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A Timeless Coast

BY Lisa Lindblad

September 18, 2010

Caesar Augustus made his painful way toward the island of Capri, comforted by the sea air and the familiar shape of this coastline he knew and loved so well.  Capri was where he hoped to die, but  he did not make it.

This region is ancient, timeless.  The world moves on, traveling populations heave and spread themselves like an amoeba across the globe and yet, like some capacious being, this coast seems to absorb them all.  Who can change the sinuous shape of the coastline, the sober aspect of the rock rising from the sea, the brawny fisherman’s physique, the warm smile out of dark lashed eyes?

It is wonderful being here:  familiar, comforting, yet exhilarating.  I, too, like Augustus, can see my last days on earth plying these mediterranean waters towards the mountain in the sea that is Capri.

In spite of aborted travels to get here, I arrived late on a Friday night to a fading sunset and the twinkle of lights along the coast.  Ravello, the charming town that it is, welcomed me into an architectural beauty that dates back centuries:  frescoed ceilings, mosaicked floors, crumbling walls, arabic inspired arches, majolica tiled cupolas.  The music season is in full swing, Hotel Caruso offers glorious suites with the greatest view on earth and, yet, a daily local life proceeds uninhibited.

The square wakes up for a morning coffee.

The facts:

Best 5 star Hotels:  Hotel Caruso and Palazzo Sasso

Best 4 star hotel:  Villa Fraulo

Best Nearby Restaurants:  Palazzo Sasso’s Rossellinis and Amalfi’s La Caravella

Best Lunch:  La Conca del Sogno

Best Buys:  Majolica ceramics

Best (and nicest) Contact:  Lorenzo Soleri, Hotel Caruso

And dominating it all, in spirit and in size, is Vesuvius.

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John Derian Goes West