Franco, the man in blue

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Franco Savastano is 78 years old and lives with his Dutch wife Joke van der Plog called Jos, five years younger than him and known 34 years ago in Ischia thanks to what William Faulkner called “the marvelous movement of the circumstances”, in a house above the sea on the right bank of the Port of Ischia from which he can see all the movement of vessels of one of the finest natural harbors in the world. Jos was for Franco a muse and a model.

Lovers of the sea and the depths, they have both seen and photographed the seabed most beautiful in the world. Then was born Luca, now 32, who lives in Dubai working in an industrial company after graduating in Economics of Tourism in Naples. Franco calls its nuclear family the “blue family” because the three have the common love for the sea. But what is the sea? It’s a great metaphor for life, said prof. Edoardo Malagoli, and the man is by nature “thalassic” that is, out of the sea and hosted by the earth, but that is always a bit nostalgic of his point of origin.
“I was a street urchin when I went to dive and explore the seabed, in Torre del Greco where my grandfather, Baron Sigismondo Franz Savastano Villa, owned a villa at Cappuccini where I spent the summer. With an umbrella stick, made to me by my mother, I went fishing, then used the mask and fins, and the passion to go down under the sea didn’t left me”, he says while Jos takes us on this hot day in late July a cold apple drink. In summer on the beach and in winter to study. He graduated in law and had as classmate Renzo Albore, the famous musician with whom he still maintains a close friendship. After graduating as a lawyer in the study of the family and after the purchase of Perrazzo Vini d' Ischia in the 60s, Franco works for 34 years as entrepreneur but he never forgets his passion for the sea.
Until he decides to become fully a man of the sea, devoting himself entirely to underwater fishing, discovering documentation of the seabed of the most interesting planet.
“I put down the underwater fishing hatchet to pick up the camera to document the enchanting underwater world I discovered”, he says and shows me his technical paraphernalia with which fell in the depths of the Red Sea, the Maldives and Mediterranean for photographic and journalistic services of the most prestigious diving magazines in the world including the Italian ones “Il Subaqueo” and “Mondo Sommerso”, the French one “Le Monde de la Mer”, the Brazilian one “Mergular”, the English one “Diver”. He has worked as a photographer, cameraman, and journalist for over twenty years with his wife Jos always close as a companion, model, and friend. Nothing is more “salty and sweet” at the same time of this love that seems straight out of a novel.
“If you go down to the bottom of the sea, discover another dimension of life - he explains - and it is the discovery of a life without weight”, a feeling that is probably the same when an astronaut walks in space linked to the spacecraft and see the beauty of creation in an extraordinary silence”.
In the living room of the beautiful house holds on display prizes and awards that he has received for his long career as an underwater journalist including that of the Festival of Antibes.
“I was fascinated by the waters of the Red Sea, for the sweetness of the fish that you can touch and even stroke and then from bottom of the island of Ischia, those of the western and eastern side. If you immerse yourself between the Aragonese Castle and Vivara, you see the continental shelf but if you dive at Maronti you see the depths. Shows of indescribable feeling”, he explains.
At the age of 78 Franco, the man in blue, does not give up diving.
“Of course I don’t go down more than 40-50 meters as it once was, but I cannot live without the sea”, he remarks.
He founded the first of the Diving Center of the island of Ischia, about thirty years ago, and today is the president of honor of the association of the diving center of the island.

“The diving tourism can be an important component for the tourism of the island of Ischia as well as the marine protected area, provided that it is not too restrictive because the islands of Ischia and Procida that are heavily populated and the nautical tourism, which if done with respect for the environment, it is not absolutely pollutant, it is the other important segment of tourism economy”.
His boat anchored at the port of Ischia has an Arabic name. It's called "Sha Ab Rumi" as the coral reefs of Sudan where Jacques Cousteau (1910-1997), the great French oceanographer, has built two underwater homes, one at 10 meters and one at 40 meters.
Maybe he named it to reaffirm that the sea has neither nationality nor political boundaries, which must be experienced with respect to its living world, that nothing better expresses the mystery of life as the sea, a metaphor for life.

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Info on Ischia island

  • Surface: 46 Kmq
  • Hight: 789 mt
  • Lat.: 40° 44',82 N
  • Long.: 13° 56',58 E
  • Periplus: 18 miglia
  • Coasts: 51.2 Km
  • Cities: 6
  • Inhabitants: 58.029

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