We had summer weather in Rome all through October at which point my sister in Toronto decided to join me for a walking holiday on Capri and the Amalfi coast. As soon as she booked her flights, the weather forecast changed and she arrived at the beginning of November to buckets of rain. By this point, we had booked our trains and hotels so we decided to carry on and hope for the best.
We took the train to Naples and a ferry from there to Capri. I had booked a B and B in Anacapri called the Antico Monastero. It was attached to the church of San Michele and was originally a convent. Our host took great pride in pointing out a door in our room with just a wall behind it. Apparently, it used to be the entry into the church organ loft such that the cloistered nuns could go and sing in church without being seen by the congregation. Unfortuntely, we couldn’t go into the church to see the balcony from the church side, as well as its impressive majolica floor depicting the garden of Eden, as it was closed for renovations.
We got one sunny day on Capri which we tried to take advantage of. We walked down the Scala Fenicia, the Phoenician Steps (all 920 of them), from Anacapri down to Marina Grande. The steps start at the Villa Michele which belonged to the Swedish doctor Axel Munthe and which is now preserved as sort of museum. He filled his villa with a collection of sculptures and photographs and also created a beautiful garden with an amazing view of the Bay of Naples which you can see in the main picture above.
At Marina Grande, we hopped on a boat and took a trip around the island. The scenery was spectacular and we saw villas dating back to Roman times (including that of the Emperor Tiberius) perched on rocky cliffs as well as more recent villas of the rich and famous. The iconic Blue Grotto, Grotta Azzura, was closed because the water level was too high for even a small boat to enter it. However, the boat went through an opening in one of two rock structures called the Faraglioni which was exciting and we also saw other grottos and caves in the rock faces.
Determined to make the best of the day, we raced back to Anacapri and took the chairlift up to the top of Mount Solara, the highest mountain on the island with stunning 360 degree views. We walked down the mountain back to Anacapri through forests with wild flowers and mushrooms, passing Compton MacKenzie’s house on the way down. In addition to celebrities, many writers and artists spent time on the Island. It must be spectacular in the spring when the flowers are in bloom on the hillsides.
Back in the monastero, we had a living area off our bedroom with a ladder leading to a terrace. Given that it was the first day when it wasn’t raining, we climbed the ladder onto the terrace balancing glasses and wine to have an aperitivo. Lo and behold, we found ourselves in a little enclosed section on the roof of the church. I’ve drunk wine in many places but this was a first even for me!