Saint IndignitatisDwight Peck's personal website

Naples and the Amalfi coast in autumn 2010

Awaiting US midterm election results in a grimly upbeat mood

Kristin used to hang out on Capri and the Costiera Amalfitana, in the old days, but we've never been, and it's time. So here we go for a couple of weeks in fall 2010 for the off-season prices.

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Capri walks

We've been touristing on the Amalfi coast for a few days and now it's time for some exercise.

This is Sorrento. Say what you like about Sorrento; the guidebooks extol it. We're returning a hired car with moments to spare before they close for the decade, and the roads at rush hour are sordid and unnavigable, and we're freaking out all over the place, so we hate Sorrento. But then as we're walking down to the ferry port with time to spare, it's looking better.

Our ferry's not there yet, so we can take our time ripping cartilage out of our knees getting off the 50m town down to its port, at sea level naturally.

Sorrento from the port. There are three kinds of ferries to Capri, the slow, the fast, and the hydrofoil.

We wanted the slow one, but got the fast one. No way would we have got on that hydrofoil, I'm told.

Safely landed in Marina Grande, the isle of Capri's ferry port, now we're searching about for the funicular up the hill.

The Piazza Umberto I, the "Piazzetta", and the top of the funicular rail

The Piazzetta in front of the cathedral Santo Stefano and the funicolare; now we're off to find our hotel, La Tosca.

Kristin's following her memory along the boutique-enshrouded Via Le Botteghe ('shopping street'), which I'm hoping is a little too upscale for our hotel.

But there it is, La Tosca, down the hill a ways from the botteghes. In fact, it's a fine, small hotel, very comfortable and friendly, and not far from the centre.

From our room, we're overlooking the Certosa di San Giacomo, a Carthusian monastery dating from 1371, and behind that, one of the Faraglioni, big rocky sea-stack things off the coast.

For a better look, we're filing up to the Belvedere Cannone, where the canons used to go to get a rest from their praying.

Up the narrow streets, and up some more.

The far side of Capri, the southern coast, seen from the Belvedere Cannone, with the tiny Marina Piccola or 'small port' below

The Faraglione sea stacks

Back in the Piazzetta, and time for dinner. The Via Longano is just up through that vine-covered arch at the far end of the square.

As it happens, we're searching for a restaurant that Kristin fancied some years ago, preparing to recreate the experience. The Longano da Tarantino looks like it. -- It was superb, but not the right one.

We've walked out late in the day to the Arco Naturale, with a pause along the way for a Caffè Americano (for me) and an invigorating glass of juice for Kristin.

I took many, many photos of this impressive natural monument, but one will suffice.

No thought, after the Arco Naturale, of just walking back to the hotel and reading the newspapers; Kristin's off for a twilight march around the Monte Tuoro.

We're sneaking up on the Faraglione from the far side.

The Faraglione from the nearby hillside

Back into town at just about dinnertime. Oh, good.

The Via Krupp -- built by the family of You Know Who! (That Krupp.) -- recently reopened after welcome repairs -- leads us down a veritable Escalier des Montagnes on a scenic walk to Marina Piccola.

Back and forth, and downwards

Back and forth. Back and forth. Faraglione sneaking into view. Back and forth, and down. The civic authorities have put out colorful little footsteps with occasional portraits of the galaxy of cultural luminaries who've been performing here in recent years.

Back and forth. Still down.

The Faraglione

Hats off to the family Krupp

Marina Piccola

Back up to Capri town by the bus (are we stupid?), and ready for another bracing walk.

The funicular station at the main town square

A view of the Marina Grande from Capri town

The Piazzetta again, as we're passing through to see about Emperor Tiberius

Saint Indignitatis

More walks around town, but with Tiberius still in prospect, and the Little Minnows

We're booking for tonight at the Buca di Bacco ('Cave of Bacchus') -- perhaps this is the ristorante that Kristin remembers so fondly.

At last, we're on our way up to the Villa Jovis, one of crazy emperor Tiberius' several palaces on Capri. Tiberius, a clever military chap and in-and-out powerbroker in his day, adopted son of Augustus in fact, became Roman Emperor in A.D. 14 but subsequently discovered Capri.

What with this and that, Tiberius got a little strange and retired to his palaces here in about A.D. 26, keeping up with imperial affairs and becoming sufficiently paranoid to kill everyone within reach, including his sex partners, whatever their gender, age, or species, until his death in 37.

It sounds over the top, I know, and it's all probably much more nuanced than that. But I follow Suetonius, and Suetonius doesn't do nuance. (And Tacitus doesn't disagree, too much.)

In the fairly well-restored Villa Jovis, up here on Monte Tiberio (335m), we're walking along what was formerly the emperor's own residential block. From which we're told that he tossed ex-sex-partners off the cliffs when he tired of them.

But that's nothing compared to the "little fishies", or "minnows", or "tiddlers" (in various English translations) who used to swim in the nude with him and nibble when requested. That's the part of Suetonius that the Loeb Classical Library used to leave untranslated.

-- Oh, sorry, Sister. Didn't notice you there.

The Villa Jovis is massive (mostly giant water reservoirs), but we're in the Old Roué's own quarters up here at the top.

Kristin's meditating on the guidebook.

It's not easy to imagine daily life up here in those times. Oh well.

(That's Monte Solaro, 589m, in the background, with Capri's other town, Anacapri, down behind it.)

And there's mainland Italy about 5km across the way to the north, the Punta della Campanella with Sorrento just around the point on the left. The Emperor knew a good view when he found one.

No way we're leaving the Villa Jovis the normal way -- we're searching out some extremely vertical path down the cliffside instead.

Kristin's looking for the so-called Villa Lysis, the creation of an old debauchee called Fersen in the early 20th century, down this way somewhere. It's "mainly Art Nouveau with many Neoclassical elements, a style that might be called 'Neoclassical decadent'."

Anyway, when we got down there, it was closed, so no further neoclassical debaucheries today.

Walking back into Capri, with Anacapri hiding up behind Mount Solaro at the other end of it.

An excellent dinner (Buca di Bacco, fantastic old vaulted ceilings, etc.), and tomorrow we're off. Horrible storms are predicted, the ferries are not predicted, and our hotel is closing up for the season, so perhaps we'll be camping on the Piazzetta.

Lively seas but no storms, and we're racing for our ferry. The slow one.

Marina Grande, Capri out of view on the left, Anacapri tucked in behind Monte Capello (514m) and Monte Solaro (589m). The only road to Anacapri can be seen cut into the cliffs on the right.

We're processing out of port and bound for Naples across the bay.

Capri is a fantastic place in the off-season. Of course, in the off-season you miss all the luxurious boutiques on the Via Le Botteghe, but if you bring a change of clothing with you, that should be all right.

Ciao Capri, the Villa Jovis on top of Monte Tiberio on the left and Monte Solaro on the right. Capri in the middle.

Kristin and Mount Vesuvius. Kindred spirits.

We're anticipating a week in Naples and hoping that the garbage situation has been resolved.

Naples port, St Elmo up on the left, and no heaps of garbage in sight so far.

Elmo looming as we ease into the docks.

The new Queen Elizabeth has preceded us. It "joined the fleet" of Cunard earlier this month; from our hotel room, we could see the 2,000 passengers reveling immoderately in the ballroom in the evenings, unless that was just the construction crew.

Now we'll just go find our convent and get settled in.

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 30 November 2010.

Naples and environs, 2010