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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Capri September 25, 2006

Ciao bella from Napoli!


Yesterday we arrived by train in this bustling, gritty, real city.  Our hotel again is too nice for us, and has a showerhead that even I can operate.  Last night we ate in a small pizzeria down the street.  A group of cadets from military school were enjoying the (very dated and bad) Italian MTv on the big screen.  They were wearing uniforms that reminded me of confederate boys academies in the late 1900's, complete with a dagger hanging from a cord around their waists.  After dinner we went back to the hotel room and watched some Italian tv, which is also bad.  BUT then again, if you lived in a country so full of castles and rivers and history and adventures waiting to happen why would you invest a lot of time making your tv good?  One show seemed to have a dating game premis.  There were three men in under shorts and dress shirts who took turns sitting backwards in a cutout so that their rearends stuck through (it's so bizzare I am having trouble describing it) while the women contestants were blindfolded and given a chance to feel the rear end and then make comments in Italian.  Then, the women acted out the scene from When Harry Met Sally where Meg Ryan fakes it and the men apparently graded their performance.  Well, I said it was bad.  The news programming is different too, here, with lots of commercials for travel in the Middle East and editorialing about hunger in Africa.  Quite a different slant on things.


In the morning we woke up and walked five minutes from the hotel past castles and terrible traffic jams and yelling drivers of vespas and took the hydrofoil to the Isle of Capri.  I wore my CAPRI PANTS, as though there was any doubt.  A word about the traffic here.  People told us it was bad.  I thought this was sort of like a joke and that when I got here I would think, wow, people really exagerated the traffic troubles.  NO!  NO ONE obeys any traffic signs or lights, cars drive up on the curb, motorcycles careen up and down the medial strips in any direction and if you want to cross the street you just start walking and dare the oncoming vehicles to hit you.  Brad is still campaigning for us to rent scooters and drive around but even though he has been riding since he was three, I would never put him out there.  Some Canadians we met on the bus in Rome told us that hundreds of people are killed every year and we believe it.  Well a CANADIAN said it, so it must be true. 


Our experience in Capri (pronounced KAP ree) was magical.  It was a misty morning and even raining occasionally and the cliffs of the island rose out of the fog like an enchanted land.  We are talking CLIFFS of the dramatic kind --sheer walls of rock that rise out of the ocean hundreds of feet.  The port clings to a narrow strip of land at the bottom of  more cliffs, right at the water's edge.  Huge ocean cruise ships and the tiny by comparison hydrofoils compete for docking space and tourists run up and down the cement seawall in danger of falling in.  I had heard that The Blue Grotto was something to see, so I talked Brad and C into getting on a tour boat in the misty drizzle.  At the helm was a handsome, rustic guy with long curly hai r.  He only spoke German and Italian.  He had a friend who was supposed to be our english speaker, but he stayed in the back of the boat listening to the German tourists whine about how long everything was taking.  Against choppy seas, it took about 15 minutes to get to the exterior of the grotto.  There we joined a flotilla of other boats waiting.  At first we weren't sure what we were waiting for.  Then, a whole slew of little tiny rowboats came out and started off-loading groups of five from the bigger boats.  These were standard rowboat size boats, with a rower standing in the middle with two oars in the water.  A Japanese honeymooning couple got to ours first and the rower told them to get on the floor of the boat, in the stern.  On the floor.  under the seats.  Then C and Brad went over the side with no trouble and were told to sit on the floor in the aft section of the rowboat, side by side.  I threw my GOOD TALBOTS pocketbook in and then swung one leg over and of course ended up on my rear end on the floor of t he big boat.  The rower guy says NO MAMA, you need to fall in this boat!  HAHAHA  Was glad to have lightened everyone's day with a laugh.  Okay, so they hoist me up and I throw both legs over the side and fall in the rowboat, where I am told to lie on the floor of the rowboat, between C's legs.  So, now there are five of us in a rowboat, lying face up, tangled in each other's legs and the rower is rowing toward a hole in the cliff face.  Water is coursing in and out of this hole and it occurs to me that the Grotto is through the hole!!  The reason we are on the FLOOR of the rowboat is because if you sat up, you would be killed when the waves smacked you into the rocks.  No one TOLD us this part, and as we have often thought since arriving here in Italy, C and I say that nothing like this would ever  be allowed to take place in the states.  The rower guy rows like hell toward the hole and just before he is about to be concussed, he sits down on my legs and pulls us through the hole by chains embedded in the rocks and we arrive in the oddest, most miraculous place I have ever entered.


It is blue.  Blue like the bluest sapphire. We are inside a jewel! It's an area about the size of an inground pool, and the rock ceiling is arcing above us to about twenty feet. The grotto is full of rowboats with people lying in them, and all the rowers are making noises of their choice because the acoustics are so clear.  Our rower then gives me a gift I will never forget.  He starts to sing Con Te Partiro!  This is one of my most favorite Italian songs.  He is even REALLY GOOD!  I clap and say E tu, Andrea Bocelli and he laughs and says, No, I am his more talented brother!  C and Brad and I are giddy with the experience and so it doesn't even bother us when we shoot back through the hole and the tide has gone up about four more inches and the sides of the boat are scraping the walls of the hole.  The Germans have decided to eschew the ride back in the boat and are taking the cliff hanging bus (apparently they have time  constraints). No one misses them and the boat is actually lighter and we make it back to Capriana in record time, slamming in to the ever rougher seas and getting all wet.


Once back on land, we have lunch (linguine with clams and gelati) and Brad and C head up the cliff in the funicular (like a street car) while I shop.  I buy two fabulous purses - the guy in the store swears that they are designer originals - I don't know about that, but I looked at the price and he said Ah, madame, you will not be paying that!  I said NO, I sure won't! but we arrived at what we both feel was fair and now they are upstairs in my hotel room  waiting to go home and get settled with my other fashion accessories.  Brad and C got great pictures of the cliffs, and Brad bought some other gifts.  Sh! can't tell you what they are now.


Brad got seasick on the way back in the hydrofoil and I dosed him up with motion sickness medicine.  He wanted two, so I gave him two and now he says he's feeling very loopy.  Hoping this will wear off before we hit Pompeii tomorrow.


Bono Cera!

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