A Tale of Two Citadels

In case you missed the last blog, we had a lovely detour into Bonifacio.  Sue hadn’t been there for 31 years and Donald hadn’t been there ever, so a trip seemed mandatory.  Bonifacio is so lovely that I was ready to return after a week.

The pen we were given was a pen right at the dock, 50 inches to the nearest restaurant.  Donald actually jumped off at the end of the arm, to check that there would be enough room and to take the stern lines. We backed down to the space and 39 diners put down their forks and watched James put Mercier into the confined space. At the best of times, mooring and anchoring are a tense task.  With the feeling the whole of Bonifacio was watching, the pressure was certainly on.  Thank goodness for James great eyesight and bow thrusters!  Donald took the stern lines and bounded back on board.  There was a collective sigh of relief by the crew and the diners had to continue with their lunches without any amusing incidents to fill their postcards. Not to worry, a few charter yachts, which berthed on the next arm, gave them ample material to send home.

 

Luckily, it was only a week, since James and I had been to Bonifacio.  Did I mention that my friend Sue is a fitness trainer?   Not to mention, Donald is hyperfit  and has incredible balance*.  Sue says like a ‘monkey on springs’.   James and I had climbed to the Citadel three times last week, so we could almost keep up with the Swannos as they bounded up the steps.  Sue saw amazing changes since she had last been in Bonifacio, so I will let her tell us about it.

Sue taking a photo of petanque players in the Citadel at Bonifacio
Sue taking a photo of petanque players in the Citadel at Bonifacio

SUE: ‘ 31 years since I last sailed into Bonifaccio & was delighted when we berthed in almost exactly the same position as on that last visit. However the ‘town Quay’ of the past where visiting yachts simply dropped anchor & reversed stern to the main street has now been replaced by a large number of pontoons accommodating the unbelievable number of visiting yachts that now seem to frequent the pretty ports of the med. The restaurants of the quay all now have their few street tables of the past sitting in glamorous waterfront annexes complete with retractable roofs, wicker flooring & cane lounges. The waterfront by day was teeming with people & there is a whole new development on the opposite side of the fjiord like bay which appears to be still being added to. However as we climbed the steps to the old town, admired the spectacular views & strolled around the charming little streets very little appeared to have changed at all which I found strangely relieving. A memory of one of the favourite places of my youthful travel can hold its place & so grateful to James & Gaila for the opportunity to revisit.’

In the Citadel at Bonifacio
In the Citadel at Bonifacio

We walked out to the edge of the citadel before dinner to gaze across to Sardinia.

We had another lovely dinner at Stella D’Oro, we went back so Sue and Donald could also taste these typical Corsican dishes. Then a lovely walk down to Mercier.  It was an early departure planned for the morning, to make up the time well spent in going those extra ten miles.

In the morning, it was once again bright and sunny and we motor sailed into Castelsardo in the early afternoon.  We were all telling ourselves it would be a “quiet day”; no super yachts, none of the excitement of Bonifacio.  We were all pleasantly surprised when Castelsardo came into view.  The old city is up on a granite outcrop, with the castle built in the 12th century by the Doria Family and today’s town built around it still exists from about 1624.  The streets and the buildings are essentially  the same today.

The Castle at Castelsardo
The Castle at Castelsardo

The old castle is now a museum, mainly of beautiful pieces dell’apprezzata basketry on display including for sailors, a ‘boat’ made of lake reeds with marsh hay to create a Fassoi boat, used by fishermen from local islands.

On the Rampart Castelsardo
On the Rampart Castelsardo

We climbed up to the ramparts passing cross bows, a rock throwing catapult and drawbridges.  The views from the ramparts were beautiful vineyards in the distance and we could see Corsica in the distance.  On the ramparts baby seagulls were learning to fly, being encouraged by their mothers.  It was a noisy affair with the chicks crying out “Wait for me” and the mothers squawking back encouragement.

After our Aperol Spritzers, we walked back down to Mercier and a ‘ Sue cooked’ dinner.  We enjoy the aromas from the cockpit, with a bit of Swiss jazz radio in the background.

Sue tenderising the meat with special implement
Sue tenderising the meat with special implement

Several other sailors are walking back up the steep hill to town for dinner  stop by and chat about which way we are headed tomorrow and we hear about where they have just been.  A beautiful pork dinner arrives as we sit outside watching Vivid Castelsardo, colors being beamed onto the granite cliff behind the marina. .   It is warmer now and we last outside until coffee.  We all agree Castelsardo has been a marvelous surprise.

Rene, how about these doors for the Nand V?
Rene, how about these doors for the Nand V?