All Good Things Must Come to an End: A Day on Capri
23.09.2009 - 23.09.2009
We knew we wanted to spend our last day on Capri and the sunlight peeking through our windows that morning let us know that it was going to be a good day for it. We hadn’t made reservations for one of the boats that left from Marina di Praia, so we got ready, ate a quick bite, and ran down to the water to see if we could squeeze onto one.
The usual suspects were out bright and early, taking care of business in Marina di Praia. The net guy was by far my favorite. Everyone morning I would see him in his cap and suspenders, hands working quickly and deftly as he tied nets in the early light.
We checked with both boat outfits and they were full. I guess advance reservations are important.
I grabbed a cappuccino from “Grandpa” at Bar Mare and tried to ask him if he had a bus schedule for the local bus. I saw that they had one for the coast bus, and was hoping they had one for the smaller Positano-Praiano bus. Communication was a challenge, since neither of us spoke the same language, but I managed to get my point across and he held up a crooked finger, nodded, and walked off.
I was sipping my hot cappuccino, watching the hustle and bustle of the waterfront when he walked up waving a bus schedule. He smiled a huge, genuine smile and patted me on the back and walked back inside.
The plan was to catch the bus to Positano (to avoid paying for all day parking) and catch the ferry to Capri. It was a lot cheaper than the boats from Marina di Praia, just not as convenient. We saw that the bus we needed was in 8 minutes! I was quickly gulping my cappuccino, unwilling to waste a drop, when “Grandpa” came running out waving his hands.
“Cappuccino, tranquila! Cappuccino, tranquila!” he said to me, motioning for me to slow down. I pointed to the bus schedule and shrugged my shoulders, taking one last gulp.
“Ah,” he said, as he shooed us up the hill so we didn’t miss our bus.
We bolted up the hill as fast as our legs would carry us and we just made it.
The bus ride was quick and uneventful and within minutes, we were deposited at the top of the hill that led down to the beach where the ferry was located. As we walked down the hill, Positano shone before us, the ceramic dome of Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta reflecting the early morning sunlight like a beacon.
Chairs were lined up in straight rows like bright little soldiers on the beachfront in stark contrast to the haphazard jumble of boats littered along the sand. All were waiting for the people to arrive.
The beachfront was busy with early beachgoers and hordes of people looking for the right ferry and the right line. Children ran and played at the water’s edge and young men washed boats, getting them ready for the busy day. Lemonade stands peddled their tartly frozen treats and the smell of baking pastries drifted out of the pasticcerias.
We boarded the ferry and it pulled slowly and laboriously away from shore. Positano drifted away in the sunshine, becoming smaller and smaller as we made our way down the coast.
An hour later, we were pulling into Marina Grande on Capri. Yachts lined up in bright white rows beneath a harbor frantic with activity. Tourist shops jammed one against the other were stacked up at the entry, their brightly tacky signs proclaiming the best limoncello or the most authentic sandals.
Most people headed for either the bus or a taxi.
We had something different in mind.
We walked to Capri Scooter. Four twenty-somethings were speaking to the guy renting the scooters. We sat down and waited our turn.
He looked at them and barked, “You ride a scooter every day?”
“Um…no…” they stuttered, looking at each other, confused.
“You EVER ride a scooter before today?” he practically yelled.
“N-n-no….” one of them said, timidly, wringing his hands.
“Then you no rent my scooter. The first time you ride scooter, you think you ride MY scooter? No.”
With a flip of his hand, he sent them on our way.
He looked at us. “Scooter?” he asked. Uh-oh, it was our turn with the Scooter Nazi.
Despite the fact that we do not ride a scooter every day and have, indeed, never ridden a scooter, we were sitting proudly on a bright yellow rent-a-scooter in minutes. In addition to being able to use charades to find conventos and bearing a remarkable likeness to come American Actor, Matt is also a master of BS.
We cruised up the steep hill, making the curving switchbacks across the slope, heading toward Capri Town. I loved it! Sitting on the back, holding onto Matt with the wind in my face made me feel like I was flying across Capri. We stopped at the top of the hill and looked down at the view of Marina Grande. Capri stretched out before us, a bright emerald jewel encased in a sea of aquamarine.
We skipped the over-touristed Capri Town and made our way to Anacapri, the quieter, slower paced town on Capri.
Once we pushed past the maddening throng of tourists that seemed to swarm around the shops right at the roadway, we found a sweet and silent little town, dressed in whitewashed walls and riots of flowers. There was almost no one around as we wandered through the tiny streets and perused the quaint shops of Anacapri.
