Wednesday, November 01, 2006

September 2006 - Capri, Italy

Just when we thought we couldn't take any more sharp turns on the nail-biting, motion-sickness-inducing bus ride from Positano, we caught a brief glimpse of Sorrento . . . the largest town on the Amalfi Coast resting upon low-lying cliffs along the north side of the Amalfi Coast, just across the Bay of Napoli from our destination that day - the Island of Capri. Unfortunately, that glimpse was just a tease, as we had another 20 minutes of harrowing curves and swerves to endure. Once we arrived in Sorrento, we went straight to Marina Piccola to catch our ferry to Capri. Below is probably the most recognizable view of Capri and its signature Faraglioni Rocks.

Before checking out the Rocks, though, we settled into our charming bed & breakfast - Casa Augusto - perched on the steep mountainside overlooking the gorgeous Mediterranean.

After settling in, we were welcomed by Casa Augusto's resident kittie cat. Casandra, of course, could not resist inviting this strange, outdoor cat into our freshly-cleaned hotel room.

But it's raining outside, she says . . . . After the meet and greet, we went for a walk through Capri town. The main street that runs through the town is like Rodeo Drive. After passing a store by every major fashion designer you could possibly think of, we turned up a quieter road and continued through a scenic residential area. Not really knowing where we were going, we soon found ourselves on a huge terrace overlooking the Faraglioni Rocks.

Not completely satisfied, we ventured down the winding path (and 2,000 painful steps) for a closer look at the Rocks.
After snapping a few shots of the amazing monoliths (and 14 shots of us in front of them), we headed back up to the terrace for the sunset.
Completely exhaused from climbing down and back up the mountain, we called it a night, knowing tomorrow would require well-rested feet. The next day, we went to Anacapri - the other town which sits atop the higher of the two peaks on the Island. Below is a shot of Anacapri, with St. Michael's Church in the middle and the Bay of Napoli in the background.
Anacapri is home to Villa San Michele, the 19th Century mansion of the Swedish doctor and Capri's grand personality, Avel Munthe. The Villa served as the only comfortable refuge for Europe's gay community, including Oscar Wilde and D.H. Lawrence.

The Villa offers some of the best views of Capri, the mountains along the Amalfi Coast, and Mount Vesuvius across the Bay of Napoli. Above, the Villa's Sphinx looks out towards the shorter of the two peaks on which Capri town sits and Marina Grande where all ferries to the Island arrive.
No, Casandra is not expressing her odd interest in the Sphinx . . .
touching its hind quarter is supposed to bring good luck.

The grounds of the Villa are beautiful, graced with sculpture galleries . . .
intimate walking paths, manicured gardens, and . . . hey wait . . . is that Chesty LaRue?

Afterwards, we hopped on the chairlift up to Monte Solaro - the Island's highest peak. That's Casandra on the chair in front of me.

Once we reached the top, we enjoyed the most amazing 360 degree views imaginable, from the open Mediterranean, to the neighboring Island of Ischia, to Napoli across the Bay of the same name, to Mount Vesuvius and Pompei, to Sorrento and mountains that line the Amalfi Coast.

We, clearly, were most impressed with the view of those Rocks.
Upon returning to Capri town from Monte Solaro and Anacapri, we decided to venture down the mountain once again, but this time to see the impressive Natural Arch that juts out of the mountainside. When we made that decision, we didn't realize we were embarking on our longest hike of the trip. Also, we didn't calculate how much more difficult a torrential downpour would make the journey. Miraculously, it cleared up when we reached the Arch, just in time for a few dozen photos and a rainbow! Then, we had our biggest decision to make . . . stay the course for a front row seat at a spectacular show of waves crashing on the Faraglioni Rocks or head back. Already drenched and thirsty for more adventure, we decided to stay the course. Along the way, we passed a huge cave cut out of the mountain, where we took refuge from the resumed downpour. An hour later, we finally reached the Rocks . . . and boy was it a show, well worth the death-defying journey to the center of the Earth. Unfortunately, we can't prove that we actually reached the Rocks, as we took so many freakin' pictures from the top of Monte Solaro and of the Natural Arch that our camera ran out of battery.

Two hours later, we returned to our B&B, freshened up, recharged the camera, and headed into town, just in time for the beautiful sunset.
Despite the rain, Capri, with its dramatic terrain and views, was our favorite stop in the Amalfi Coast area so far.
The next morning, we hopped on a ferry across the Bay of Napoli to Sorrento. That's it on the low-lying cliffs between the sea and the mountains.

No comments: