'Twas on the Isle of Capri that I found her
Beneath the shade of an old walnut tree,
Oh, I can still see the flowers blooming
round her,
Where we met on the Isle of Capri..."
"Isle of Capri" by Kennedy-Grosz,
1934

I'm strolling down a tiny road on Capri's eastern edge. An expanse of euphoria glistens russet and amber; the wind rustles through olive trees, myrtle, and blazing yellow broom.
Back in Capri Town, people are gathered in the main piazza, sipping cappuccinos and partaking in what seems to be their two favorite activities: seeing and being seen.
Pausing on a flat limestone outcropping, I breathe deeply and look past rutted cliffs to the emerald -sapphire - whatever -amazing-color sea.
In town, people swoon over tony boutiques and walletbusting jewelers.
Out here, I'm swooning over the radiance of the sun glinting off the water.
Just off Italy's western coast, the "Isle of Capri" (by the way, it's CAH-pree, not Ca-PREE--the song is wrong, trust me) has long had a reputation as a jetset haven, a lovers' rendezvous, a siren's song of glorious decadence.
Where I'm sitting, though, there's nothing but the lush wildness that ranges across this lovely jewel.
Am I waxing poetic? Something about Capri turns cynics into dithering romantics. Could it be the air, scented with wild rosemary, jasmine, orange blossoms, and wisteria, overlaid with an aroma of pine? Everyone's a poet here.
You can't help it.
Walk through carfree, carefree Capri Town, and you'll see why. The main piazza has a stage set quaintness: saffron-hued facades, a jaunty clock tower, swanky clothiers, arches leading to tiny alleyways, alfresco tables for the well-known and the wannahes.
Although officially Piazza Umberto I, everyone just calls it the Piazzetta, "little piazza." I've sipped many a coffee here, or at the adjacent La Loggetta (the "little loggia," technically Piazza A.Diaz), whose pillars frame a view of terraced hills swathed in citrus groves and vineyards, cliffs rising toward the village of Anacapri, sea and marina below.
I love it-till the boats from mainland Italy's Naples and Sorrento disgorge their frightening cargo of late morning, camera-laden daytrippers. That's when I escape to Capri's other side, past houses sprawling up the hillsides and ever-expanding vistas to the Arco Naturale, a huge stone outcropping on the island's eastern edge. Once the entrance to a long-gone cave, this "Natural Arch" rises grandly between bluffs and sea, its rounded contours outlining
wooded crags, lustrous water dotted by tiny islets, and the mainland's
snowcapped mountains. In an hour, only three people approach.
And that's three more than I find, just below the arch, in the Grotta di Matermania, a cool and evocative cave once used for rituals honoring Cybele, the earth goddess. I continue along green-carpeted cliffs as, below, the three offshore boulders called Faraglioni come into view. Rising from the water to over 300 feet, they're Capri's single most recognizable symbol, so familiar the Capresi gave them names Stella, Saetta, and Scopolo.