It is no longer possible for a yacht of our draught to sail into the nearby town of Noia, with its mediaeval old town, because of the silting. Instead we took a taxi and the driver pointed out the attractive walkway that had been built along the silted up estuary. We climbed up to the old town and visited the church of San Martino, with its amazing flying buttresses, which pierce the walls to emerge as long angels with folded wings on the inside. We later had lunch in the quiet square facing the church and watched a local decorator dice with death as he rollered over a white facade on a bouncy scaffold. First we wandered through the narrow streets of the old town, finding an indoor food market hidden among the stone archways. It was not for the faint hearted. At the entrance was a butchers shop presided over by a propped up pig’s head of immense proportion. Further along lay a double file of skinned, but otherwise whole rabbits, ears flattened back, glassy blue eyeballs staring forward. Then came a balcony area looking down on stalls, where women in plastic aprons busied themselves with sharp knives among gleaming ranks of assorted fish.
We headed out for coffee and sat on a corner overlooking a garden of palm trees and a tiled piazza. The coffee arrived with complimentary churros ( a finger of piped donut) and I thwarted a dive bombing pigeon and its small squadron of sparrows out to get there first. My reactions are not usually those of a kung fu master, but nothing beats me to a piece of churros. We then went for a stroll along the river walkway, where old fishing boats had been abandoned picturesquely to their fate and the pleasant views down the Ria were in the process of being blocked by the building of a new road bridge.
We retraced our steps, paused in a walled garden, where we hoped for lunch, but it turned out to be a rather smart bar. We ordered beer and were presented with our most daunting tapas to date, a whole pilchard doused in paprika oil on a piece of bread as finger food. Sticky fingered, we headed back to the square and the refuge of cutlery.