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Here We Go Again: Capri, Italy

[Clicking on an image opens it in a new tab with a much better quality image and view. I encourage you to do that]

Isle of Capri
Naples, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

We seem to have ramped up our travel. This was our second trip to Europe in just a few months, both in 2019. I think we are done for this year. 🙂

Isle of Capri
Naples, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

I suppose every one is different, but this was a different cruise for us. In all but 2 other instances (we are “seasoned” travelers now, with 9 cruises and 2 other trips abroad over that past few years), we had friends traveling with us. This time we struck out on our own. And this time, we had fun, making the acquaintance of a number of other couples, from Europe, Australia, and the U.S. We almost always have a full “event” schedule on these cruises. This time, although we did join a few tours, a lot of the time was spent exploring and wandering on our own. This was true in Capri (as it was at the end, in La Spezia).

Isle of Capri
Naples, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Isle of Capri
Naples, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

A number of our ports did not necessarily have major “destination” or “must-see” things, which made it perhaps more interesting. Our first port was Naples. We have spent a fair amount of time in Naples during each of our Mediterranean Cruises, and felt like we had seen the highlights, including the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento. We have not been to Pompei (maybe next time). But I had alway heard that the Isle of Capri was beautiful, as well as being a known playground for the so-called “rich and famous.” So I wanted to see what it was all about.

Isle of Capri
Naples, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Isle of Capri
Naples, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Isle of Capri
Naples, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

With no particular agenda, we bought ferry tickets and set out for Capri. The Island is really quite large, and we only saw a small part of it. Our ferry landed in the main marina for the island; Marina Grande. There is another marina on the south side of the Island called Marina Piccola, and though we saw views of it from up in Capri, we didn’t venture down there. The two primary village attractions on Capri are the villages of Capri and Anacapri. Not having made any transportation arrangements, our short, day visit didn’t allow us to visit Anacapri, though my research tells me it is more of the same: spectacular views and typical European construction. Originally settled by the Greeks (it later was at one point a French holding, and eventually restored to Italy/Sicily), it reminded me of the settlements on the Greek Isles.

Isle of Capri
Naples, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Isle of Capri
Naples, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Isle of Capri
Naples, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

One thing we did miss (poor research on my part) was the so-called “Phoenecian Steps,” a stairway from Marina Grande to the top, build many years back by the Greek inhabitants. They apparently start close to where we landed, and then end at the top, near the border between Capri and Anacapri. We will look for them next time.  🙂 While these steps would require a rather vigorous climb, the top is actually rather easily reached by riding the funicular ($2 Euros each way) to the to and the Pietta Funiculara, in the middle of the Village of Capri. We walked for a couple hours, without any plan, not really venturing far from the main part of the village. The walkways were steep and winding, with plenty of great views of the Gulf of Naples.

Isle of Capri
Naples, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Isle of Capri
Naples, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

I was not disappointed in my assessment of the village. In its heart, there were many high-end shops and restaurants. However, as we ventured of the main streets, we found many quiet and pretty scenes. Photographically, I think this trip was – in part – about finding unique scenes, and my image curating and processing is bearing that out. A large percentage of my shots are not “iconic,” but rather of quiet, discrete and pretty scenes I came upon as we wandered.

Isle of Capri
Naples, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Isle of Capri
Naples, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

From Lemons — Limoncello

Limoncello Shop Amalfi, Italy Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

Limoncello Shop
Amalfi, Italy
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

There is an old saying about making lemonade when you have lemons. The Amalfi Coast of Italy is known for growing lemons and making, perhaps the best ever “lemonade”:  Limoncello, a sweet, lemony, liquour distilled from lemons. Used in some mixed cocktails, my preferred approach is straight up, very cold. We saw plenty of evidence of Limoncello during our day on the Amalfi Coast.

