Italy Capri 2001.06.11 - 06.13

Masami's Birthday

Masami chose Capri Island for her birthday. Coming from Monodendri on the 10th, we needed luck with transportation to be in Capri by her birthday on the 12th. A 33 hour continuous journal got us to Capri on the night of the 11th. We were exhausted but we made it.

Bill Bryson writes about Capri in his travel humor book "Neither Here nor There". Located 5km off shore near Naples (Napoli), he made it sound like a paradise within a country that's wonderful to begin with. Apparently, the world agrees. When we reached Capri at 20:00, we had difficulty finding a room. The decent-sounding places in the Lonely Planet were completely full. 
Fortunately, one pension had a cancellation. We'll take it!

The hotel occupancy rate was a forewarning of what to expect the next morning. In addition to all the tourists staying on the island, 1000s of tour groups also arrive for day trips. Every walkway is mobbed. Every restaurant is packed. Fat tourists walking slowly licking ice cream cones reminded us of Disneyland on a summer weekend. Masami wished we had returned to Santorini Island instead.

Capri town has some charm - what bit can be seen through the crowds of people - and food is good. We celebrated Masami's birthday by getting a massage and going to a pricey but delicious restaurant recommended by the masseuse. The day was good, "and I'm glad I'm not in Egypt," we both agreed.

Monodendri, Greece to Capri isn't an easy route. Since we wanted to leave Monodendri on Sunday (when there's no public transportation into the hills), we hitchhiked. A friendly German couple gave us a lift 80% of the way to the ferry port in Igoumenitsa. From there, a bus running between Ioannina and Igoumenitsa took us the remaining 25km. From Igoumenitsa, several ferry companies have boats departing at roughly the same time to Brindisi and Bari, Italy. They all tended to leave Igoumenitsa at around 23:00. Brindisi is a 7 hour ride and Bari is 9. Northbound trains from Brindisi stop in Bari one hour later on the route to Rome. To Naples, transfer from the Rome-bound train to a slow local train at Caserta, just north of Naples. Ferries from Napes to Capri take about 1 hour and run until 21:00.

Pizza was invented in Naples in the 18th century, and Napolitans claim to have the best pizza in Italy. Passing through Naples going to and returning from Capri, we tried pizza from its source. Inbound, we ate at the Lonely Planet recommendation: "For the best pizza in Napoli, Head for Da Michele near Stazione Centrale." It was good, but we couldn't believe it was "the best". The masseuse in Capri told us, "No, no, no. The best pizza in Napoli is at Restaurante Europeo in the center of the city." He just might be right. We asked about the restaurant at the tourist information counter at the Napoli Centrale train station and without pausing, the attentant said, "just below piazza Bovio, next to a Chinese Restaurant. Take bus R2 for 5 minutes." He must know the place well.

Da Michele prepares our pizza. To qualify for a certificate of authenticity, the cheese must be mozzarella, the olive oil must be extra virgin, and the salt must be sea salt. Dough must be tossed by hand and the pizza must be cooked in a wood-fired oven between 420-480 ° F.

The shore of Capri Island is rocky, and the weather is often overcast.

A large rock marks the center of the island. The two largest towns on the island are located on either side. One narrow road cut into the cliff connects them.

HomePrevious PageNext Journal PageJournal Index 2001Map of Europe

  Copyright © 2000-2002   Wes and Masami Heiser.   All rights reserved.