I have a friend who is obsessed with Italy, and longs to travel all around it. Whenever she sees a photo of a beautiful place, it ends up being somewhere in Italy – “See!! Of course it’s Italy”, she’d say.
It’s true, Italy is beautiful. I’m not head over heels about it, but when I think back to the places I’ve been in Italy, they do stand out. Venice and Rome I loved, but then there’s Capri. I went on a cruise, and I remember my mum explaining it to me as where the rich go. I was expecting something like St Tropez or Cannes in France, but Capri was more rustic than that. Good.
We got on a boat across from Naples, and I immediately liked the serene little island (probably helps that I just came from grubby Naples, to be honest). It’s a place that has a slight emotional connection: it was in Capri where I entered a shop to buy my first bracelet that would start my ongoing collection from around the world on my left wrist. Now, all this time later, the habit has become a part of me.
Half the time you’re in Capri, you’re walking upwards as it’s on a hill – I’ll be honest, I needed a few breaks. But you are walking inbetween peoples homes, and tiny little shaded streets – it’s worthwhile and highly tempting to peek into their lovely gardens with exotic flowers.
The streets are the kind of dusty that growing up I’ve learnt to love and recognise as a feature of European summers. It’s not a filthy dust, but a dust that softly grazes the walls and streets, giving character in the strong sun. I don’t want a spanking clean city; I want one that shows it’s used, that people want to walk each street over and over again.
Views over the bay are incredible. The jagged huge rocks protrude the azure waters, and you recognise the little white dots as the luxurious yachts below – and plan how to befriend the owner…
But this story comes with a little bit of a sad ending. The main reason I was so excited to go to Capri was something I didn’t get to see: Grotta Azzurra – or Blue Grotto. It’s a cave you enter by a row boat through a small hole, and inside is an all-consuming luminous blue glow. It’s caused by an underwater opening in the cave, which streams sunlight through, and to be quite frank, makes it look like the most magical place on Earth. We had full intentions to go, but magical things don’t come easy: the sea needs to be incredibly calm, as you’re in such a small boat going through a small opening. It’s my aim to go back there and get to experience this – the moment I read about it, I was captivated.
Despite my disappointment at not seeing my (imagined) treasure, Grotta Azzurra, I still think about Capri and loved my time there. And that really is saying something.
Is there anywhere you’ve been but missed out on something you really wanted to do? Did you still leave satisfied?