Back in May, in a moment of frustrated, unfulfilled wanderlust, I compiled my travel snapshots into a galleries to share with you fellow wanderers. However, that’s all they were: collections of photos without so much as a caption between them. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but slapping those photos up without sharing at least a bit of their story just does not do them justice.
That’s why I’m launching a new series here on the blog: TBT, Travel Edition. On the occasional Thursday I’ll be sharing the shots from one travel locale, along with any stories and travel tips I picked up along the way. Kicking it off today is: Naples + Capri!
Let me just say right off: I am crazy about Naples and Capri. I was only there for 14 short hours, but that was all it took for me to fall wildly in love with its lush, sea-soaked beauty (Capri), incredible cuisine, and raucous sense of fun (Napoli).
My trip to Naples and the island of Capri was part of a two week trip to the Mediterranean coast I went on just before moving away to college. Naples wasn’t our first stop in Italy, but it was definitely among the most memorable.
Our original plan had been to explore Naples before catching a ferry to Capri. Having just read the mouth-watering description in Eat Pray Love, we were dying to try pizzeria da Michele. When we showed the cab driver the address, he turned to us and asked: “Do you want good pizza?” (We nodded, obviously). He pointed to the address of da Michele and said triumphantly, “THIS IS THE BEST PIZZA IN ITALY!” As a local he might be a little biased, but we were sold.
Unfortunately, when we arrived at the famous hole-in-the-wall pizzeria, they were closed because they had run out of dough. They promised if we returned later that afternoon the brick ovens would be fired up and running again, so instead of lingering we hopped aboard another insane cab ride and caught a ferry to the island of Capri (about a 50 minute ride from Naples).
Even as early as it was, the harbor on the island was bustling with people. We grabbed some banana gelato and took the slow, winding tram to the side of the island known as Anacapri. It was a quiet paradise at Anacapri, with deserted winding lanes and breathtaking views of the coastline.
We grabbed an early lunch at a small family-run restaurant where the owner’s pre-teen daughter acted as our server, with frequent interjections from the friendly owner himself. In addition to their house-made pumpkin pasta, he convinced us to try their lemon cello. A little FYI on authentic limoncello: this is no ‘Mike’s Hard Lemonade’, y’all. Whoo! It was so strong we could barely sip it down, but since the region is so well known for it, I’m still glad we tried it.
We spent the rest of the late morning exploring leisurely and wandering through the shops. A few stand out shopping memories include a pottery maker trying to arrange a marriage between his son and I (no thank you), a shop owner who dropped to one knee in the middle of his store and serenaded me loudly in front of his customers (shy is not a word I would use for the Italians), and yet another shop owner who mistakenly thought I was from Rome (you just know I loved hearing that). It’s probably for the best that my first trip to Italy was as a single girl because I’m sure LTJG Husband would not be as appreciative of all the attention that blonde hair attracts in Italy… #understatement
My favorite shop was Sirenis on the Capri side. A charming, open-air beauty shop, its shelves were overflowing with amazing smelling soaps and perfumes. I found one scent in particular that was supposed to smell like the ocean, but to me it smelled exactly like the streets of Capri: sea-crisp but woven with floral aromas and little traces of baked bread. I bought the perfume for the sole purpose of being able to remember the smell of the island whenever I sprayed it.
In the afternoon, we caught the ferry back to Naples with fingers crossed that L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele would be stocked with dough again by the time we arrived.
We were in luck! The pizzeria was back open when we arrived. For a place with only two options (marinara pizza or margarita pizza), it was absolutely packed. Was it worth it? Um…YES.
No exaggeration, this pizza basically ruined me for all other pizza. The closest thing to it that I have ever found in the States was the margarita pizza at Pasta Beach in Newport, Rhode Island (Italian-owned and operated). It wasn’t a perfect match, but it was good enough that it momentarily transported me back to this bustling pizza paradise in my mind.
I was also thrilled to find that nearly every local in the pizzeria was eating their ‘pies’ with a fork and knife. I have always hated eating pizza with my hands and having endured years of teasing from my friends and family about using silverware to eat mine, I left the pizzeria feeling justified in my methods ;)
After our visit to the pizzeria, we were out of time. Thanks to an aggressively speeding cab driver, we made it back to our cruise ship just in time. Our short visit meant there wasn’t enough time to visit the historical sites nearby (like Pompeii), but I’m glad to have something to look forward to for my next visit, which is pretty much guaranteed to happen because- let’s be real- I cannot let my husband get to the end of his life without trying that pizza.
One last note to my military readers: Did you know there is a Navy Base in Naples? In case you just developed a major crush on Naples while reading this, you can learn more about the base here. Talk about dream orders…