Melissa and Francesco Candiani of the luxury sailing catamaran OMBRE BLU talk to us about the unforgettable experience to look forward to when embarking on a Southern Italy and Aeolian Islands yacht charter. Charter Yacht OMBRE BLU is a modern Lagoon 500 crewed catamaran, created for deluxe, high-performance cruising. Savour the authentic Italian hospitality and ‘Dolce Vita’ while discovering new and exciting places along Italy’s finest coastlines. In addition to Aeolian Islands you can explore other beautiful places such as Sicily, Amalfi, Capri, Sorrento in the Gulf of Naples, Southern Sardinia, the Emerald Coast (Costa Smeralda) or the Tuscan Isles.
The idea of yacht charter took shape in 2004 when Melissa Down, an Australian expert in marketing and event organising, and Francesco Candiani, an Italian lawyer from Venice, joined forces.
Since her launch in 2008, luxury catamaran Ombre Blu has enriched lives of over 300 charter guests with unforgettable memories to be cherished for a lifetime. Melissa and Francesco, you are the owners as well as the crew aboard this fantastic charter yacht. What made you decide to embark on this adventure?
“Though we lived thousands of kilometres apart, fate brought us together at a regatta in the Fiji islands. Our parallel destinies had finally crossed. Then and there, we decided to put our jobs on hold and enjoy an experience in contact with the most fascinating of natural elements: the sea.”
In that same year Melissa joined Francesco in Italy.
“Our shared passion for the “Bel Paese” and exquisite hospitality led us to create an exclusive project: to present the very best of Italy by sea!”
Can you describe luxury yacht Ombre Blu to our readers? How many guests is she able to accommodate and what spaces are there for guests to relax and socialise, while they enjoy their stay aboard?
“Ombre Blu is a 51 ft. long (15.54 m) and 26 ft. wide (8.54 m) fly-bridge catamaran. Ombre Blu can accommodate up to six people very comfortably; it has three queen-size guest rooms, all with private bathrooms, air conditioning and Wi-Fi connection. One can relax on the sofa in the salon, fitted with satellite television, DVDs. Relax on the cushions in the aft cockpit, on the flybridge or in the forward cock-pit on the huge trampoline nets, whilst listening to the state-of-the-art stereo system, apple Tv, airport express and Francesco’s expansive music collection (which could play non-stop for 3 years!).”
“Just as in the best Italian homes, Ombre Blu yacht offers every comfort, especially the galley, which is designed to offer a real tour of Italian food and wines.”
Melissa and Francesco’s goal is to offer extraordinary sensations and emotions – flavoured with the salty tang of the sea – that combine discovering the lesser known corners of the peninsula with warm Italian hospitality and the flavours of authentic Mediterranean cuisine.
What are the advantages of chartering a catamaran as opposed to a monohull?
“OMBRE BLU (Italian for Blue Shadows) is a Lagoon 500 Catamaran. MCA commercially registered and flying the British flag, she is the perfect vessel in which to cruise in absolute comfort and safety. The main advantage of the catamaran, over a monohull is its stability, which is due to its width. It is really like a beautiful floating apartment. She is light, modern and airy. She sails wonderfully and does not heel-over like a monohull, which means that you can enjoy all the same comforts of land on the sea (such as drinking from our beautiful hand-made wine glasses from Venice!).”
Italian hospitality is famous throughout the world and Melissa and Francesco have made it their seal of quality by opening up their personal experiences to guests and sharing, their knowledge of the most beautiful places that Italy has to offer by the sea, of the people and the local culture.
Luxury yacht Ombre Blu is available for Mediterranean yacht charters, precisely in Italy. What destinations are included in her itineraries and is there a particular reason for which you have chosen these areas?
