What’s that, you’re asking? What is limoncello? Technically, it’s a liqueur made from the zest of lemons, in particular St. Teresa lemons. The zest or peels are steeped in grain alcohol until the oil is released, resulting in a yellow liquid that is then mixed with simple syrup. It is said to be the second most popular liqueur in Italy (I’m assuming grappa is the first?), but judging from the amount of bright yellow bottles we saw purchased on this trip to take home, it is rapidly becoming a favorite back in the states. And we certainly did our part to help encourage the trend.
You see we’ve been big fans ever since our first trip some five years back to this enchanting island, located in the Gulf of Naples and often called the Island of Dreams; so it was destined to be included as a part of this trip, too. It had been love at first sight and we needed to get back to Capri, so choosing today’s excursion was a no brainer for us – take the ship’s tender into Sorrento to Marina Picolla Pier, and then catch the hydrofoil for the 30 minute cruise on those turquoise Mediterranean waters before arriving at our cheery, sunny, lemony destination. Capri pronounced as the Italians do, Caaapri, with the emphasis on a slow ‘aahhh’. Got it? Now, refresh that limoncello (remember to drink only in tiny sips) and take the journey with me. Sip. Digest. Smile. Repeat. Buono.
We met up with our guide, a charming authentic Napolitano named Giorgio, back at the Picolla Pier in Sorrento. He carried his manly Italian self, including a lovely linen summer scarf which he tossed around his neck like a piece of delicate artwork, with every bit of machismo and flare he could muster up on this hot summer day, exhibiting both his fun and slightly lazy Italian side (his exact words - “I’ll just wait here while you all gather round me; no need to waste energy herding the sheep!”) along with a bit of a mischievousness thrown in from the start (“I’m Italian, capisce?”). We liked him from the first buon giorno, and already knew that we’d fall in love all over again with the day’s excursion still ahead of us.
It was basically a rather unstructured day which is our preference, especially when visiting a place we’ve been to before. But Giorgio was enlisted to procure the hydrofoil tickets and seats, make sure we got on the correct boat, give us a brief overview once we landed on the island, and then assist those of us who were taking the funicular (sí, grazie!), followed by the chairlifts that took us for the final sprint up to the top of Capri, Monte Solaro. It is at that apex on this tiny mountain island in the world acclaimed Amalfi Coast that you just stand in wonder of the absolute beauty of it all. Most people are speechless. No. Kidding.
Lunch at Giorgio’s (no relation to our guide) was an affair to remember, mostly because of the gorgeous and insanely fresh insalata Caprese (you knew we would, right?) and an unpretentious pizza margherita to die for. I think there was some pasta involved, too, but gosh, even the simple house wine was delicate and mesmerizing, so who can remember all that luscious goodness? Add the intoxication of the fragrant lemon trees surrounding us and well, have I mentioned we love this place? It only gets better.
One other thing of note on this happiest, cheeriest of all yellow places under the sun is the stunning cemeteries we passed. Husband didn’t necessarily appreciate my stopping to take photos (“really, dear?”) but honestly, they were such beautiful resting places that I couldn’t imagine a finer spot in which to lie my weary body down one last time. If only. All the markers were carved out of gorgeous Italian marble, and each gravesite was adorned with dazzling fragrant flowers in bursts of splendid colors. Bushes were all neatly trimmed and no sign of vandalism in any direction. Apparently if you die on the island of Capri you really have gone to heaven.