My thoughts have lately turned to my past
to the island of Capri. The magic of that place
calls to one long after leaving its rocky shores.
This siren song is not imagined; local Neapolitan
legend speaks of a mermaid named Partenope who
lured many with her singing. I can almost hear her
now as my thoughts yearn for Capri's clear waters
and sweet limoncello.
Capri has long been a place of escape. As far
back as 2,000 years ago, the Roman emperor Tiberius
took up residence on the island paradise, largely
ignoring his empire in favor of a carefree and
licentious lifestyle. The ruins of his
villafrom the cliffs of which he was rumored
to have thrown his enemiescan still be
visited to this day.
During our visit, we stayed at the Hotel Tosca.
Though it was only a one-star hotel, it had
recently been remodeled. Our comfortable, freshly
renovated room felt brand-new. I can recall lying
on the bed, warm sunlight pouring in, listening to
our proprietor Ettore quarrel with his
mother-in-law in the yard, thinking there was
nowhere else I'd rather be.
Good ol' Ettore also gave me a line on a
shortcut down the steep cliffs to a secluded beach.
A locked gate blocked the twisting Via Krupp, but
following Ettore's advice, I hopped over it and
walked down the hill to Capri's crystal clear
waters. Using a pair of swimming goggles, I did
some snorkeling (without the snorkel). Capri's
dramatic geology created an underwater fantasyland
of crevices, caves and crannies. Though the marine
life was sparse, the experience felt like visiting
And though Capri is an island paradise, it is
also Italian. And the little town of Capri is about
as Italian as they come. Locals and tourists alike
gather in the "piazzetta" to sip espresso and
limoncello. Quaint shops and delicious restaurants
lie hidden in the labyrinth of Capri's narrow
streets. You are as likely to hear an old woman
singing or arguing as you are a bird singing.
The side trip to Capri took place by sheer
happenstance, a knee-jerk reaction to the
in-your-face chaos of Naples. But the unplanned
excursion turned out to be the highlight of the
entire six-week trip. I have many colorful memories
of those European travels, but my wandering mind
almost always finds its way back to Capri.
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