Monday, July 24, 2006

Capri (2006)

This was the first coastal city we visited in Italy and it lives up to everything you've heard. Beautiful blue Mediterranean waters, tall cliffs, breathtaking views. This was a celebrity hotspot many years ago and one can see why.

There's enough to do in Capri for a day trip - two if you can afford to stay overnight on the island.

We took a funicular to the top of Capri and walked down the back side of the Island. There is a charming *FREE* public garden there called the Augusto Gardens and from it, you can sport amazing views of Il Farigliani, the famous rock formations that jet out of the water just a few feet from the isle proper.

The Blue Grotto is a super-cool sight you won't want to miss. You can see the Blue Grotto one of two ways: 1) Via a water taxi that will take you there or 2) After 5:30 PM (approx), if you have your own boat transportation, you can swim into the Grotto by yourself for a more intimate view from within.

So what's the Blue Grotto, anyway? The Grotto is a cave that you enter from water via a small boat (like a gondola, shown below). The Gondaliers will row you into the dark cave waters and then when you look back from where you came in, the sunlight reflects in the clear waters and creates an incredible blue glow in the dark cave. It's an awesome experience!

Capri Tips:
1. Returning to Naples from Capri. Make sure you pre-plan when you are returning to Naples from Capri. We were there on a Sunday and stores started shutting down around 6pm and we were almost stuck on the island. Luckily we were able to buy a ticket on the last boat returning to Naples.

As luck would have it, we learned the hard way that Naples had two main ports. We left from the larger port 1 (Molo Beverello) but were mysteriously returned to the smaller port 2 (Mergellina) after a long day in the toasty Capri sun. We spent about 2 hours frantically walking in the dark trying to figure out why we didn't recognize our returned surroundings before we figured out what had happened. It was pretty intimidating.

A True Story: During our frenzied return walk to the hotel, we rounded a corner and found ourselves in a huge piazza. We saw a giant banner hanging over a performing stage which read (literally in English) "Free City Concert". An artist started playing and guess who it was? Sting! He was performing the classic "Message In A Bottle" and we rolled our eyes and laughed. Only in Italy!

If you've ever called my cell phone and heard the answer tone jingle (which is "Message In A Bottle") you'll know why I picked this one. It's a little reminder of how life can pleasantly surprise you in what may seem like desperate times. (oh, and they were desperate!)

2. What is an "Anacapri?" Yeah, we totally missed this one. The Isle of Capri is much bigger than it looks at first sight. There is a conjoined island twin to Capri called Anacapri that you'll assume is Capri, if you don't know about it. To get there we took a short 5 minute taxi ride along the twisty turvey turns along the hills.

A few weeks after returning from our trip, I was watching a Rick Steve's DVD with Italy front and center and learned there were chair lifts on Anacapri that take you to the top of the island for a return view from the heavens. I was angered we missed this since we thought we only had one shot visiting Italy!

Lucky for us, we returned in 2008 and first on my list of things to do was that darn chair lift. I have a video of the ride taken from the bottom of the hill to the top. Visit my '08 post to view it!

And the views from atop? You'll take them to your grave.
for the love of : italy

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