I have been told that in the summertime Capri smells of hibiscus. But I am here in January, in the depths of winter, as the fruit rots on the vine and the sunsets lay to waste. The island is at once intimate and imposing. Steep, razor sharp cliffs sever the sea, while neighbouring islands loom formidably just beyond the horizon like distant icebergs.
In winter it is difficult to imagine the tireless tirade of tourists and travellers that descends upon the island. The ritzy boutiques that adorn the cobbled streets are – upon closer inspection – vacant behind their sleek window displays. The citrus trees hang heavy with lemons and oranges.
My journey by hydrofoil to Capri from the Bay of Naples is drenched in the peach-gold glow of the setting sun. The deep blue Mediterranean stretches as far as the eye can see and, for a moment, makes you forget everything else.
Being on Capri is like living in a dream. It is so surreally beautiful that I immediately determine that I never wish to leave. To spend the rest of my life exploring the blue grotto, travelling up to Anacapri by chairlift to drink in the magnificent views afforded by Monte Solaro and living off the simple yet delicious ravioli alla caprese would indeed be a life well-spent.
For me, the real charm of Capri lies in the unexpected discovery of a secluded pebble beach nestled in the shadows of the treacherous cliffs above, an ice-cold local limoncello after a hearty meal of fresh seafood or a stroll through the sweetly fragrant Gardens of Augustus.
I am not the first to fall for the island’s charms. Since the early nineteenth century, the rich and glamorous have flocked to Capri to soak up the sun and unwind against the blue velvet backdrop of the Mediterranean.
The whitewashed paradise has played host to a legion of models, movie stars and musicians, poets, painters and political figures over the years, including Clark Gable, Sofia Loren, Jackie Kennedy, Claude Debussy and Vladmir Lenin, who visited in 1908, and famously said that “Capri makes you forget everything and everyone”. Even Mariah Carey owns a villa.
But just for now, Capri feels like my own private slice of Mediterranean heaven. And the blood red sun sinks nightly into the sea – just for me.