The Promenade, Salerno
We awoke refreshed. As we do every morning when we are not rushed, we went out for a morning stroll and an espresso. Luigi provided a voucher for a simple colazione at a café, nearby across from the Duomo.
An Open Air Market, Salerno
Much to my surprise Luigi was leaving as we arrived. “Buongiorno” Luigi was working on the upstairs apartment, would we like to drop in and see it when after we’ve eaten? “Certo, grazie” Our espresso and cornetti were excellent. And we headed back to pack for our ferry to Capri. You will seldom have a bad cup of cappuccino or espresso anywhere in Italy.
“Professore, Professore” I called as we approached the apartment. After watching Montalbano, Voice of the Violin, I’ve wanted an excuse to say that. Luigi’s head popped into a window frame and called us upstairs and inside. This apartment was larger and much brighter than the one we rented. He would rent this one to us at the same price as the one below, if we wanted to visit Salerno and the Amalfi coast again. Given prices in Positano and Amalfi, this is a tempting proposition.
Living Room & Dining Room from the Kitchen Level
Kitchen Level and the Stairway to the Rooftop Patio
The Kitchen Level and Front Door
We talked about the work he is doing on the upstairs apartment. He showed us the patio upstairs above a charming circular wrought iron stairway. We lingered enjoying each other’s company. The feeling that Luigi would rather be having fun and not working was palpable. Finally we had to pull away to pack. Luigi asked where we were going next. The ferry to Capri. We discussed where it departed and were at odds. He thought on one pier, we were told on a different pier. Luigi called around, called again. looked serious, called another place. He had a few long conversations with who knows whom. Something was amiss.
The Ferry Pier for the Amalfi Coast
And something surely was. There was a single ferry each morning that departs from the pier we were told. However, there is only one ferry at this time of year and it left at 8AM! We could take a ferry to Amalfi or Positano, then take the ferry at 8PM to Capri and arrive late. I knew the ferry from Salerno to Capri could be trouble, but the latest information I had was that the ferry would be running hourly by now. Not so! Luigi continued calling. At one point he said, I know a fellow who owns a boat. He will take you to Capri if the ferries are too expensive. By now we had finished packing. Luigi mentioned that the only direct ferries to Capri now were from Sorrento and from Napoli. He could drive us to Sorrento!
On the Train to Napoli
I know that train service between Salerno and Napoli runs regularly like clockwork. I went round and round with Luigi about what the best method to get to Capri might be. We finally settled on taking a train to Napoli and taking the ferry to Capri, “but be careful in Napoli. It is not safe to leave bags outside” We had left a bag outside the apartment for a long time wile researching ferry options. “I can take care of myself, don’t worry Luigi. We will be fine”. Luigi walked us to the train station and carried my bag the entire way. We continued an interesting conversation about dialects, Napoli, Salerno, about life in general, and about being happy as a way of life. We parted at the train station after we had verified that ferries from Napoli ran regularly to Capri and having discussions with women in line for tickets about options to get to Capri. It was agreed that going by way of Amalfi, while possible, would get us there late in the evening.
The tickets to Napoli were under 5 euro each, very reasonable. The train was scheduled to leave at 12:10. It was not 11:45. We were good to go!
The train ride was fast, 40 minutes, and uneventful. Departing the train station a fellow asked, “You want a taxi? Where To?” I said “Traghetto per Capri” “Si, I take you” (Lesson Learned Prior) “Quanta Costa?” “venti euro” “Ma, No. diece euro” “quindici” I walked on. Another 50 meters a second fellow asked “Taxi?” “Traghetto per Capri” “quindici Euro” “dieci” “dodici” “certo” and off we went to the ferry for 12 euros.
On the way the taxi driver asked Traghetto or something else. Not being sure what the “something else was” I said “Si, traghetto” and shortly we were dropped of at a street corner. The driver accosted a coupe crossing the street with baggage and asked if they were going to the ferry. “Si”, and he motioned to us to follow this couple. The four of us eventually found the Traghetto, the car ferry to Capri. We parted ways as they already had tickets and followed the signs for biglietteria. By now we knew that was the ticket counter. We arrived behind a very talkative group of Italians who seemed to have an issue with the agent. They went on and on about the same thing forever it seemed. All good natured, but the group was trying to find a way around or through some problem. Eventually they gave up.
