Where is your favourite spot to go sailing? For me it’s Italy.
I’ve got sailing on the brain at the moment. Firstly, I’ve just completed a 7-week evening class in London to get my RYA Day Skipper theory certificate (I’m pleased to say I passed the exams yesterday (!) so look out for a full review of that course soon) and secondly, I recently wrote this post ‘The Tale of Why I Love Sailing‘, telling the full story of my relationship with sailing, starting at the tender age of 7. I’m a daydreamer, you see, so a nostalgic look through photos of past holidays takes me right back to the bow of that boat, sun on my skin, barefoot dancing on the deck, as we sail through the gentle waves of the Mediterranean, with an island or other loitering in the background. This photo to be precise…
Anyway, stepping out of my daydream for a moment, I’ve been asked which is my favourite spot to go sailing. It’s a tough question. I’m often asked where’s my favourite place in Europe, or which city I’d recommend for a weekend away. And my answer usually varies depending on what the specific person is after: Culture? Cuisine? Climate?
So when it comes to choosing my favourite sailing spot, it’s the same. For a racing thrill, I’d probably say the Solent and the Isle of Wight, home to the Round the Island race and the most prestigious sailing club in the world, the Royal Yacht Squadron. For a scenic sail with guaranteed sun and clear blue waters I’d say the Greek Islands or the Turkish coast (take a look at my photos from last summer in Turkey to see for yourself). For culture at marinas and pit-stops along the way I’d suggest Croatia.
But if I had to pick just one?
One sailing spot that has it all? Mine is an unusual choice and not one you’d typically associate with sailing holidays: Italy. I can’t narrow it down much more than the west coast of Italy, stretching all the way from the Italian Riviera in Liguria, near the French border, right down to the Amalfi Coast in Campagna, near Naples.
Although it’s not very typical for Brits to go sailing around Italy, the Italians themselves love it and I see why – Italy has everything! It has the cuisine, it has the climate, it has the culture, and it has the clear blue water. Italy also has unmeasurable style. The Italian islands and coastline emanate la bella figura just as much as the Italian people themselves, and if you don’t believe me then try googling ‘Portofino’, ‘le Cinque Terre’, ‘Ischia’ and ‘Capri’.
Although I’ve visited each of these places by land, as you look out from the shore and see the yachts anchored in the bay or as you hypothetically ‘boat-shop’ in the marina, picking out your favourite yacht, it’s clear that the water is the way to travel.
I have actually been lucky enough to sail along the Italian coast from Civitavecchia down past Ponza to Ischia, and in among Capri and other islands on the Amalfi Coast. One factor that might discourage Brits from sailing in Italy is the cost. Only the wealthiest of Italians can afford to sail and it’s a seriously expensive hobby to have in Italy, much more so than in Croatia or Greece. The cost is partly because it’s so close to the French Riviera, which attracts the yachts of the world’s oligarchs and millionaires. So I got seriously lucky when I sailed around Italy for a week, as it didn’t cost me a single penny!
I speak Italian and have moved there 3 times in total. On this occasion I was au pairing for an aristocratic family near Rome (read more about that fascinating summer here), who wanted their two young daughters to learn English. Although we already lived in their beachfront holiday home, I was allowed to join them on their holidays away. We spent a week in the Swiss Alps and another week sailing aboard a 60ft yacht with two crew members. We dined in wonderful restaurants on land, we whiled away afternoons in picturesque bays like la Chiaia di Luna, we swam around the boat and as the two girls were under 10 we played a lot of games. I just remember it all being so elegant, on top of all the other must-haves like scenery, a calm climate, guaranteed good weather and clear water.
So Italy is my favourite sailing spot, although I’ll admit that there are so many other places in the world I’ve yet to explore by boat. Where’s your favourite? If you’re in need of inspiration then take a look at this list of the 5 Most Exotic Sailing Locations in the World. From that list, the Whitsundays in Australia is the place I’m most keen to visit! Has anyone been there and can tell me what it’s like?