Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Capri

Here'a another look back on our trip to Italy in October. Our last couple of days were spent on the island of Capri. We were very excited to visit the island, where my late father in law Ted spent several months living in a villa in the early 1950's. Before departing, we looked at his scrapbooks (that included shots of Ted hanging out in clubs with Lana Turner and Lex Barker aka Tarzan!) and read his memoirs.  Apparently Capri was the happening spot for actors, poets, artists and Euro-playboys and girls after the war.  Ted was in the artist category.

It was fun to seek out the same views that Ted had photographed over 60 years ago. Here, a postcard in his scrapbook, of the quaint piazzetta in Capri:

capripiazza1953

And a photo I took last month:

capripiazza

True to guidebook descriptions, Capri is crazy busy with day-trippers who arrive at Marina Grande by large ferries from Naples and Sorrento, and smaller boats from various ports on the Amalfi coast.  Most depart in the late afternoon, so we found the evenings much quieter.  We ate in local 'family' restaurants recommended by our hotel, instead of the crazy expensive hotels and upscale 5-star spots. The service was fun and friendly and the food amazing.  The narrow alleys of Capri town are full with exclusive boutiques and fashionable Italians strolling with gelato in hand (and more often than not, a designer purse in the other one).  I fit right in with my dry-fit hiking outfit and walking poles.

Capri
Marina Grande, Capri

Linen boutique in Capri town
Maybe this is where Mariah Carey buys her bed linen? I saw a few photos of her in restaurant display cases enjoying her Capri vacation.

We made arrangements in port for someone to transfer our luggage right to our hotel. There is a funicular that takes people up to town but the line up would have taken hours. We chose to walk the winding steps up through the houses to the piazzetta (where we enjoyed a cappuccino) and then a further 15 minutes uphill  to our hotel. In hindsight, it would have been much more economical to hire a taxi for 15 Euro up to the town and then drag our suitcases up to the hotel...we were billed 45 Euro for the luggage transfer despite the message on our reservation that said "call the hotel when you arrive to make arrangements for luggage transfer". Lesson learned: always verify what's included! The morning we left the island, we let our bags on wheels pull us down the path to the piazzetta, where we hopped on the funicular to take us down into the port.

Capri

Shortly after checking into our lovely hotel Villa Sarah, we were off on our first walk!  The villa is located above town, so we'd already done most of the climbing and had a lovely stroll along the narrow passageways that function as roads in the Capri neighbourhoods. The only vehicular traffic are one- or two-seater electric carts.

Our hotel on Capri

DSC_9315

Our walk took us quickly out of the houses and into the forests on limestone cliffs high above the sea. We chose a popular tourist route out to the famous Arco Natural, a limestone arch on the east coast of the island.  The route from the Arco continues along the coast with spectacular views before curving back into town from Faraglioni, the southeast tip of the island.

Capri, Italy

Capri, Italy

Capri, Italy

Capri, Italy
This remote home, Villa Malaparte, was built in 1938 for Italian writer Curzio Malaparte. Location, location, location!! Accessible by foot from the piazzetta, or by sea via treacherous stairs.

Capri, Italy
Faraglioni, where you can rent a lounge chair and recline on the concrete beach between the limestone stacks.

Capri, Italy
Looking west along the southern coast of Capri, Marina Piccola is center, at the base of the sheer cliff.

The following day was our only full day on the island, so we chose to hike the west coast from the Faro di Punta Carena lighthouse up to the famed Grotta Azzura along the Sentiero dei Fortnini (a path that takes you through three forts build by the British around 1800.  The path is very exposed and rugged in places along the rocky coastline, but hikers are cleverly distracted by handpainted tile signs grouted into the rock every 150 m, or so. These tiles are bilingual Italian-English and define the local flora and fauna in the most poetic way possible, relating flower names and scents to the Greek Gods and their lovers.

Capri -West Coast

Capri -West Coast
The trail begins here, at a tiny day resort beside the lighthouse - we reached the trail head by bus from Capri town, via Anacapri.

Capri -West Coast

Capri -West Coast
Here, you see the exposed stairs. This section of trail was not for vertigo sufferers!

Capri -West Coast
Check out this villa with enormous (empty) swimming pool. The property looked abandoned, but it could be the owners had just closed it for the winter season.

