What did you learn by writing the book?
Anything is possible if we don’t limit ourselves. What is important is to believe that our dreams are attainable and then achieve them. I used to work on the guide in my spare time, often staying up late into the night to improve an image, map or text. However, what drove me was this inner desire that this guide would help not only boaters but also the environment.
Were there any unexpected surprises?
While I was writing the guide I took special care to highlight all the hazardous shoals, rocks awash, and dangerous areas, however, when I went to the Lipari Coast Guard office to ask for a report regarding the site of the greatest number of accidents their answer was completely unexpected. In fact, the main cause of rescues in the islands wasn’t the hazardous areas, rather, it was a lack of foresight regarding the weather. Every summer the Coast Guard receives numerous distress calls from boaters that leave port in fair weather and then find themselves in need of assistance due to rapidly deteriorating conditions. The rescues could easily have been avoided if the boaters had simply paid attention to the weather forecast and either stayed in port, or organized their route staying on the leeward side of the islands. Here is an excerpt from the introductory chapter of the book: “Every summer the Coast Guard assists numerous vessels due to rough weather. Boaters need to keep up-to-date on the weather forecast and should plan their route accordingly on the leeward side of the island. In addition, vessels should not leave secure moorings if rough weather is arriving. Strong easterly and southeasterly winds are the most problematic.”
The guide indicates the hazardous areas, most of which are illustrated in Giuseppe Novara’s booklet "Le Secche nelle Isole Eolie per navigare sicuri", which was a useful reference as I studied the coastline. Yet, as suggested by the Coast Guard offices, I didn’t concentrate only on the underwater hazards, but also gave special attention to indicating how and where to navigate based on the weather forecast. In addition to indicating the sheltered and exposed areas for each mooring and anchorage the guide also has special pages, at the end of the chapters on Vulcano, Lipari, Salina and Panarea, that show through illustrations where to go based on the forecast wind direction. In this way, the concept is explained not only with text, but also with an image. Throughout the guide I try to balance text, images, and photos and as always, with particular attention on being clear and concise.
Why are the Aeolian Islands so special?
The Aeolian Islands have, in a certain sense, stolen my heart, with their natural beauty that runs from the top of the peaks down the gentle slopes into the stunning waters, with their breathtaking viewpoints around every corner and with their infinite beauty that extends to every horizon. Particularly notable are the panoramas at Quattrocchi (Lipari), Punta del Corvo (Panarea), Strombolicchio with the Sciara del Fuoco of Stromboli in the background, and the 360° view between La Canna and Scoglio di Montenassari (Filicudi). I also love the colors and shapes from the white, curved Aeolian architecture to the faded pastel colored, traditional wooden fishing boats, the vibrate flowers that change with the seasons, capers, lemons, olive trees, vineyards, it all comes together in an amazing work of art that Nature and Humanity have created together. A masterpiece that conveys peace and happiness, the same sentiments that I hope to have instilled in this book. In addition to concentrating on how to help boaters navigate successfully, I have also filled the guide with tourist information for several different personal preferences.
In the years that I worked in tourism, and primarily from my experience as a charter base manager, I noticed that most tourists are interested in exploring a certain aspect of the archipelago based on what they are interested in, be it archaeology, volcanoes, swimming, peace and quiet, party scene, trekking, etc. In addition to indicated the main tourist attractions there are example sailing itineraries located in the final chapter of the book, from the standard charter week visiting 5 o 6 of the islands to more genera specific itineraries focusing on hiking, snorkeling, etc. There are also itineraries for boaters that want to return to port every night, or families sailing with children, or in the case of Sirocco southeasterly winds. I hope to have shared a little insight about these immensely deep, profound, special and unique Aeolian Islands.
Do you think the Aeolian Islands should be part of a Marine Protected Area?
The Cape of Milazzo, where I live, has recently become a Marine Protected Area (MPA) and from my experience the biggest problem is that many tourists visit the pristine environment yet are unaware of the regulations. In addition, many locals are aware of the new zoning yet are unwilling to change old habits. Thus, it is not only the creation of an MPA that makes a difference, but it is just as important to educate, inform and raise awareness regarding how to respect the environment.
The Aeolian Islands already have an ordinance in vigor with restrictions that resembles those found in a MPA. The zoning in place to preserve “Siti Archeologici Marini” (Marine Archaeological Sites – Lipari No. 8/2016) includes areas where anchoring, diving, and fishing are not permitted (equivalent to a MPA “zona B”) and other areas where also navigation is banned (equivalent to a MPA “zona A”). However, many boaters continue to anchor in the waters around the Islets of Panarea (Dattilo, Bottaro, Lisca Bianca, Lisca Nera, and Panarelli) probably because they do not even realize they are infringing a regulation, and it is for this reason that I believe education is key. We need to raise awareness so that boaters respect the rules that are already present, and at the same time the regulations should also be enforced with greater vigilance from the Coast Guard. Through a stronger collaboration between community and law enforcement these areas could benefit as if they were a MPA, without the title.
Indeed, one of the driving factors that pushed me to finish the guide was I knew it could be a tool to protect and increase respect towards the environment simply by raising awareness about the current laws and regulations. I strongly believe in the power of education, not only in schools, but within the community in general. I am convinced that most boaters do not intentionally anchor in an area where it is banned, they just simply do not know. I hope this guide, by promoting correct and respectful anchoring, will also have a positive feedback on the marine ecosystem.
Where can you purchase a copy of the Aeolian Islands Nautical Guide?
Both the Italian and English versions of the Nautical Guide are available online and in bookstores.
The Publisher Lombardo Edizioni sells the book directly on site, in all the local bookstores in Milazzo and the Aeolian Islands, as well as online.
The Italian Distributor “Il Frangente” sells the book either on their website or on Amazon. They distribute the book to specialized nautical bookstores, nautical suppliers, nautical clubs and charter companies throughout Italy. They also have established a collaboration with an International distributor that will distribute the English version of the guide worldwide.
It is a real honor for me to see my book alongside the guides of Rod and Lucinda Heikel, top authors in this field! I am extremely grateful to both "Il Franente", for the opportunity to expand the diffusion of the guide, and Lombardo Edizioni, for believing in me.
What comes next? Will you write another book?
Yes, however, it probably will be something very different than the Nautical Guide. I am currently the Educational Director of MuMa – the Museum of the Sea in Milazzo. In my role I have had the opportunity to work with students and teachers to raise awareness about the Ocean and anthropogenic impacts. I have developed several educational worksheets, activities and participated in numerous conferences. My next project is to create a workbook revolving around the principles of Ocean Literacy, the anthropogenic impacts on Marine Ecosystems, the role of Marine Mammals and threats to their existence, and our Ecological footprint.
Contact me for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org