Sailing yacht My Lotty in Palermo

Sailing yacht My Lotty in Palermo

Charter yachts shows come along regularly at this time of year, and right now we’re between two which couldn’t be more different.

We’ve just returned from short trip to Italy, invited first to stay aboard a classic Scorpio 72 sailing yacht in Naples for a couple of days, then on to a small, intimate show in Palermo organised by West Coast International in Sicily, where we’d never been before and would love to go back to.

Between this and the next, the huge Mediterranean Yacht Show in Nafplion, Greece in early May, I just have time to recall some of the most recent.

Sailing Yacht Morgane in Castelammare di Stabia

Sailing yacht Morgane in Castelammare di Stabia, in the bay of Naples

Sailing yacht Morgane in the bay of Naples

The wonderfully-named Castellamare di Stabia in the Bay of Naples is the home port of the sailing yacht Morgane. By now she’s a classic of her type, built in Taiwan in 1991. She’s one of the best examples I’ve seen, well refitted in 2016-17 and kept in top condition by her enthusiastic full-time skipper, Cristian, and mate, Laura, (unusually, both are chefs as well as licensed captains), with the additional help of an experienced crew hand. Cristian is a whizz in the galley, whipped up the best steak tartar I’ve eaten – and Laura literally mopped my troubled brow (my head and seasoned oak don’t mix well…)

Built for serious sailing, Morgane is a relaxed and effortlessly comfortable charter yacht with ample space for 8, as ideal for family cruising as a group of friends, particularly those who appreciate good, imaginative, Italian cuisine.

Italian Hospitality

Italian Seafood Pasta dish

Italian Seafood Pasta

The delightful crew’s hospitality extended to taking us to the nearby, mind-blowing Pompeii (with essential guide). I had longed to visit and it reminded me that a yacht charter holiday need not – should not, in my view – be only about exploring the seas, ports and otherwise inaccessible coastlines of foreign lands. It should extend some way inland, too.

The Ancient Roman World

A visit to the wonders of Pompeii and it’s neighbour, Ercolano (Herculaneum) reinforced Italy’s legendary history. Stepping back 2000 years into these miraculously preserved towns, their ghosts, for me, have yet to be stilled.

Herculaneum Garden

Herculaneum Garden

That sailors and charter yacht guests often forget the coastal hinterland is a missed opportunity; like sailing out of Athens without seeing the Parthenon first, such a shame.

Similarly, if you sail into, from, or around Sicily, the approach to Palermo is quite magical. The city enveloped by mountains, vivid green in spring, is striking. For the show we were fortunate enough to be guests aboard the motor sailer My Lotty, the only Benetti sailing yacht I’ve seen, another classic (I love classic yachts) with four crew – special mention for Clarissa who looked after us royally.

Explore Palermo

Having docked, explore the old town; a real mixture of styles & cultures. The Moors, Spanish, Venetians and Greeks all left their marks over the centuries. From the magnificent to the crumbling – often both at the same time – you’ll get a real sense of the soul of the place.

Palermo fountain

Palermo fountain

Mind the traffic; there are virtually no road markings, no sense of who has right of way, but the (usually little) cars thankfully float about slowly, in an unchoreographed ballet. Happily, drivers do stop at zebra crossings and are, like the population as a whole, unfailingly polite.

The skipper of crewed catamaran Whale as barman

The skipper of crewed catamaran Whale as barman

People have time for you, there’s no hurry, which is just as well because the food and wine will command time for savouring.

Yacht charter brokers like me don’t generally prepare land-based excursions and itineraries. But we know those who do and our recent visits to Italy and Sicily reminded me how important their inclusions can be. If you need guidance, just ask.

What’s next

Next month I’ll review our visit to the huge (in my view best) Mediterranean Yacht Show, in Greece, a foretaste of which you can find here.