Letterbox Caprese

Tuesday, April 05, 2011 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Italy is not exactly a letterboxing hotbed. Of the 15 listed letterboxes in the entire country, seven are planted on private property for guests of a bed and breakfast. So when we heard of a box on the island of Capri, just off the coast from Sorrento where we were staying, we bought our hydrofoil tickets and got on board.  The island's name is pronounced CAH-pree in Italian, rather than the usual English pronunciation of ca-PREE.

Unfortunately, we had neglected to do our homework and read the clue carefully. From our quick scan of the clue before the trip to Capri, we assumed that the letterbox was near the Marina Grande, where we disembarked. It was not.

Marina Grande
We had to go to the city center of Capri, which is a bit less than a mile from the marina, but, as we learned only later, that small walk has an elevation change of some 700 feet.  We bypassed the long line for the funicular, obtained some half-baked directions from a guy who wanted to rent a scooter to us, and began walking up and up and up and then up some more.
A Capri Street
Though there were some roads for vehicles, many streets were just wide footpaths or stairways winding up the mountain.  With a few additional requests for directions from people we encountered on our way up, we finally made our way to Arco Naturale (natural arch), all that remains of a large limestone cave.  Over thousands of years, wind and water have reduced the cave to just an arch.

Arco Naturale
Between the money we spent for the hydrofoil tickets (€56) and the energy we spent climbing up the hill, we were very happy when we were able to locate the letterbox planted near this arch, finding it in perfect condition.

Exhausted and more than a little sweaty, we walked back to the center of the city, found the bus stop, and rode the mini bus back down to the marina area.  We were in awe of the bus driver's adeptness in avoiding other, larger buses, cars, small trucks, and tourists on motor scooters as he descended the essentially single lane road. Of course, the bus would have been infinitely more helpful on the way up the mountain, but, hey, we caught on eventually.

Insalata Caprese (salad in the style of Capri) is a simple dish made with sliced fresh buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, seasoned with salt, pepper, and olive oil and sometimes balsamic vinegar.  Whether the salad originated on the island is unclear but it became popular after being served there in the 1950s.  One of my very favorite foods, I have ordered it often of late because it is available in most restaurants in Italy.  The one place I did not have a Caprese salad, though, was on the isle of Capri.