Two days into our vacation in Naples, on a relatively sunny November day, we took a day trip to Capri. It was a 40 minute walk from our hotel to the port from where hydrofoils depart for Capri several times each day. This being off season, only a few ticket windows were open and it took us some time to locate the right one. Multiple companies operate on this route and your ticket is not transferable across vessels operated by different companies. It was about an hour to our departure. We stood at the harbour and gawked at the cruise ships and the blue water. The wind was nippy, and soon the smell of burnt diesel from the boats and hydrofoils began to irritate my lungs. There were a couple of cafes near by that served sfogliatella1 and fresh coffee. We picked one with a covered outdoor terrace and enjoyed the wares:
Our hydrofoil arrived and nimbly executed a 180º turn to let us board.
These hydrofoils look very futuristic but make for a very choppy ride. I felt undulation of each wave the hydrofoil negotiated. Sometimes you are jolted awake by the sensation of falling inside a dream - the entire 40-minute ride felt like one such dream. I thought I was going to be sick - it must be a common occurence on this route since a member of the crew stood ready in the aisle with a stash of polythene bags. On a row of seats next to ours, someone in a black hoodie lay slumped in a foetal position clutching tightly to their bag. I lay back, put on my headphones and closed my eyes. The song that came on (Émigré by Alela Diane) was situationally relevant but wasn’t very reassuring:
I can feel the fear hang heavy on the water
Glinting sharply with the pale moonlight
Mothers hold on tightly to your children
The waves are breaking violently tonight
I was relieved when we finally docked at Capri’s small harbour. Given my recent obsession with the tiling patterns of bricks in Amsterdam, one of the first things I noticed upon setting foot on the land was the Voronoi tessellation engraved on the floor tiles at the harbour:
Across the road from the harbour was Capri’s funicular station. The sun was to set well before 5 PM and it was already well past noon. Wanting to maximise sightseeing in the daylight, we decided to take the funicular instead of walking uphill. The ride was short and the station on the hill had a terrace that offered a beautiful view.
This being off season, most restaurants were closed. The ones open offered beautiful views (if you could land a seat by the window) but charged a premium. We weren’t particularly hungry so we decided to walk to Anacapri - a small commune2 to the west of Capri. We came across parking lots that surely must be some of the most picturesque parking lots in the world:
We must’ve walked for about 10 minutes along the highway and couldn’t shake off the feeling that we were doing something wrong. Soon we spotted a set of rocky stairs (Scala Fenicia) cut into the hills to our left. We gladly took them to get off the highway. Despite the long and moderately exhausting climb the view of the azure sea, the clear skies and the slight nip in the air kept us feeling light and happy.
Most shops in Anacapri were closed too. Some restaurants had even put up notices telling visitors that won’t be open before the start the of the season in April next year. Others deployed complicated looking signs to educate patrons about their opening times:
For some reasons a few shops selling clothes were open - most of their merchandise in shades of blue that mimicked the colour of the sky and sea here. Either they still had local customers coming in or since they weren’t dealing in perishable raw materials, they could stay open despite low off season sales.
We finally found a restaurant that’d feed us some sandwiches, pizza and sparkling wine. The pizza, unlike what was shown on the menu, turned out to be a large bruschetta with some cheese and tomato on it, but we were far too hungry by now to complain (and to be fair, they gave us a 2€ discount over the list price).
We wandered aimlessly through the warren of small streets soaking in the quiet and the occasional view of the distant sea.
The views on the way down were stunning. The skies had turned dramatic. We could see rain falling in the distance and feel it drifting towards us with the wind.
The wife kept a count of stairs on the way down (1000+). Once back in Capri, we spent some time walking around the beach and the harbour at Capri…
…and eventually settled down at a cafe next to the harbour to wait for our hydrofoil back. It docked some 30 minutes before its scheduled departure and since it was getting a bit chilly, were only too happy to go settle inside sooner. The evening sea was a lot calmer and quite possibly our choice of seats in the middle of the boat a tad wiser - the ride back wasn’t has choppy in the morning. Still, the ride left our stomachs riled enough that we didn’t mind waiting for over 30 minutes for our turn at the famous and perenially crowded L’Antica Pizzeria de Michele in Napoli!