Capri at sunset, October 2008

I have decided to combat the oppressiveness of the current bad weather by making plans for when the weather improves. I have yet to be to Capri off season, and I have been anxious to see the island during the winter without the crowds of tourists. Unfortunately, that also means missing much of the life that exists as a result of the tourists. Many shops and restaurants are closed this time of year, and you do lose something of the life and activity of the place. Although people may complain about the massive influx of tourists during the summer months, one has to admit that Capri, much like the Amalfi Coast, has changed. The tourists have become part of life here, and I don’t mean that in just an economic way. Yes, tourism is an essential part of the economy here. But life has changed in certain ways to welcome the tourism, or as a result of the tourism, depending on your point of view. This change comes in some good ways and in some bad ways. Yet, there is something lovely about this quiet time of year here on the Amalfi Coast. I liken it to when the leaves fall off the trees in autumn and you see new views that you missed all summer. When all the clutter of the tourism and all that goes along with it disappears, what you are left with is the underlying life of this place. It is there year round, but it is simply easier to see now. To see life the way it is lived in all its small ways. This is what I want to see on Capri.

Today I have started reading Capri and No Longer Capri by Raffaele La Capria, which has been on my “soon to be read” list for too long now. La Capria is a well-known Italian writer from Naples, and this book is a interesting blend of a memoir, travel book, novel, and history lesson of Capri. The opening of the book captures his style of writing:

“If you do not dream the world before you see it, then you cannot see it.” It is the same with Capri: you cannot see it unless you have first dreamed it. Only in this way can it appear before you as the mythical place where Nature first encountered Beauty, as the purest image of the sea that was once the cradle of the gods, as that island from which Ulysses heard the Sirens’ song.

And so I have begun dreaming Capri in preparation for seeing it when the weather improves. I have also been reading a book called Capri Blossoming by Tullia Rizzotti, which I picked up last autumn at the little bookshop at the Villa San Michele in Anacapri. It is a great resource with beautiful illustrations, and I love how it is organized into chapters of botanical walks. Since I am on the topic of books, I wanted to point out that I added a gadget froom Goodreads over on the left showing my “Currently Reading” bookshelf. It is a website I have just started to use, but I hope to have time to keep it up in the future. I have my fingers crossed that the weather will improve later this week or the weekend for a day trip to Capri!

  • Scintilla @ Bell'Avventura

    I read the book when it first came out.
    Capri disappoints me so much in summer with the hives of tourists swarming everywhere and the retailers milking every cent off them that the next time I go will have to be very off season. Even in May it is packed with people!

    February 13, 2009
  • Laura

    Ciao Scintilla! Thanks for your comment. I enjoyed La Capria’s book, but found it a bit excessive in its negativity. Granted that I don’t have the perspective of time and seeing the change over the course of La Capria’s generation, but I personally tend to fall into the “Let’s try to be positive and fix the problems” attitude. Plus, I feel like he doesn’t acknowledge the importance of tourism to the Amalfi Coast and Capri. Yes, it brings crowds and pollution, but so much of the economy is based on it that I just don’t see how one can wish it away at this point. I would love to hear your perspective as I know the intensity of tourists in Positano is so high. It must really change life there at different times of the year. Thanks for reminding me of this book. I have been meaning to post my thoughts of it on the blog, and you have just inspired me to get that done.

    I still haven’t made it to Capri in the off season, but I am looking forward to it. Yes, the swarms of people are awful there. You might want to get to Capri before Easter to beat the crowds. I have to admit that I have a slightly romantic and biased approach to Capri since my current relationship started there. 🙂 So, despite the swarms of people, I tend to be ridiculously happy when I am there! But I still am curious to see the island without all the swarms of people. I like Positano in the winter for the same reason.

    February 14, 2009

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