The waters encircling Capri are azure upon azure, lightening to a translucent aquamarine near the shore. To the right, my vision embraces the Fa rag lioni, the famous rocks arising from the sea. These miniature volcanic mountains, poking out of the sea, are the defining image printed on millions of postcards. Break-fast is lazily consumed whilst gasping at the breathtaking views of the Marina Grande, the sweeping panorama across the Bay of Naples and the unsurpassable Sorrento coastline!
The Blue Grotto is matchless too and this will be my third visit to this tourist attraction carved out by the sea’s relentless force. So from the large boat we hop on to a small row boat in mid-ocean and wait for the tide to wash us inside. What you get inside is a large cavern famous for the effects caused by light.
Everything around and above is pitch dark. The water, which I dip my hand into, is electric blue, as if someone had installed a gigantic fluorescent tube below. The loquacious boatman proudly informs me that the Romans used the Grotto as a swimming pool.
Did the Romans wear swimming costumes? Or was life just one naked, fun-filled orgy? Such thoughts are quickly dispelled be-cause I have just been drenched. And swallowed a good amount of seawater. We’re in trouble. The sea outside has just turned choppy. Which means the three boats inside can’t emerge out. The boatmen burst into ‘0 Sole Mio’ with gusty voices. How can they be so nonchalant? Another thought. If I swallow some more of that water will my body glow in the dark?
Everyone seems to glow with satisfaction. The tourists who have finally made it here. The locals because the economy, despite the worldwide recession, is humming with activity. Since the beginning of time the island has drawn artists and authors. Composer Claude Debussy spent time in Anacapri as did famed Swedish physician Axel Munthe, who built Villa San Michele — very much intact, with breathtaking views and lush gardens. Graham Greene bought a home here too in 1948 and kept it for 40 years! Their passion for Capri drew the cognoscenti here in the ’60s and ’70s , along with Hollywood royalty, who in turn were magnets for the world at large, eager to explore Capri’s charms.
I did my fair bit of exploring too. It was a 40-minute walk to Villa Jovis, or Villa of Jupiter. Emperor Tiberius built 12 villas on the island and, fearing assassination, ultimately retired to a stunning example of first-century Roman architecture and an engineering feat. How ever did the Roman empire continue to function while the boss was engaging in documented orgies for 10 years on an island with the most spectacular view in the Mediterranean?
Think about it. This island has for 2000 years been a getaway for the rich, the powerful and the curious. Add same-sex love to that list. Villa Lysis stands in imposing isolation in grounds filled with climbing plants and cypress trees not far from the ruins of Villa Jovis. It was built in 1905 by Jacques of Adelsward Fersen, a French Count, who wanted to create a residence in a secluded area, where he could live with his lover, a particularly well-hung Italian toyboy, whose nude photograph is proudly displayed in the middle of the hall. Its romantic aura remains unaltered to this very day, an enchanted place of retreat. Just like Capri. Enchanted , enigmatic, euphoric.
Caciotella is poetically named and described as pure, tender cheese that maintains the freshest virginity of milk! It’s not for nothing that ravioli stuffed with grated caciotta is the banner dish of the island. Fragrances of William pear and exotic flavours of pineapple, coconut and vanilla notes.