Off-Season Capri: Paradise Regained

Romantic vacation guide to Capri, Italy, in the off-season.

By Diana Abu-Jaber
Arco Naturale, a rough stone arch with steps leading down to a grotto, in Capri, Italy
Photograph: Photo by: Francesco Lagnese

Compromising on Capri
So much for a grand entrance. I’d meant to stand at the railing and hold hands with my husband as we watched Capri’s famous white cliffs and cascading greenery float into view. Instead, after a wide-awake overnight flight and a dash to the ferry, I collapse in a chair belowdecks. There, rocked by the Bay of Naples, I promptly fall asleep.
After we dock and check into our hotel, Scott asks, "Is it what you expected so far?"
I look around. Our room at the tidy Relais Maresca is simple, almost Grecian in its curvy design, with walls as clean, and white as the sea. There’s a drizzle falling across our balcony, which faces the bay and the distant outline of Mount Vesuvius. I’d come expecting beauty and glamour while pressed against my husband’s manly chest. I probably also expected that Scott, touched by the glories of Italy, would be transformed into a dreamy, espresso-sipping swain, and that our relationship would reach new heights of romance.
Forget it. All I want is sleep. "Ask me again later," I mumble as I pull up the covers.
Scott and I were on a compromise vacation. Since my husband is passionate about the outdoors and I’m more interested in what happens indoors, finding one perfect getaway was a challenge. Joint decisions aren’t always easy for us. We had become a couple 10 years earlier, in our 30s, both of us already endowed with fully formed personalities and careers — a fly-fishing instructor and a novelist. We had faith that our divergences would make our lives bigger and fuller. Sometimes it even worked that way.
People began warning us about our plans weeks before we left. A culture lover talked about his grumpy wife, who had refused to look up in the Sistine Chapel. She wanted to go rock climbing. Several couples said they had skipped vacations altogether — or had taken them miles apart.
But what fun is that, sharing only the daily grind and seeking our pleasures separately? In the past, we’d played it safe with quick weekends at little coastal inns. But neither of us got what we really wanted. Scott always lobbied for remote, sandy islands — preferably the kind of places where they use mossy rocks for currency. I pushed for blue-chip cities: Paris, Barcelona, Hong Kong. But these talks would end in frustration, and we’d just call the whole thing off.
Then it came to us, late one night in front of the TV: Brigitte Bardot, hair fluttering as she sailed across sapphire waters to a villa perched on the sparkling cliffs of Capri. "Fabulous," I murmured, delighted by Bardot’s glamour and style, the whole dolce vita thing. Scott was focused on the sun in the waves and the curve of the boat. Did it matter that we were looking in different directions? Or that this particular scene was from a Jean-Luc Godard classic titled Contempt? All I knew was that finally, here was a place we both wanted to be.

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