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East Italy is a coast of passage with few anchorages, but fine food. South of Vieste, ports are fairly widely spaced. Going north, Venice is a "must see". There's good value and popular (if cold and windy) on-shore wintering at Monfalcone near Trieste. Many who cruise Croatia winter there.
There's no bureaucratic interference with leisure boat activities. Some commercial harbours keep pontoon berths for visiting yachts, charging only for use of showers and toilets. Petty theft is a threat in larger towns, so if you're leaving the boat to travel inland, it's best to use a secure marina. Yacht support is generally good, excellent in the north, backed by a substantial boat building industry.
Pagine d'Azzurre Online lists ports by Italian regions, going from south to north, with some limited listing in N Croatia. A suitable English language pilot for the area is Imray's Adriatic pilot (Trevor and Dinah Thompson, 5th ed 2008). An boat tax is in force for larger Italian owned yachts.
Suitable marinas and ports for cruising yachts are thinly spaced along the southern 200nm, from the heel of Italy (St Maria de Leuca marina) to Vieste, at the tip of the massive Gargano penisula. They include:
Otranto - a charming walled town with little space for visiting yachts, but anchoring is possible.
Brindisi - a huge natural harbour and port of refuge, with two marinas, moorings in Lega Navale across the river from town. An interesting town worth a visit. It is a ferry port for Greece and has an airport with international flights.
Bari - a large commercial harbour with some yacht berths in the old harbour and some expensive moorings. Possible to moor against breakwater - no services, no charge. Bari is a ferry port for Croatia and has an airport with international flights. A quieter alternative is to use the sailing club pontoons in the small town of Mola di Bari, some 11 nm to the South.
Gargano. A recent MDL marina is just over 20nm SE of Vieste in the gulf of Manfredo. It's still offering the usual incentives to attract custom.
Trani - has a distinctive cathedral, worth visiting, and some pontoon berths.
Vieste - also worth visiting in its own right. Plenty of pontoon berths for yachts, and anchoring is possible. It's a convenient departure point for Croatia, some 60nm to Ubli (port of entry) on Lastovo.
A shallow coastal plain continues northwards to the River Po delta. After Termoli (Region: Molise) and Pescara (Region: Abruzzo), distances between marinas steadily diminishes, while their capacity increases, and day sailing along the coast becomes easier - as long as strong onshore winds aren't blocking entry. Ancona (Region: Marche) is a ferry port to Greece and a port of refuge. Fleets of fishing boats in line abreast are a hazard wherever there are no offshore oil installations. Marinas south of the Po are just a one hour drive from Bologna (Region: Emilio-Romagna), a 'must see'.
From the Po (the start of the Veneto region) the coastline continues shallow and trends north-eastwards past the lagoons of Chioggia and Venice to Trieste (Region: Friuli-Venezia Giulia). Here there are some very large marinas, winter bases for Italian boats which regularly cruise Croatia during the summer. Tidal ranges increase going northwards, around 1m neaps and 2m springs in Venice, with exceptional tides of 3m range.
Trieste & Monfalcone, The Trieste gulf has its own weather patterns, with strong autumn thunderstorms curtailing the sailing season early, and cold winters with frequent strong Bora winds. It's popular for winter layup ashore, but plan for some frosts. 15nm NW of Trieste and the Slovenia border are four well sheltered marinas with shore hards. Nautec Mare marina and yard (45.47.72N ; 13.33.46E) is particularly popular, an economic long term base for boats wishing to cruise Croatia. Allow for tidal ranges.
Reviewed Aug 2016