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Spending A Day With Golfo Aranci’s Fishermen 0 Comments

Spending A Day With Golfo Aranci’s Fishermen

As we wrote in Golfo Aranci: A Fishermen Village, Golfo Aranci was a fishermen village before becoming a tourist destination. It was populated by fishermen coming from Ponza, one of the four islands of the western part of the Pontine archipelago, in the mid-nineteenth century, because of the richness of its sea in fish. Today its colourful houses by the sea at the end of the village, occupied by fishermen, retain their original identity and, above all, their soul that instinctively belongs to the sea. In the old village, on the walls of the oldest houses, there is an outdoor gallery of photos, mostly black and white, telling the story of the fishermen community, shot between the 1950s and 1960s by talentueux German photographer Marianne Sin Pfältzer: open-air gallery in Golfo Aranci.

Golfo Aranci is famous above all for its fish market with its ancient smell of good fresh fish, since every morning the fishermen bring home the fruit of their work, the way their fathers did. In fact, in Golfo Aranci there still are people who cannot resist the call of the sea, and of the hard life of fisherman’s profession of. Those who elect this profession for their passion for the sea and for fish, well know that they will have to sacrifice part of their private life. Waking up very early, preparing the lines and baits, throwing the longlines and continuing in the morning to fish with bolentino or with rods. A hard day of work, from Sunday night to Friday evening, with cold or hot weather, rain or sun and wind, if the wind is not so strong as to preclude exiting from the port. A profession, which is tiring, but is also giving a lot of satisfaction. 

When you talk to Franco Franchi, a Golfo Aranci’s fisherman, you immediately understand his passion for fishing, for Golfo Aranci within its essence of being a fishermen’s village, for the enhancement of the Sardinian territory. Franco chose to be a fisherman after trying to follow other paths, but the ancient call of the sea prevailed. From October to December, he fishes with a longline which, as we know, is a long thick line with thinner lines inserted at regular intervals, each carrying a hook. This is how you fish for groupers, snappers, white breams, sea bass and sea bream. At the end of the year, the boat goes ashore for the required yearly maintenance and is thus ready for early March when Franco’s effort is dedicated to crustacean fishing until mid-June: lobsters, spider crabs, monkfish, red scorpionfish. He leaves at four in the morning with the tremaglio, a net made up of three layers of meshes. The preys easily enter from the outermost net remaining imprisoned in the innermost one.

But Franco sought to share his passion with others, those who come to Golfo Aranci on holiday and could discover with him the tradition of this profession, handed down from father to son, operated with the traditional procedure, without the contribution of any modern machinery, which makes it possible for fishermen to live with nature without disturbing the natural balance. That's why in mid-June, Franco dedicates himself to fisherman-tourism. He realized that his dream could come true while he was on vacation in Santo Domingo. There in the hotel, they were suggesting the experience where a fisherman was taking visitors on his fishing boat to share a day with him. 

Experiencing an excursion with a real fishing boat and together with real fishermen is something that you take back home, stays inside you and you never forget. And that is why at the Gabbiano Azzurro Hotel & Suites we highly recommend this experience to our guests.

The navigation route offered by Franco depends on the weather conditions. You can veer north off Capo Figari, a promontory in front of the imposing wall of solid rock that is Tavolara. (See Discover Tavolara Island). Around the islet of Figarolo, it is easy to spot dolphins stationed in the area where a fish plant facilitates their lunch and dinner. Then, when the fishermen deem it suitable, the boat stops to start fishing. Attention: only if you manage to fish there will be something to eat for lunch! Nobody knows what will eat: the fishing luck of the day will dictate the menu.

So, after more than one hour of fishing, you go back to find the right mooring area, escorted by the company of seagulls who always follow the boat, as they feel that there is fish on board. The halt could be, for example, in the emerald sea loch between Figarolo and the famous Cala Moresca and, while the passengers are bathing in such clear water that they couldn’t even imagine, the fishermen convert themselves into magnificent cooks preparing lunch. Freshly caught fish cooked on board, what else would anyone want?

During the day you realize that you are not experiencing a tourist trip, but a day of real life, learning the techniques of hooks, lines and longlines, waiting patiently and learning about the life of men who every day, with good and bad weather go out challenging the sea to enjoy its products.

When we return to the fishermen's square in the afternoon, we greet by hugging each other like old friends, because after having spent together a day genuine and as old as man is, a bond remains from this wonderful experience that, as we said before, will go along with us all the way.

The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.” (Vincent van Gogh)

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Written by Daniela Toti

In the photo: the harbour of Golfo Aranci

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