The Arno in Florence

Upriver from the Alla Carraia bridge (1218): the Santa Trinita bridge (1252), and beyond, the Ponte Vecchio (A.D. 50 ?).  The crew left Peregrinus at anchor in Pisa and took the train to Florence to visit the seaman's alma mater.  8:11 PM 25 July; iPhone 6 Plus.

Upriver from the Alla Carraia bridge (1218): the Santa Trinita bridge (1252), and beyond, the Ponte Vecchio (A.D. 50 ?).  The crew left Peregrinus at anchor in Pisa and took the train to Florence to visit the seaman's alma mater.  8:11 PM 25 July; iPhone 6 Plus.

The Arno in Pisa

In the Middle Ages, the riverside was full of warehouses, and cargo boats lined the quays.  

Nowadays, the river is no longer a means of transport, except for the crew of Peregrinus, anchored a couple of miles downstream.

Looking downstream from the Ponte di Mezzo, located here since 1035 and rebuilt a few times since.  The original Roman bridge that preceded it crossed the river on the street next to the eight building on the right.  6:52PM, 23 July, iPhone 6 Plus.

Looking downstream from the Ponte di Mezzo, located here since 1035 and rebuilt a few times since.  The original Roman bridge that preceded it crossed the river on the street next to the eight building on the right.  6:52PM, 23 July, iPhone 6 Plus.

In the Arno

A small stream winds through Tuscany,
which up in Falterona hath its rise,
and is not sated by a hundred miles.
——— Dante Alighieri, Purgatorio XIV, 1320

 

The Arno might be, as Dante says, a little stream at its source in Mount Falterona, but it is nonetheless Italy's second largest river (after the Tiber), and most importantly, the river that runs through Florence and down through Pisa.  

Before the railroads were built, goods and merchandise arrived in Florence via the river; a dream trip no longer possible because of flood control dams and bridges along the way.

Peregrinus sailed into the Arno on 22 July 2016 and anchored for five gorgeous dats just 2.2 miles short of Pisa city centre, as no further upriver navigation was possible because of some low-laying overhead power cables across the water.  

Sunrise in the Arno.  A sailboat can only enter the river on a calm day.  The only difficult spot for a 2.2-metre-draught boat is right at the entrance; the river itself is significantly deeper.  The Arno rises and lowers seasonally with the rains, and so one should call ahead.  Any sailors are welcome to enquire with us for additional information and contacts.  iPhone 6 Plus, 6:42 AM 27 July 2016.

Sunrise in the Arno.  A sailboat can only enter the river on a calm day.  The only difficult spot for a 2.2-metre-draught boat is right at the entrance; the river itself is significantly deeper.  The Arno rises and lowers seasonally with the rains, and so one should call ahead.  Any sailors are welcome to enquire with us for additional information and contacts.  iPhone 6 Plus, 6:42 AM 27 July 2016.

Viareggio

This is the town where they build the Perini Navi ketches, like Peregrinus, only a tad larger.  We've frequently seen these boats on both sides of the Atlantic.

Peregrinus anchored in the roadstead at the entrance to the Viareggio harbour, shipyards, and canals.  22 July, iPhone 6 Plus.

Peregrinus anchored in the roadstead at the entrance to the Viareggio harbour, shipyards, and canals.  22 July, iPhone 6 Plus.

Snow in summer

Not really.  

The white in these mountains, visible from far away, is all white Carrara marble, massively exploited since Roman times, and evidently, inexhaustible.

22 July, iPhone 6 Plus.

22 July, iPhone 6 Plus.

Fish tales

Peregrinus has three times come across submarines going in or out of port.  In the United States, we came across a submarine coming into Norfolk, escorted by machine-gun toting fast boats screaming on the radio every few seconds that anyone within a sizeable radius of them would be summarily shot; we had to get out of the channel.  All US Navy submarines are nuclear, and this one was going very, very fast, leaving a tall water plume behind its vertical stabiliser —and of course energy consumption is not an issue for these fish.  This must be standard practice around these parts, because we heard the screams on the radio a couple other times as we sailed the lower Chesapeake.

In France, as we sailed by Toulon, a submarine quietly passed our stern at modest speed.  This was certainly a small (74-metres) Rubis-class nuclear-powered attack sub, as this is their home port, and one hopes the large SSB Triomphant-class don't let themselves be seen.  No visible escort.