Capri -West Coast
I'm a sucker for a great mailbox

Our 3-hour trek ended at the Grotta Azzura - and a remarkable scene. Several Instagram friends following our trip had suggested we visit this spot and even take a swim in the grotta (a cavern at sea level accessible by a very small hole that only a tiny rowboat can fit through when the waves subside).  Arriving at the top of the cliff, we looked down to see this:

Capri -West Coast

Numbered rowboat guys picking up people from tourist boats to take them into the Grotta once they had passed by the floating office (striped canopy) to pay their 13 Euros each.  The oarsmen then row up to the entrance, where they instruct everyone to lie down and they wait for the right moment in the swell before grabbing a chain on the wall and pulling the boat through.

Capri -West Coast

It was an overcast day, so we didn't really get to see the incredible glowing blue (azure) sea that people talk about, but it was a pretty fun thing to do.  Once inside, the oarsmen break into song, thinking to increase their tips by creating a lovely feeling of romantica with the echoing strains of O Sole Mio. Ha!  I mostly had a view of our oarsman's butt.

DSC_9302

DSC_9306
It was pitch black in there, so I couldn't make any setting adjustments on my Nikon. Sadly, this is all I've got for you from the inside!

I'll leave you with a few more shots from Capri. In reading Ted's memoirs and looking through scrap books before our trip, there were several snapshots of he and friends enjoying drinks at "Number Two". Well, it appears the club is still there, however it doesn't open until 1:00 a.m. so we didn't have a chance to check it out.  We had fun finding the front door, though!

DSC_9313 

Marina Piccolo, Capri, Italy
The view west to Faraglioni from Marina Piccola

DSC_9322
An early morning shot of Capri town from the Funicular station patio

Capri
The main ferry jetty at Marina Grande, where we departed for Naples

Capri
My fabulous travel companion and husband of 20 years, on the ferry to begin our journey home. 
Bye bye Capri!

I think I'll do one more post from the trip with some more shots from the Amalfi coast, including a couple of beach days and a visit to the Roman ruins of Herculaneum.  All of my photos will be on Flickr, I just haven't made them public yet as I'd like to properly label everything first.  I'll be back with more Italy next week!


16 comments:

DianeY said...

Truly gorgeous photos! What an adventure!

Kirsty@Bonjour said...

Looks amazing, Krista. And so cool that you have the family connection. It must have felt kinda surreal to be haunting the same haunts as Ted. There are lots of places on the French Riviera that we visited which had the same artist hangout history. It's pretty amazing to sit and imagine what those bars/clubs would have been like back in the day!

Leanne said...

Your pictures are beautiful, thank you for sharing them. It sounds like the best holiday.

paulette said...

Now this is what I call a HOLIDAY!! Amazing pictures!! Just stunning! Didn't you have to pinch yourself to let you know that you weren't hallucinating!!
P

gnomeangel said...

Wow, what an amazing holiday. Now I'm dreaming of sipping cocktails on a cement beach in Capri! ;) :)

Sandi said...

Great photography! I enjoyed the tour!

Lise-Lotte said...

Thank you for posting these! So fabulous and I appreciate all your notes too - otherwise I wouldn't have always known to look for stairs in the distance etc
Lise-Lotte

QuiltNut Creations said...

such a stunning part of our world. thanks for sharing the pictures.

Poppyprint said...

Oh, Ted was there, too! In his memoirs he tells a great story of taking an easel to the seaside and earning money wearing a beret & drawing caricatures of American servicemen using the alias Eduard Boulanger (his name was Edwin Baker but he went by Ted). He wrote that his customers commented on how well he spoke English ; )

Aliceart said...

Thank you, thank you! I so needed a vacation, and your WONDERFUL post with so many photos made me feel like I had one. A new item has definitely been added to my bucket list!

Elsa said...

Such lovely photos ~ especially liked the postbox and the one of your husband.
Looks like you had a lovely time!

Linda R said...

Beautiful pictures!! Tks for sharing :-)

andrea @ tideline quilts said...

I've now been bitten by the travel bug! And I want to go there!!! Gorgeous photos and fun anecdotes...thanks so much for sharing. I'm visiting from the Blogathon Canada hop.

Deb said...

Beautiful photos. I was there many years ago...it doesn't look like it has changed much!!

diane said...

I'm finally getting around to reading this post. Makes me want to return to Capri.

Two Little Aussie Birds said...

What an amazing holiday! It looks incredible and isn't it interesting how the plaza has hardly changed in all that time!