Italy: Private Boat Around Capri? Don’t Mind If I Do!

Today was an amazing, beautiful and relaxing day.  The weather was perfect – warm with a slight breeze and full sun – the water was calm, and our pace was set on “island time.”

We woke up early and went down to breakfast.  There was a private table set for us on the patio, with the stunning views of the coast in the background.  Davide’s mother had prepared an enormous breakfast for just six guests – cakes and croissants with several flavors of homemade jams, several different fruits, cereals, milk, juice and coffee.  Everything I ate was so delicious, I didn’t want to stop stuffing my face.

It’s a good thing we had a 20 minute walk down to the ferry pier so I could work off some of the breakfast calories before they had a chance to settle on my hips.  We trudged down the four-hundred-and-something steps from the patio to the road, and made our way along the windy road into Positano, hugging the shoulder to avoid oncoming traffic, and doing our best to avoid looking over the railing – down, down, down, doooown to the water.

PositanoCliffWe caught the 10:00 ferry, and about 40 minutes later, we were docked at Marina Grande on the beautiful Isle of Capri.  I had hoped we’d have time for Anacapri cable car ride before the boat tour, but we were a little tight on time, so it was a no go.

Caffe Augusto:

We were set to meet Gianni at noon at Caffe Augusto, right at the edge of the marina, so we decided to head straight there and have some lunch.  We sat at a nice table out front under an umbrella, looking out over dozens of boats and the open sea.  We also had a prime spot for people watching – right where everyone was getting off of the ferry.  There were hundreds of people with suitcases as large as Smart Cars, dragging them awkwardly across the uneven cobbled street, while dozens of taxis beeped and tried to inch through.  There were men in capris and women wearing fanny packs.  I put my sunglasses on, sat back and just watched (okay, blatantly stared at) the interesting mish mash of people and things.

Here’s one I couldn’t quite figure out.

RentWhalesThe food was good, but not great.  I had a prosciutto and mozzarella panini, K had a chicken and mozzarella one, and we shared some fries.  (And by shared, I mean I had five and he housed the rest.)  I’m generally not a pork fan, but I can’t get enough of the prosciutto here.  It’s so good.  I was amused that our sandwiches came out with umbrella toothpicks in them.  I would have rather a fruity cocktail to accompany the umbrella, but whatever.

AugustosFoodI’m not really sure why we thought it was a good idea to go straight for lunch not even three hours after we’d stuffed our faces with about six days’ worth of breakfast, but here we were.  I ate about 1/4 of my sandwich before I threw in the towel and wrapped up the rest to take with us.

Gianni’s Boat:

I found a recommendation for Gianni’s Boat on a travel forum several months ago, and it sounded so heavenly, I just had to book it.  And I’m happy to say our day played out just as wonderfully as I’d imagined it would when I read the reviews.

Gianni met us out front of Caffe Augusto right at noon.  His boat was right at the dock, so we hopped aboard, toasted with some homemade limoncello, and we were off for a warm, windblown day of relaxation.

RKLimoncelloShotsOur tour started out heading around the east side of the island.  We hugged the coast a bit as we made our way around.  The coastline at this point was mostly tall, jagged, rocky cliffs – not too much to see, but the scenery was beautiful.

BoatView1We laid back on the comfy pillows and towels covering the deck, let the wind blow through our hair and enjoyed the ride.

RBoatAs we came around the south side of the island, we were face-to-face with the Faraglioni – three giant rocks that tower out of the water, just off the coast of the island.  One has a huge, natural arch just the right size for a boat to fit through.  As we passed under the monolith, Gianni serenaded us with “That’s Amore.”  Now how do you get any more Italian than that?!

RKFragiloniMaking our way along the coast, we pulled into a few small coves to see how the water color changed as we came closer and blocked the sunlight.

RKCoveAs we went further, the water color changed from the deep blue of the deeper, open water, into a bright turquoise color that was more transparent than I’ve ever seen before!

WaterColorOccasionally we passed little coves with restaurants and beach clubs tucked away, but a large part of the coast was still high, steep cliffs and shallow coves.

CapriFromWaterOn the southern side of the island, we had a chance to get out and swim — just the two of us, not another boat nor swimmer in sight!  Gianni had swimming noodles, snorkels and other floaties and toys for us to use.  Plus a few bottles of wine and other drinks for us to indulge while we relaxed and played in the water.

RKNoodlesCapriAfter a while, K was snorkeling around, splashing in and out of the water, stirring things up while I was relaxing on my noodle, minding my business, and… OUCH!  I pulled my hand out of the water screaming, “I think a fish just bit me!”  Then I looked down and reeeaaallly flipped out.  There it was.  Floating around all iridescent; tentacles still reaching for me.  A flippin’ jellyfish.  Thankfully it was a small one – only a few inches in diameter with tentacles no more than six inches long.  So small, in fact, the little asshole sneaked up on me without me ever detecting him.

