Saturday, September 28, 2013

Capri: Breathtaking Redefined

To start reading about how this trip was conceptualized and how it all beganclick here.

Since I'd traveled all the way down to Naples, I decided to exploit one of the many day trip options from the city. I was spoilt for choice and had to turn down Pompeii, Herculaneum, Sorrento, Amalfi and Mount Vesuvius.

As great as my journey had been so far, it had been a lot to take in. I'd been away from home for nearly a month and a half and I needed a vacation from my vacation. Capri was just the perfect place.

Located just forty minutes away, Capri was a distillation of beauty unlike anything I've ever experienced. There aren't many such places where mountain and sea harmoniously merge to constitute one exquisite island.

Pebbled beachside near Marina Grande

Grilled calamari with a view at Pulalli Bar

Taking the Seggiovia up to Monte Solaro

View from Monte Solaro straight down

View from Monte Solaro

View from Monte Solaro

Hiking route to the Blue Grotto

View en route to the Blue Grotto

View from near the Blue Grotto

View from near the Blue Grotto

Having reached Capri in a ferry chockfull of tourists, I shuddered at the thought of spending the rest of the day window shopping or visting the churches and museums.

Instead, I headed up the chairlift to Monte Solaro, Capri's highest point, where I was treated to the most beautiful sight of my life. A 360 degree view around the island which included a glimpse of the entire Bay of Naples, Mount Vesuvius and the impossibly blue waters of the Tyrrhenian sea that stretched farther than the eyes could see.

Sadly the island's most important attraction, the Grotta Azzurra, was closed due to rough sea conditions. This was a fate I had to come to terms with during my travels; my itinerary cannot be perfect and I may not always be in the right place at the right time. Adapting would be key to making the best out of such situations.

I suddenly remembered something I'd read in my trusted guidebook about a hiking route, one that led all the way to the mouth of the Blue Grotto. The hike sounded long and tiring but relatively simple. And it was. Six kilometers of narrow lanes and roads that ran up and down the hill on the western coast of the island.

This trek came with a magnificent view of the coastline that seemed to move with me, like paintings with eyes which follow you as you change position. This was a magical sense of perspective which I could only achieve by foot. Trivial things sometimes are the most special.

The treasure at the end was a dramatic view of an isolated cliffside that reaches down to the entry of the Blue Grotto. The image was etched into my memory forever. These pictures may resonate the beauty of this small island but it suffices to say that they don't do the actual experience justice.

Just minutes before boarding the last ferry out of Capri, it struck me that I'd spent the whole day forgetting to taste the one dish that is eponymous with the island-- the Caprese Salad. The most simple combination of the ripest tomatoes, fresh buffalo mozzarella, a few sprigs of basil and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

I ducked into the nearest deli and ordered a small Caprese panini instead. I didn't need much more. My appetite for Capri had already been satiated.

My Quick City Guide to Capri

Lunch at Pulalli Bar just for the view
Il Riccio neat the Blue Grotto for amazing food and a view

Window shopping on Via Vittorio Emanuele, the finest stretch of designer stores south of Rome.

Visit the Grotto Azzura (trek or jog there if possible)
Take the chairlift to Monte Solaro
Go for a leisurely swim at Marina Picolo

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