Thursday, October 20, 2011

Walking, Walking, Walking

The Faraglioni
Our Sunday in Capri dawned with clear skies, freezing weather, and blowing winds. But the blue sky was gorgeous. As much as I love Capri, I hate the bus ride between Capri Town and Anacapri. It's wicked crowded, even in the off season. I don't even want to think about the summertime. I'd actually consider the 800 step pathway between the two towns rather than brave the bus in the summer. Since Sunday was our only full day, and thus, the only day to be totally backpack free, we decided to head into Capri Town. I'm sad to report that the gelato I've been in search of at Lo Sfizzieto was once again elusive. Third time was not the charm. The shop was actually open on this trip, a first for me, but by October, they've switched over to hot food items. I have no idea why. Good gelato is a valuable commodity even in January.

Even Capri's palm trees are cool.
We set off on the two kilometer walk to Villa Jovis, which I recalled from my research as a "short" walk that would take "20 minutes" or so. What seemed like an hour later, as we huffed and puffed up the walkway, and had to stop for a fruit juice and bathroom break at a cafe, I realized that the "we like to walk" phrase had done us in again. Although in this case, there was no other option. Perhaps there is a small trolley that navigates the narrow paths, but we never saw one.

Villa Jovis is the former palace of the Emperor Tiberius, who succeeded Caesar Augustus in 14 A.D. and ruled until 37 A.D. You Christians reading this blog will catch on to the importance of all these dates and names. Tiberius took a liking to Capri and ruled the Roman Empire, sort of, from there for the last 10 years of his life. He mostly left the empire running bit to bureaucracy back in Rome. There are all sorts of terrible rumors about what a horrible person Tiberius was. Another version, though, says that Tiberius was holed up on Capri grieving the death of his son, and all those other, nasty rumors were started by a rival trying to take over political control. After 30 years of marriage to the love of his life and mother of his only son, Caesar Augustus had forced (wonder if there should be quotes around that word?) Tiberius to divorce his wife (around 11 A.D.) and marry his [Augustus's] daughter, a loveless marriage with lots of bitterness and only one child who died in infancy. Tiberius supposedly pined away for his first wife. Then, Tiberius's son died in 26 A.D., at which point Tiberius moved permanently to Capri. Fun factoid: Tiberius discovered the source of the Danube river, although one could argue that the people who lived in the northern Danube region probably already had a pretty good idea of it's source. An interesting little note for us, living in the Campi Flegrei region, is that Tiberius, on his way to Rome, died in Miseno - Miseno is just down the road from us and in view from our Roof Terrace. Sometimes, when I walk in the steps of these guys, I feel their presence. I find myself talking and thinking about them as if they live today.

From Villa Jovis, the walk back into town was very quick. And from there, we started our real walk of the day. From Capri to Arco Naturale, beyond it and along the coastline to come up on the back side of Capri Town. After a short walk down to the natural stone arch, we backtracked up the path to head down to La Grotta di Matermania, a huge, natural cave that was used 2000 years ago as a nymphaeum (a natural grotto used as shrines to water nymphs). Supposedly the grotto still holds mosaics on the walls, but I couldn't find them. After this, the stairs headed down, down, down. I stopped counting at 200. We met no less than three groups of people headed up who stopped us to ask how much further. Sadly, for all groups, we had to report that it was much, much further. They apparently did not have the guidebook that clearly stated "for a tougher walk, do it in reverse" (thank you, Lonely Planet). Since we had the guidebook, we did not do it in reverse. After countless steps down, the walk then became a gentle stroll on a well paved path along the coastline. The views were much like the Path of the Gods hike on the Amalfi Coast (from back in April...Easter weekend...remember?). We had phenomenal views of the water and the Faraglioni, the three rock protrusions off the coast of Capri that grace most photo albums, websites, books, and brochures about the island (see my own photo above, which was taken from the top of Monte Solaro, not from the hike).

The M&Ms aren't in the picture because I've already eaten them
Finally reaching the backside of Capri, we passed gorgeous hotels, fancy shops, outdoor terraces that made me realize how miserably I have failed in setting up swanky lounge furniture on our own Roof Terrace, and loads of tourists. The original plan of sitting in a piazza with a glass of wine did not work out, mainly because the main piazza was like a wind tunnel and the sun had disappeared behind heavy clouds. Instead, we hopped onto the next bus back to Anacapri, stopped off in a salumeria for prosecco, prosciutto, cheese, olives, and M&Ms and headed back to the hotel and that lovely, open air terrace. Kitty did not follow us to warm our laps.

For dinner, we picked another restaurant with a shuttle from the piazza. You may, at this point, be crying out, "Use the shuttle." But we like to walk. So we put the address into my iPhone navigation and set off into the dark night. It looked easy and fairly close but as it turns out, Droid users get the last laugh because I couldn't use my navigation and my flashlight at the same time. Darn it. We found the location where the restaurant should have been, yet could not find it for the life of us. We walked up and down that road forever before Nathan finally called the restaurant. Chiuso. (Closed.). Will we never learn. Seriously, the theme of this weekend should be "Call for the shuttle!"
On our walk, we passed this dilapidated, falling down, humongous, gorgeous villa. While there was no for sale sign, surely a deal could be struck. By our best guesstimate, we only need us and approximately 89 of our closest friends to pitch in and share a Villa on Capri.

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