TUSCANY - Barrati to La Grazie, Italy

July 21

We ended up motoring the entire way to Piombino on Italy mainland and then found a protected anchorage just to the northwest called Port Baratti. There was a campground and a beach ashore with the oddest trees forming an unusual canopy.

The water maker and wind generator were still not working. The tap water has not been drinkable so we were getting our water from Grace.

Although the Tuscany area is further north than we had planned to sail, we really wanted to visit what represents in our mind, the quintessence of Italy. We hoped to experience some medieval fortified hilltop villages and the lush rolling landscape of the region and the Renaissance art of the cities.

We hopped on a bus that took us first into the main port of  Piombino, then another bus that took us to a little Medieval town of Campiglia Marittima.

The bus ride took us through wine country and more olive plantations. Fields of sunflowers covered the rolling hills, their little faces pointing skyward.  

Campiglia Marittima

Despite the name, the town is inland and not near the sea.

As with many towns in Italy, Campiglia Marittima was built like a fortress on a hilltop with surrounding walls.

The Italian Gothic architecture and winding streets created by ancient stone and brick buildings made us feel like we stepped back into the Middle Ages.



Some of the homes were painted in soft hues of ochre, salmon and sienna colors. Many had wonderful courtyard gardens or balconies overflowing with bougainvillea and other flowers.
We climbed to the citadel atop the town with its bell towers and old stone buildings.

There was a stunning view from the top overlooking the Tuscany countryside and the red tiled roofs of the village below.

Pictured left is a church with a cemetery surrounding it. The graves are all cast in the cement courtyard.


We had to leave Port Baratti very early the following day as the winds picked up and blew into the anchorage. Luckily we had a good sail 70 miles to La Spezia. This northern coast of Italy sweeps in  a semicircle to the Franco-Italian border. It is known as the Italian Riviera.

Porto Venere 44.03 N, 09.50.2E

July 24

We anchored in the bay amidst a picturesque harbor,surrounded by fish farms and breeding grounds for mussels. Bordering the harbour shoreline was a picturesque 12th century Genoese style village.

The subdued pastelish grey  buildings and castle dominated the town.

Laundry hung from the 6 story high tenement buildings. In the evening the residents would all be posed in their windows watching the activities.

Elaborately carved bronze figures decorate the black and white striped marble  Church of San Pietro

The well preserved Genoese Castellpo di Puoto Venere (centre)

The town quay was flanked with the usual array of restaurants. We headed for the old Town with its constricted streets and madcap of scattered shops.

A tourist train was available, as in most of the towns in this area, to take a sightseeing tour but we chose to walk instead.

More twisty alleyways to explore...more stairs to climb! We always loved the adventures around each corner.

The buildings were not the bland white or unpainted cement we had been seeing. Instead bleached out pastel colors dominated the town laden with planted pots and greenery

We stopped for a piece of pizza, sold by the slice. We crouched on a stairwell in the street to eat it, as is the custom.

I was attracted to a unique window dressing, the curtains made of pasta!

Porto Venere had lots of churches including the Church of San Lorenzo consecrated in 1130.

We explored the rugged shoreline and hiked among the rocky causeways


La Grazie

July 25

We sailed around the headland in the bay and dropped our anchor in  La Grazie anchorage. The bay was not so crowded during the week, but weekends brought a deluge of charter and local boats.

There was some sort of celebration, heavy naval military presence as we motored into the bay. There were lots of Policia around but no one ever approached us.

We had Happy Hour with Grace, then a quiet evening stroll on shore.

We rejoiced that there was free water on the dock so we filled our tanks. We spent the next week catching up on boat chores and replaced the float valve in the bilge pump. With the free wireless internet connection, we got weather info and caught up on emails.

Each morning we were awoken by the Church bells from numerous locations on shore bellowing in asynchronous chiming, making for a confusing tune. We decided to take the opportunity for some land travel while in La Grazie so planned our first excursion to Cinque Terra.