From Turkey we’re working our way up to Paris to celebrate my birthday. Fist stop en route is Capri, our third visit to what we think is probably the most beautiful place on earth. Seriously. It’s pretty close to perfect: sheer limestone cliffs rising out of impossibly blue water, beautiful walking trails, great hiking, spectacular views, good food. It’s beauty has been appreciated over thousands of years; it was a resort as far back as the era of the Roman Republic and Augustus spent considerable time here. His successor Tiberius, who came to hate Rome, spent the last 10 years of his reign on the island; he never returned to Rome after settling here. Jackie O was a regular habitué in the jet-setter 1970s, and Sophia Loren still has a house on the island. Perhaps it’s not surprising we find ourselves returning again and again.
Our dilemma in returning to Capri can be summed up in a simple question: Capri or Anacapri? Capri is the main town on the island and the center of fabulous. The best hotels are here as are the most beautiful “streets.” (I put that in quotation marks because these are all pedestrian tracks; cars and buses connect the two towns on the island along with the ports, but once inside the town it’s all on foot.) The great Roman ruins of both Augustus and Tiberius are accessed from Capri, while the iconic faraglioni are on this side of the island, too.On the other hand, Anacapri is more of a “real” town, with better and more affordable restaurants. It’s several hundred feet higher than Capri and has better hiking, including the Sentiero die Fortini (Path of Small Forts) on the relatively remote western coast, along with the world famous Blue Grotto. The good news is that, to say the least, there are no bad choices. First time we stayed near Capri, the second time in Anacapri, and this time back to Capri. And when we get a little tired of wherever we are, we hike to the other town. The Phoenician Steps, probably built first by early Greek settlers, used to be the only way between the two towns and we still climb them a significant part of the way between the two towns.
We timed our arrival in late September to coincide with the start of the low season; hotels are merely crazy expensive now, instead of insanely so. For the first two days the timing was perfect, still great weather for walking around and enjoying the island’s beauty. The third day, though, we woke up to a pretty hard rain, really the first rain like that we’ve seen in months. And for the next few days, that was the pattern, morning rain, clearing somewhat by noon. As a result I can now say definitively I love Capri even when it’s comparatively cold and rainy; it was still beautiful, if not in a “let’s go to the beach” kind of way.
Unlike our other stops on Capri, this time we didn’t stop in Naples; we just passed through on our way back and forth. We timed our outbound train to Florence, though, so that we could catch a morning boat from Capri, store our luggage for a couple hours at the train station, and have lunch in Naples. Besides just thoroughly enjoying even a quick chance to see Naples again, we scored big with a pretty random restaurant, a tiny, old restaurant with great food and, in the best Neopolitan tradition, the best bread on earth.
From here we’re off to Florence as we continue the trek to Paris.