We decided on a challenge. It starts with the wild ride down to Capri Town–that’s after Kat retrieves the guide from the room, and Jason googles where we’re going. BW assumes I knew how to get there. I never know how to get anywhere! Honestly, I can’t even remember the name of the palace. I believe it was built by Tiberius. So that’s a clue.
BW: But you wrote about it!
NR: Over a year ago. Plus, this involves directions of some sort.
Shoulda brought my compass.
In any case, Jason finds things relating to Tiberius and comes up with Villa Jovis.
Yes, that’s it!
Kat comes back with the guide, and we’re off.
The day is beautiful, the views stunning. But I can’t really look at them as we wind down, just slicking past cars winding up. Then the madness that is Capri Town. Throngs of people, skinny roads leading to skinny roads. BW and I remember we have to take a skinny road, and steps are involved.
We wander, and it feels wrong, just wrong that I need to pass all these shops without a peek inside. Farrogamo, Pucci, Piano, and oh, oh, Armani. It stings a bit, but we have a mission.
We don’t find the road we’re after, but we find another, and finally a little sign with an arrow for Villa Jovis.
We climb, hike up the skinny road, haul up the narrow steps. Make turns, up, up, and yes, finally, I remember the area. We’ve converged onto the route we’d taken before. I remember that sweeping view over white walls and red tiles to the blue sea. Pretty gardens on the right. A big fig tree, red tomatoes, lemon trees, long rivers of yellow lantana.
Up, up, up. Garden walls and fancy iron doors showing long shady colonnades into lovely homes. It would be an amazing daily hike to live here, but what a reward.
We pass a gate, and Kat and I both exclaim and stop. Inside the lovely garden is the biggest hibiscus flower we’ve ever seen. Big as a dinner plate and perfect and pink. She starts to take a picture through the gate, and we hear a loud click. The lady of the house steps out, invites us to come in and take the picture. This is so sweet and kind. The plant blooms for a month every year, she tells us. She’s obviously, and justifiably proud of her garden.
On we go, up, up, up. There are some benches built into the wall, often in shade for a reprieve, and so many beautiful distractions along the hike. That blue sea with the white boats gliding, the rugged rise of cliffs, the stunning gardens and the deep Capri green of cypress. And the scents, the lemon, the flowers, the pine.
We pass through a little area with a shop, a market on one side, a little restaurant on the other. BW and I had pizza and wine there last trip on the way down from the ruins.
The way is long and steep, and this time narrow little carts–skinnier than golf carts–rumble by going up or down. There’s barely room for them and hikers to pass. And oh, my quads are starting to feel it!
The estimated time on the sign where we began was 40 minutes. I’m sure it took us all that, and some more. But we reach a point where we can see it, the biscuit colored walls of what had been the emperor’s massive villa, built primarily by slave labor, and those slaves had to haul the supplies up, up, up the route we’ve just hiked carrying no more than a couple backpacks.
Still, we’re not there yet. More steps, more steep road, more gorgeous views. And a lot of sweat.
I see two men–golden hair–doing this same hike. One of them is wearing jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. Who would dress like that for a hike on a hot, sunny, summer day? Why isn’t he dripping with sweat?
And at last we’re there. The guardian of the gate explains to us–in Italian, where we can see Sorrento, Vesuvius, and on the other side Napoli. I look down–for a moment–and the steep drop, the cliffs, the courageous trees that cling to the rock, and the deep blue water.
Much better to look out than down.
More steps! We climb up to walk where emperors, slaves, servants, dignitaries, all long dead walked. Walls of brick and stone, open to the sky, wide chambers, cool from those stones. And arguably the best views on the island so high up. We go all the way to the top, onto a flat wide roof for more views and photos, for the glorious breeze. It’s all more than worth the hike, and there’s a satisfaction knowing just how high we climbed.
The way down is a lot quicker and easier–though it pings the hamstrings a bit now and then.
Along the way we see a cat lounging in the shade. None of us have ever seen his like. Leopard spotted, so,so handsome, with pale, clear green eyes. Eerie green. The cat is pleased to be scratched and petted by Jason, turning his head, flopping over, stretching out. Deigning in his cat way to allow our attention and admiration. Until he’s done with us and rises to walk away and wash.
Down and down, and we stop at a pretty bar/restaurant overlooking the sea. All shady with little tables and chairs–chairs with cushions! We’ve earned those cushions, and a refreshing beverage. And gelato!
I opt for a mimosa and strawberry gelato. Just marvelous.
Down and down again after a lovely respite into the crowds in town. Around and around to the cab stand, and the mad ride up. The driver chats some, and all I can think is: No! Don’t talk. Don’t become distracted. It’s a really long way down!
But we make it, head up to our room.
Time for another refreshing drink. I have over 18,000 steps on my Fitbit. A banner day! And it isn’t over.
Later, after a rest, we clean up, fancy up a bit for our dinner here at the hotel. We have a lovely table by the pool side where the billowy white curtains are pulled back. It’s dining in and out at the same time, with a view of another beautiful sunset.
The food’s plentiful, the service first rate. A bottle of red, trays of lovely bread. Starters–just some salad for me. I get the sea bass–mmmm–and as I don’t like spinach once you cook it, I split mine between BW and Kat. Give Jason my tomatoes (which I only like cooked into sauce!) My fish is perfect, the wine is smooth, soft, the meal slow and easy as it should be.
They bring the cheese cart. I mean to say no, but am talked into trying just a bit. More lovely. Then there’s some little treat–I taste coffee and berries and chocolate. And dessert! I order something with peach and cream and a thin, crunchy cookie. I can’t eat half of it, but it’s wonderful. BW agrees as he eats what I can’t. Then they bring two trays of little sweets. Oh no, more! I can do one bite, of something rich with blueberry.
We all groan our way upstairs. And do a short stretch for those hard-worked muscles.
It’s near midnight before I give it up after a long, full day packed with sights, the smell of flowers and lemons that is Capri, the rich greens, the blue sea, the tumbling cliffs, the crowds, the movement, the sweat, the food and wine.
I sleep late for me–7:30–and the day is again perfect. We’re spending it lazy–though Kat and I did a challenging workout. It’s time for massages as a reward. And I’m tagging on a facial just because. We may do some more walking on our last full day here. Or just sit and look.
Maybe, just maybe, I’ll work for an hour or so. We’ll just have to see what the day brings.
Note from Laura: Bonus photos from Kat! Mouthwatering melon and prosciutto and the tiles from shopping on the first day.