Europe 14 - Day 32


Today we had a full itinerary on Capri. After breakfast at the hotel we wandered back up the steep path to the Piazzetta at the top of the cable car and from there we were bundled into taxis with manic drivers to take us up the steep hill to Anacapri. If we survived the trip we were then to visit the famous residence of San Michele, built by the eccentric Swiss Doctor Axel Munthe. We were also scheduled to take the small gondola up to the very top of Anacapri, if it was operating. After lunch back at sea level we crowded onto a launch for a tour around the island, to see the famous grottos, caves and islands. We did not have time to enter the famous Blue Grotto, so that will have to wait for another time. Dinner was at a more isolated hotel on the south coast of the island, again using the crazy taxi drivers.

Anacapri and the Villa San Michele

When we gathered after breakfast at the piazzetta we were not too sure where the road would take us. Aldo the tour guide pointed out a sheer bluff and told us the road went around it and up to the top, and if we looked hard we could see the road and a small white building that was part of Villa San Michele. Many people did not believe him - wishful thinking I suppose. We were bundled into small vans and the driver took off at reckless speed on the impossibly narrow road. We met cars and buses coming the other way and just when you thought there would be an impasse and a lot of shouting and gesticulating, one vehicle would dive into a driveway or narrow layby and we would sail past with millimetres to spare. We did make it to the top and walked down the pleasant path to Villa San Michele, the residence bult in the 1920s by Axel Munthe. He had visions of Roman ruins then went and dug them up to add to his house. One of these was a large granite Sphinx.

View towards the heights of Anacapri from the piazzetta.
Perhaps that is a track running around the bluff.
Are we really going to drive on that? Yes we are, and the white building above it is part of Villa San Michele.
While we waited we could study the porcelain map of Capri.
Then we were off on the race to the top. The taxi in front was named "Exciting Linen" - maybe a reference to needing clean sheets if you looked over the side of the road on the way up...?.
Plenty of hairpins.
A rare solid fence.
Passing under the white building - don't look down.
That taxi got past but the bus kept coming at us. We blinked and it shot past.
At the top, no scratches on this taxi - yet!.
Life is slower up in Anacapri.
This is where we are going.
Down a pleasant lane...
And there is Villa San Michele.
Every Roman house had a guard dog...
And a reminder of what happened to burglars.
Axel Munthe's kitchen was a simple affair.
Across the courtyard....
And into his bedroom...
And drawing room.
Outside is a well-kept garden.
With mature trees...
And a loggia full of statues.
As you walk along you are reminded of how blue the Mediterranean Sea is.
Eventually you can look down on the harbour with the ferry returning to Naples or Sorrento.
This is what we are looking for - the Sphinx.
As you round the corner and take in the view....
You can see the Sphinx looking out over the island
The Sphinx.
Paul and Sphinx in 2014.
Douglas and Sphinx in 1990.

The heights of Anacapri and Monte Solaro

From the Piazza Vittoria in Anacapri there is a gondola to take you to the top of Monte Solaro for the view over the whole islnad. It is a great ride, but when we queued up it was not operating - something about an engineering inspection, which gave us a lot of confidence. But they soon got over that and we climbed aboard for the trip to the top. It is a small gondola, each seat only takes one person.

The gondola up Monte Solaro.
The town of Anacapri below.
Looking east across Capri and the Faraglioni Islands.
And back down to the bottom again.

Around the Island by Boat

After the heights of Anacapri we headed back down to sea level to the Marina Grande harbour where the ferries depart for Naples. After a quick lunch beside the sea we boarded a launch for a trip around the island. We went past a lot of caves and grottos cut into the limestone. In all of them the colour of the Mediterranean was an amazing deep blue. We then passed amongst the Faraglioni Islands and back around the island to the harbour again. After a wander around the shops we took the funicolare back to our hotel.

All these boats, not for the fishing but the Blue Grotto.
The Grotto is the small cave at sea level.
The flotilla of boats heading to the Blue grotto.
Heading back into the harbour.
And a welcome gelato shop or two.

Giardini di Augusto

Just beyond our hotel the path heads downhill to the gardens overlooking the Faraglioni Islands. We wandered through the gardens, took in the view and wondered who in their right mind would have built the Via Krupp that zig-zagged up the cliff. Then after another gelato we were ready for dinner. The crazed taxi drivers took us down the hill to a hotel on the south coast and we had a delightful dinner in the cool of the evening, looking at the Faraglioni.

A seat in the Giardini di Augusto.
There were many bushes with these flowers.
The view of the Faraglioni.
Yes, that really is a pathway down to the sea.
Entrance to our hotel...
La Residenza.
A last view of the Faraglioni.
The same islands after we survived the taxi ride to dinner.
Us at the restaurant.
Back up the hill, passing a few shops...
And then watching the sunset.


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Last updated: 9/11/2014