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Monday, 11 April 2016

Springtime Hikes 2 - Capri

View from belvedere on the path to Anginola
The island of Capri, world famous for its Natural Arch (at the moment encased in scaffolding), the Blue Grotto, the Faraglioni Rocks, its Piazzetta and the jet set that frequent it, also has a lesser known side - its hiking trails. 
Climbing up Anginola
Two Sundays ago, having caught the ferry from Sorrento,  we arrived to find the port heaving with tourists of every nationality (no surprises there...). Instead of joining the queue for the funicular railway or trying to squeeze ourselves sardine-like into the tiny buses that go up to the centre, we left them to it and headed for the lanes and tranquillity. 
Once up in Capri town, we by-passed the main square and went straight towards the hospital which is where the path leading to the trail to Anginola begins.We were aiming for Monte Solaro, which, at 587m, is the highest point of the island. Most people take the bus to Anacapri and then the chairlift, but we, as hikers do, were walking there.
The paved path turned into a track, and once past the belvedere with its splendid views of Marina Grande and the mainland beyond, we went into the woods and the going got steeper and steeper. Eventually we came to the rock face of Anginola and with the aid of strategically placed chains, inched ourselves up and along the ledges until we came out at the top. This is definitely not something for anyone with vertigo, but if I can do it, just about anyone can. That said, it is always a relief and a celebration to come out onto the grassy plateau above.
Once there, we had some difficulty in finding the trail which was to take us to Cetrella (476m) since the vegetation was thick and thorny, but once  on it, the going was smooth and made even more enjoyable by the numerous wild orchids in flower (bright pink anacamptis sp. and the more discreet ophrys sp.). The ancient hermitage of S.Maria a Cetrella was closed, but even so, the views over to the Faraglioni rocks were superb. 
We started the final ascent to Monte Solaro looking back every now and then to enjoy the sight of the Sorrento peninsula stretching out far beyond. Yet more orchids, lots of them, but now orchis italica (or naked men).
We arrived at the top  to find the gate padlocked, so climbed over the railings. There were a lot of tourists milling around, many armed with those abominable selfie-sticks, but again we left them to it, and having admired and photographed the 360° views, once again abandoned "civilisation" taking the narrow trail along the side of the ridge to Monte Cocozzo. 
We stopped for lunch surrounded by orchids, with the sea far, far below and seagulls circling overhead. There was no one else, and in fact during the entire hike, we met just 2 other walkers. Sandwiches consumed, we set off again, starting to descend quite steeply and soon having the first views of the lighthouse at Punta Carena.
Next came the "Parco Filosofico", which is by no means a park in the true sense of the word, and at its best never particularly attractive. It was  now looking yet more neglected,  but from its belvedere the view of the lighthouse was even better. On through the pine wood and all too soon we were back on the asphalt and heading towards Anacapri where again the tourists were out in force.
A quick visit of the church of San Michele with its amazing majolica floor (2 euros entry fee) and we made for the Scala Fenicia and its 921 steps which took us back down to the port.
Climbing Monte Solaro
More photos of the hike

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