Ah, the Isle of Capri, as in Sinatra’s tune from his “Come Fly with Me” album. A playboy’s and playgirl’s paradise known for its marina, piazzetta of fashionable sidewalk cafes, and “Capri pants” of the ‘50s and early ‘60s—made a fashion sensation by Grace Kelly. But take a public bus just three kilometers to the other side of the figure-eight-shaped island to the higher elevations of Anacapri and you’re in another world. “Ana” is a Greek prefix that means “above” but it could just as well mean “hidden” Capri.
Located on the slopes of Monte Solaro, Anacapri offers walking and backpacking trails that lead to rocky pine-and-brush covered terrain where residents still scratch out vegetable gardens and lemon groves amid the sunlight and fragrances of the Mediterranean.
You’ll also find a nineteenth-century architectural beauty: Villa San Michele. Swedish physician Axel Munthe built his villa on the ruins of an ancient chapel dedicated to Saint Michael, with the desire that it be as filled with Mediterranean light as a Greek temple. And indeed it features a loggia, pergolas and columns leading to a magnificent circular viewpoint overlooking the Bay of Naples. Munthe lived there for fifty-six years and created a sanctuary for migrating birds on Barbarossa Mountain. Today the villa remains as it was when he loved and lived in it; you must visit if you have not done so already.
Also not to be missed is the Chiesa Monumentale di San Michele, a jewel of Baroque architecture that’s one of the most delightful small churches in the region. Its simple white exterior keeps its charms modestly hidden inside where you’ll discover a hand-painted majolica tile floor with a splendid representation of the expulsion of Adam and Eve from a luxuriant Garden of Eden.
But the walking and picnicking, with views everywhere of Mediterranean macchia and white-walled houses spilling over with bright purple-pink bougainvillea, is for me the joy of Anacapri. And should you continue climbing—or just take the funicular—ah, the views from Monte Solaro!
Venice is a city of surprises, filled with contrasts and apparent contradictions that, somehow, fluidly coexist. It is a city of water and of stone, the most pliant and most solid of natural substances. For much of its history Venice has been guided by BOTH church & state and by both honor & profit. And, like the Roman god Janus, Venice has always faced in two directions at the same time: to the West and to the East.
But most improbable of all is Venice’s amazing historic arc . . . over a millennium Venice went from a marshy hideaway for refugees to one of the greatest economic and political powers in the world.
Whenever I visit La Serenissima and revel in the architectural confection of St. Mark’s Basilica and the Gothic grandeur of the Doge’s Palace I am reminded of the twin pillars upon which Venice built its improbable success: an unwavering faith in a higher being and a more earth-bound faith in the ingenuity and resourcefulness of its fellow Venetians to navigate and triumph in a challenging world.
Venice and all of Italy will bounce back and once again astonish and delight us all.
Andra! Tutto Bene!!
Throughout its rich and storied history, Rome has come back from invaders and setbacks of all descriptions.
The Eternal City will surely do so once again. The world’s prayers are will you.
As you all know, the situation in the country we all love so much is dire. ‘We the Italians’ founder, Umberto Mucci has undertaken a fundraising campaign to assist on behalf of the Spallanzani Hospital, the leading Italian hospital for infectious diseases. Spallanzani Hospital represents one of the front lines of doctors, nurses and researchers who are working tirelessly to save as many lives as possible. In this video link the hospital’s Director General, Marta Branca, explains the situation and what the Spallanzani Hospital needs most urgently. https://www.gofundme.com/f/we-the-italians-against-coronavirus
Please donate and help the Italy that you love and want to visit again. No amount is too small; and please share the video link on your social media accounts. Whatever you are able to do as well as your prayers, will be gratefully appreciated. Both Marta and ‘We the Italians’ promise that the entirety of funds raised will go directly to the hospital and be used for the most urgent needs related to the coronavirus crisis.
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