Chasing Memories

BY Lisa Lindblad

September 21, 2010

I first went to Capri when I was 6.  A family friend lived on Via Tuoro, and we rented a modest house just above the Marina Piccola from Laetizia Palumbo, a hairdresser on Via Tragara.  When I returned two years later, my mother insisted that my sister and I had some kind of occupation in the afternoons; I, at 8, was taken on by Signora Consentino, a lovely Capresi lady, who produced great trousers and sensible shirts, all of which were sewn in the shop’s back room.  After a morning snorkeling and picnicking off the rocky coast, we would race back up the hill for our 4PM post-siesta opening time.  At night we would sip lemonade in the piazzetta on our way home or follow the jaunty Capresi dogs down to the  open air films which played in the convent ruins.

It was an idyllic childhood summer for all concerned – safe, independent and healthy.

I have been back many times to Capri.  It is one of my most favorite places in the world and certainly my favorite island.  I arrived this morning on a 9:45 hydrofoil which disgorged hundreds of day trippers – English, American, Spanish and Italian, mostly groups, all very nice but just too many.  I, alone, carried a bag to overnight.

My first visit was to JK Capri, a lovely hotel that opened four years ago.  16 rooms at the cliff’s edge, it overlooks the Marina Grande side of the island and, thus, has superb sunset views framing Vesuvius in the distance.  The hotel is hardly a hotel..more like a very stylish private house with clear colors, wonderful art, a great library, delicious pool and wellness center.  One might question the location for it is not an easy walk in to town.  A shuttle runs from 7AM to midnight after which you can pick up a taxi in the square, so access to town is not difficult.  It is more a question, however, of how contextualized you wish to be in the street life of Capri and that is a valid one.  But JK is the loveliest hotel on the island.

Walking back through town, I found myself again amongst a throng of shoppers. The stores are mostly brands now – long gone are the Cosentinos.  The flavor of the season is 100% Capri which sells undeniably lovely  clothes and home furnishings in crisp white linen. Step beyond 100% Capri, however, and suddenly the crowds fall away.  I walked up Via Tuoro to #31, Casa Lontana, and stood, for a time, looking towards Anacapri and remembering Aunt Miggie, Simon and Mop.  In the noon sun I reached Punta Tragara and, once again, leaned over the wall to watch the climbers breathlessly summiting their long, steep climb from the Faraglioni.  And I saw, with my inner eye, two young girls, sprinting like goats up the same steep path, shaded by umbrella pines and chorused by cicadas, anxious to arrive on time at their first jobs.

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John Derian Goes West