The magical island of Capri

Coast Magazine (01/09/2009)

Capri soars straight out of the Mediterranean, its vertical rock Façade and green slopes shrouded in floating cumulus clouds as the morning light ssarms the port of entry with its fevered pare of arrivals and departures. Needless to say, Capri is a popular place, even in early September when “the season” is supposedly winding down. Bill within minutes of arriving a representative from the Hotel Caesar Augustus has mee en route, by passing Capri town proper toward the highland village of Anacapri. The view is spectacular that is. until I’m staling down an immediate 1,000 foot drop, the small two lane road we’re on more or less being bolted to the side of a vertical rock face. It was with great anticipation that I arrive on the footsteps of the Caesar Augustus. As a majority of use destinations in Capri town itself are boutique hotels, the wide open landscape and scenic views of this luxurious property make quite an impression. It doesn’t take long for my pool relocation program to begin. The warm wind rolling off the Mediterranean lulls lite into a blissful tap; i think I’m dreaming when I realize that Rick Springfield is actually in the chair next to tile. With all signs I’ve been traveling for use better pail of a day washed away, my first night’s adventure involves a walk about town. The island of Capri is separated by the highlands, here use town of Anacapri and Hotel Caesar Augustus is located, and what could be considered the saddle where use toss is of Capri itself plays host to a constant parade of tiaxelers. I make it a plan to visit the most storied of Capri’s destinations - use Piazzetta - Center of the island and ground zero to all goingson. I drop into the night patio scene conscions that this is the place to see and be seen, the high and not so high roilers cruising to and from their off site villas flanking the single track trails about the hillsides. The masses are dressed to the nines: Dolce & Gabbana, and all of their Italian designer brethren would be proud as their designs are flaunted across site Piazzetta. I am befriended by a wonderful artist named Carlos in his mid 70s svito took up occupancy in Capri 30 somethings years ago. Each night thereafter we would meet in the Piazzetta and talk of his year in Capri. He speaks of the glamour of the old days, the lifestyle of the island and its opennes to all people. Capri’s image overhaul in the 19th and 20th centuries came, as a result of its international appeal as a place of refuge for many famous artists, writers, poets, and people of wealth and influence over the years. Entranced by the beauty of the environment and the warmth of the people, it’s obvious that same joie de vivre exsists today though perhaps with a bit of commercial profitteering mixed in “While it can be pretentious at times” Carlos tells me “equally the people be they of privilege, of upper class or of modest means, alt come together and commune happily with one another. It is paradise!” Paradise in the Mediterranean, yes; a sociological transcendence of class and stereotype, I don’t think so. It was clear to see how Capri has become this sort taf chic, utopian Shangri La for those si ito’s c run away from their normal routine and made the island their permanent residence. From its flamboyant gay community that was accepted long ago to its transient artist colony from years past, not to mention the who’s hot now celebrity hit list, it’s little surprise that the mystic lure of Capri continues to this day. That said, aside from the ultra private rock grottos fronting the Mediterranean, every one can get into most any venue for a price. And while there is probably little chance you’ll be toasting Champagne with the Beckhams and Cruises of the world. if you want to feel like something special, you’ll definitely be able to feel even more special for a price. I quickly come to realize that in Capri, the question isn’t one of what to do, but when to do it. There are enough activities to keep the most active of travelers occupied for a week, and I make sure to explore as many aptions as possible. From the unforgettable panoramic views found at the top of Mount Solaro to my near circumnavigation of Anacapri by foot and twice daily Vespa. rides exploring not only Capri central and its various beachside watering holes, but the equally numerous archeological ruins ol Roman ancestry each day is full of discovery. With only a day left, I have the honor of being hosted by Rebecca Brooks, an American expat who’s now running a successful travel business called Capritime Tours. She arrived and never left, as so nany that I over the course se of my stay do, and with that, she offers a full day tour of the island by boat. From the water, the landscape of Capri stands alone as one of its greatest attributes, and touring by boat allowed us to explore the numerous caves and water grottos hidden about the island. We swim through turquoise caves, have lunch and sip Champagne while drying beneath the bronzing rays of the Mediterranean sun. Then in an inebriated slate, we enjoy the adrenaline rush of cliff jamin topping 20, 30, 40-feet, and moore. And at the end of the day as a good Roman emperor would, we arrive at the infamous Grotta Azzurra. Arguably Capri’s most famous feature, the “blue” grotto was once used by Roman emperor Tiberius as his own personal water nymphaeum. The surreal view from inside out is transparent like no cave I’ve ever experienced. In actuality the underbelly of the cave is open to the exterior allowing for a reflection of light to bounce up from under the water and into the cave. That light is then filtered by the water, which absorbs its red tones, leaving only the blue hues of the sea to pass through. Alone, after hours, having swum in the cave by myself, I feel transported in time. Tiberius was on to something here I mean who in their right mind would think of a water nympheaeum? In retrospect it makes complete sense. My wish is Capri’s command, a novelty and a reality all in one.