Gulf of Napoli Amalfi Coast Copyright  2013  Andy Richards

Gulf of Napoli
Amalfi Coast
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

Sadly, our beautiful, warm, sunny and relaxing day in Mykonos, was to signal the premature end of our Mediterranean Cruise. We were due to sail out of Mykonos for Naples, Italy around 6:00 that evening, with a planned “day at sea,” on the way. When we did not move at 6:00, we began to sense a problem. The captain announced that they were having mechanical problems with the anchor winch mechanism, which ultimately resulted in a complete re-build of the winch motor. We did not sail until much later in the evening, but the captain assured us that we had plenty of time to make our scheduled docking in Naples.

Driving the Amalfi Coast Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

Driving the Amalfi Coast
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

Naples, while itself perhaps unremarkable, marked the point of the cruise which I had most been anticipating. While many cruisers planned to visit the site of ancient Pompei, I had had my fill of ruins. From others who had been there, I had heard much about the Amalfi Coast, and we had a planned, private tour of the coast, with visits to Sorrento, Amalfi, Positano, and other villages along that coast line. On our “at sea” morning, we had a leisurely morning and were just contemplating our choices for lunch, when everything on the ship came to a complete stop, creating a deafening silence. After some fits and starts, the ship power came back on and all services were restored. However, there was a fatal problem with the ship’s propulsion system, allowing it only to make very slow progress toward the port of Naples, where we would eventually terminate the cruise and leave the ship. The cruise itinerary was originally scheduled for stops at Naples, Rome, Florence and the Provence, France region, before terminating in Barcelona. As I noted in the original blog on this topic, I give great credit to the Princess Cruise Lines for getting out in front of this significant problem, including refunding the full cost of the cruise, reimbursing us for our out-of-pocket costs to get home, and offering a substantial discount on a future cruise package. They obviously understand the value of customer service. Thank you, Princess, for making a bad experience (clearly for the line and its passengers) as good as they could.

Getting more than 2,000 passengers to a major airport (Rome was 3 hours from Naples by road) and onto planes home is a pretty major undertaking and it actually took an extra day to get us a flight out of Rome. The cruise line kept the ship operating in port and we were free to continue to use our stateroom and the services on board – which continued to operate nearly normally, including the dining facility. Since we didn’t make it into the Port of Naples until a day after our scheduled arrival, our private tour was cancelled. However, we were able to hire a taxi to drive us up the coast for the day, and visit Sorrento, and Amalfi.

Positano, Italy Amalfi Coast Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

Positano, Italy
Amalfi Coast
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

Shortly after we left Naples and headed up the coast, we were able to see what the “draw” to this dramatically photogenic coastal region is. Driving up the coastal road, we stopped at a scenic point to look back over the Gulf of Napoli, back toward the Port of Naples. The road itself, is dramatic, with views around virtually every curve.

Local Shops Sorrento, Italy Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

Local Shops
Sorrento, Italy
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

We stopped first, in Sorrento, which credits itself as the origin of genuine Limoncello liquour. Sorrento is perhaps a quintessential seaside tourist city, with a mix of quaint, local shops and big name designer stores. We walked around Sorrento and window-shopped for a few minutes, before continuing our journey up the coastal road, toward our destination, Amalfi.

Plaza in Center of Town Amalfi, Italy Copyright  2013  Andy Richards

Plaza in Center of Town
Amalfi, Italy
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

Like so many of the places we visited in Italy, the church and the plaza or square which the church anchors, seems to be the central focal point. Amalfi was no exception, and the church in the middle of town was magnificent. But Amalfi is also a beach resort on the Mediterranean and the resort on the beach near town was equally impressive. Amalfi, it turns out, was the penultimate (yeah, I just wanted to use that word J ) stop in our 2013 visit to Europe. The next day we would leave for Rome and spend a whirlwind afternoon in City Center, Rome.

Beach Resort Amalfi, Italy Copyright  2013  Andy Richards

Beach Resort
Amalfi, Italy
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards