Thursday, January 31, 2013

Romantic Italy: For the Backpacker and Keen on Off-the-Beaten-Paths

It's my first time to step foot in Europe. The past weeks, all I have seen are buildings and castles that Europe is known for. To me, they have already lost their allure and I could not appreciate another if you take me to one.

But you insist. You say, "This is different." I believe you.

In the first place, I wonder why you took me to Napoli. Although Naples is one of the largest cities in Italy, it has quite a  bad rep for its garbage. Yes, the garbage that are left sprawled on the streets, and never picked up for days.

As we hike up to Castel Sant'Elmo, I muttered, "This is no different than the other castles."

You eye me hesitantly, seeing the expression on my face. Instead of frowning, you try to encourage me with a faint smile.

We reach the courtyard and climb a bit more until we are on the top of castle. There are a handful other visitors, as the castle is closing soon. A smile breaks my grumbling expression. And you know you are right bringing me here.

I let the wind blow on my face. I fell silent. But you already know that my silence means I am happy. You know that after all the endless buildings I have seen, I would appreciate the sight of a volcano, and the sea would make me feel at home.

"I have another surprise for you," you announced. "But you have to wait until tomorrow."

The following day, you told me to meet you at the jetty. 

You're already waiting when I arrived, and proudly showed off two tickets for a ride to Isola di Capri. We take the almost 2-hour ride to Capri, and as we crossed the waters to the island, I think about your choice. Why Napoli, not Venice? Why Capri, instead of the more popular Sorrento or Amalfi Coast? Then it hit me. I was tickled pink that you remembered. I only mentioned it once, but you never forgot that I said I prefer off-the-beaten destinations over crowded places. I smile at the thought.

As the ferry docked, we do not waste any more time and head towards the funicular. The crowd was beginning to build. We reach the top and the view just took my breath away. I never imagined this place could be so beautiful. I am at a loss for words as I see hues of blues and greens. The sky is clear, the water is a mix hue of blue and turquoise with dashes of white brought about by the boats sailing by. The weather pleasantly warm.

"Come," you said as you reach out your hand to hold mine. We stopped by a bakery and you ordered some sandwich and bottle of drinks. We left soon as they handed you the bag, while I was left puzzled wondering why didn't sit down to eat. 

"It's a lovely day for a walk," you said trying to ignore my quizzical look. And indeed it is. We pass by the posh shops and are led to the narrow streets. Taking the footpath via Tragara, we soon reach the viewdeck to "Faraglione" We take a moment to enjoy the view and walk back to the fork and explore the other trail.


The natural path is becoming steep but we are soon covered by the leaves of the trees. It is a welcome treat, as the sun is scorching in high noon. We reach "Arco Naturale" and bask in its beauty. 

Arco Naturale

We find a shaded area and you take out our lunch. I sigh. Nothing beats sharing a meal over a view of the seascape. The hearty meal and the warm breeze makes me drowsy so you signal me to lay my head on your lap. I fall asleep instantly.

I rouse from my sleep by a hand on my shoulder. I turn around to see my sister. I'm not in Italy, but in my bedroom in Ilocos, Philippines.
"You slept in front of your laptop again," she gently reminded me.

And I remember, I still have to finish this post and beat the deadline.

in Capri, Italy. 2011.

This is my entry to the February 2013 Carnival of Europe hosted by Aleah Taboclaon of Solitary Wanderer with the theme "Most Romantic Places in Europe".



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