As we hurried through the streets of Sorrento, dragging what felt like my own bodyweight behind me, I was determined we were going to make the ferry. If we missed it, we’d have to wait over an hour for the next one. Earlier that morning, I’d crammed as much as possible into the case. Now, I was starting to think it would have been easier for us to wear some of it. With Ian trailing behind me, I shouted at him like I always do in situations like this: ‘Come on team Roberts, keep going – don’t let me down’. Reaching the top of some stairs, we grabbed the bag between us and hoisted it up. The bag swung awkwardly, as out of sync we hurried downwards, one flight, and then another. When we reached the bottom it was downhill all the way. With no-one having the courtesy to make room on the pavement as they walked towards us, I dragged the case onto the cobbled road, muttering under my breath as I went – while from behind, Ian voiced his concerns about how I was going to knacker the wheels. Eventually, breathing heavily, and producing the amount of sweat I normally save for a run, we reached the pier. Ian headed straight for the ticket queue, while others, not having the patience to wait, jumped ship and walked away. After making a last minute dash to the ferry, we found ourselves stood in a sea of people, all eager to make the trip across to Capri – some just for the day and others for longer.
Making our way off the ferry and then fighting our way through the crowds, we walked along the harbour trying to decide where to eat. It was like a competition, with restaurant after restaurant shoving menus into our hands as we passed by, all trying to win our business. None of them looked particularly appetising, and in hindsight we should have waited until we’d reached Anacapri, but in the end, our rumbling stomachs made us give in. As we sat looking out to sea, watching the ferries come and go, I noticed a number of stray dogs wandering around. Just like at Pompeii, they wandered from person to person, hoping for a scrap of food or at the very least, perhaps some attention. This was the most difficult part of Italy for me, I felt helpless and it broke me on more than one occasion.
Taking a taxi ride!
Taking a taxi ride on the island of Capri is a must have experience, and that’s exactly what we did after lunch. Convertible, quirky and driven by some of the most random characters you’ll ever meet, a taxi journey gives an amazing view of the island. And if you get a chatty driver like we had, he’ll even point out landmarks and give you a history lesson along the way. Although hurtling along the mountain roads, sliding from one side of the seat to the other, at times, felt more like a rollercoaster ride than a taxi.
The Monte Solaro
We were staying at the Monte Solaro, part way up Mount Solaro where the views were true to the photos on their website. Costanzo, the owner, was the perfect host. He collected us upon arrival and drove us up the steep hill to our digs. Our room led out directly onto the terrace, where we were met with a scene straight out of a holiday brochure: hazy sunshine, fluffy white clouds and a deep blue ocean as far as the eye could see. Upstairs, there was even a rooftop pool. I couldn’t believe we were only staying for one night.
After unpacking some of our things, we decided to do a little exploring. Before we’d arrived, it was our intention to walk up Mount Solaro, take in the views at the top and then walk back down. But it was recommended we take the cable car up – to make the most of the view of the island – and then make our way down on foot. Unfortunately, once on the cable car, I realised it would probably have made more sense to do it the other way around. On the way up, yes, there were awesome views, but to see the island in all its splendour, I found myself craning my neck, looking back in the direction we’d come from. Although, once at the top, just like everywhere else in Italy, the views didn’t disappoint. We were met with 360° of tufty white clouds, all dancing across the sky in a gentle sea breeze. That day, the view felt pretty much close to perfect.
After a quick refreshment, we meandered back down Mount Solaro. The ground, rocky and uneven, weaved its way through lush green woodland. Occasionally, when a gap appeared in the trees, we were teased with glimpses of blue. Part way down, the woodland opened up to reveal the view we had become so accustomed to throughout our trip: a cobalt blue ocean and a shimmering white horizon, like something straight off a postcard. We stopped for a while to soak up the afternoon sun, before re-joining the track and following other walkers back down the hillside.