Not sure where to grab a bite, we stumbled on a beautiful setting. Il Saraceno Di Cafiero Celestini was a beautiful little restaurant way off the beaten path. The restaurant used to serve as a convent between 2 churches that are 1000 years old. It has served as a restaurant for 100 years. It’s not a place many tourists find, generally being recommended by locals, so we were extremely lucky that we simply bumped into it.
The pizza was so good that we ordered 2. The first was covered with ham, olives and mushrooms. The second was a four cheese pizza layered in mozzarella, parmesan, gorgonzola, and pecorino. The crust was light and crispy, perfectly chewy at the edges. The cheese was hot and savory, bursting with flavor. Even their bread was the best we had on the trip, crusty on the outside but extremely dense and moist on the inside.
After our pizza and vino, we roamed the maze of alleyways that eventually led us back to our scooter. We hopped back on and were airborne once again.
Our post-lunch destination was Lido del Faro beach, the most beautiful on the island. When we reached the dead end of the road, we knew we had arrived. A happy little lighthouse sat perched high on the rocks pointing the way.
We had learned that Italian beaches weren’t what we were used to, and Lido del Faro was no exception. Unexpected, but stunningly beautiful, it consisted of multiple levels of dark, smooth rocks and cliffs surrounded by cold, clear, blue water.
Bright wooden boats and colorful towels lay scattered about as golden sunbathers, swathed in oil, soaked in the glorious rays.
We plunged our bodies into the deep blue of the sea. The water was cold and crisp and saltier than we were used to. We were suspended in the sparkling blue waves, diving under again and again, floating buoyantly on the surface, feeling like we were birds drifting deliciously in a watery sky.
Before we pruned, we headed up to the patio where we grabbed two chairs and ordered some cold drinks. Frosty mojitos full of fresh lime and mint arrived with a bowl of firm green olives and crispy wafers.
We spent the afternoon oblivious to anything but the blue sea and the clear sky and the sweet taste of the drinks in our hands.
We had a ferry to catch, so we eventually broke the spell of the sea and pulled ourselves out of our sunsoaked stupor. We hopped back on the scooter and zipped our way down the streets of Capri back toward the marina.
With a few minutes to spare, we took a side street down to Marina Picolo. From there, you could see I Faraglioni, three giant rocks that sit off Capri’s coast. We soaked in those last few sweet moments and then hopped back on the scooter to head back.
Riding back, sitting behind Matt and holding on, I felt such a sense of peace and contentment. At that moment, I couldn’t imagine feeling any happier than I did right then. The world was a beautiful and magical place and I had been blessed to see so much of it. I rested my head on his shoulder, hugged him tight, and sighed.
Our day on Capri ended uneventfully, if you don’t count when I tripped over my own feet and scraped most of the skin off my toes as we walked back to the ferry. We rode in silence, drifting in and out of a light doze with the rocking waves, and headed back to Positano, the hulking shapes of I Faraglioni just shadows against a sparkling silver sea.
As we arrived in Positano, the sun was setting, but the beachfront was still a flurry of activity.
Tables were being set out for dinner, the smells of roasting garlic and fresh bed reaching out of the restaurants. Chairs and boats were being put in for the night. Shoppers laughed and wandered from store to store with bags of purchases. We grabbed a Granita di Limone (Matt had developed a little addiction...) and headed for the bus.
With this being our last night, a dinner choice was a very big deal. It didn’t take a second of thought, however. We weren't even tempted by the smells of Positano. We both knew our last night had to be spent at Bar Mare.
We were greeted with big smiles, like family, when we walked in. The night was beautiful so we were able to sit at a candlelit table outside under the stars. We ordered sides of zucchini and eggplant (which I now loved) and a plate of gnocchi and rigatoni with swordfish. Everything was as wonderful and delicious as it had been the last time.
For dessert we tried both cheesecakes: a regular cheesecake with pears and a chocolate cheesecake. It’s tough to say which one was better.
Our warm and gracious host again brought glasses of limoncello for us before he would let us leave. “Grandpa” smiled and waved as he sat drinking wine at a nearby table. We sipped the strong, sweet liquid letting it warm us from inside. When it was time to go, we gave and received warm hugs and said our goodbyes.
The night was bittersweet, a beautiful day to bring a beautiful trip to a close, but the end of something so special and magical I could scarcely believe it had been real.