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Up the Boot (1): Sorrento and Capri

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Sorrento

The way back home would be done by road, up the entire length of the "boot". A couple of stops were inserted on the way, so we had a total of 6 more days along the way. The first leg took us to the Gulf of Naples where we would spend the next three nights and two days. It involved the ferry crossing from Messina to Villa San Giovanni across the Strait of Messina, and then a long boring coach ride along the highway through Calabria, a bit of Basilicata and the southern part of Campania. Traffic congestions totally messed up our schedule. The driver had to sty behind the wheel muchlonger than he was allowed to - luckily no one controlled him. Despite the delay we stopped at Paestum for a quick tour of the temples. Since I had visited before I did not even take any photos - ah those were the times.

We stayed at a hotel not in Sorrento itself but in Piano di Sorrento. This was probably the nicest accommodation we had during our trip. I don't remember the name (there are several hotels in Piano that match my memories about the location). It was located above the port and beach, close to the edge of the cliff so many rooms and the big terrace had a fine view of the gulf. To reach the beach we had to walk down a steep winding road. Some of us did that one evening. The beach is black as the sand is volcanic material. The water was also opaque and blackish, but it was fine to swim. The ascent back up the cliff was the most strenuous part.

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Views of Sorrento from the sea

Italians are notoriously noisy (I speak fluent Italian and have invested quite a lot of effort into encounters with Italian culture, so I feel entitled to an opinion, no offence intended), but in the Naples region they are the noisiest of all. Our bus driver told us upon arrival, "Better take for granted that they are all crazy here, and take it easy." There were constantly horns touting somewhere, people talking at their normal voice (which others would call shouting) - well, all this is best ignored.

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The next two days were dedicated to the top tourist hotspots of that area. From Sorrento we crossed over to Capri by ferry. There we were met by a local tour guide. Our visit started with a tour on an open boat round the island to the Faraglioni rocks. We did not go to the Blue Grotto because it was "too crowded" - I suspect that they did not book in time to get a tour. Anyway, the Faraglioni tour was probably the better choice. This was thje part of our visit that I enjoyed most of all. We had gorgeous sunny weather and the colours of the sea were unbelievable. The Faraglioni are a group of pointed rocks that protrude from the sea water outside the southern coast of the island and its almost vertical cliffs. Legends say that, if lovers kiss when passing underneath the arched rock, their love will last forever. "The happy young couple" certainly made a big show of this. (Hrmpf.)

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Back in port in Marina Grande, we were herded onto a bus and driven to Capri, the main village on the upper part of the island. Capri island consists of two mountains, and Capri village occupies the saddle between the two peaks. This village is full of touristy designer shops selling the big brands that you find everywhere at inflated prices, and the type of restaurants that cater for tour groups. Our guide was one of the worst type, telling superficial stuff and trying to drag us into shops and into a restaurant where she surely got a good provision. I preferred to spend the lunch break on my own, trying to find a few quieter side streets. Some locals thought I was lost and tried to lure me back onto the tourist trail.

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Conclusion: Capri is breathtakingly beautiful but has been totally ruined since mass tourism discovered it. Perhaps, if you stay overnight you'll experience a different, quieter side of the island as soon as the day trippers are gone and get a chance to truly enjoy it. But during the day it is horrible. I have no desire ever to return.

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I Faraglioni

Posted by Kathrin_E 06:23 Archived in Italy

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