Ferry to Marina Grande, Capri. Ellen Chatting with justin and Kate
Our turn. “Il traghetto per Capri a qui?” “Si” “A che ora?” “sedici e mezzo” “Ma troppo tardi” The agent switched to broken English and said that there is another ferry that leaves sooner down that way, pointing further down to our right. Great.
We turned around and the couple behind us asked, “there’s another ferry leaving sooner?” “Yes” “can we follow you” “Of course”, not that we knew anything more than it’s “that way”. Off we went. Justin and Kate from Texas were newly weds (well less than a year married) and this was Kate’s first trip to Italy. We had a great time chatting about Texas, travel, languages. As we walked I stopped frequently to ask “Dov’e il Traghetto per Capri” and often people wanted to send us back to the car ferry. We persisted. Eventually Justin said they had dropped a car off right there, “Oh, that’s the car we dropped off. They told us to go to the ferry where we met you!” There’s lots of confusion about ferries. We pushed on baggage in hand. We saw an arch with people coming and going, “that could be it”. “It looks like a cruise ship portal”, Ellen was correct. By now we were flagging, it’s been over a kilometer and no sight of ferries. Turning a corner we noticed a low white building across the street. It was nondescript, but could be a ticket counter. “Wait here, I’ll go check it out”, and off I went. I entered the front door to find a long counter with two agents staring at a display to my left and an agent helping someone to my right. It still was not clear what this was, ticket counter, private tour operator, local undercover police, who knew. Again the agent and the Italian were having a great time discussing the pros and cons of the color of the tickets or whatever was of interest.
After a few minutes of this, out of my mouth popped, “allora” The two agents looked up from the screen and both said, “prego” (it’s that easy? Who knew.) “Dov’e il biglietteria per il traghetto per capri?” “e qui” “Si?” “Si.” I went outside and signaled that this was the place. Not getting a response I shouted, “Andiamo” wrong context I should have shouted “Vieni qui” but it worked. We all bought tickets. Leaving I asked, “Dov’e il Traghetto” what I meant was where do we board, but the agent got the message. “andare in giro poi dritto e sinistra”, motioning around then straight and left. Cool. we were off.
With a few missteps, we found the boarding area, got aboard directly and were on our way to Capri. Once aboard the ferry, I texted Luigi that we were safely headed to Capri. Ellen gave Justin our travel card. We never have pen and paper to exchange contact info with like minded people we meet travelling. With “retired” cards we no longer have that problem. We arrived Capri mid afternoon, beating the car ferry by many hours and not inconveniencing our hosts. GPS guided us toward the rental and up to a dead end. Great, GPS is useless. We turned back and took a reliable route. I called Nunzia who said Toni would be waiting for us at the supermercato superiore. “OK”, I said knowing I had no idea where it was. We could always ask. Walking back across the marina promenade, I asked a waiter where I’d find supermercato superiore. He pointed across the street then wanted to have us sit and eat. “troppo, non adesso per favore” Clearly the market across the street was not “superiore” we kept walking.
A few hundred meters I asked again and got a gesture of up the street then around left and back around right and it’s up there. Vague, but something to go on. Nunzia called and said there’s a stairway on the left we’ll see as we walk that’s a shortcut. Toni will meet you at the market. Cool, Up and around left then right, was quite a slog. Then up a long flight of stairs. Then left along a very narrow curvy road with cars and an occasional bus going buy (slowly luckily). Eventually we saw the market and a fellow hopped off the wall beside us and asked, “Ron” “Si” Toni introduced himself.
The View onto Our Terrace
We are roughly the same age. I may be a number of years older. Toni showed us down a long walkway then left and right (or was it right and left?) through a locked gate ( just reach around and press the first switch to open the gate) and here you are. Up a short flight of stairs and there’s a view of Marina Grande, Capri. The water sparkled in the sunlight. Ferries and tour boats left white wakes streaming behind. We were “home”.
