These Caprese were made for walking…

Posted: 4 March 2011 in Travel.
Tags: , , ,

Original Post Date:  April 2010

As a New Yorker, I have been under the misapprehension that I walk a lot, but it’s nothing compared to the walking the hardy Caprese do. Young, old, disabled (!), it appears they walk miles on a daily basis without a thought—up sloping roads, up hills, up cliffs!

Of course, they have cars, too, and they surely have the best driving skills in the world to maneuver the extremely narrow roads and the hairpin turns. One of the tricks, I think, must be not to look out at the view because the vertigo would surely send you over the edge. Another trick must be patience. Numerous times I have seen two cars—or buses—coming at each other and they must come to a halt in the middle of the road and somehow, without an angry word or threatening glance, they decide who needs to back up so one can get through. I can’t imagine the Capri driving test.

Also, as in the rest of Italy, motorbikes abound. I’ve seen one going up the cliff with two kitchen chairs tied to the back of his bike. At a pizzeria, I saw a man pick up three pizzas and ride off with them balanced upon his lap. Another man at the pizzeria had his girlfriend along for the ride and she held the boxes in two hands rather than hold on to his waist. A family of three rode another bike and, perhaps most unusual of all, I noticed a biker riding with what appeared to be a four-foot long samurai sword rising up from between his legs.

But it’s walking I wanted to talk about.

In Capri, I walked almost everywhere. From my hotel to the Grotta Azzurra, from Capri Centro to Giardini di Augusto and winding all the way down to the coast along the spectacularly scenic Via Krupp, from Anacapri Centro to back to my hotel…many times.

One morning, I climbed up to Villa Jovis, the ruins of a villa built by the Emperor Augustus and later ceded to Tiberius, who purportedly pitched people who displeased him from the dizzying heights into the sea—that is, when he wasn’t cavorting with young boys and girls. Because it is off-season, I saw perhaps three people on the half-hour or so climb from Capri town center. (If I’m honest, a bit longer for me, because I tend to get lost.) The ruins evidenced a shockingly enormous complex, but the views were the real draw.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have brought a picnic lunch, a snack at least, to enjoy while I was there.   Apparently the site is crowded with tourists during the summer, but in late March, there were perhaps only five others there at most. It could have been a very peaceful picnic, contemplating, perhaps, the fall of the Roman Empire. (An older couple occupied benches in a “room” that had once been servant’s quarters—larger than most NYC apartments, I will note—and when I passed, I caught a powerful whiff of the oranges they were eating.)

I had definitely earned my planned lunch at what had once been Graham Greene’s favorite restaurant, Da Gemma. As luck would have it, it had opened for the season just today. But more on that another time.

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