John Gilmour is 60 years old, lives in Boston and has two passions: boating and the Mediterranean. He has organized his life and that of his partner Jennifer in such a way that every year for the past 20 years he has spent four months circling the Mediterranean on his sailboat. He takes advantage of the best times, landing where he left the boat on June 1 and returning to the United States on July 3 before returning to the shores of Mare Nostrum on September 1 and staying there until October 31.
The 15 most beautiful ports in the Mediterranean
In these 20 years he has sailed the Mediterranean-he calls it The Big Lake- far and wide: “I still miss Lebanon, Israel, and Albania,” he confesses during our chance meeting in a bar in Santa Margherita Ligure.
He likes the Mediterranean because he can moor his boat in marinas ‘open’ onto cities, something impossible in the U.S. where, he says, “Ports look like forts manned by guards, often far from cities and towns.” John showed us from his Logbook his very personal ranking of the 15 marinas placed in seaside resorts that he liked best.
Here is his personal ranking, strictly not in order of preference, with brief notes:
- Ortigia, Syracuse, Sicily. I was enraptured by the beauty of this place full of charm, history. For me an unfamiliar world.
- Maddalena, Sardinia. A country that is alive and intact. We are in one of the Mediterranean paradises.
- Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands. At the Real Club Nautico, in front of the Cathedral in the heart of a great seaside city.
- Porto Ercole, Tuscany. The “Tuscany touch” that we Americans like so much. Argentario is priceless.
- Portoferraio, Elba. The Medici harbor is a work of art, it feels like the Renaissance, and Elba is a small island continent.
- Bonifacio, Corsica. Unbelievable! I am still excited at the memory of the first time I entered it.
- Crete, Greece. Mooring in Chania and Rethymnon. The best of the island can be found here. A land to visit in late summer.
- Menton, France. The charm of the French Riviera without the chaos. Italy just a stone’s throw away as well as French worldliness.
- Cesme, Turkey. Turkey I did not expect, I had the milgior thermal bath of my life.
- Marseille, France. Moor at the “Vieux port” and then wander through the small streets that smell of saltiness and history.
- Brindisi, Apulia. At the dock in front of the steps with the Roman columns is already a thrill for someone like me.
- Saint Tropez, France. I found off-season seating in the dock in front of the Senequier bar, surrounded by beautiful women. How fascinating!
- Dubrovnik, Croatia. The most beautiful city where I docked, I felt like I was inside the history of the Mediterranean.
- Istanbul, Turkey. In the Golden Horn, between east and west. Very exotic for a Yankee like me.
- Cannes, France. I stationed myself at vieux port, got out and enjoyed the chaos of the Croisette. More in the city than that!