As I frantically reverse paddled with my arms (and by “reverse paddled,” I really mean “flailed about like a psychotic bird, praying I went backwards faster than the jelly”), trying desperately to move myself against the tide without kicking the jelly, and headed toward the boat, K was screaming at the top of his lungs from about 100 yards away, “Don’t worry!  I’ll pee on it!”  Um, thanks but no thanks!  Lucky for me, Gianni had some sort of ointment to put on it to take the sting away.  Temporarily at least.

JellyfishStingIt’s all fun and games ’til somebody gets stung by a jellyfish.  And is a baby about it.  My hand started swelling up immediately and throbbing at the spots where the tentacle got me.  Despite the fact that it hurt, it really scared me more than anything.  I don’t swim well to begin with and really didn’t like the panicky feeling of trying to swim away while focusing on keeping away from the venomous bastard.  So I spent the next hour or so on the boat, laying in the sun, enjoying the warm breeze and patrolling the water around us for more rogue jellies, while K continued to cannonball off the side of the boat and snorkel around.

Grotto Azzurra (Blue Grotto):

Our last stop was the Grotto Azzurra – one of the main tourist attractions on Capri.  When we pulled up, there were several boats floating around the entrance, as well as a looooong line on the stairs on the mainland.  Our boat wasn’t allowed to get very close, so we sat out a ways waiting for one of the guides to paddle out in his small boat to get us.  And we waited quite a while.

GrottoLineWhen the guide finally came over, we hopped in the boat.  There weren’t any seats; we just plopped down in the bottom of the boat.  He paddled us over to the booth to buy our tickets and permits.  It cost €7.50 for each permit and €4.00 for each ticket to enter the grotto.

GrottoSmallBoatThe entrance to the grotto was very small (that tiny hole in the wall near the bottom of the stairs), so as we paddled up to the entrance, the guide pulled his paddles in close, grabbed onto a chain and we all laid back flat in the boat as he pulled us through the tiny opening.

GrottoEntranceWhen we sat up and looked around on the other side, we were amazed.  The rock doesn’t go all the way to the ground under water, so light is able to shine through the water outside, under the edges of the rock, and back up through the water inside.  The result is vibrant, electric blue water that lights up the inside of the grotto.

BlueGrottoRKGrottoAs we floated around, it was cool and quiet.  All we could hear was the sound of the oars dipping in and out of the water, and the sound of our guide’s voice echoing off the walls as he serenaded us.

The guide asked if we wanted to get out of the boat and swim.  I’m still not sure if he was being serious, but I saw several more jellyfish floating in the electric blue water, so there was no way in hell I was risking it!

GrottoJellyfishWe spent about 10 minutes paddling around inside and then out we went, back into the blinding sunlight and less-impressive water.

From here, it was a quick, uneventful ride back to the dock.  When we arrived back, Gianni toasted us with another limoncello, wished us luck, and we were off.  We spent a little time browsing the shops near the dock, and then a significant amount of time trying to figure out where to buy return ferry tickets.

With the cable car to Anacapri already closed for the day, we holed up in a bar near the water, had a couple of beers, enjoyed the view and the people watching, and waited for the return trip.

CapriBeersWe boarded at 6:00 and were able to grab a couple of seats on the top level.  We had a really nice breeze, and got great views of Positano as we approached the dock there.  From the water, you can really see just how precariously everything is perched on the side of the cliff.

PositanoFromWater2We got back to Positano around 6:45, hungry and tired of pasta.  From the ferry dock, we got a great view of dusk over the water, and then climbed on to find food.

PositanoSunsetThe Brasserie:

Right near the ferry pier was The Brasserie – part of Covo dei Saraceni hotel.  They had patio tables, beers and several non-pasta meals.  I had vegetable soup, which was really good and warmed me from the chilly breeze.  We both had chicken with rocket and spinach, which was to die for after days on end of pasta.  We split a yummy lemon tart for dessert, and finished it all off with espressos.  Service was good, considering we were in an outdoor area, separated from the main part of the restaurant.  And the setting was nice, looking over the water, warm with a nice breeze, and not too crowded.  Dinner was €50.  Not too bad for dinner, dessert, beer and espresso.

PositanoBeerAfter dinner, we climbed our way through the mazes of shops and restaurants, up to the main street and plodded out of town toward our apartment.  We hugged the cliff again, aware, even in the dark, of the sheer dropoff to our right.  Even at this time of night in the dark, cars took the hairpin turns at seemingly ridiculous rates of speed, so it was a bit of an adventure to get back!

Back up the four-hundred-and-something steps, stopping frequently to check out the lovely moon-lit view (or maybe it was just to catch our breath!) and finally back to our apartment.  It’s a nice night, so we’ve been enjoying a bottle of wine on our little patio while I write.  It doesn’t get much more perfect than today!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *