Ladies and gentlemen, the day has finally come. Today we embark on one of the most highly anticipated escapades of the entire tour, followed immediately by our fourth concert in the heart of Sorrento. We have a lot to talk about, so let us dispense with the formalities and get on with it!
Breakfast this morning was cut short as we had mini-buses waiting for us outside the hotel at 8:00, ready to escort us down to the port where a massive hydrofoil jet-boat would be waiting for us. I still managed to get a plate of scrambled eggs, pancakes, and a blueberry muffin before we had to meet up in the lobby. I must say, my wake-up times have seen great improvement ever since oversleeping that one morning! Anyway, once we had all assembled in the lobby, we boarded the buses in small groups and began the winding drive down the mountainside. In no time we arrived at the port, applied our sunscreen, and joined the queue to board the boat. In a few moments, we would be at sea bound for one of the most elegant, most picturesque, and most renowned destinations in all of Italy: the island of Capri!
A jewel of southern Italy, the island of Capri is famous for many reasons. Of course, it has jaw-dropping natural beauty, delicious cuisine and world-class shopping opportunities. But we cannot go without mentioning sights such as the luminescent Blue Grotto, the striking Faraglioni Rocks and the extravagant Palazzo al Mare. Bestriding the island is the towering Monte Solaro; its peak is the highest point of Capri and an observation point offering incredible vistas of various towns on the mainland coast. A popular resort spot since the time of the Roman Republic, Capri is also home to many beaches on what has to be the bluest ocean you’ve ever seen, where you can swim, snorkel, or even jet-ski. Even the everlasting scent of lemon blossoms in the air would make you never want to leave.
Needless to say, we had a lot to look forward to as we cruised the thirty-five minutes to the Marina Grande! Upon landing in the harbor, our Caprese tour guides were waiting for us by another set of mini-buses, which would take us up the craggy mountainside to the town of Anacapri on the other side of the island. We would get the chance to return to the main town of Capri later in the day, with plenty of time to do all of our gelato tasting, souvenir shopping, and just about anything else.
The buses drove us about halfway up the road to the base of Anacapri, which I must mention is probably one of the windiest, narrowest roads I have ever seen in my life. Who designed this thing? This must be part of the reason why they call it the Mamma Mia Road! And what’s even crazier is the ability of the Caprese drivers to handle oncoming traffic effortlessly. I mentioned this way back at the beginning of the trip, but we Americans have a thing or two to learn from these guys. Continuing down the street lined with shiny white houses and little squares, we eventually came upon a busier part of town, and it was here that we prepared for one of the most amazing experiences we would get to have on the tour: the chair lift to the top of Monte Solaro. The views from up here were already incredible, and they got even better once we stepped off of our bus. But we would soon learn that this was nothing compared to the spectacle we were about to take in.
Right from the beginning of the thirteen-minute-long ascent, I was already awe-struck by everything I could see around me, but as the lift reached higher and higher, the view just kept getting better and better! I managed to capture the most amazing photos of the Gulf of Naples with Vesuvius in the background, the Gulf of Salerno, the city of Anacapri, the nearby Isle of Ischia, and the simply incomparable beauty of the deep blue sea. When I had finally reached the top, I was rewarded with a sweeping panorama of the entire island, including the Faraglioni rocks emerging from the sea and the majestic, rugged coastline covered by all sorts of striking, luxuriant vegetation. Hands down, these were the best twelve euros I had ever spent in my life!
After descending from Monte Solaro, we reconnected with the rest of our group to enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, where we were served our choice of lasagna or pizza. Personally, I ordered a pizza, but I did manage to taste the lasagna as well and, may I just say, it was exceptional. Once we finished eating, we all started once again for Capri’s main piazzetta, where we could have some free time to ourselves. As always, most people took this opportunity to go souvenir shopping or to walk around the town in small groups, but not me. I booked it straight for the gelateria, and ordered myself a nice, large cone of hazelnut and caramel gelato. It was exactly what I needed to cool off on such a hot day!
When it came time to leave the island and return to Sorrento, we reassembled in the center of the piazzetta and rode Capri’s famous funicular back down to the Marina Grande, where we would board the hydrofoil once again. Then, upon landing in the harbor on the Sorrento side, we hopped on our mini-buses once again for the drive back up the winding road to our hotel. This left us with about forty-five minutes to take showers, to get changed for the concert tonight, and to relax for a little while. Then, it was down to the hotel lobby for us once again to board our motor coaches to Corso Italia, the main road in Sorrento’s city center.
Now is a good time to tell you about tonight’s concert. We would be performing in the cloister of the Cattedrale dei Santi Filippo e Giacomo, also known as Sorrento Cathedral. Of all the concerts thus far, this would be our smallest by number of seats, but because the cloister is located right off of the road (which is primarily pedestrian), passersby would easily be able to come and listen in. Even during our rehearsal and sound check, many people stood by the gate to watch us sing and play. It was truly heartwarming to see how much the Italians appreciate our music, not just tonight but also throughout the entire tour!
We ate dinner at a local restaurant at the conclusion of our brief set-up time, complete with a free scoop of gelato as a dessert. What more could you ask for? Singers and wind players aren’t typically supposed to eat dairy before performances as it makes breath control more difficult, but I guess we just could not help ourselves! So, with our stomachs full, we returned to our concert venue and made our final preparations for showtime. We performed for another full house, not including those who were standing in the back and behind the gate. The choir’s “Hallelujah” and the orchestra’s Capriccio Espagnol both received standing ovations, as did the fan-favorite “Va, pensiero” at the concert’s conclusion. That’s now four concerts down, one to go.
What a day it’s been. Between all of the sightseeing this morning and a wonderful performance tonight, this leg of our trip is quickly becoming my favorite. And tomorrow it gets even better. One amazing day deserves another! So, on that note, I’m going to sign off here, take a quick shower, remain awake until our lovely chaperones conduct their nightly check-ins, and then start counting sheep. Another grand adventure awaits us in the morning!