I have a confession to make, dear Reader: I’ve been avoiding you. Yes, you. It wasn’t anything you did, it’s just that the past two weeks have been a demoralizing trudge through the quagmire that is Italy. In addition to an existential sense of displacement, a series of unfortunate events unfolded recently that included, though were certainly not limited to: another spike in the temperature, a plateau in my Italian, and a bad bikini wax (as if a good wax isn’t bad enough juknowwhatimean?). Contrary to widely held beliefs, Italy (ahem! Napoli!) is not an especially comfortable or easy place to live at times. Simply put: I was in a slump. I plan to explore these less-than-delightful “quirks” in another blog but today is all about bouncing back!
Though I’m entering my sixth and final week of intensive Italian classes, William convinces me to play hooky and spend the day scooting around Capri with him. We head downtown (on the train I should be taking to school – woops!) and catch a ferry at Porto di Molo Beverello. In 45 short minutes, my world of worries is behind me and only the famed island resort awaits. The ferry is quiet as we make our way into Marina Grande and there is a tranquil vibe that shows no sign of the star-studded, touristy “scene” of high season. This suits me perfectly since I have a natural aversion to crowds and “cool kids” in general.
A Scoot Of Faith
Billy insists the best way to see the island is by scooter and so it is with great trepidation that I put my helmet on and settle in behind him. Nervousness is not something I often experience but the idea of relinquishing control and being at the mercy of Italian drivers is enough to incite the emotion. With my arms around Billy’s waist, I peer past him using my Jedi Mind Tricks to protect us from rogue tour buses and hairpin turns. It takes a while, but it does finally occur to me that disaster could strike regardless of my vigilance. I toy with the idea of not looking at the oncoming traffic, of surrendering to the fates and simply enjoying the shady straightaways and crystalline coastline. While it is an admirable and enlightened stance, I opt to keep an eye on things just the same. At times I offer sage advice such as, “whoa!” and “easy does it.”
We pull over in Anacapri and take the chair lift to Monte Solaro, the highest point on the island. The lift is comprised of single-seaters and as I ascend I peer down at the vineyards and small gardens below. Passing me on the lift from the opposite direction is a middle-aged man wearing a worn Red Sox cap and a Boston t-shirt. “Hey hey, Boston” I call over. “Go Red Sox!” he responds with a fist pump. I smile to myself as he slowly floats away. The silence settles in around me once more. Oh, Boston. You are inescapable.
Monte Solaro offers sweeping panoramas of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Sorrentine Coast. Billy and I relax on the snack bar terrace and treat ourselves to a slice of torta caprese, a traditional Neapolitan cake made with almonds and chocolate. I take a few photos and we head back to the chair lift, eager to do more exploring.
Disappointments and Diversions
William and I scoot our way over to the world-renowned Grotto Azzurra (Blue Grotto) in hopes of exploring the celebrated sea cave. We become suspicious when we encounter hardly anyone and see a mere handful of boats circling outside of the cave entrance. We learn the grotto is closed due to high winds and choppy seas but, for us at least, there’s always next time.
We continue on to Faro Beach, occasionally passing hopeful tourists en route to see the grotto. We slow down several times so Billy can share the bad news and save them the trouble of making the long and twisty walk. Scooting and do-gooding – we’re an unstoppable team! At Faro Beach people lounge on rock terraces quietly talking or enjoying seafood at the snack shack. The same waves that prevented us from seeing the Blue Grotto make for excellent swimming and I watch as Billy does a few dives.
As we dry in the sun, I feel at peace for the first time in several weeks. Finally, I have managed to shake off the gnawing vexations of Napoli and my new life abroad. The noise has subsided. In this moment at least there exists only me, my husband, and a sense of contentment.
At this late point in the day our little yellow scooter seems to be dwindling. Billy and I lean forward and offer words of encouragement as it struggles to propel us up the hilly roads back to town. Sometimes it stalls at a slow pace and then lurches forward unexpectedly. I can only imagine the scene from an onlooker’s perspective – images of Dumb and Dumber’s Harry and Lloyd come to mind.
We buy a few trinkets in town before boarding the ferry back to Napoli. She’s just as we left her: rowdy and dirty. We stop for dinner at Starita, arguably another one of the city’s best pizza spots. The restaurant is famous not only for its wonderful food but also because it served as the backdrop for a Sophia Loren film back in the 1950s. I admit the pizza is delicious and the service fantastic but even so, Sorbillo remains my favorite spot (so far).
Snuggled up in bed with the lights turned out, I ask Billy, “do I have to go to school tomorrow?”