Bari Style

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Our three day passage from Siracusa to Bari was relatively uneventful except for one evening on our last night.  I was on watch and noticed that there was a blip on the radar ahead of us but I couldn’t see any boat lights.  I kept a close watch monitoring the radar and then suddenly a single red light appeared ahead of us.  I woke Darold up and we watched as a large motor yacht passed our port side very close and then began making a U-turn towards our stern.  Then, it shone an extremely bright light into our cockpit.   Extremely bright. Darold got out our super bright flashlight (pale in comparison to theirs) and we tried to see any distinguishing markings on the boat to see what it was.  They weren’t hailing us on the radio or shouting into a loudspeaker; they were just shining their extremely bright light at us.  We were totally blinded and couldn’t see what was going on, nor could we see any hazards around us.  Darold picked up the radio and pointed to it, assuming they could see us and indicating them to hail us on the radio.  They didn’t.

Then he got on the radio and said, “Brindisi Coast Guard, Brindisi Coast Guard, this is the sailing vessel Benevento.” The coast guard responded and then Darold said, “I don’t know if I’ve reached the Coast Guard on shore or if I’m talking to the ship that is shining a light in our cockpit at (Darold stated our position.)  If you are the vessel shining a light on us, please tell us how we can assist you or if we can provide you with information.” The Coast Guard then proceeded to ask us where we were headed, where our last port was, how many people on board and where we were from.  To the last question Darold responded, “United States of America,” to which they responded, “Grazie!” and promptly left. We then watched them on AIS as they approached another sailing vessel, but they immediately hailed the other vessel on the radio instead of leaving them in suspense like they did with us.  Nothing like a buzz from the Italian Coast Guard to get your adrenaline up and running!

The rest of the passage was uneventful.  We snaked our way through day tripper boats off the coast and made our way into the fuel dock in Bari and got checked into Nautica Ranieri.  This marina would be Benevento’s home base for several weeks as we made land trips to visit family in Italy, friends in Prague and more family in Slovakia.

A few days after arriving in Bari is headed for Campobasso to visit Darol’s Italian relatives.  See La Famiglia blog post.   We returned about a week later and that Sunday got to meet our boat neighbors.  The usual buongiorno was fulled by, in English, “Where are you from, friend?”  This benign question would turn into an 9-hour eating and drinking party aboard our boat!  We became friends with Carlo, his son Luigi, Nicola (the boat owner) and his wife Giada.  They brought over homemade eggplant parmigiana, meatballs, tiramisu, and a whole platter full of desserts, along with wine and prosecco. Every time they asked us if we’d tried a different local specialty they went over to their boat and brought it over if we hadn’t tried it.  This way, we sampled marinated artichokes and marinated sundried tomatoes “Bari style” (spicy) as well as local olive oil and wine. We joked that their boat was really a supermarket, but the truth is that Italians love their food and take it seriously! We drank and ate for most of the day, just enjoying each other’s company and delighting in the sunny Sunday.   At one point we put on the Beach Boys and Darold, Dante and I sang along to “Surfin’ USA.”  Carlo said, “Italian food and American music. Dolce vita!”  The next day we had to visit the marina office and Antonio Ranieri (the owner) said, “I heard you had a party aboard your boat yesterday!”  It was great fun!

A couple of days later we were on our way to Slovakia via Prague (See Na Zdravie blog post).  But when we returned about 10 days later we found time to visit with our boat neighbors in the marina again, and got to meet Carlo’s daughter.  They gifted us with wine and olive oil and dessert on their boat.  Pastries from the South of Italy are so good!  The night before we left they took us out for special coffee, that we’ve never had before called café con latte di mandorla – deliciozo.  We also had gelato and they made sure we had enough pizza and panzerotti for our trip to Greece.  And if that wasn’t enough, while we were in Prague, Carlo even had a special piece of stainless steel fabricated for our forward hatch window (which was broken) and refused to take any money for it.

In one of our conversations with our new friends, we asked them why they thought Italians were so friendly.  “It’s the sun,” they said.  “Warm people from a warm climate!”  And it is true.  We have been to Italy a number of times and we have consistently found the Italians to be some of the most generous people you will ever meet.  Especially with food.  So if you find your self chatting with some Italians about food …. pay attention … you will learn something and may be in for a pleasant treat.

For more pictures go to our Flickr site!

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