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17th June, 2015

Cagliari, Sardinia

Our route from Corfu to Cagliari took us through the Messina Strait where it is a requirement to take a pilot for the narrowest part. He comes on board in great style, his boat racing in at over twenty knots. On this occasion we were fortunate, not only to be passing through in daylight hours, but also to see several fishing boats that only work during the short season when marlin and tuna are visiting the coastline. They look most unseaworthy, having very high towers, probably fifty feet or more above the deck, where two men keep a lookout, and a very long gantry like bowsprit. Once through the Straits the pilot went off as fast as he had arrived and we turned our bows to the west, following the north Sicilian coast and passing close by the island of Vulcano, part of the Eolie group.

The first time I went to Cagliari was thirteen years ago, before I came to Saga, then it was because a lady on board had just given birth to twins, an unlikely event in Saga, but a story which I tell from time to time and which always raises a smile.

This was only my third visit and the very first time I have managed to get ashore for a few hours. Mrs R and I took the fairly strenuous walk up to the old town. From up there it could be easily understood why this city had first been founded by the Phoenicians, for I’m sure, with views over many miles, it could have been easily defended. We entered the Cathedral of Santa Maria, an impressive church apparently built in the Pisan Romanesque style in the 13th and 14th centuries. Inside the decoration is seriously catholic with plenty of marble and a crypt into which visitors can descend, marvellous paintings and two precious pulpits.

We ambled back through narrow cobbled streets, where small cars and motor scooters can just about access, washing hung from above and cast iron balconies were decorated with summer plants. There was one I noticed where a dog lazily looked down through the foliage at the various comings and goings down below, waiting for walkies perhaps?

Captain Philip Rentell

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