Capri, and Home to Rome
I drove directly to Sorrento from Paestum, and returned the car. I was very pleased to be returning it with no new abrasions. (Big sigh!) The officious gal at the Maggiore rentals desk was there waiting for me, and every bit as clinical as when I picked up the car. I hope they find a good home for my beloved cap I bought in Perugia a few years back, that I left in the back seat.
The only way to get to Capri is on one of the ferries. I walked down the hill to the ferry terminal, bought my ticket, and waited for the ferry.
I thought the ferry would be a hydrofoil, but it turned out to be a catamaran. There are no vehicles ferried to Capri unless you’re a resident. Here again, smaller is better, as the roads on Capri are narrow, steep, and have very tight bends.
There are two towns on Capri named, oddly-enough, Capri, on the south end of the Island, and Anacapri, on the north end of the island.. I had a reservation at Antico Monastero in Anacapri.
The Antico Monastero is a family-owned B&B in what used to be a monastery. I didn’t take any photos of my room, but there are some on the hotel’s website. The father and son who admitted me and checked me in, were friendly, welcoming, and made me feel right at home. It was a big room, a big bed, and I was comfortable. After dropping my bag, I set out to explore Anacapri and take some photos.
At breakfast the next morning, I talked to my hosts about what I should do with my day. After considering their suggestions, I set out for Villa Jovis which are the ruins of the palace of Roman emperor Tiberius. They were, as it happened, on the other end of the island. That was perfect, because I had only one day to explore, and I wanted to take in as much as I could.
Following the directions, or perhaps my interpretation of the directions, I found myself on a set of stairs that descended all the way from Anacapri down to the Marina Grande. It was a very long set of stairs, and I knew as I ambled down, there was no way I’d be walking back up.
Down and down and down, and still there were more stairs. As I came to realize I was not on the prescribed path, I also realized that I wasn’t going to climb all the way back up. I decided to go all the way down to the Marina, and then take a bus up to Capri at the other end of the island.
When I arrived at the Piazetta in Capri Centre, I had a café mocha and plotted my course to Villa Jovis.
It was a 35-minute walk, but the elevation gain would be the challenge. There are a few roads on Capri for cars, but most of the ‘streets’ are narrow lanes for pedestrians. If I was going to get to Villa Jovis, I had one way to get there. Fortunately, my New Balance shoes brake well, and their cornering is superb; they’re built for negotiating these types of byzantine paths.
It took me a little longer to get there than 35 minutes; I think it took me about 90 minutes after getting lost several times. You see, I was using the GPS on my (smart?) phone to navigate the meandering streets, and I wanted to insure I had enough battery to get myself home, so I didn’t turn on the wifi radio. Turns out, the GPS is much less accurate without the wifi signal.
I knew I was getting close to my target. There couldn’t be too many wrong turns remaining. It was the middle of the afternoon, so the streets were mostly-deserted. I happened to pass a very nice lady that confirmed that yes, I was on the right path to get to Villa Jovis, and it would be opening on march 1st. Mind you, it was February 28th.
At this point, it didn’t matter. I was going to get to that damned place if it killed me. As I walked up the last stretch of road to the gate, I was greeted by a small herd of little goats. After suffering their mocking stares, I proceeded up to the locked gate, where I took a photo of the ‘closed’ sign.
As I was about to turn around and return the way I had come, I heard someone speaking. There was an old, long-haired guy talking on a cell phone on the other side of the gate near the admission ticket shack.
“Si apre domani”
He muttered something into his phone, and hung up. Realizing I’m a tourist, he switched to English.
“How long are you going to be here?”
“I leave tomorrow morning. It’s a long walk up here. May I come in for a short look around?”
“Are you alone?” He looked over my shoulder, suspecting there was a hoard of tourists behind me.
Italians are great. He pulled out a set of keys and unlocked the padlock that bound the gate closed, swung it open, and let me in. He asked me if I wanted to buy a ticket. All I had for money was a fifty Euro note, and some U.S. dollars. He pulled out fifteen Euro, and told me he couldn’t make change. Admission was 5 Euros, so I offered him a twenty dollar bill in exchange for the ten euro note, and admission. That works out to about seven dollars for admission but, after getting him to open the gate, I wasn’t going to try to barter it down. He gave me a ticket, picked up his cell phone, and was soon back into an animated conversation with someone who could understand Italian when spoken at light-speed. I didn’t want to waste too much time, and proceeded to look around the old ruins. I took a few photos, enjoyed the view, and thanked him on my way out.
Thursday morning, and I was back on the ferry to Naples. I took a death-defying ten-euro cab ride from the ferry landing to Piazza Garibaldi and the main train station. What a change to go from sleepy Anacapri, to the chaos of Naples! A half hour later I was relaxing on a train to Rome.
Feels like I’m back at home at Hotel Corot in Rome. I went to the Bazooka Uomo clothing store where I had bought a hat years before. The store owner is an old, very-talkative Israeli guy. He was still there, but he didn’t remember me. He speaks English well, and was happy to show me photos of himself with some famous people who’ve been in his store and bought clothes from him. The shop is just off via Nationale on via Quatro Fontane
Hat on my head, I paid a visit to Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri which is an old marble basilica built on the Baths of Diocletian. It’s a beautiful church and, judging by the ruins of the baths, and the quality of the marble that was stripped from the baths to build it, the baths must have been extraordinary in their day too. Some of the columns supporting the church are the original columns built for the baths. Everywhere you go in Rome there’s another magnificent story.
I went to my favorite restaurant in Rome, Il Marghutta and then returned to Hotel Corot for a good night’s rest. Walking around Rome at night is intoxicating. The city is beautiful and quiet at night, so rich in history and character. It’s my favorite city. It feels like home.
Friday morning I vacated my room, stashed my bag in the hotel’s closet, and set out to take some more photos of the Forum Romanum and the Colosseum.
I stopped by a gem-of-a-pizza shop Pizzeria Del Secolo for one last slice of pizza.
After retrieving my bag from the hotel, I caught the train out to Ostia. I spent the night in a nice hotel near the airport in the port of Fiumicino. I watched the fishing boats come in, and sell their catch on the dock.
I had to catch a very early flight to Frankfurt, and then to my other home.
My dog was happy to see me.