The small piazza or center of Anacapri. Take a left at the Piazza and follow the path and signs to the Villa San Michele. There are little shops along the way selling great lemoncello and meloncello and other gifts.
A side wall of the Villa San Michele, a charming ivy covered garden wall and rounded top door. When you walk by you can peek through the top of the doors and see into the beautiful gardens.
The columns, lampposts and trees outside the villa.
You’ll know it when you see it. And you’ll hear the birds.
The Villa San Michele was built on the ruins of a church by the same name and before that, on the ruins of one of Emperor Tiberius’ villas.
When I see a field of beautiful blue flowers I think about that scene in Bright Star where John Keats and Fanny Brawne are sitting in a meadow of blue, so soft and lovely it made me want to return to England just to walk and lie around in one just like it. I dream about endless rows of bluebells and cornflowers and the kind of lush greenery you see in period British films.
One of the first things that struck me about Capri was all the beautiful flowers (scenting the air) and all the birds.
Dark verdant green and creamy white buds.
I wanted to reach out and touch them.
The leaves were dark and lovely.
Blue and white flowers in a sea of green in the gardens lining the loggias, adding to the mystery of the place.
Stairs leading up to the rooftop café. A red carpet experience in terms of views. One can order coffee, mineral water, fresh orange juice, cappuccinos, prosecco and gelato.
We had the café to ourselves. The day was nearing dusk, the clouds were dramatic after intermittent rain.
Umbrella pines always make me think of Rome.
There is a light aroma of espresso and white lilacs in the air, plenty of shade and cool breezes and spots of sun. One can smell a hint of the sea, too.
Views from the roof top of the garden and the sea. The bluest blues, the darkest greens, the whitest whites.
The unique architecture of the villa.
Flowers of every hue can be found throughout the grounds. The bright pink and red are like kisses with paint on your mouth left on a linen handkerchief.
One of the many birds of Capri at the café.
One of the dogs through a keyhole in a fence on the way back from the Villa San Michele.
Redbeard’s fort high up on the hill.
This is the second article in a series of film photographs and writings on the Villa San Michele on Capri in Italy. More to follow!
All photographs copyright Rebecca Price Butler, at alovelettertorome.com
More memories of Capri as I look over photographs I took of the picaresque island in 2006. We spent eight days on the island in October and November and probably only explored half of the isle! I would like to balance this upcoming visit with the same relaxed lifestyle we adapted then whilst also exploring the island more. I love the Villa San Michele (home of Swedish psychiatrist and author of The Story of San Michele … Axel Munthe) – it’s a beautiful old villa that houses an enchanting bird sanctuary and boasts some of the best views of Capri on the island. I have a soft spot for birds, and I especially adore bird sanctuaries, ever since my mum sent me off to Mass Audobon as a child and I fell in love with bird watching and listening.
I remember loving Capri the first couple of day trips we took there from Naples and Sorrento in the late 1990s and early 2000s. For me, I get into such a city mode with my love affair of Rome it is sometimes not until later that I feel I can tear myself away from the eternal city for a different Italian experience. I love the nature and the beauty of Southern Italy but the architecture, art, history and pulse of Rome calls to me an urban Siren’s call. Capri and Sorrento may be the mythical home of the Sirens (and it is no surprise given it’s soaring cliffs and sparkling waters) but I always found the pleasures of Rome to be far more tempting.
After two visits last year to Rome and a few days in Naples and after a long winter (and my husband’s very bad car accident right before christmas) we both decided we wanted to relax adrift the mediterranean. We wanted a quiet spot filled with the Italian riches of nature, a little architecture, some ruins (Villa Jovis), some views (Capri and Ana Capri!), a central location (day trip to Ravello and Paestum, ferries to the Amalfi Coast) and a whole island where you can walk, swim, trek or take a white convertible taxi or a ski lift to wander around.
We aren’t making too many plans and I’ve promised not to bring my camera everywhere. I am planning on taking my film camera with rolls of portra 35mm film and marking special days and times to go around the island myself and go on several shoots whilst he is swimming or lying by the pool. There’s something about not planning much and seeing where the day takes you that is infinitely more like a holiday than a list filled grand tour. Let’s see where in the moment living can take us I suppose!
And we must take another little boat around the island, that’s for sure. This time we’ll remember the sun block.
I have a wanderlust for all the beautiful and fascinating places in the world, especially art filled cities full of history and literary haunts.
In 1998, when I was 22 I first traveled to Italy. From the moment we stepped out of our tiny Hotel Genio and around the corner to the Piazza Navona, we knew Rome was going to answer our wildest dreams with an even greater beauty. I tell people who have not been there or who have been there and have somehow not appreciated the treasures of Rome: Rome is a feast of all senses, an open air museum, a celebration.
Rome is the place I love and crave and long for because nowhere else in the world can I wander into a church and see several Caravaggio’s against the backdrop of somber hymns and sit in a pew and admire his work in silence.
There’s the wild strawberries to eat on cobblestones from a market.
There’s the ruins at night, to stand above them and linger there for an hour, to feel transported back in time, very far back in time.
There’s wandering in the footsteps of Oscar Wilde wandering in the footsteps of Keats and Shelley. There’s Babingtons (there’s my anglo side which needs to be satisfied).
There’s Artemisia Gentileschi paintings scattered across Rome (and Florence and Naples) awaiting my worshipful gaze.
There’s Sundays in Rome, the greatest day, the only place you feel you should be in the world on a Sunday when you are there. Away from the awful pollution of the cars (my one pet peeve of Rome)… to roam on the Appian Way, to stop and eat somewhere or pick red poppies along the road.
Pizza at Bafetto. Pinot nero. Frascati. Tears of Christ. The view of Rome atop the Wedding cake. The Borgia rooms. Artichoke season. Hazelnuts. Pine nuts. Capreses. Prosecco. Oranges. Lemons. Olives. Trastevere apple bread and long lunches there and hours photographing the grafitti. Nuns walking through the city. Red domes turned gold. Unexpected art exhibitions. Villa Borghese. Penne alla’arrabiata. Porcini. Truffles. White fish. Fisherman’s stew. Capotoline Hill.
There are a thousand other moments I love in Rome. These are just a few.
I love the cemeteries of Rome. I live for all the architectural details. And the marble. And a thousand saints and angels and statues. And all the Renaissance art and intricate Pompeiian mosaics. And the ruins. Not to mention I have an almost inexpressible feeling of happiness in certain slants of Italian sunlight and shadow, with the scent of lemon and orange trees accompanying me on a ramble, content with a glimpse of a white dove on Palatine hill or brushing past an olive branch. Just fountain hopping at night makes me happy. I cannot tire of the umbrella pines and cypress trees. Or taking afternoon tea at Babington’s or daydreaming in 18th century splendor at Caffe Greco, where the English Romantics mused and drank at the same tiny marble tables.
Finding a room with a view. And following the Roman cats through the ruins! And trying to visit all nine hundred beautiful old churches. (Impossible). And the Borghese gardens and palazzo museums and the sound of water fountains and sculptures and Italian gardens and vespas and red roof tiles. And a hundred thousand other things I will try to capture on this blog. (And I love Naples & Florence & all of Italy, which will be featured some times, as well as related art exhibits, books, music & films)!