Destination: Capri (and Anacapri!)
Boat Departure time to Capri: 7:00 am (45 minute ride)
Traveling partner: My cousin Giovanna
Allotted time on the island: 1 full day
Mission: To be engulfed in beauty
Boat Departure time back to Naples: 5:00 pm
Off we go!
We took the 7:00 am ferry so that we could take a two hour chartered boat tour around the island at 9:00 am. At least that was the plan! Unfortunately, the tides were too high in the famous Blue Grotto and the sea was to active so all the boats stayed tied up in the harbour. *Sigh*
However, the day was off to a great start nonetheless. I had had my two espressos so I was feeling human. Kidding aside, the beauty of this island was breathtaking from the get-go! The vibrant Italian man behind the counter at the tourism office, with a cute passionate accent, outlined a pleasant route for us to take especially in light of the itinerary change. He gave us some fantastic advice and a map! Grazie!
Immediately, my fear of heights was challenged when we took the funicular to the piazza, where it all starts. Inside the ‘car’, I sat perched on the seat leaning towards the center (to my right) as I gazed out the window (to my left), trying to ignore all the pressure in my feet, but what a view!
With no standard streets, we wove through the passages and road ways passing people working, painting, fixing, varnishing and general upgrading the properties and businesses in time for the high season. Almost all the stores were closed for upgrades and renovations! There were many Italian men in construction jumpsuits walking and carrying ladders and buckets of materials while cigarettes perched loosely between their lips while they worked. It was a glorious cliche to see!
Our first attraction was the Giardini di Augusto where we had the entire property/space to ourselves! What a dream! Although you can have much more access to sandy beaches and swimming spots when visiting Ischia (Italy’s other famous must-visit island), Capri’s life atop the mountains with breathtaking views is another world.
The sun beamed through the crystal blue skies shining intensely at the prominent rock formations, illuminating the Azzurro blue shore lines that we could see below. Empty benches enticed us around the garden while perfumed flower paths blessed our trails.
We then made our way to La Certosa di San Giacomo which was founded between 1371 and 1374, the oldest historic building on the Island of Capri. (Follow the last link to read some interesting history.) We perused the property and the art inside by the late Wilhelm Diefenbach, resident of Capri. His art is beautiful and emotional, dark and very textural. There was of course a church connected to it, very light and open.
This chic, clean, bountiful mountainous island stole my heart with unending passage ways only airport-like terminal passenger cars could get through. I have to admit that the route from the piazza to Tiberius’ point (Villa Jovis) was more like a hike than a walk….which kind of reminded me of the Camino de Santiago, just a little. It was lovely!
After we paid the man sitting in a plastic deck chair ready to collect coin to enter, I was amazed by the ruins at the Villas of Tiberius. They are in pretty decent condition! It’s hard to imagine that the once successor of Augustus lived and ruled there from 27 AD for 10 years until his death.
A super sunny day, I took my jacket off and back on many times as the cool air wafted from the sea on our warm faces from time to time. It was delicious and a nice change from wintery Paris! We passed villas and gorgeous gardens, many orange and lemon trees, and personable cats sun bathing and scratching against the ancient walls. The friendly local residents greeted us along our route too! I said ‘Buon Giorno‘ many times and exchanged many smiles! (Side note: I can recall again another similar friendliness from my brief time on the Camino de Santiago where I said “Hola” a ton as well! – follow this link for my Camino blog!)
We didn’t feel so bad when we noticed the faces of the residents who were also bit red in the face and their bodies a bit tired from this route, especially in the warm sun! We did however see the occasional narrow commuter vehicles, where you have to wait off to the side to let these vehicles pass. They could take 2-3 people including the driver zoom where possible. For VIPs only perhaps?
Hungry stomachs lead us to a grocery store with equally narrow passages inside where I attempted not to knock everything over with my backpack. The counter clerk sang while he made us some traditional Italian bun sandwiches. Ah, Italia! We grabbed some cookies and lemonade to stock up a little for the rest of the day!
We found a quiet spot on a bench facing the sea. A cute and friendly cat approached us (begged us) for some of our food and even hung out with us for a while even though we didn’t oblige him. Fortunately the pigeons left us alone until after we left. Parisian pigeons could learn a thing or two from these bread crumb lovers!
With food in our stomachs, and a bit of time left, we decided to walk back to the piazza to catch a bus to Anacapri in search of a few more treasures to visit.
The church was empty which provided a wonderful opportunity to chat with the elderly woman manning the welcome desk. She was there to collect the entrance fee but also to explain that you mustn’t step on the floor and to only follow the wooden pathway that hugged the walls. Speaking in Italian, she took some time to explain a bit about the history as well. I appreciated the contrast this little church offered against the standard decadence and largeness often seen in Italy, almost everywhere! Built between 1698 – 1719, it was founded by a nun, Mother Sarafino di Dio. As the budget for this build was quite low, the alters and decorative aspects are all made of wood (much cheaper than stone) and painted in such a way appear like real marble. The ceramic painted tile floor images were painted in the “Mona Lisa” style, she said, as the eyes of the persons and animals were designed to appear as if they were following you as you made your way around the church. The painted floor is still in pristine condition because it has never been walked on!
Our tired bodies and feet signaled the end of the journey and it was soon time to catch the boat once more! Just a quick tip: visiting attractions in Italy can be funny with all entrance ‘charges’ at every corner. Two euros here, five euros there, even for a quick glance, although completely worth it! Have some Euro coin with you when in Italy!
What a wonderful day! Mission complete! (for now, but I will be back to enjoy some more and see the rest!)
Before I leave you, here is a mash up slideshow below!
Until we meet again! Sending loads of light and love!
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