|Day 2 in Naploli was a free
day, though many instructors strongly advised a trip to a newly renovated
museum in Napoli to see their Heronimous Bosch and Carravagio collection.
Rick, a friendly instructor, mentioned Capri, an island paradise and vacation
spot since Caesar Tiberius, a few train stops away. By 10 AM Heather and
I were already there.
The train ride to Sorento, a port city where you can catch the ferry to Capri, is entertaining in itself. The train passes quickly and quietly between rows of block-style apartments and lemon orchards, with an occasional glimpse of the blue sparkling bay. Italy's trains are a wonderful transportation system that Im sure Ill rant about again later.
|Sorento is a pretty little town much like Vico Equense and it's a short
walk from the train station to the port where you have several options for
transportation to Capri. There's a speedy hydrofoil that takes half as long
and costs twice as much, but I'd have paid extra for the captain of our
slower boat to take his time. It's a beautiful ride across the bay of Napoli
and the sun was just warming things up to tolerable.
I watched the wind whipping Heathers hair and dress as she stood at the prow in a classic contra postal curve leaning against the rail, and with the rocky islands and blue water in the background she was like some modern version of a classic Greek statue, come to life in soft flesh.
It hurt to look at her.
Looking back at Sorento.
Fortunately there was ample
beauty to distract me. Capri is utterly and completely stunning. High
gray cliffs topped with homes of the rich and famous overlook the town
of Capri in a saddle-shaped valley surrounding the port. We got off the
boat and poked around for a bit, then caught the funicular, a train that
climbs a steep hill, somewhat like a roller coaster but (hopefully) without
the terrifying thrill.
It took us up the hill to the next plateau of the town. From there we were headed up to one of the pinnacles of the island to see the ruins of Tiberius' Pleasuredome.
The town consists of winding paths leading up the hill that are so maze-like that we fully expected the Minotaur to round the next corner licking blood from a massive axe. The streets are so narrow and the buildings so tall in some places that it begins to take on the feel of a shopping mall in the bottom of a narrow ravine.
In an attempt to reach the peak we trekked for miles, making countless switchbacks while gazing into shaded gardens of grapes, lemons, flowers, and snoozing dogs.
Occasionally the walls of the
maze would dip low enough to catch the view of the bay which, as we climbed,
grew ever more impressive. Unfortunately, we seemed to pass the same
view over and over again without getting any closer to the top.
Eventually we conceded that we were hopelessly lost and asked a bartender for directions, which we promptly followed - right back to where we'd started. We purchased a map, utterly useless, lacking details or even a legend explaining the infrequent and illegible symbols scattered across the thing, but somehow it got us on the right track.
I got my exercise for the entire year on that hike but the view continued to astound, if for no other reason than that it continued to get exponentially better than the rare glimpses we'd gotten on our first attempt to reach the summit.
Which was perfect because any
time Heather walked in front of me I could smell her.
The ruins of Tiberius' Pleasuredome are not
the least bit impressive but no gem
could improve on the setting. It inspired me to work for a living (don't
tell anyone) and play lotto every week just so I might be able to return.
It is a tourist trap but the island is split into two towns, Capri and
Anna Capri - literally "above Capri." Anna Capri is supposed
to be the more affordable portion of the island as it used to be accessible
only by foot up a tall cliff. Now there is a perilous-looking road, built
like a shelf winding its way along the cliff wall.
is the part, the best part, this is the best part of the trip."
(My photos can't do it justice either.)
Rumor has it that Tiberius
used to throw slaves from the cliffs for entertainment and that their
ghosts hurled his statue off the cliff in vengeance after his death. While
I don't believe in ghosts, the guy must've been a real ass for anyone to
climb that damned hill, pull down a marble statue and haul it to the edge
just to pitch it off the cliff, or even to use it as building material.
The Monopoly Money Phenomenon,
so named by one of my oldest friends, Shawn Brud Littleton,
comes into play anytime anyone with little travel experience gets foreign
currency in their hands. Because its often colorful and small, its
tough to take foreign bills seriously. And, since you dont really
know the value of it, you never really have a good feeling for what youve
got. It's often impossible for anyone short of Stephen Hawking to do the conversion
to their home currency in their head so you finally give in and spend
the stuff as if it weren't real. Fortunately, converting Italian lire,
pronounced leer-uh, to U.S. dollars was easier than other
monies with the exchange rate at the time of 1500 lire to the dollar.
The few students that hadnt
gotten suckered into the instructor-recommended museum in Napoli and had
come to Capri did get
suckered into the Blue Grotto. I was glad we were hesitant. Later, I found
out you can get a swim in the place if you go after the tour boats, but
getting there can be a bit tricky and you risk missing the last ferry
back to the mainland. Ah well, next trip
We missed the ferry that
would get us back to the hotel in time for dinner so we got sandwiches and
a cheap bottle of wine and sat by the docks for a picnic. Covered in
sweat, SPF 15, seawater and smiles, we headed back. I talked later with
some of the students who'd headed for the instructor-recommended museum.
No Bosch, one Carravaggio, "A disappointment."
All original content on
this site is owned by Degenerate Press and cannot be used without our
permission. We have lawyers for friends with nothing better to do than
cause trouble (no kidding), so play nice. Copyright © 2002, All
All original content on this site is owned by Degenerate Press and cannot be used without our permission. We have lawyers for friends with nothing better to do than cause trouble (no kidding), so play nice. Copyright © 2002, All Rights Reserved