Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Capri is enchanting. With its reputation as a jet-setter destination, its stunning rows of white-awninged luxury shops, and its dramatic natural scenery, the island is a tiny paradise in the Mediterranean.
I first wanted to go to Capri after my cousin, who studied Architectural History at Brown, made a model of a bright pink house built into a huge cliff in Capri for the Modern Architecture class we took together. I, as a second-semester senior slacker with a job offer in hand, took the class pass/fail. Instead of a model, I wrote a paper on Czech cubist architecture. She won. And her model won me over. I wanted to visit this enchanting rugged isle with pink jeweled houses on steep sea cliffs.
Years later, I finally got the chance to visit. On our first full day in the Amalfi Coast, my boyfriend and I took a ferry from Sorrento to Capri. After exploring the waterfront area with its rows of small blue-and-yellow boats, we took the funicular up to the top of the mountain. High above reality, we found ourselves in a luxury goods fantasy land.
The town of Capri is a spectacular sight. Not only does it offer beautiful views of the sea, but also of that subset of people that takes its Hermes seriously. Long rows of white awnings ran down small sunny streets while red geraniums marked the entrances to Capri’s many luxury hotels and resorts. Add to that the vertigo I felt every time I looked down to the water, and it made for a very surreal experience.
Further down the path, a beautiful public garden boasted a plethora of purple pansies and bright-eyed daisies, not to mention cliff-edge lookout points on the top of Capri’s cactus-lined mountain.
After exploring Capri for awhile, we returned to the main square to get some lunch. While we ate our panini at Bar Tiberio, we noticed that almost everyone else in the restaurant—and all of the neighboring restaurants, for that matter—was enjoying a lunch of the liquid variety. It was then that it made sense that our generously proportioned panini cost only six euro while my boyfriend’s small bottle of Peroni cost nine.
After lunch we decided to explore Capri’s other main town, Anacapri (they are so creative with their names). We hopped on the world’s tiniest bus, a bright orange box whose stylishness paled exceedingly in comparison with the sparkling white convertible taxis nearby. As I shut my eyes while the driver careened around the winding cliff-side roads on the ten-minute journey, I began to wonder if the otherworldliness of the day was due to the vertigo.
Anacapri is about as different from neighboring Capri as can be in a ten minute drive. While Capri was all glamor and see-and-be-seen, Anacapri was much more relaxed and down-to-earth. It even had its own rustic ski-style chairlift to take people to the top of the mountain.
We spent an hour or so enjoying the relative calm in Anacapri, strolling down the narrow streets and up the green hills, before going back to the marina to catch our ferry. We had a bit of spare time when we got there, so we took a walk along the harbor to check out the yachts and other assorted seafaring vessels. Naturally, I got sidetracked by an adorable puppy, but I do recall some pretty impressive boats.
When our time in Capri was over, we got back on the ferry to Sorrento. Passing the short ride in admiration of the views of Mount Vesuvius, I couldn’t help but feel a little pang of regret for not trying to track down the pink house from my cousin’s cliff-top model. But then again, finding the reality might have ruined the enchantment of the tiny isle in the sea.