The island of Capri, Italy has been a popular destination for contemporary Italians and foreign globetrotters since the 1950’s. Even in the ancient reign of the Romans it was considered a resort for the elite.
I had the wonderful opportunity to lay my eyes and step my feet onto the island as a birthday gift from my husband. When he asked me, “How would you like to go to Rome and possibly Capri?” I eagerly replied, “That sounds wonderful!” It would be my first chance at a trip to any location in Europe. I followed quickly with my next response, “Which day are we going to Capri?” I knew Rome would be impressive but Capri sounded like an absolute escape.
Capri sits in the Tyrrhenian Sea, south of the Gulf of Naples. The island pleases the eyes displaying panoramic villas at the top of its limestone mountains. There is no question as to why many Italians themselves escape to Capri and its sister city, Anacapri, located in the high hills. The views are captivating. Three things will always be inscribed in my memory of Capri. Beautiful groves of canary yellow, Sorrento lemons decorate the landscape. Stunning hilltop views beg admirers not to leave. And, most memorable, a breathtaking sea cave tempts guests to jump in and explore further despite the cool temperature.
Capri is well known for lemon groves that produce Limoncello lemon liqueur. The Sorrento lemon groves were originally started by ancient clergymen as ornamental plants, but proved to be more valuable for their superb juice. Capri also grows lovely crops of oranges and olives, as well as, Ventroso grapes for wine. The streets are full of Limoncello products and olive oils, both popular take home souvenirs. And of course, the wine is easier to find than water.
Anacapri, the sister city of Capri sits in the high hills with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean. Our tour guide maneuvered a small bus up the tiny, two lane road with multiple switchbacks. I caught myself saying, “Wow, would you look at that view?” and then immediately changing my mind, “Oh, I can’t look down. That makes me so dizzy!” Giant cedar umbrella trees and garden terraces lined the road so I decided to admire them instead. The top of Anacapri is a haven for artists and writers obviously inspired by the beauty. And if you feel like going even higher, a chair lift takes individual riders all the way up to the top of the mountain. I declined that adventure noticing the increasing wind and no bars on the chairs.
The true jewel of Capri lies inside a mysterious sea cave called the Blue Grotto. Also known as the Grotta Azzura, Emperor Tiberius used the cave as a swimming pool between 42 B.C. and 37 A.D. In its glory days, the pool was decorated with statues of sea gods such as the Greek god Triton and the Roman god Neptune. The entrance of the cave can be entered on a good day with calm ocean waters by small row boats. “We are lucky today,” said our guide Marco, “the weather is cooperating and we can go inside. But it is optional and you don’t have to go,” he said. Several people stayed on the larger boat, but I was not going to miss the opportunity. We stepped into a small row boat with five people aboard.
As Marco rowed us to the opening of the cave, it seemed impossible for our small vessel to fit through. “Everyone lie down on your backs and don’t get up until I say all clear,” Marco said in his thick Italian accent. “If you sit up too soon you will hit your head on the rocks,” The five of us being strangers before quickly became comfortable with each other giggling that we looked like sardines in a tin can. It was apparent that Marco had done this many times acquiring the skills to balance, row standing up and then duck just in time to pull us in with a metal chain. Before anyone could panic we were inside the astounding cave. “You can sit up now,” said Marco, “Take a look.” We all clapped and sighed in amazement. “Thanks,” said Marco, “I’ve fallen in several times, but I’m getting better.” Then as he rowed us through, Marco broke out in Italian song demonstrating the acoustics inside. We had plenty of head room to look inside the cavernous natural wonder. A much larger opening under the water allows sunlight to reflect upon the sand at the bottom of the cave. It causes the water to glow in a brilliant turquoise blue. It was such a thrill to see. I held my camera tightly and snapped away. I will never forget the day we slipped through a literal ‘eye of a needle’ and glimpsed upon a small piece of heaven.
For more information on Italy and Capri contact our local travel expert: Linda Murfin, CTC Above the Crowds 803-835-0585 firstname.lastname@example.org