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Capri

BY lisal

July 12, 2016

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It is an amazing island because of its deep history stretching back millenia, because of its more recent history as a glamorous watering spot, because, in the face of a daily onslaught of day trippers, it maintains a dignity and a humor that is almost dismissive.

I also believe there is something in the rock.  There is a magic to the island’s profile, in its curves and dips and folds, in its extraordinary fertility that breeds lofty pines, walls of flowering vines, pots of geranium and impatiens and feeds out-sized populations of chameleons, songbirds, gulls and, even, three foot tree snakes.

Some favorites:

…to see: La Certosa, Villa San Michele, the floor of the Chiesa di San Michele Arcangelo

to wander…Capri’s backstreets in the early morning, out to the belvedere above via Tuoro, up to Villa Jovis

to shop…Eco Capri for Laetitia Cerio’s wonderful prints, Cabana for Helen White’s fine eye,  Laboratorio for something a little different, Antonio Viva for sandals, Capri Home for household linens

to eat…Ristorante Mamma, Aurora, Da Tonino, Panorama, La Faraglioni, Buca di Bacco, il Riccio

to know… if you want to swim in the ocean you have two options – you can either go to one of the many beach clubs (La Fontelina is the most famous) where you must purchase a chair or sunbed before you can swim OR hire a self-drive or captained boat, and head out with baguette, cheese and fruit in search of a private cove and flat rock to sun and snorkel.

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It is a region of Italy that reveals itself slowly but not grudgingly.  Puglia and Basilicata are hardscrabble neighbors, sandwiched between two seas, anchored in sandstone and limestone, used and abused as a gateway to and from other lands.

Perhaps it is because they have needed to keep a low profile, to concentrate on keeping body and soul together, that they have eschewed the snobbery, the flash, the pretension, even, of other more northerly regions.  And, because necessity is the mother of invention, these life-hardened agriculturalists have developed cultural life ways that make them special: their cooking, their architecture, their desire for privacy reflect centuries of making life work.

Today, this region of Italy is on the cusp of becoming the darling of travelers who bemoan the trafficked towns and country roads of Tuscany.  "This is the new Tuscany, " they say, but they are wrong. This is not Tuscany at all.  This is something - a place and a people - that is completely different.

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Puglia and Basilicata