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G - 196 : Itinerary for Summer 2023

The Port and Castle of Noli, once a Rival to Genoa's Trading Ambitions

Welcome to the next episode of my travel blog. For our 4th year of following Genoa’s trade routes, we had planned to sail from Istanbul to the Crimea, continue to the Sea of Azov and finish the trip in Georgia. Genoa’s colonies on the Crimean were its most profitable. The lands around the Sea of Azov supplied Constantinople and Greece since antiquity with wheat. Georgia was the place where wine was first cultivated. Our plan was optimistic in 2018, though there was a glimmer of hope. However, Russia’s brutal invasion of the Ukraine on 24 February ended our dream and turned the Black Sea into a war zone. The waters - once peaceful avenues for trade - are now a graveyard for sailors and ships. No place to go.

Maximum expansion of Genoa in the 15th Century

If we cannot sail east, what can we do in 2023? Genoa had to answer a similar question in 1453 when the Ottomans captured Constantinople and cut access to its profitable Black Sea colonies. With trade gone, Genoa had to turn west to find new business opportunities.

Luckily, Spain was just emerging as the new European Superpower thanks to the discovery of the Americas and the large inflow of silver from Mexico, Peru and Bolivia. The Genovese merchant colony in Seville was the only group of people with the skills to handle the large flow. After Spain defaulted on its German debt (Fugger) in 1537, the Genovese merchants became indispensable to the Spanish King. Genoa became the world's banking center. Its golden age had just started. You only need to walk down Genoa's Via Garibaldi, Via Cairoli and Via Balbi to see it. There is one magnificent Renaissance palace after to other – all built with the profits from banking Spain.

The Magnificent and Spacious Palazzo Reale in Genoa viewed from its Upper Terrace

The route we are going to take in 2023 will take us from Savona, an old rival of Genoa along the coast of western Liguria, then follows the French Côte d’Azur to Marseille (an ancient Greek colony) from where we sail west towards Aigues Mortes, the harbor of medieval France. The itinerary then continues to the French-Spanish border where we find more ancient Greek colonies before crossing over to the Baleares, a group of island now known as perfect holiday destination. Their control was once of strategic importance to Carthago, Rome, the Arabs, Aragon, Spain, the Ottoman and England. The trip will end in Sagunto, the town which triggered the Second Punic war between Carthage and Rome in 218 BC.

Tentative Itinerary for our Sailing in Summer 2022

We even contemplated to continue to Cadiz, where all the silver from Latin America arrived before being shipped to Genoa and other parts of Europe. But sailing into the Atlantic from Gibraltar requires a different boat. We postpone this to 2024 – it will be another 3 weeks of wonderful exploring.

Weather conditions for our journey look benign. There is usually no Mistral in July, the violent wind which sunk many boats between the Baleares and Corsica and Sardinia. Anyway, we will be close enough to the coast line and with the exception of the crossing to the Baleares not on open water.

We still do not know what boat we are sailing with this summer. Seems that in the Western Mediterranean there are far fewer sailboats than in Greece and Turkey. There are plenty of motor yachts though. We have to wait to February and March when the market really opens for bookings. In the meantime, I will launch my blogging again.

G = 7th year of sailing. G - 196 = 196 days countdown to the start of our trip

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Ryan Zanin
Ryan Zanin
Dec 30, 2022

Looks fabulous

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