Last week was full of encounters and unforgettable moments.

Alex welcomed me aboard the Sheppey Queen, where I have been cuddled for three nights by the tides and delighted by the colours of memories of this glorious ferry.

This is Alex’s kingdom and, beside enjoying the sunsets over Faversham Creek (and the wonderful people living here), she is also a master chef, her kitchen being a van where she prepares great food that’s reinvigorating me. Her catering must be truly “angelic”: don’t miss it.

The food is abundant and, to say it with Feuerbach’s words: “You are what you eat”. Take a look to Alex’s website, www.angelicfeast.com, and call her for a healing and tasty banquet.

Last Friday Alex gave me a lift to London. We leave at 4 o’clock in the morning aboard her van, equipped with professional kitchen and Tibetan Prayer Flags waving along the motorway. We’re in London in a blink of an eye, although wandering in a nasty suburb.

Alex needs to move some equipment to another vehicle: distracted by this job, she nearly leaves me there alone. Thanksfully I jump aboard a van driven by Andy, a wise chef that, predicting for me a short future in this awkward area, moves me to safer quarters.

I quickly find a coffee shop: Here I find many angels with no wings and no future. Angels with bags under their eyes caused by sleepless nights in the streets.

I fall asleep under the faint lights and I get lost into my nomadic world. A faltering light, finding its way through dull windows, wakes me up.

I look for a London Tube Station and I quickly find myself in the Thames 21 headquarter, where I meet Rita Serra. Thames 21 is an organization taking care of cleaning the Thames riverside and other London areas by over 15 years, and Rita is one of its manager. She kindly takes me for a brief tour of the offices, where I drink an excellent tea, then we move to an area close to the sacred Lea river, a Thames feeder that we’ll clean up today.

In a Mediterranean London (reaching 26 Celsius, about 79 Fahrenheit), we start working along with six other voluntaries, to remove invasive vegetation from this nice area.

Rita is very capable: She gets everyone going with clear information and distributing rubber boots (called Wellies in the UK, from Wellington’s boots), gloves and lots of solidarity. It’s useless to say that Rita works harder than anyone.

What’s notable about Thames 21 is that they never give up. It’s not like in many other places (Italy at first) where there is a big launching event and then oblivion for months or even years.

At Thames 21 they carry on cleaning the river every week, since 15 years: A model to be followed to make things happen.

My week gently gets by, sailing and rowing along the Creek with many new friends aboard, such as Simon, a Master Shipwright from the Standard Quay, Moray, Hobie and Maxi Yacht Sailor, and Russell, a liveaboard Scotsman very well known in the Iron Wharf. They all pay me compliments for the virtues of Clodia.

Of course, I have to share them with Roland and Silvio for the hull, Nicolò and Diana for the masts, Ombra and Daniela for the sails and with all the people that, much more than me, are worthy of praises for Clodia.

An old Thames Barge was found, buried under the mud for over 15 years: There are plans for restoration, assuming to find the money needed. Anyway, it was a very exciting and somehow touching moment.

Last Saturday, me and my mate Clodia, went very close to sink Orinoco, a Thames Barge built in 1895, long over 30 metres and weighing 70 tons.

My Viking DNA brought me to risk a bold manoeuvre that, helped by a nasty wind (quite possibly from Norway too) and too little mud (very useful as natural brake), led Clodia to hit the black side of Orinoco at full speed.
This accident brought a couple of immediate consequences: A large hole in the Thames Barge and a sleepless night for me, thinking about the months that I should have worked to repay the damage.

Thanksfully, the generosity of Frog, Orinoco’s owner and captain, saved me from stopping Man on the River due to hard labour. Frog lives aboard this wonderful boat and is restoring it himself: Another Faversham angel, thanks Frog!

Fine and Bruno are here already. On Friday the Royal Wedding. On Sunday we should be set sails. Busy Week!

Unfortunately the weather forecast is not very good. Rain is coming from North-East. I remember last year, nearly two months waiting for better conditions: Rain, wind, cold and mould under the back! Any memory, Jacopo?

We hope to find the right window to cross the Channel swiftly. I’m writing from Creek Creative, where I’m given a friendly hospitality, thanks to them.


A big hug to all of you.



Faversham’s Angels

A year later, I’m in Faversham once again, right in the heart of Kent, the garden of England: Many friends, like Lena and Bob, welcomed me as warmly as they would a member of their own families.

I now sleep over a boat bearing a celtic name, moored at Hollowshore – Oare – about a mile away from Faversham. John Walpole kindly allowed me to stay aboard for a while.

Early in the morning I wake up by the sound of seagulls and ducks, then I grab a bike and ride through flower fields and green meadows – where cows and sheeps run away at my sight. Eventually, I reach the docks where I’m getting Clodia ready for the long journey awaiting us.

The emotion to see it was huge: Clodia was my house for three long and troubled months last year.

It’s now moored in the Iron Wharf, a boatyard where over a thousand boats are docked, and enriched by a community of bizarre, but very wise, liveaboards that taught me a lot.

They are of great help, such as Captain Alex (a nice lady) living aboard the Sheppey Queen, an old wooden ferry that carried thousand, maybe millions of people across the Thames and the Swale.

Alex was once working in the London media industry: She now teaches her wisdom of healer, beside being a great cook (I can tell, I’ve enjoyed very tasty and healthy meals)!

In Faversham I also had the pleasure to meet the guys from Creek Creative. They involve the community in many activities related to creativity, craftsmanship and art.

With little money and plenty of passion, Bob, Anne, Georgia, Simon, Keith and many other organise wonderful events, meetings and workshops.

They invited me to present Man on the River, which happened last Sunday in front of a warm and appreciative audience.

