Our full day in Sorrento had some extreme highs and some extreme lows. We had a boat tour of Capri scheduled with a company called Gianni’s Boat set to depart at 10 AM. Amanda had been in contact with them for months, we had selected the private tour option and given them our credit card info (multiple times) to secure the reservation. The meeting point just happened to be the same café on the marina that our complimentary B&B breakfast was, so we went down to the café at 9 AM and ordered some omelettes and cappuccinos (which were pretty good and after classic Italian breakfasts all week we were happy to get some eggs). At around 9:15 AM small boat came into the marina and we debated whether we thought it was our boat. At 9:55 we found the two girls working for Gianni Boat and Amanda gave them her name… to which they acted confused, told us to sit down and wait, and proceeded to flip through their unorganized paper stacks. 10 minutes later the girl came over and had Amanda write her name down again. She saw the name and acted like she had just misheard it all along or something, until we reminded her we had booked a private tour and she was shocked. She went back and made some phone calls, repeatedly saying Amanda’s name and “privata” – it’s pretty obvious at this point that they’ve completely lost our reservation. So we sit there for another 20-30 minutes (another group leaves in this time without issue) and around 10:40 they say to follow them because our boat is arriving. As we’re walking down the dock, Ryan asked one of the ladies if the reservation was misplaced or something and she replies that the only reason we are late getting out is because “the boat was still coming from Capri.” We then get to the boat… which is the same exact boat and captain that we saw floating in at 9:15 AM, he had pulled out of the harbor and then back in to appear he was “arriving.” When we get on board it’s apparent the boat has no limoncello, champagne, water, or snacks as expected with the initial booking. So at this point they’ve lost our reservation, lied to our face, and have no refreshments on the boat for us… so we’re feeling pretty annoyed to say the least.
BUT – the next hour and a half was one of the best parts of the trip! Our captain was a local from Anacapri on the island, and was really nice and knowledgeable. It had rained in the early morning (6-7 am), but the weather had cleared up to be a great partly cloudy that gave enough sun and shade and the water was amazingly blue. We cruised to Capri and went around the island, seeing little grottos that have a unique combo of rock and light reflecting to produce the bluest of blue water. Antonio was great about leaving us to our own conversation but also pointing out everything that he thought might be of interest to us. At one point he stopped so we could jump in for a swim, the water is so clear that you can look down and see all of your toes in perfect clarity. It was also seriously cold so we popped right back onto the boat and kept cruising. The water was pretty choppy that day so the famous Blue Grotto was closed, which we were actually okay with as apparently the lines get to be one or two hours long just to go in. Soon we’re around the island and docking at the main marina with a recommendation for traditional Capri cooking from our captain Antonio, and all three of us agreed to meet back at 4 PM to return to Sorrento.
As soon as we hop off the boat, there’s a girl standing there saying “Gianni wants to speak with you”. Okay, we’re super hungry but that’s fine, he’s probably going to apologize for the mess with the reservation being lost. We’re walking to their home base restaurant and Gianni zips by on a golf cart, the girl flags him down and he stops, introduces himself, and says to wait “5 minutes” for him at the restaurant. We get to the restaurant and the girl sits us at a table with Gianni’s father, who offers us espresso and limoncello. We’re so confused and hungry at this point that we just want to go check out Capri, but they insist we should wait for Gianni. We end up sitting there for about 30 minutes… Gianni’s father is super nice but it’s still an uncomfortable situation (he also asked if we enjoyed his homemade limoncello on the boat and we’re just like “uhhhh nope”). Finally Gianni shows up and it’s just this big confusing conversation about the forecast this evening and how we need to take the ferry back and they’ll buy us a ferry ticket and charge us less for the tour and to meet back here at 4 or 5 or 6 or whenever. So we leave there after 30 minutes with a vaguely established 5pm meeting, where they will buy us a ferry ticket and send us off through a supposed storm. Weird and annoying, but we just want to eat at this point.
We made it up the funicolare (cable car) into the main square of Capri and it was pretty much tourist chaos. We navigated our way to the back alleys and find Bucca di Bacco, which was a nice little unassuming restaurant that had a single bay window with an amazing view of the cliffs and water. We had some white wine and the house antipasti platter of raw fish cuts and vegetables (we thought maybe they’d have caprese salad but no dice), some ravioli as recommended by Antonio, and then a mussel and clam platter. We ordered the mussels sort of by mistake. The food was good if not great, but we do recall looking at other peoples’ plates of Neapolitan pizza and calamari and thinking we did it wrong. After lunch we started walking around Capri a bit, we were squeezing through people to see crappy tourist shops so we decided pretty quickly to skip the town of Capri and go straight to the emperor’s garden. The emperor’s garden was beautiful, lots of jasmine and assorted flowers that Amanda was all about. The edge of the garden had some of the most spectacular views of the trip – huge cliff faces, patches of bright blue grottos, and the Faraglioni arch that we had passed under on our boat tour.
At this point we decided we’d rather be in Sorrento, so we headed back down the funicolare and realized we had about 15 minutes to catch the 4:05 PM ferry. We stopped by the restaurant to see if Gianni or anyone in his crew was there but didn’t find anyone, so we bought a ticket and took off on the ferry. When we got back to our room at around 4:50 we emailed Gianni saying we made it back and were pretty sure today wasn’t a normal Gianni Boat experience. At 6:45 he emailed back and was so aggressive and rude, saying we skipped out on paying (they have our credit card info), that they were still waiting for us like fools at the restaurant (even though we emailed 10 minutes prior to meeting), that they bought us ferry tickets, that they already emailed Trip Advisor, Yelp, and Google with pictures of said tickets and the dark clouds (though the afternoon had been quite sunny and nice, no signs of rain anywhere). Maybe instead of defaulting to “you better not write a bad review” you could be happy we made it back safe and apologize for the confusing and frustrating day. The whole ordeal was just so disheartening and not what you want to experience on the day you expected to be the most relaxing of the trip. In the end, our recommendation to others would be to do a boat tour around Capri, though NOT with Gianni Boat, and to only go on to the island Capri if you really want to see the vistas because otherwise it is wall to wall tourists and not all that pleasant.
Back in Sorrento we were able to relax by our bay window with the bottle of Rosso Toscano we had purchased at the Cordella winery. We decided we needed to try Neapolitan pizza (Napoli is just across the bay) so we again got another recommendation from Pamela (owner of Surriento Suites where we were staying) and walked just around the corner to Vela Bianca. We sat outside and had another bottle of regional red wine to go with grilled calamari and two kinds of pizza. The calamari was amazing and just the right texture – it’s funny to think that a single large piece of unbreaded, grilled squid is their default calamari vs. what’s served in America. The bread and sauce for the pizzas was so, so good, it really made us feel like our Neapolitan pizza craving was satisfied. This was the perfect wood-fired, lightly topped pizza we had dreamed of enjoying in Italy. We had another American couple next to us that we enjoyed talking to, they were heading to Siena for a week after Sorrento so we were excited to give them some recommendations which they seemingly appreciated. They also asked us how our day had gone so it gave us a chance to vent about Gianni Boat a bit which was helpful. After dinner we went back to our room and went to sleep with a plan to relax in Sorrento for most of the next day before heading to Rome.