Italy Stories and Tips

The Isle of Capri, and the Amalfi Coast

Steep city! Photo, Positano, Italy

The next day was an excursion to Capri. The night before we went to the Isle of Capri there was an electrical storm on and off all night and the thunder was really loud, echoing off the cliffs along the seaside. On Capri it rained and thunder showered on and off all day.

We went to a village 1000 feet up, Anacapri, and saw a beautiful Villa there, Villa San Michele which belonged to the doctor/writer Axel Munthe. Fabulous views and gardens there and an Egyptian statue that promised good luck if you rubbed it’s foot and made a wish. Our local guide, Pasquale was a real treat! All of the local guides we had in various cities and towns were all very knowledgable but Pasquale was our favourite! He was so cheerful even under the umbrellas in the rain! Memories of him calling out ‘Pasqualeeeeeeee’ to gather his group still echo in my mind!

Since the rain seemed to be holding off some of us decided to go up the chair lift to the top of the Monte Solaro, another 1000 feet and 12 minute ride. So here we are, each sitting in a little metal chair hanging off a big metal cable about 20 feet off the ground going up the side of a mountain. Then about halfway up we notice it’s getting very dark out to sea just beside us and then the lightening starts (out to sea, that is). Well, if I could have crawled up the cable I would have. I mean, you’re basically sitting on a lightening rod! Well we did get the rest of the way up before the storm moved closer but they wouldn’t let us go back down until it passed and pass the island it did, went around the other end of it so it never did rain up top of the mountain where we were though it got pretty chilly. We had a glassed in room where we could wait in at least. The ride back down was chilly but no rain. The view from there was pretty spectacular too!

The rest of the visit to the island was more or less and anticlimax, don’t you know! We wandered through the town of Capri after viewing the gardens, window shopping and gazing at the expensive goods in the designer stores, buying stamps and cards and testing the local gelato! It poured down raining while we were waiting for the boat to return to Sorrento!

The next day, Saturday, Denise went on the (optional) excursion to go up Mount Vesuvius but I knew my limitations and a 30-40 minute steep hike was not included! She loved it though. I spent the sunny morning wandering through the market streets of Sorrento with one of the Irish ladies on the tour. We found a cafe at the far end of town with an outdoor terrace and sat in the sun with our tea overlooking Sorrento below us. It was so nice to feel warm sunshine on our faces. Mella and I made our way back downtown and had lunch in a small bar near the hotel with an American couple from the tour that we bumped into. I had pizza and it was fabulous with it’s thin crust and fresh tomato and basil topping! Back to the hotel to wait for the volcano climbers then it was off to Amalfi.

That afternoon our optional excursion was a drive along the Amalfi coast where the mountains and cliffs go right up almost perpendicular from the sea and the roads are twisty and narrow and practically hang off the side of the mountain. Franco had to sound the bus’s horn before venturing around many of the hairpin turns. The view was the most dramatic yet and with beautiful sunshine and blue sky above, the water was that famous Mediterranean blue-green! The villages are built straight up the side of the mountain too though thankfully we didn’t have to climb around any of them!! We stopped once at a look off above Positano for pictures. There was a little souvenir stand and a fruit stand there as well. A further stop near Conca Dei Marini where we had a coffee break. It was there that I bought a cameo for my best friend Jo for her Christmas present at a pretty good price.

We ended the excursion in Amalfi itself and had some free time to wander. We were given directions to the duomo but we got into these little narrow courtyards and streets and thought we got lost before we stumbled out onto the main street by the duomo. It turns out we must have misunderstood the directions because down at the end of that street was the waterfront road to the parking lot where the busses were! The duomo was less elaborate on the outside, with some decoration but not as much as some of the basilicas and duomos in Venice, Assisi and Rome.

I was also on the lookout for a nice print for my mother and finally found exactly what I was looking for in a shop near the duomo. Now to keep it from getting all bent in the suitcase since I didn’t have any sort of mailing tube with me! I was told that if I kept it on the very bottom under everything there would be less likelihood of it getting ruined. That’s what I did and it arrived back home relatively unscathed. The drive home was more dreary as it clouded over and rained all the way back but it didn’t matter as we had the best view on the way out. We spent the evening relaxing in the hotel since the weather wasn’t conducive to exploring. The next day we were off to Rome with a stop in Pompeii.

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