When we were at anchor in Le Grazie, near the naval facilities at La Spezia, we saw this Todaro-class submarine, 56-metres, possibly Scirè, leaving port.  Italy, birthplace of Enrico Fermi, abandoned nuclear technology in 1991, so these non-nuclear powered subs have a top surface speed of 12 knots,  and are the top Italian underwater weapons.  Escort?  Nah.  Several local fishermen actually sped right by it.

From Peregrinus at anchor, Le Grazie (La Spezia), 20 July 2016, Leica Typ 114.

From Peregrinus at anchor, Le Grazie (La Spezia), 20 July 2016, Leica Typ 114.

Porto Venere

And the renowned port of Venere,
safe under any wind and capacious enough
for all the fleets that under heaven
exist
———Francesco Petrarca,

Itinerarium breve de Ianua usque ad Ierusalem et Terram Sanctam (1358)  

See the wall encircling the town?  The houses on the waterfront were laid as homes, but designed to function as city wall when the Republic of Genoa took over the city in 1139.  July 19, 2016, iPhone 6 Plus.

See the wall encircling the town?  The houses on the waterfront were laid as homes, but designed to function as city wall when the Republic of Genoa took over the city in 1139.  July 19, 2016, iPhone 6 Plus.

Vernazza

A fortress, first recorded in 1080, organised by the marquesses of Genoa under the Holy Roman Empire, to defend the coast against Moor pirates.  

Now in the heart of the Cinque Terre, and assaulted, not by Saracens, but by tourists. 

Peregrinus lies on a mooring buoy, slightly to the left, off-camera.  Photo taken from the 15th-century Doria Castle, an enlargement of the pre-existing fortress.  17 July, iPhone 6 Plus.

Peregrinus lies on a mooring buoy, slightly to the left, off-camera.  Photo taken from the 15th-century Doria Castle, an enlargement of the pre-existing fortress.  17 July, iPhone 6 Plus.

In the Cinque Terre

Down the stairway I have  come, hand in hand with you, at least a million steps
And now that you are absent there is a void in each stair
Like one, so our trip has been all too short

——— E. Montale, on a plaque on the staircase to the cemetery,
Monterosso al Mare

In Monterosso al Mare, when the fat lady sings, the aria concert right in the middle of the street is only getting started.  Peregrinus laid on a park buoy just in front of town.  10:16 pm, 16 July 2016, iPhone 6 Plus.

In Monterosso al Mare, when the fat lady sings, the aria concert right in the middle of the street is only getting started.  Peregrinus laid on a park buoy just in front of town.  10:16 pm, 16 July 2016, iPhone 6 Plus.

The church that coral built

Amid the general decay of Genoa, a large church stands at the end of formerly grandest via Balbo.  There is an impressively large Neoclassic portico, obviously tacked in front of a Baroque façade that would otherwise look exactly like every other 16th century in church Spanish America.  All in all, not very promising for the tourist.  But early on a Sunday morning, this is the first open building the visitor finds after a certain walk from the train station, and so one goes inside.

And what a find!  The Santissima Annunziata del Vastato basilica's spectacular decoration by the best artists of Genoa during its golden age in the 17th century was sponsored by the Lomellini family, vastly enriched by a concession granted in 1543 by King Charles of Spain: the exclusive right to mine the red coral on Tabarca Island.  Used to make jewellery, coral was sold in Europe and much exported to India as well, making the Lomellini among the wealthiest of Genoese.  The concession ended in 1741, when the Moors invaded Tabarca and enslaved the 69 Genoese families for 27 years; their freedom was, in the end, purchased by Charles III of Spain in 1768 who then gave the 394 former slaves the island of Nueva Tabarca in Spain.

The Lomellini used the basilica as family chapel from 1591 and in 1783 got Pope Pius VI to formally declare it as family parish (parrocchia gentilizia), but the family became extinct in 1794.

Genoa, 10 July 2016, while Peregrinus remained at anchor at Santa Margherita Ligure.  iPhone 6 Plus.

Genoa, 10 July 2016, while Peregrinus remained at anchor at Santa Margherita Ligure.  iPhone 6 Plus.