Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Vivian Hsu: Farewell to Capri

Piazza Vittoria and Mount Barbarossa

When I had arrived at Marina Grande in the morning, I had almost decided not to venture on Mount Solaro because of the mist and the clouds that were covering the island. It was impossible even to see the mountains and the Villa San Michele itself was playing "hide and seek". But as the hours had passed, the beautiful weather forecasted by the Tourist Office had indeed replaced the grey veils. As I was standing near the road to Piazza Vittoria, I could see clearly the ruins on Mount Barbarossa and the radio mast a little farther on the edge of the cliffs. Therefore I decided that I would go and see the view from Mount Solaro. This is the highest mountain top on the island (589 meters), facing Mount Tiberio (only 339 meters) on the other side of the city of Capri.

The ride uphill to Mount SolaroThe meadows under the chairlift

On Piazza Vittoria, where the buses and the cabs pour out their custmers, there is a chairlift station on top of a building on the right. People were already queuing up there in order to make the best of the nice weather in the evening. As a matter of fact, it was nearly closing time for the uphill ride and I was a little bit anxious given the number of adults and children that were standing on the stairs. Finally I could enter the start zone, but the employees wanted me to leave my bags for safety reasons. I had a bag with food and drinks on my back and the case of my movie camera on the shoulder. As the next seat was arriving quickly they decided to let me go, but I can tell you that I was extremely cautious while putting the metal shutter into place. And so I went uphill... It was not really comfortable, but the chairlift was not very high over the gardens and the grasslands

Lemons and oranges in the gardenA young chinese and her lemons (Vivian's photobook)

The ride to the peak of Mount Solaro is about twenty minutes long. I could only make limited moves, clicking once on my digital camera, once on my movie camera without really focusing on anything special. With my glasses useless for short sight, I would have been helpless without the automatic settings. It would be a real miracle under these circumstances if some of the shots were successful. We were slowly climbing along the slopes of Mount Solaro between the path for pedestrians and the gardens that were enjoying the early springtime with a carpet of flowers and these lemon trees and orange trees that can be found everywhere on Capri as on the peninsula of Sorrento. Lemons are really the trademark of Capri and I remembered immediately one of the most charming pictures of Vivian Hsu's photobook, where she is holding some of these big lemons that are used to make the Limoncello, the well-known lemon liquor celebrated in Sorrento and Capri.

The view on the Sorrentine peninsula

As I was getting close to the summit, the sea began to surround the island on as many sides that I could see from my seat. The arrival is always a bit rough, because the cable never stops. But I landed safely on the floor and I began to climb the few stairs leading to the terrace. The view from this spot is amazing and I thanked God that the clouds had gone. The peninsula of Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast were closing the horizon. The panorama could have included Naples and the Vesuvius, but it was still a bit dizzy in the distance. Capri, the city that I had dispised the whole day long, was laying peacefully in front of me and at a short distance of the western cliffs, the Faraglioni rocks were peaking out of the blue water. These rocks are the major landmark of Capri and they say that lovers would be blessed with luck if they kiss each other while sailing through the arch of the biggest of these rocks. With the last ride downhill only half an hour ahead, I rushed through the ruins of the old french fortress in order to catch the most beautiful views before the sunset.

Capri and Mount Tiberio

The Faraglioni

And again I was standing in the queue waiting for the chairlift... and again it wasn't really comfortable, since I had the impression that on going downhill we were higher up in the air... But in this direction, it was possible to take aerial views of Anacapri and I concentrated my mind on finding Piazza Diaz and the Casa Rossa in my viewfinder. After some twenty minutes I had arrived at Piazza Vittoria and I landed harmless with my bags and cameras.

The view on Anacapri

Now was the time to take my bus down to Marina Grande if I was to reach Sorrento with one of the last hydrofoils. I had to wait a long time though, all the buses were going or were coming from Capri and the small orange bus to Anacapri had probably left a few minutes before I had landed. I started to talk with the other tourists waiting at the bus stop. A young couple was obviously coming from Bavaria and I had a few words in german with them. Another man joined the conversation, his strong accent betrayed his swiss origin. I switched over to swiss german and we talked about the great day that we had had in Capri.

The view on the harbour from the busThe steep and narrow road to Anacapri

I don't know how we managed to climb into the small bus when it stopped, but the real miracle happened at each bend in the steep road down to Marina Grande. The horn was used to the full in order to clear the way and to scare off the drivers that had been intending to get up to Anacapri. All of us were relieved when we arrived at the harbour and our first steps out of the bus were more like zigzaging along the piers.

Farewell to the Isle of Capri

The hydrofoil arrived from Sorrento half an hour later and we enjoyed the sunset behind the isle of Capri first, then on the bay of Naples as the boat was turning towards the Sorrentine peninsula. It was quite a long farewell to Capri, to Anacapri and to the memories of the young chinese girl named Xu Ruo Xuan or Vivian Hsu.

About Me

I could be one of the last mutineers of the Bounty, with my eyes enlighted by the wealth of nature and the grace of God the Creator, amidst a large family where hope plays the part of affluence. ***** Un des derniers révoltés du Bounty, les yeux illuminés par la richesse de la nature et la grâce de Dieu, au milieu d'une famille nombreuse où l'espoir joue le rôle de l'opulence.