When I first step foot on Capri, located off the western coast of Italy, I feel a moment of history and modernity and me in the midst of it. Pulling into the Marina Grande, tourists swarmed in big hats and sundresses. Cameras hung around necks like nooses, shopping bags from Versace and Gucci clutched in tan-oiled hands, and the fabulous among the fried were dining along the docks.
I travel up the funicular, traversing the craggy cliffs. The islands sides are nearly perpendicular, rising up from the ocean. More shops and restaurants line the top tier. I decide to leave the luxury stores behind and head in a single direction, away from people. It doesn't take long to get lost. Behind the facade of its main streets, the heart of Capri is labyrinthine and seductive. "Just Around the Riverbend" plays through my mind, as the world grows quieter. The occasional Italian inflection catches on the breeze.
As I feel the sun reach its zenith, and begin its descent back towards the celestial blue of the sea, I begin to wonder if I'll find my way back in time for the boat. As the thought crosses my mind, I come upon a man standing in the darkness of an alley ahead of me. He's tall and he's lean as he leans against a doorjamb. He's a waiter, standing outside a small and empty restaurant, so far off the beaten path that it's no surprise he has nothing to do but stand outside, waiting for me.
Our eyes meet and he grows excited, animated. With a mixture of Italian, English, and hands he convinces me that I can’t walk another step in any direction unless it's a step inside his restaurant. Though it may be the one word more universal than most, "no" was the furthest thing from my mind.
What came after that was a capresean cavalcade of comped booze, comped foods, and comped conversations. The waiter sat and shared a meal with me, with nothing better to do, and we exchanged stories, laughed at our struggle to communicate, and misunderstood one another until we understood each other perfectly. We drank the limencello his friend had made that week, the sea bass he caught in the cove that morning, and the bread some old woman had baked down the street.
This was my private rendezvous. This was my adventure in Capri.
More than most, it is an island of secret places. It's an island with a history - one directly tied to our own oft-times secret community. My new friend told me of the men and women who used to walk these streets. Without realizing it, I had followed in the footsteps of some of my heroes.
To bask in the same sun as Oscar Wilde. To get drunk in the same air as Ezra Pound. To watch the same coming and goings as Tennessee Williams. What did Jean Cocteau ponder when walking the cobblestones? What did Andre Gide find for solace on these shores?
Once known as a refuge for gays and lesbians seeking a paradise away from prying populations, LGBT literary and historical figures found their way to Capri like seamen to sirens during the 1920s and 30s.
As islands are wont to do, Capri hasn't changed very much from a century ago.
And so I invite you to experience what these men and women did then. Find your inspiration, connect with your community, and revel in the realization that we have always searched for, and found, our special spaces.
In celebration of this history and in celebration of today's LGBT community, Aura Capri, a company specializing in luxury events and personal concierge services, is hosting a weekend catered to us - called Capri Rainbow 2013, from September 6th through 9th.
Visitors are welcomed to explore an island laid out with them in mind and an itinerary full of special guests, film screenings, musical performances, a symphony concert, walks to discover the island's hidden corners and access to its most exclusive places, a White Party, and enough traditional food and wine that Augustus himself (who once vacationed here as well) might rise from the grave to partake in the feasting.
The entire island is participating in the weekend, including businesses, tour operators, and restaurateurs as they rediscover the open mindedness that has so characterized the blue island throughout its existence.
To find out more about the weekend, visit the Capri Rainbow 2013 site here and become lost in the possibility.
For booking information, email firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to mention you're a dot429 member to receive 30 percent off the package price.