Richard Fleury, film director and member of Creek Creative team, is shooting a documentary called “The Quay”. He told me many stories about the Standard Quay in Faversham, a magic place where the Thames Barges still live and are being restaured. These historical, large flat-bottomed boats, used to carry goods to London cruising the Thames upstream, thanks to their excellent maneuverability.

Unfortunately, speculators want to set the area free from the Quay, to let space for new constructions. This is a valuable land, nestled beside the Creek, a canal running from the Swale river up to Faversham: Centuries ago the Roman ships, as well as Henry VIII’s fleet many years later, used to sail it upstream waiting for the right tide. By the way, the current tide is about 7 metres.

A very special friend gave me his support: I can call him an angel, among many other angels that I met here. His name is Moray: He’s a Scotsman born in Hong Kong, and a very conscious traveler. After practicing for a long time as a lawyer, he’s now mastering natural medicine, being a healer too. He fed me with his wisdom and his food, that’s quickly bringing me back to a very good physical shape.

It’s a nutrition based on a simple diet that purifies the body from all the junk that we usually swallow, from too much coffee and industrial foods. It would be as simple as observing nature to greatly improve the way we eat, but I don’t want to be too obvious nor shallow.

Clodia is now moored next to the Sheppey Queen. In the last few days I practiced rowing, carrying aboard two special guests: Susanna and her daughter Carlotta, Italian friends that invited me for dinner where I had the pleasure to meet Jonathan (Susanna’s husband and Carlotta’s dad).

Clodia is in a great shape, I’m catching up. I’m relaxed and happy, just waiting for Bruno and Fine and enjoying Faversham’s angels.

Right now I’m in Beaulieu, close to Southampton, Hampshire, along with Lena and Bob. We came to visit a fantastic nautical fair, full of old stuff. We have set our tent in a huge meadow, next to the ruins of an ancient abbey: We are cuddled by the sound of traditional songs played by local musicians. Tonight I sleep here, then on the 21st I plan to get to London to help the guys from Thames 21 in cleaning the Thames riverside.

A little change of programme: I decided to restart the journey from Faversham. In London there is the royal wedding and the odds to get through safely are very little: the Thames will be full of large ferries (whose high waves are quite dangerous for a small boat like Clodia). Moreover, in Faversham they still need my help to save the Standard Quay.

See you soon.




The Man on the River team welcomes two new members, making even more intriguing the journey and effective the themes that we like to promote.

Bruno Porto will be the co-protagonist of the project and the “green power” aboard Clodia: The Brazilian skipper has plenty of strength, experience and will, and he fluently speaks five languages. He’s the perfect team mate for Giacomo that is still recovering from the potentially deathly illness that forced him to stop his navigation last year. Bruno’s help dramatically increases the odds to get to Istanbul.

“Luckily – says Bruno – this year I could join Man on the River. Helping a good purpose is always satisfying, even more so, when you have the pleasure to share it with Giacomo and to learn through new experiences”.

Josephine Schaumburg is a cultural researcher and will assist Giacomo and Bruno in two ways. She will be organizing meetings with local press and environmentalists; and, she will document with photos and small films, the progress of their voyage on her blog (www.riversidestories.com, coming soon).

My last eight years of travelling – says Fine – have all been beautiful and valuable. But I started to feel that something was missing: an utility that goes beyond my personal enrichment. I wanted to do something that also others could benefit from. Documenting, even in a humble way, our journey is a good opportunity to share the experience of exploring our world with friends and any other interested persons… Well, and even more important than that, I admire Giacomo and his dedication to environmental protection. It is a big honor for me to assist him in his mission.

Fine will travel aboard a small electric boat following the same itinerary of Man on the River. If possible, she will try to get in contact with local people through the online-platfom CouchSurfing.

Wait. CouchSurfing!?, you might ask. Couchsurfers are a community of around 2.5 million members worldwide that offer hospitality in their own country and ask for it when they are travelling in others. Therefore, the word refers to the practice of moving (or “surfing”) from one sleeping place (most of the times a simple “couch” in the living room) to another. But offering a couch is not obligatory. Also just spending time with that foreign traveler and showing him or her around in the city is common practice. The philosophy behind all this, is, to create an alternative way of travelling where a true exchange between the traveler and the local person can take place.

Or citing the official mission: At CouchSurfing International, we envision a world where everyone can explore and create meaningful connections with the people and places they encounter. Building meaningful connections across cultures enables us to respond to diversity with curiosity, appreciation and respect. The appreciation of diversity spreads tolerance and creates a global community.”

So if YOU are a couchsurfer or not yet, but decide that you like the idea – feel free to contact Fine and offer your time – or even a sleeping place – to her. Be part of the project!

And now, the programme for the first month of travelling:

April 8th – Departure from Venice and arrival to Faversham, Kent

April 10th – Meeting with all people interested in listening to the Man on the River story. Creek Creative (1 Abbey Street, Faversham, Kent ME13 7BE, United Kingdom) has invited us to make our contribution to the preservation of the Standard Quay. It’s a wonderful and unique district that restores and saves many historical boats such as Times Barges that helped in building London and make it wealthy by transporting goods along the Thames.

April 11th-16th – Boat preparation for departure.

April 16th – Departure to London, sailing and rowing to the Albert Bridge and mooring next to Mouette, an old ferry that was once operating in the lake of Geneve.

April 18th – Joining Thames cleaning day from Thames 21.

April 18th -27th – Interviews and training along the Thames.

April 28th – Arrival of Bruno and Fine.

May 1st – Departure from Albert Bridge, the following day to the royal wedding between William and Kate, and navigation downstream along the Thames. We’ll stop to Erith, Southend on Sea, Whitstable, Margate, Ramsgate.

Within May 15th – Channel crossing from Ramsgate.




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