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My Capri Holiday

                                                    

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The moment the ferry touched shore, I knew that this was one place that will remain etched in my memory forever. Capri Island is as breathtaking as people describe it to be. It is easy to get lost in the fresh, salty smell of the sea in the air and vividly blue skies. The island has a sunny, warm feeling about it that engulfs you from the moment you step into it.

Capri is an Italian island, off the Sorrentine Peninsula towards the south side of the Gulf of Naples. It has been a resort since the time of the Roman Republic. The relaxed atmosphere, friendly natives, mouthwatering food and its natural beauty has made it one of the most popular tourist destinations of recent times.

The interesting part of the island for me is the atmosphere it lent. I felt as though I had stepped back into time where royalty walked around the cobbled lanes of the island on the way to their spectacular villas for an afternoon siesta. Being surrounded by the sea and the sound of the waves, walking down narrow paved lanes, seeing the grandeur of the old architecture, all lent a romantic air to my holiday. The island has been carefully preserved to retain all the splendor of the olden times. No stark modern construction has been built to spoil the facade of the island.

I was secretly thrilled with the shopping experience the island offered. It was enchanting to find clothes, shoes, bags, cosmetics, anything you could think of; all the possible labels, being sold in quaint, old buildings. A true potpourri of culture and modernism. The hotels and accommodation available in Capri Island stay true to the architectural styles. You see buildings painted in warm earth colors, with simple large rectangular windows that are characteristic to the structures of the island, lending an amazing view to the spectacular sea and cliffs that surround the island.


shopping plaza
Shopping Plaza

 After a quick shopping round, I went to do the typical tourist sightseeing which was a lot of fun. All around the island, you see the limestone masses called Sea Stacks that stand out of the sea. It makes the island seem protected, like a natural fortress. The island is high above the sea, and the Sea Stacks can be seen standing from any corner of the island. The island is believed to have been once joined to the mainland and later cut away.

The island is believed to have been inhabited as early as the Neolithic and bronze age. The ruins of the twelve imperial villas were another sight I recommend all visitors to see. It is easy to imagine the rich lifestyles of the ancient Romans, when you stand amongst what is left of the villas. The structures are massive and the designs intricate and richly laid out. The centre of the villas housed a number of cisterns designed to collect rainwater, used both as drinking water and to act as a reservoir with which to supply the baths, along with an open portico. These baths were heated by braziers and I was amazed to the advanced technology they used with such little resources. The eastern sides of the villas have a number of reception rooms, while the northern side accommodated the imperial quarters. Romans loved entertaining and I spent hours standing in the reception room area, imagining their lives, the guests, the famous Roman feasts, dances, paintings. The place was beginning to seep into me. Capri is also the setting for "The Lotus Eater”, a short-story by Somerset Maugham. In this story, the protagonist from Boston comes to Capri on a holiday and is so enchanted by the place he gives up his job and decides to spend the rest of his life in Capri. I could definitely understand the lure of this beautiful island.

No visit to Capri is complete without at least a few hours spent on the Mediterranean Sea surrounding the island. I chose to go with an organized tour group. But one can also rent a boat with a captain. This is the only way to really explore the island which has enchanting stretches that are completely inaccessible by land. We reached the turquoise water with little hidden pockets of caves and I was smitten. The coastline from the sea looked so heavenly and the sun reflecting the hues of the blue-green sea makes you feel like your living a dream. The water was perfect for taking a swim. Warm, shimmery and away from the crowd crammed onto the tiny pebble beaches. 

aerial view of marina grande
Aerial view of the Marina Grande

The Blue Grotto was another place I was told not to miss. It has been referred to as the eighth wonder of the world and the moment I set my eyes on it, I didn’t question the claim. This is where language falls short, because no words, no image, can capture its wonder. It felt almost spiritual to stand in front of such natural beauty and I could see god’s hand at play here. It is a 60-metre-long, 25-metre-wide cavity with a very narrow mouth. To get into it, one needs to use small boats. There is a bigger but completely submerged opening; this very underwater entrance. The blue hue one experiences reflecting off the water is due to sunlight being reflected on the water shadows. There is an almost surreal view in the inside, the transparency and the blue color of the water gives you the impression of navigating through a clear sky, and the boats seem to float on a parallel universe. I remember reading about the acoustics of the grotto, which in early times scared fishermen and made them believe the grotto was taken over by evil souls. So I started singing and was soon joined by the rest of the tour group and let me tell you, no chorus group could ever have sounded better than we did that wonderful evening.

To enjoy the island in the setting sun is an experience on its own. The city starts becoming quiet and buzzing with the soft murmur of people getting ready to enjoy the night. You see the last of the sunbeams skipping across the sea. It really made me feel like I’m truly on a vacation meant for kings and queens. I felt relaxed, pampered and very very hungry!

ranges near the famous Hotel Belvedere
The ranges near the famous Hotel Belvedere

Capri Island is famous for its fine cuisine. Mouth watering Italian food, light buttery Greek pastry, fresh sea food, rich, heavenly ‘dolce’ or dessert; it’s a feast to all ones senses. Bruschetta made with the freshest olives and sprinkled with garden herbs on warm delicious bread and melting cheese; angel thin pasta that is as creamy as they make it with sun dried tomatoes and capers, fish fillet baked between tender olive leaves, and Caprese, a sweet flourless chocolate cake filled with almonds. One almost feels sinful eating all the food. Capri is also famous for its flat; oven baked Italian pizza and boasts of having some of the finest sea food in the world. What more can one ask for on a holiday? The sea, the sky, places to make you feel surreal, food to please the fussiest palate and a great bottle of wine. Now you know where your next holiday stop should be at. Buon viaggio. Safe Journey!

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