Sunday, April 26, 2009. After cruising the Strait of Messina, we arrived at Sorrento, Italy, where our boat docked off the coast.
There was nothing we wanted to see right away, so we boarded a hydrofoil to go to Capri, about 8 miles away.
Capri is the main center of population. It has two adjoining harbors, Marina Piccola and Marina Grande, the main port of the island. The separate community of Anacapri is located high on a hill to the west. When we landed on the harbor, we took a taxi up the mountain to the town of Capri. We walked around the streets lined with very expensive shops that sold mainly up-scale women's clothes and accessories. There were some impressive views from the heights.
We then took a plebeian bus to the village of Anacapri.
While we were walking, Pat spied a shoemaker who was making beautiful leather sandals. We found out later that his name was Antonio Viva, and he is famous. He measured your foot and made the sandals right in front of your eyes. Pat bought some for her daughter. Now we know why Italian shoes are so expensive, they are totally made by hand.
We continued our walk, and came across the Cassa Rosa, built in a mixture of styles. Through the door one could glimpse the form of a square tower and arcaded courtyard.
It is now an art gallery, opened to the public. We went in, up the tower, and enjoyed the views, works of art, flowers and plants throughout.
As we continued our tour, we saw a sign indicating the way to the Church of San Michele, a baroque church dedicated to the Archangel Michael. It is one of the most important examples of the 18th Century Neapolitan artwork. The majolica pavement, depicting Adam & Eve in the Earthly Paradise, completed in1761, is one of the finest of its kind. One could only walk around it, on suspended platforms, to protect it from the foot traffic wear & tear.
As we kept walking, we went through Piazza Materia, where commitee meetings were once held. There was a very inviting majolica bench. The Chiesa di Santa Sofia, with its 18th century facade, dominates the landscape. Nearby there was a butcher shop.
Before we left on this trip, I had read that the famous Swedish writer Axel Munthe, had decided to make Anacapri his place of residence. He commissioned local master builders to build his Villa San Michelle, completed in 1910. In his book, The Story of San Michelle, he tells us how the construction proceeded day by day, without following any precise plans, but rather sketches drawn on the walls. We were able to tour the house and gardens. It was a beautiful experience. He collected remains of statuary, not always originating from Capri, but from the Romans & Egyptians as well, as witnessed by his Sphinx, overlooking the harbor. You could see Capri, the Sorrentine Peninsula, and Mount Vesuvius. The Villa sits on top of some ancient Phoenician Steps, between Capri & Anacapri, 327 meters above sea level. No wonder Axel Munthe loved this place!
We then went back to Capri. Once there I was determined to visit the iconic Il Faraglioni, so after wondering through some streets, we finally found a sign proclaiming the way.
Il Faraglioni are three blocks of rock that have survived all manners of erosion. The first one, still attached to the land, is called the Stella; the second, separated from the first by a stretch of sea, Faraglioni di Mezzo; and the third, Faraglione di Fuori or Scopolo, the head or promontory stretching into the sea.
The height of the Faraglione is, on the average, 100 meters. The Faraglioni di Mezzo is characterized by a cavity, a natural tunnel which has become famous around the world. We kept on walking around the area, contemplating beautiful views, and then took the cable car back to the Capri harbor.
Once again we boarded the hydrofoil back to Sorrento. After a smooth trip, we walked around the streets of Sorrento and then headed back to our ship to get ready for the next stop: the wonderful Amalfi Coast and Positano.