“To make the experience really special there is the opportunity to select your route, with itineraries that are tailor-made to suit the client’s wishes. Ombre Blu sails from the Aeolian Islands off Sicily to Amalfi, Capri and Sorrento in the Gulf of Naples, and from Southern Sardinia to the Emerald Coast and the Tuscan Isles. And when you go ashore, we will put at your disposal all our knowledge of our favourite places, from fine restaurants to wine cellars that open up their doors to reveal how some of Italy’s most famous wines are made: Malvasia delle Lipari, the Biancolella of Ischia, or the Vermentino and Cannonau from Sardinia. We also offer a selection of gourmet itineraries that enable you to discover special and rare gastronomic treats as well as products made by craftsmen according to ancient traditions, such as the ‘Michelin Star Chef’ itinerary on the Amalfi Coast & Gulf of Naples where guests will experience the flavours of three of Italy’s best Michelin Star restaurants in a week.”
Francesco is the Captain as well as the Chef on board. Being Italian, he must have the love and passion for food running through his veins! What specialities and types of dishes can guests expect during their holiday?
“Francesco is the king of the kitchen, giving his guests a taste of Italian tradition in recipes that have been handed down by his family. His two sisters in fact own restaurants in the Veneto, where they have become famous for cooking dishes based on seasonal products.”
“The ingredients are selected by Francesco in person and prepared each day according to the tastes of his guests. Combining the flavours of refined cuisine – yet with a genuine home-made appeal, he brings into play various colours, flavours and textures. The art of hospitality is particularly evident at mealtimes: the menus are accompanied by wines that have been specially chosen for the cellar on board in order to offer a real taste of Italy’s various wine regions. The sparkling wine is that much-loved favourite, Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. from Bisol, the finest example of Prosecco.”
“Melissa, on the other hand, is in charge of hospitality and attention to details, from the preparation of the table – matched with the colours of that day’s dishes – to the selection of books available in the lounge. Melissa is also passionate about fitness and a masseuse: fine dining is, therefore, coupled with the opportunity to remain in shape and eat healthily.”
In addition to being an excellent Chef, Francesco is also a PADI Master Dive Instructor. What does it mean for charter guests?
“Ombre Blu combines the authenticity of a unique, personalised experience with the services of a boutique hotel. Francesco is also a certified PADI master diving instructor, able to accompany into the underwater world both beginners and more experienced divers who wish to improve their level. Many of our younger guests take their very-first dive, then go on to complete their Open Water Course during their stay on board. Their new qualification arrives to them at home in the post! Ombre Blu also offers scuba diving in unusual places in order to explore the seabed and look for wrecks, as well as scooter diving, digital underwater photography courses and night diving.”
One other fantastic advantage of chartering Ombre Blu is the luxury of having a personal Massage Therapist aboard. Can you tell us more about this service?
“Surrounded by nature, Ombre Blu guests experience the ultimate in relaxation during their sunset massage, carried out with scented oils on a professional table.
Melissa, is a qualified massage therapist and an expert in toning, relaxing and therapeutic massage, ideal for regenerating the body and mind. She studied Remedial and Sports Massage in Australia and then worked as a contract therapist on Superyachts.”
For those less experienced in yacht charter, what would you say are the main reasons to endeavour on this new adventure?
“With Ombre Blu sailing becomes not only a way to get to know the sea and the splendid views of Italy’s coasts but also a way to enjoy a real Italian experience, getting to know the people that live in these places, their culture and their way of life: an itinerary with a different panorama every day, without ever having to pack and unpack your bags. On your own personalised and flexible itinerary, everything is taken care of from the moment you arrive!”
“Your own private yacht is your passport to discovery of Italy and its magical islands…”
Romantic getaways or a family yacht charter? Would you recommend Ombre Blu catamaran yacht to both, families as well as couples holidaying with friends?
“The privacy and tranquility aboard Ombre Blu, and the professionalism of its hosts provide the perfect environment for a romantic getaway or a special family time. The Ombre Blu experience offers something special for everyone!”
What activities would you suggest for families with small or teenage children?
“There are many activities to be enjoyed, both aboard and ashore. On board activities include, scuba diving, water skiing, wakeboard, tubing, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. Along the coastline, there is a world of nature, history and culture, including caves, archeological sites, museums and ancient castles.”
