The fun has to end sometime. Here are the last few glimpses of Panarea before we took the ferry back to Naples. There are no reserved seats on the ferry. Your ticket gets you onboard but it’s your job to stow your luggage and find a decent seat. We waited at the harbor for the ferry. Everything was calm until the ferry arrived. The frenzy began when the gangplank came down. People swarmed towards the ferry like the harbor was on fire. One man shoved his wife and kids ahead of him onto the gangplank and then passed three pieces of luggage over other people to his family. At first I thought, “just go with the flow, there’s no rush.” Unfortunately we realized if we didn’t join the scrum we’d be the last ones onboard.
A 50 something year old Italian couple sat in front of us. There were only two of them and a few bags spread over four seats. A young woman asked if all the seats were taken. The older woman said that she had a knee problem and needed to extend her legs across the seats so sorry, no seats available. A few more people tried but they were also denied a seat. The ridiculousness continued when we pulled into Naples. The man stood up gathering his things. All of a sudden the woman threw her newspaper at him and started yelling in Italian. Apparently their small dog peed all over her bag and he hadn’t bothered to notice or care. He wanted to have a nice lunch but she didn’t want to do anything so boring and ordinary. Her whole day had been ruined. It’s amazing how quickly your vacation bubble can disappear and that peaceful, relaxing time seems miles away. Fortunately Panarea had made a vivid impression that I wouldn’t forget.
Does your house or apartment have a name? Beach houses in Myrtle Beach, SC have names. Certain residential buildings in the five boroughs of New York City have names. Why doesn’t every building have a name? Do people just not care? Or is it pretentious? Whatever it is it’s memorable and you can have fun with it. Who doesn’t want to live in Villa Lasagna?
Although there are other Aeolian Islands to explore we limited ourselves to the nearby faraglioni or stacks. The closest ones to Panarea are Basiluzzo, Dattilo, Lisca Bianca and Lisca Nera. Every day we went out to one of them. Each is distinct in its shape and accumulation of rock.
I felt most comfortable swimming close to the stacks. A few times we were farther out and the water was a darker blue. On one side we had our little boat and if you turned around all you could see was the horizon and the sea. It freaked me out. Suddenly I had a feeling of being alone in the open ocean and I felt tiny. Fortunately I just had to turn around and swim back to the boat for my sense of security to return.
Sometimes we could see fish and tiny jellyfish or medusa. If there were a lot of medusa in the water we waited until they passed. Once I thought they were gone and jumped into the water. I must be a medusa magnet because even though bf was in the water, I was the only one who felt 4 or 5 tiny sharp pricks around my shoulders and the back of my legs. When I got out of the water I had red, itchy welts. I was glad the medusa weren’t bigger.
I loved the contrast between the blue colors of the water and sky. After swimming for a bit I’d towel off and lay down in the boat studying the water, rocks and sky. Simple pleasures.
Did you think I was going to post only once on Panarea? There’s too much to share. Here we’ll focus on the flowers and homes. Stay tuned for volcanic rock, turquoise waters and houses with names!
Panarea is the second smallest of the volcanic Aeolian islands that hover north of Sicily. The other islands are: Stromboli, Vulcano, Salina, Lipari, Filicudi and Alicudi. To get to Panarea we took a five hour ferry ride from Naples. One third of the island is occupied with 300 or so residents. The rest is a nature preserve. Your feet, golf carts, bikes or scooters are the only modes of transportation. We had no cell phone, internet or TV in our small rented house. Of course there are hotels, like the famous Hotel Raya, and other homes for rent. Groceries, wine and liquor are available from the markets near the harbor. Dining out is not a problem as there are plenty of restaurants. Our concerns were few. A typical day consisted of putting on a swimsuit, applying sunscreen, packing lunch and taking off in a boat for the day. We’d return around 6 or 7 for a shower, aperitif and then stroll to dinner. Aaahhh island life. More
Let’s forget about the cold weather and remember the time a few months ago when I went to Naples, Italy for the first time. This past Summer vacation was spent in Naples (5 days), then a small Aeolian island called Panarea (8 days), a few days (3) in Positano and finally 2 days in Rome to eat at a couple of favorites and see a fantastic exhibition of Luigi Ghirri photographs. Panarea was my favorite part. I love vacations but Panarea was better than anything I could have imagined.
Naples is a beautiful city packed with culture and a long, rich history. The historic sites and buildings are not as perfectly packaged as Rome. It is grittier and stranger than Rome. In the New York Times Travel section Rachel Donadio was “Seduced by Naples.” I can’t say that I was. I was intrigued and puzzled but Venice seduced me more than Naples. Perhaps Naples in the days before Pompeii was destroyed, or when the Bourbons ruled it as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, I may have been seduced. More