An unexpected sunset
When we reached the bottom of the mountain, we continued walking, right past Monte Solaro and back down the hill until we reached the main piazza. We wandered around, looking in shop windows and getting our bearings before heading back to our b&b. We showered, changed, and then stood on the terrace with some of the other guests, waiting to watch the sunset. At first, I questioned whether we would see anything significant, but then, like a bed of cotton wool being ripped apart, the clouds began to shift. And as the sun slowly started to fall towards the horizon, an array of vibrant colours danced across the evening sky, treating us to a magnificent light show.
When Anacapri became a beacon of light in the darkness, and all traces of colour had disappeared from the sky, we returned to the town centre to find somewhere to eat. Pizza and Peroni were how we decided to celebrate the end of our trip, but for two people who are pretty much teetotal, this probably wasn’t the best idea. After 2 bottles, lightweight Lorna definitely made an appearance, but Ian, having always been able to hold his drink better than me, was fine. I’m not ashamed to say that after 2 bottles, I was pretty much smashed and ready to fall into bed!
Back at Monte Solaro, we realised just how thin the walls were. Bathroom noises from our neighbours followed by their night-time noises of fun were apparently on the menu. Meanwhile, it turned out our mattress sagged in the middle and whenever we moved, gravity took over and we found ourselves crashing into one another as we fell towards the centre of the bed – it was an amusing night to say the least. The service at Monte Solaro was amazing and the view from the terrace was what dreams are made of. With soundproofed walls and a firmer mattress – it would have been damn near perfect.
The next morning, after a breakfast of the nicest croissants we’d ever tasted, we left our luggage with Costanzo and headed out to explore for a few hours. We decided to walk down to the Blue Grotto (Grotta Azzurra), a natural cavern which is 25 meters wide and 60 meters long. When the tide is low you can take boat tours through – some even let you swim inside. As I suffer from claustrophobia, we had no intention of entering the cavern. Lying down in a rowing boat while it glided through the meter-high entrance, was my idea of hell, not fun, but I still wanted to see where it was. Also, we decided it was a good way to explore some of the island on foot.
Walking through the town centre, we passed a florist where a ginger and white cat provided a perfect photo opportunity. Sitting next to a bouquet of flowers, it almost looked rehearsed, like something he might do 10 times a day, every day.
As we continued on our way, walking down the road towards Grotta Azzurra, we were met with whitewashed houses, an array of vibrant plants, dried foods, and something I had very quickly started to associate with our trip – broken cars. Each driveway we passed seemed to get bigger and more impressive than the last, all dressed up in lush green foliage and brightly coloured flowers.
When we reached the Grotto, I couldn’t hide my disappointment: ‘Is that it?’ I said. I knew it was my own fault, the magic of the Grotto was on the inside, not on the outside – so I’m not quite sure what I’d been hoping for. Still, we stayed a while, watching the boats bobbing up and down on the water as tours drove by, and then away again due to the high tide.
When the company of wasps became too much to bear, we made our way back up the road, past the whitewashed houses, and along the winding alleyways into the centre of Anacapri. Where, after a hearty lunch, we phoned Costanzo who had very kindly offered to bring our luggage down the hill for us.
Taxi Ride Number 2
We decided to take another taxi ride to end our time on the island. Only this time, we had a different driver who wasn’t particularly chatty – apart from when he got
frustrated really angry with other drivers. Towards the bottom of the road, just above the harbour, there was a traffic jam where multiple taxi drivers left their vehicle and were all shouting and gesturing at one another. It was here we were evicted from the car and had to walk the rest of the way dodging vehicles as we went!
It was late afternoon, and we made our way to the pier ready to board our ferry across to Naples. Our flight home was the following morning, and an overnight stay at Naples was the last stop on our Italian adventure. Standing on the deck of the ferry, my heart sank a little as I watched Capri slowly fade away into the distance. I said a final farewell and I told myself, there would always be next time
Next week, look out for the facts and figures of the trip.