The sunrise was gorgeous as we approached Capri, the "Island of Dreams," a fascinating
island which has had a special allure for centuries. Two roman emperors, Augustus and
Tiberius, lived there. Off to our right we could see the Faraglioni rocks where, it is said,
Tiberius and Caligula staked out prisoners on the rocks and left them to die in agony.
We could see the many caves carved into and sometimes right through the rocks by the sea,
as well as a couple of small boats out for the early fish. The island's gorgeous
landscape, rugged hills, mild climate and luxuriant vegetation have long fascinated
writers, musicians, artists, and poets. We had "experienced" the allure of Capri in several
books and movies, and were anxious to see it for ourselves. It was a beautiful sight as the
Star Clipper approached from the south and then circled the entire island. Was that a
goatherd and his flock way up on that hill?
Star Clipper Approaches Sorrento
Church of San Costanzo
Once around the island, we sailed for Sorrento, where we dropped anchor, took a tender
into Sorrento, and then another boat out to Marina Piccola, one of Capri's harbors. But by now
the blue sky was gone,
obscured by ominous clouds. And sure enough, as we rode in a bus up the steep hill to
the town of Anacapri, the rains came. The place was mobbed with tourists. We were in
clumps. Each clump had a tour guide who moved his/her clump from place to place.
There was hardly room in the square for all the clumps, and certainly not room on the
narrow walkways. Our clump was herded to the Villa San Michelle, built in the late 19th
century for Axel Munthe, a Swedish doctor/writer who lived there until 1949. Lots of
antiques and nice views, but not big enough for soggy clumps. Al had the good sense to stay
out in the rain rather than moving shoulder to shoulder within the clump. When I
emerged from the villa, dry but weary, I found him outside, wet but relaxed.
Because of the rain, the chairlift up to Mount Solaro and its spectacular views was not
operating. Nothing to do
but wait until our clump could be bused back down. While we waited 45 minutes for a
bus, Al found a computer in a newspaper shop and checked our email. Once we got
down to the town of Capri, we had a pizza and then took the ferry back to Sorrento.
The rain had pretty much let up as we set out to explore Sorrento. The old town sits high
on cliffs overlooking the harbor and the Gulf of Naples. You can reach it by a long
winding road or a more direct climb up a long stone stairway. Having spent two weeks
hiking up and down hills, we chose the steps.
Sorrento was mellow. Yes, there were tourists, but no clumps. The town was especially
nice after dark. Less crowded. Many fascinating shops on narrow streets still open. One
that featured gorgeous inlaid wood furniture was especially nice. Reminded me of the inlaid
tables made by Paul Eakin, my grandfather. How relaxing it was to just walk quietly around
Sorrento after the chaos of Capri.
During our four weeks, we noticed that early morning and late afternoon or evening were
the best times to be in the smaller towns. Before the tour busses arrive or after the
tourists have returned to their hotels or ships. If one were staying in a hotel on Capri and
could see it during these hours, perhaps it would be worth seeing again.