and one to the castle. Apparently, there are many caves accessible from the sea, but we didn’t have the time to explore these. You could literally spend a week on this island and still have places to discover.

Fantastic view of the harbour and Aria on our walk back down
Donkeys on route

On our decent we saw donkeys and much flora and fauna specific to the island.

When back on Aria, we had a brief rest before heading out for the evening to a local restaurant. In the winter months you have to call early and they I’ll open and cook specifically for you. Menus are limited to pasta and sea foods and depend very much upon the catch of the day. As we walked along the quayside, we passed groups of locals fishing for squid and many with much success and wondered if this is what would be on the menu tonight.

Alex, Massimo and Arba on the quayside

Aria, at her moorings

Squid caught in the harbour, metres from Aria.

The chef, we think, makes an appearance at the restaurant