STRIP OF HEAVEN

THE AMALFI COAST AND CAPRI ARE TWIN BY­WORDS FOR IDYL­LIC BEAUTY AND EL­E­GANT HOL­I­DAY LAN­GUOR. GIVEN THE CHOICE BE­TWEEN HERE AND HEAVEN, THE WELL-HEELED COULD BE FOR­GIVEN FOR WANT­ING TO STAY PUT.

The Australian - Wish Magazine - - CONTENTS -

The leg­endary 40km of Ital­ian coast from Posi­tano to Vi­etri sul Mare and the is­land of Capri are uniquely idyl­lic.

In the town of Amalfi there is a faded ce­ramic plaque in the pi­azza adjacent to the Porta della Ma­rina. The tablet fea­tures a boast­ful in­scrip­tion at­trib­uted to 19th-cen­tury Ital­ian writer Re­nato Fucini that reads: “Judg­ment day, for the Amal­fi­tani who go to heaven, will be a day just like any other.” If the Amalfi Coast, a 40km stretch of for­mer fish­ing vil­lages from Posi­tano in the north to Vi­etri sul Mare in the south, is one vi­sion of heaven, the is­land of Capri just across the Tyrrhe­nian Sea is an­other. Ac­cord­ing to Sue­to­nius the Em­peror Au­gus­tus, upon land­ing in Capri in about 14AD, wit­nessed a win­ter oak spring to life. The su­per­sti­tious Au­gus­tus, by then a frail old man, took it as an omen that his reign could still flour­ish, and promptly ac­quired the is­land from Naples.

“I am fully con­vinced that there are places that call you,” Paolo Sig­norini says, sit­ting in the lobby of the Cae­sar Au­gus­tus, a grand five-hectare five-star ho­tel on a peak of Anacapri. A sprightly 70-some­thing, Sig­norini is the third-gen­er­a­tion owner of a ho­tel fa­mous for its infinity-like views and statue of Au­gus­tus with pa­tri­ar­chal hand out­stretched over Capri. “You don’t choose them. There are places that have a spe­cial soul and they know which peo­ple will make them fa­mous.”

We trav­ellers might not have the clout of Au­gus­tus, but Capri and the Amalfi Coast do call us. Like pil­grims to par­adise we come here each year in droves — Aus­tralians, English, Amer­i­cans, Ger­mans, Rus­sians and now Brazil­ians — to bask in a kind of mad­den­ing hap­pi­ness. There are other idyl­lic par­adises in the world, for sure, but this par­tic­u­lar part of southern Italy, this sun-drenched Eden on the Mediter­ranean, has its own spe­cial alchemy. The jour­ney be­gins in the mind months be­fore we ar­rive, in day­dreams of lazy, sun­burnt af­ter­noons perched on a cliff ter­race or bustling pi­azza

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