Word a week: The Beautiful Isle of Capri.

Sue’s ‘Word a week challenge’ is Island, and I immediately thought of the beautiful Isle of Capri. The maintown shares the same name, and has been a resort since the period of ancient Roman civilisation. The island is a large limestone and sandstone rock, and geological and archaeological findings have proved that it was once part of mainland Italy.

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We arrived by hydrofoil at the colourful port of Marina Grande.

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In the latter half of the 19th century, Capri became a popular resort for European artists, writers and other celebrities. The German artist and writer, August Kopisch revived public interest in the island, when he wrote a book,”Discovery of the Blue Grotto on the Isle of Capri,” in which he described his 1826 stay on the island, and his rediscovery of the amazing ‘Blue Grotto’ (Grotta Azzurra), which is a noted sea cave on the coast of the island, which is reputed to have been the private bath of the Emperor Tiberius. Sunlight, passing through an underwater cavity and shining through the seawater, creates an amazing blue reflection that illuminates the cavern. As we marvelled at the sight, the boatmen were all singing that old Italian song, “Volare,” and of course we  joined in.  The words of the song are “Nel blu dipinto di blu” (In the blue, painted blue), most appropriate.

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On the way over to the grotto, we saw the ancient ruins of a villa built by Tiberius Caesar, which now stands right at the edge of the water. I read that this notorious emperor was in the habit of having people who displeased him, thrown from the cliffs onto the rocks beneath. What a nice guy!

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There are beautiful villas built into the hillsides, mostly owned by rich and famous people such as Sophia Loren and  Giorgio Armani.

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This white one on the right, once belonged to Gianni Versace, and was inherited by his sister Donatella.

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There are gorgeous hotels, and at ‘The Capri Palace’ up the hill in Anacapri, we even had our own private terrace and garden. I would have loved to stay for much longer than two nights.

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The exquisite Caesar Augustus gardens overlook the Marina Piccola Bay and the Faraglioni Rocks.

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Shopping is a favourite pastime with all the tourists, but the ‘Via Camerelle’, is not for the penny-pinching, and is lined with the most expensive designer clothing boutiques, perfume shops and jewellers.

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This guy’s T-shirt really made me smile.

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The taxis are these huge, opened topped, and meticulously clean, and the drivers negotiate the extremely narrow, steep and winding roads at great speed. They were so narrow that I thought they were ‘one way’, until we met and squeezed past an oncoming one, with only room for another coat of paint between us.

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All too soon it was time to leave and as we looked back at this magical place, the sun was beginning its daily ascent,

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and we were on our way back across the bay and past the giant sea stacks to Naples.

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To see more bloggers’ contributions to this challenge, just click here.

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A visit to the Blue Grotto, and an idyllic day on Capri.

Continuing on from my Pompeii post and subsequent arrival on the beautiful Isle of Capri: The next day after a sumptuous breakfast, we got into a minibus taxi to go helter skelter, heart in my mouth once again, back down the hill to board a speed boat at the docks.

 

 

We were off to experience the wonders of  ‘The Blue Grotto’ (Grotta Azzurra), a noted sea cave on the coast of the island. Our guide told us that due to sunlight, passing through an underwater cavity and shining through the seawater, there is a blue reflection created, that illuminates the cavern. The boat journey was quite smooth, and when we arrived at the entrance to the cave, we were greeted by the sight of lots of little rowing boats which each took a maximum of four people. When I gingerly stepped over the edge and onto the rowing boat, I was told to lie flat in the bottom. I must mention here that the previous evening we’d been shopping, and I had been persuaded by a charming Italian boutique owner, into buying some rather elegant cream linen bermuda shorts and a crisp white shirt, so lying in the bottom of a rowing boat, wasn’t quite what I had in mind when I decided to wear them that day. 😉 An Australian woman, somewhat larger than myself, followed me into the boat, and she also had to lie flat, which meant she was lying right on top of me. We had become good friends on the tour, so I really didn’t mind as she was such a sweetie. I couldn’t help wondering though, as I struggled to breathe under her considerable weight, what my pristine outfit would look like after the ordeal, and wishing she’d got in first. Hubby and her 6’4″ son, lay in the other half of the boat, and we were expertly maneuvered through the very low and narrow opening into the grotto.

 

 

Once inside, we could thankfully sit up again, and marvelled at the beautiful deep blue of the water.

 

 

The boatmen all started singing that old Italian song, “Volare,” and everyone joined in. The sound echoed around the cave, and it was all very jolly. The words of the song are “Nel blu dipinto di blu” (In the blue, painted blue), most appropriate.

On the way over to the grotto, we saw the ancient ruins of a villa built by Tiberius Caesar, now standing right at the edge of the water.

Once back on the mainland, we went on the Funicular railway,

up to the town of Capri, where we were to have lunch at a restaurant on the Via Roma.

The most famous hotel on the island, is ‘Quisisana Capri’, originally built as a health retreat in 1845 by Scottish doctor George Clark. In 1868, it became a quaint ‘pensione’, but today, it’s one of the world’s most exclusive resorts, frequented by movie stars, royals, politicians and heads of state when they decide to spend a vacation on the Island of Capri,  When they were excavating in the early 1900′s to enlarge the hotel, the remains of a Mammoth from the Paleolithic era, was found.

 

The day was very warm, and perfect for sampling the delicious home-made gelato.  My choice was limone and fragola in a waffle cone, which was so superb that I just didn’t want it to end.

 

At the top of a few flights of steps, are the exquisite Caesar Augustus gardens overlook the Marina Piccola Bay and the Faraglioni Rocks.

 

There are beautiful villas set into the cliffs all around the island. Here are just a few and the one almost in the middle with the four pillars, belonged to Versace, and was inherited by his sister Donatella when he died.

Apparently many famous people, including Sophia Loren and Armani, own properties here. We had free time to wander around, and walked down the most famous street, the Via Camerelle, which has the most expensive designer clothing boutiques, perfume shops and jewellers.

I didn’t see any celebrities though, as apparently they only go there once the season ends, and the ‘Hoi polloi’ have all gone away again.

It was an idyllic day, then it was back to our Capri Palace hotel in Anacapri. We had a very early wake-up call the next morning, and after breakfast, we had to endure another scary taxi ride down the long and winding road, to catch the ferry back to Naples, from where we were to travel to beautiful Florence.