Every group of charter guests is different, with individual desires and expectation. How do you determine a charter itinerary? What is a typical day aboard charter yacht Ombre Blu?
“Before deciding the itinerary, from the moment of the initial enquiry, we ask the client to answer a range of questions such as: what is the demographic of the group, reason for the trip, if they have been to Italy before and where, what are the interests of the group, have they sailed before, how much time they envisage spending ashore/aboard and how they would describe their ‘ideal’ Italian vacation.”
“Based on these answers, we suggest the itinerary that (based on our experience) we think would suit best and then begin to formulate the details based on the number of days they have at their disposition.”
On a more personal note, can you tell us about the most memorable or magnificent experience you have had since on board Ombre Blu?
“The most memorable/magnificent experience was in mid 2014 at the island of Stromboli, this magnificent mountain is the only volcano in the world with constant activity for over two thousand years.
Viewing the frequent eruptions by day is spectacular enough, but at night, it becomes a totally different and unforgettable experience.
Guests can take the guided climb to the top of the crater, or view the flaming colour of the magma in comfort whilst sipping cocktails aboard OMBRE BLU.
In 2014, Stromboli experienced an extra-ordinary period of eruptions. With our guests, we watched rivers of red lava and rocks spewing down into the sea, from the comfort and safety of the yacht.”
Last but not least, what do you believe makes Ombre Blu unique, compared with other catamarans on the market?
“Ombre Blu is much more than a cruise: it is an opportunity to get to know Italy through a unique experience, tailored exclusively for our guests.
Ombre Blu is also unique, in its offer of All Inclusive itineraries, designed to offer the very best ‘regional, local experience’ in the precious time our clients have available to sail with us.”
Named ‘Blue Shadows’ in Italian, OMBRE BLU is a fantastic Lagoon 500 catamaran measuring 15.54m (51’) launched in 2008, which is fully equipped for Italy yacht charter adventures in style. She was designed by Marc Peteghem and Vincent Lauriot Prevost using the latest technology in modern design. The yacht boasts of excellent seaworthiness and performance. Her wide sweeping windows give sense of spaciousness and bring plenty of natural light into the saloon. Light oak Alpi wood-work and laminated wenge floors give OMBRE BLU yacht a modern and relaxing feel.
The social forward cockpit offers al fresco seating for dining and full panoramic views forward. Amongst the highlights is her helm station on the flybridge. This is a superb space with access from each side and a long six-seater bench.
Accommodation aboard is provided in three spacious double cabins, each with a private en suite bathroom and air conditioning. A total of six charter guests can be accommodated aboard.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT SOUTHERN ITALY AND AEOLIAN YACHT CHARTERS
Southern Italy features some of the finest coastlines in the Western Mediterranean and Sicily’s Aeolian Islands are no exception. This volcanic archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea north of Sicily is well worth discovering aboard an Aeolian charter yacht, so you can fully appreciate it’s beauty from the comfort of your own vessel. The largest island is Lipari and its port is lined with quaint shopping streets and small Italian fresh food markets. Other islands include Vulcano, Salina, Stromboli, Filicudi, Alicudi and Panarea. As mentioned in the interview, one of the highlights of chartering in this area is viewing the eruptions, both during the day or at night. A truly unforgettable experience!
In addition to the Italy’s Aeolian Islands, OMBRE BLU is also available for rent to discover the popular Amalfi Coast, Sorrento in the Gulf of Naples, the island of Capri, Southern Sardinia, the Emerald Coast or Tuscany.
The rates listed on OMBRE BLU catamaran yacht’s listing here are standard charter rates that include only the yacht and the crew, based on 7 nights. All expenses are extra. OMBRE BLU is special in that it can offer specialised all-inclusive packages, such as spa and well-being, walking and volcanoes, cuisine and wine, or dive packages. Please, enquire about the rate and other details by contacting our charter consultants here.