Marina Grande, Capri
This was a relief. We could have been stranded in any number of places between Salerno and Capri. Toni showed us how to work the heater/AC while talking about Capri. He could not find an English version of a map of Capri, but he marked up a French copy. “Here’s the bus schedule,, you can reach the blue grotto from Anacapri. No need to take a tour boad, the rowers will pick you up from the shore here. There are old English forts along this side of the island and a walkway between them. There was a famous sea battle between Napoleon and the English that took place here. The forts were there to protect the British. You should walk. Don’t just sit outside in the sun. Walk. Explore. See the Island!” That’s toni.
Sunset Over Marina Grande, Capri
I was late. We had had two long days with uncertain connections. We turned on the heaters, warmed up the apartment, and relaxed some, then headed off to Capri before sunset. There was one restaurant I wanted to try. I knew it was close to the two rocks, Faraglioni di Capri, the symbol of Capri. To reach it we would take a bus to Capri and walk down the south side somewhere. Not knowing the restaurant’s name put us at a disadvantage. It was unlikely we would find it among the nest of narrow streets and walkways.
A Typical Capri Stairway
Capri is steep. There is much more up and down than walking on the flat. We walked down to dead ends and private property a few times. We always retraced our steps and continued in a east south east direction. Eventually we passed a restaurant that “looked right”. “I think this is the place”, I told Ellen. Let’s eat here. The restaurant was closed but opened in half an hour around 7:00. Could we have reservations at 7? Certainly. See you then.
Terrazza Brunella is Villa Brunella’s Restaurant
A bit further along east, we found the Faraglioni overlook and a trail that winds below. We easily consumed half an hour walking, watching the sun set, and taking a photo or two. At the witching hour (a bit early perhaps) we returned to the restaurant and were seated. Ellen would have preferred a window seat, but accepted what we were given. Often an Italian restaurant will have reservations for particular tables at 9:00. That table will be held even at 7:00. It is not unusual for a party to spend three hours over dinner. The excellent Italian restaurants are much more interested in the qualify of the food and the dining experience than they are with turning tables. Many a US diner has complained either at slow service or at not getting the table they want. Understand the Italian culture and roll with it. Why not?
The View from Our Table, 7:15 PM
These Were So Yummy We Ordered a Second Serving!
On the menu for an appetizer was fresh sardines in olive oil and lemon with balsamic pearls and chili. I like the canned sardines we get in the US, Ellen does not. Still she acquiesced and let me order the sardines as an appetizer. She ordered a filet while I had dorado. The house wine was a good choice. When the sardines arrived, they were small thin individual rolls drizzled with oil. I tried one having no idea what to expect. Surprise, surprise. These were mild and melted in your mouth. They were not fishy nor salty, but a mild clean fish flavor enhanced with a mild olive oil flavor and a hint of lemon. They were outstanding. I suggested Ellen try one. Again I had no idea how she would react. I had high hopes of consuming the entire appetizer myself. That would be heaven.
Dinner By Candle Light as the Sun Set.
Ellen loved the first bite and the second. Wanted another, then three more. My dreams of “drowning” in this exquisite sardine dish evaporated. When the sardines were gone, Ellen said, “we should order another!” Really? I signaled a waiter and said, “we would like another order of the sardines, provided it does not interfere with preparing our main course”. In no time another dish of sardines appeared and was quickly consumed.
Scrumptious Filet Mignon
Fresh sardines, and they must be fresh as the oils change character quickly, but fresh they are a delicate soft meat very unlike anything else. These were extraordinary. My main course was very good; fresh fish sautéed in olive oil with nothing else. Only fresh fish can be prepared this way. Ellen’s filet was slightly charred on the very outside and medium rare inside. Prepared, seasoned, and cooked perfectly.
Not Masters of the Selfie
We shared a dessert and espresso. We enjoyed talking about our trip thus far, relating current events to past humorously, with hints of the next few days and weeks adventure. Food courses were presented in a slow even flow along with an occasional top-up of our wine or water glass. We watch the evening change from late afternoon to sunset then dusk as our table was lit by the sun. But slowly the candle light became the only source of light (there were low wattage ceiling lights that were outshined by the candles). It was a very romantic evening in a romantic setting. We left the restaurant a little after 9:30, a wonderfully slow paced meal.
The Funicular Terrace, Nearly Deserted
A walk and a bus ride took us back to our apartment. We were “home”.