I had always dreamed of going to Capri some day so when our honeymoon was planned for the Amalfi Coast I made sure we set aside one day for the trip. We woke up early and took the fast ferry from Sorrento to the Marina Grande. When we arrived we were grouchy and hungry and in need of a morning cocktail so we went to the first bar we found. We ended up at walking to the end of the pier and finding seats at a small table right by the water. A mimosa and the waves certainly set our morning back on track and the service and snacks were phenomenal. How can you beat fresh squeezed citrus in Prosecco in a sunny spot listening to the waves crash around you? You certainly can’t be grouchy on this island.
We didn’t really have plan when we headed to Capri that morning so after our cocktails we followed the crowds to the center of the pier for a ride up to the center of town on the Funicular a small enclosed car like a vertical subway ride up the side of the mountain. When you arrive at the top be sure to walk around the observation deck for spectacular views of Capri.
We walked through a very busy square filled with restaurants and high end shopping store to Giardini di Augusto which promised the most beautiful flower gardens and views. It does cost a small fee (1 Euro) to go into the garden and walk around but it was worth it for the scents alone. We wandered through the gardens, stopping to pose with statues and casually read the history beautifully painted on ceramic tiles throughout.
We had to stop at Carthusia on our way past after leaving the gardens because I needed the scent of the island bottled to keep with me forever. We ended up finding that they did actually have a scent nearly perfect to the aroma experienced while walking down the streets by the water and the flowers and I couldn’t go home without it. It is one of my favorite souvenirs from the trip! Legend has it that the first perfume was created here when, in 1380, an unexpected visit from Queen Giovanna D’Angio prompted Father Prior of the Certoso of San Giacomo to quickly arrange a large bouquet of the islands’ most beautiful and fragrant flowers. After three days the water in which the flowers were placed acquired a scent and thus the first perfume was made. This same method used by Carthusian monks is still used at Carthusia today.
A short walk from the gardens and Carthusia is the Cathusian Monastery also known as the Certoso of San Giacomo. Founded in 1371 the grounds now serve as an art museum and the gardens, which wind down behind the monastery through olive groves and wisteria, leave you with great views of the Faraglioni. This area was very quiet compared to everything we had experienced so far. It does cost a small fee to enter the monastery.
After exploring for the better half of the morning we needed a place to stop for lunch. We found the most amazing view, sunshine, delicious pizza and great conversation at Hotel Flora.
Our waiter told us a story about how he and his brother used to meet Jackie Kennedy down at the docks when her boat came in and serenade her with their songs. We decided to look for a little place I had read about in her former body guard, Clint Hill’s book Mrs. Kennedy and Me, which I highly recommend for anyone who loves Mrs. Kennedy’s fascinating life as much as I do. In Clint Hill’s book he reveals that Jackie, feeling overwhelmed by the crowds in Capri, ducked into a small hotel hidden from the main streets.
We snuck past the sleeping orange cat and ordered two glasses of wine to enjoy on the gorgeous patio. It was so peaceful and quiet we found ourselves whispering. While enjoying our wine, Titus, the orange cat we crept by woke up and came to visit. Needless to say he startled me!
It was hard to drag ourselves out of the tranquility of the patio but we wanted to get in a boat ride around the island before we headed home for the day. We headed down to the marina once more riding the funicular and fighting hoards of other tourists. While John tried to secure us tickets on a tour boat we were stopped by a pirate looking fisherman offering us a private ride. John wanted nothing to do with this preferring to play it safe but it is my job as his wife to shake him up every now and then. I had also read that once the fisherman are done for the day they will offer tours of the island on their personal boats.
Giovanni seemed extremely trustworthy so we went with him and we couldn’t be more grateful! Not only did we get the whole boat to ourselves but he showed us things I am certain we would have missed on many of the large tour boats we passed.
He took us through the “Lover’s Arch” where he yelled “baccio” and had us kiss while he took pictures and into the Blue Grotto. He even showed us a natural statue of the Blessed Mother in a cave and Skugnizzo (little boy waving). He pointed out the coral growing along the water line in the caverns and chatted with us in his best English about fish local to the waters.
By the end of our boat ride we were smiling ear to ear and did not want to catch our ferry home. We got a gelato, tasted some limoncello, and shopped for gifts now that the lower part of town had started to clear out. We finally got an espresso down at the very end of the docks where we bumped into our fisherman again and enjoyed tasting some small cakes in a little local bakery.
When I think about Capri I remember the scents of the ocean air and the flowers. I remember the views from the boat and the sun sparkling on the water. I remember my husband’s ear to ear grin as he let the wind fly through his hair on that boat ride with his hand in the Mediterranean giving me a kiss every now and then as our fisherman friend shouted “baccio” and I long to return to the island of Capri.