There’s a funicular in Capri from the marina to the town. The island has no coastal land, everything is up. To a kiwi the funicular is a cable car, and their cable car up the mountain a chair lift, but it is a cheap and fun way to get around so up we go.
Capri town is white and fluid, one holistic shell with alleys and tunnels running off the central piazza with no straight lines. The interlocking spaces are cleanly whitewashed, with chic boutiques selling international brands to beautiful people. You can watch them while you eat bitingly fresh tomato salad and guess who is buying and who is wishing. I used to think white clothes separated the money from the backpackers, but white dresses and shirts are everywhere here.
Anacapri, the other town on the island, is further up again. There is one road. It cuts across a sheer cliff face, and if I say it is the width of two busses wide, even with the truncated mini busses of the island, it sounds more generous than it feels. Passengers have to suck in their stomachs and even then there is barely a millimetre between passing vehicles. It is a jaw drop to the valley below. In the bus you are standing above the parapet and the camber of the road leans you out into space. This mountaineering by bus is quite normal and is done at speed.
I’m getting better at heights, but felt physically ill on that bus.
We walked from Faro along the length of the west coast to the Grotta Azzura, and left the tourists behind. We passed only one guy on the walk and he was from New Plymouth. On the road less travelled, it often is a kiwi. It’s an easy 10km walk on an ancient stone path between olive groves and baked terraces and rocks of extraordinary knoblieness, with history, geography and always the Mediterranean Sea and vast sky. There’s a kiln where they burned the marble of evil Tiberius’s palaces to make white wash. And good riddance to him (I’ve just read Robert Graves’ I Claudius. Haven’t eaten a mushroom since). It hadn’t rained here for 100 days (I could fill a travel book on places I have been that haven’t rained for 100 days) but we got hit by a torrential downpour that had us cowering for fear of the lightening directly overhead. Under the tree or away from the tree? Couldn’t remember. We dried off as we walked and watched the second hit came in across the sea to smash the island, forked lightening and instantly booming thunder and such water that turned the stone paths into storm channels and the road into a river.
A bus came through the deluge and picked us up as we clung to the rails on a stone wall.
Drowned rats, mad dogs, happy humans.