A Day visit to Anacapri and Capri

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Axel Munthe's house - Villa San Michele in Anacapri

Capri, with its crowds, is normally the kind of destination I would steer clear of. However, having read "The Story of San Michele" four times already, I desperately wanted to see Axel Munthe's house in Anacapri, at the same time being convinced that I would find it disappointing.

If you're thinking along those lines too, two words : do go.

There were a few other visitors around but we certainly did not get in each other's way and I got a very definite feeling that we were all extremely moved by the atmosphere of the house.

Having already followed almost step-by-step the construction of the house, starting with the erection of the colonnade trailing into the distance, the digging of foundations revealing more "roba di Tiberio" with every spadeful, the simple kitchen, the patios and other rooms added as need arose, on my next and fifth reading I shall revisit Villa San Michele in my mind's eye.

           

At the far end of the colonnade sits the Sphinx. Axel Munthe maintains that the site where he was buried came to him in a dream. Having retrieved the sphinx from some distant land and fixed him in his rightful spot, you can't help but feel that Axel Munthe was perfectly right: only a sphinx was suitable. There he sits, philosophically peering down on the hustle and bustle of Marina Grande.

     

The Island of Capri




To the left can be seen the hairpin bends of the path leading down to Marina Piccola.


It is very easy to escape the crush in the main Piazzetta of Capri town by following one of the walks detailed in the Sunflower book by Julian Tippett : Sorrento, Amalfi Coast and Capri: Car Tours and Walks (Landscapes).

I chose Segments 67 and 68 taking you on a round trip via the Arco naturale and the Faraglione islands. Just below the Arco naturale on Segment 68 are countless steps downwards. Make sure you do not plan to do this walk in the opposite direction.

           

I was there at the end of March 2008 and even in that season huge ferries and hydrofoils were making regular trips between Sorrento and Marina Grande, Capri. Transport on the island is by minibus (around 20 seats) or taxi and there is also a funicular from the port to Capri town. Since I didn't want to spend a long time in a queue for a bus, I chose to join a guide who was putting together a small group on the incoming ferry. The advantages were that he laid out his programme in advance and we did not have to wait for transport. On the other hand, he was not entirely frank about the time which he would give us at Anacapri, for instance, and he also sent me off in the wrong direction when I asked him about the Arco Naturale walk at the end of our tour. My own fault for not relying on the Sunflower book!