Capri, in Two Parts


(April 11, 2014)

Today was the day I took off. I’d been half-expecting it, and it finally happened. I woke up sore and aching all over, and very very tired, even with 10 hours sleep. So after breakfast J. left me and I stayed in.  Fortunately for you that I did! All of these posts were written while sitting in our lovely room, or on our private porch in the sun.

Meanwhile, her lazy-as-sin husband has waited until the night before to step in and write about what he did that day. That’s right, John is grabbing the mic to walk you (foreshadowing! Just wait…) through his day alone on Capri.

Really, it was a pretty simple agenda. The original reason Capri was on our agenda was not its famous (apparently) water, beaches, and high-end shopping. Nope – it came up in our research for cool ancient ruins. On the highest point of the island is a place called Villa Jovis, one of 12 villas that Tiberius built on Capri around 100 AD. Just the ruins of it were supposed to demonstrate the majesty that the place once demonstrated. I had to go! One small hitch – the walk is a stone bitch. Excuse my language, but it was no joke.

Before I could begin the ascent, though, I had to get off Anacapri, the other main peak of the island and the location of our hotel-y thing. In the first really serious example of Italian non-queuing that I have experienced this trip, I was completely snaked out of getting on the first bus that showed up at the stop, the door literally closing in my face – legitimately, it was packed, but I got beat by several people I had beaten to the stop. Oh well. Another 20 minutes and I was busward bound. The trip was a quick 8-10 minutes jaunt, but it would have been a treacherous hour-plus walk walking along a windy road that cars also use, with no sidewalk. Best 2 euros I spent this trip. Anyway, getting to the bottom was the easy part.

So here’s the thing about a lot of ancient stuff in Italy (and almost everywhere, for that matter): in the intervening years life just builds up around it. Roads, houses, businesses… stuff. Sometimes they don’t know that the ancient stuff is there (later this week Lisa will tell you about an Etruscan necropolis that was only found when they were doing excavations for a highway). Sometimes they don’t care because life moves on, like in this case. The route to Villa Jovis was up a steep hill, and all the way up there were hundreds of years worth of houses, churches etc… all jumbled together. Given that the most they ever had to go up a hill like this was a mule for most of time, there was no consideration for getting cars (like, friendly taxis) to the top. Or any piece of the way up, for that matter. On a nice sunny day, dressed in all-purpose traveling clothes, the constant switchbacks, narrow lanes, and above all steep ascent, made for a hot and tiring hour. When I got there, it turns out that the place was due to close in 15 minutes, a piece of information that was published NOWHERE. :p

Fortunately, this is where the Italian insouciance paid off for me, as the guy waved me on in with a shrug. Score! Funnily enough, having been to so many amazing sites recently I can’t say that I was blown away by any of the architecture. Mostly what got to me, as always happens, is the indication that people cared about the same things 2000 years ago that we care about now. The place was CLEARLY built to offer up the amazing views to visitors. Yes, 2 millennia may have passed, but the words of Homer are as true now as they were back then: “location, location, location.” Here are some pics I took:

view from Villa Jovis

view from Villa Jovis

 

wall structures

wall structures

 

they were very concerned with storing water

they were very concerned with storing water

 

The walk back, as you might imagine, was considerably easier. And if you think I was pleased with the 2 euros I spent to get down the hill, I was downright giddy to pay for a lift back up to Anacapri where I rejoined my bride (and she retakes the reins of this blog post).

Dinner that night was at the same restaurant as the previous night — who can argue with taxi service and good food? We shared a ravioli dish that was just lovely, and then J. had a grilled pork dish and I had a grilled fish. Both were very good. Sadly, however, we were not boozed up like the night previous. I think we missed a cue to *buy* some of that delicious limoncello, but we were hoping to have it offered. Oh well, we were ugly Americans that night.


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