The Isle of Capri

Today we headed over the sea to the isle of Capri. After a few trials just getting to the ferry port ( Metro strike, packed buses, no small notes for a taxi ) we settled in for an uneventful ride to the island.
On arrival, since it was now lunchtime, we found a nice waterfront restaurant and enjoyed a lovely lunch of calamari and salad, watching the crowd wander by.

After lunch we headed to the Grotta Azzurra( Blue Grotto ), probably the most famous site of Capri. The grotto gets it name from the blue water inside, caused by the light reflecting though the small opening (about 1m over the waterline ) and from the sand at the bottom of the grotto. Getting in is a bit of an operation: you get a fast boat from the Marina Grande, then after waiting for your boat’s turn, you transfer to small row boats, 4 at a time, sitting on the floor. There’s very little headroom on the way in. Then after another small wait (one way traffic only though the opening), your captain pulls you in, timing it so that you enter on the low of a swell (did I mention the lack of headroom?)

Once inside, it’s pitch black, until you look behind you at the opening. Then you are presented with the most amazing blue that I have ever seen. After 5 perfect spring days with not a cloud in the sky, of course the day we went was overcast, but the colour was still amazing. I can only imagine what it would have been like on a sunny day.
After a short lap of the grotto so that all in the boat can have a good view, we return to the daylight and to our boat for the return trip to the marina.

From here we took the funicular to the Piazza Umberto I, the main square of Capri Town. As we rose up the hill, the views over the Gulf of Naples were impressive, but it was a bit hazy so hard to make out Mt Vesuvius. Would have been magnificent on a clear day.

We wanted to see the Church of San Stefano, with contained a marble floor taken from Villa Jovis, with was Tiberius’ home when he was in town. As the church was closed until 4pm, we wandered around the square and found a little restaurant for some gelato and a coffee. It turns out that gelato is double if you want a seat, but we did so we paid the extra. Fortunately there was no such tax on the coffee, so the snack was still affordable, but only slightly less than our lunch.

When the church opened we inspected the inside. This 17th century church is less flashy that the other churches we had seen in Naples, but that was good since it was less of an assault on the senses. While ornate, the walls and ceiling were painted in white, which allowed you to focus on the details of the workmanship in the mouldings instead of being distracted by the colour and gilding present in many of the mainland churches. The floor from Villa Jovis was contained in a small chapel, it was in good condition for 2000 year old floor but not very ornate.
After that, since it wasn’t a clear day, we decided to catch the bus down the hill to the marina to get the ferry home. This was another adventure on it’s own. Linda still hasn’t recovered: she was in the front seat behind the driver. The combination of narrow laneways and a wide bus presented some interesting passing maneuvers. This was compounded by our discovery that bus drivers are the same the world over. Fortunately we arrived at the bottom in one piece.

It seemed that everyone one else was heading home early too, so we had to what for an hour and a half for the next available ferry. Since we were at the bottom of the hill and didn’t want to go back up, we decided to have a drink at another harbourside restaurant. A hard life, but someone has to support these small businesses struggling to make a living (at 10 dollars a beer, I don’t think they are struggling too hard). Followed up with a little window shopping, then boarded the ferry back to Naples. A pleasant last day in Naples despite the weather not being the best.

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