Da Gelsomina kapak

Have you ever seen an Italian that doesn’t talk much? I sure haven’t.

One typical Italian, i.e., one who talks a lot, succeeded in preventing my wife and me from beholding Capri’s breathtaking sunset.

The Bay of Naples didn’t just get famous for the Amalfi coasts, its islands and its volcano. Here, the sunset over the boundless, deep-blue sea has no equal.

We had made reservations at a restaurant called Da Gelsomina. The place is really far from Anacapri, but it is possible to get there by car after passing the countless vineyards, gardens and empty expanses. As we were making the reservation, we asked how to get there. “We’ll pick you up,” they said.

The restaurant is one of the places to be for the sunset. “The sun sets at 8; be ready at 7.30 because the road takes about 15 to 20 minutes,” they said. Punctually, they showed up at the designated time to pick my wife and me up with a minibus. We were in high spirits. A couple of minutes after setting off, however, the minibus stopped.

“Why have we stopped?” we asked.

“We’re going to pick some people up from here,” the driver responded.

We waited for those special newcomers for another five minutes. In the end, they weren’t that late. Four or five middle-aged Italian men boarded, offering us a “buona sera” as they filled the minibus. The restaurant said they were going to send a special vehicle just for us, but given that this is Italy, we were neither surprised nor particularly perturbed by the unscheduled development. We exited the town after a kilometer or two and began passing the vineyards until we were confronted by a car coming in the opposite direction. Because the road was narrow, we stopped to let it pass – or that’s at least what we thought. Of course, wouldn’t the two drivers choose this time to start a chat as the two pulled up to each other? It appeared the pair hadn’t seen each other in a while and embarked on a conversation that included pleasantries along the lines of “How’s Fabio and what’s Claudia up to?” Just then, those in the vehicle suddenly waded into the fray, exploding in a riot of chatter as if they had known the two drivers for the past 40 years instead of not at all. So it commenced, and given that those in question were Italian, they weren’t able to stop…

By the time we got to the restaurant, the sun had set!

I asked for some wine immediately… We began to gulp down our wine, having to settle for the remaining crimson hue visible above the water. Soon the waiter arrived to take our order for food. But who might it be but the driver that had just brought us!

“You were squawking for two hours on the road; you made us miss the sunset!” I told him angrily.

Not to be outdone, he turned the tables:

“Signore, forget about the sunset, look at the one that’s shining radiantly next to you.”

The comment incited subordination in our team, as half of us crossed the divide to the waiter’s side:

“Really, my love, what’s the matter? Did we not see a sunset in Capri at all? Just let it go tonight, don’t get mad at the boy!” the defector said.

As the remaining half of the split team, I retreated to the comfort of the velvet-like smoothness of my Tuscan wine, humming “La Donna è Mobile” to myself.

Da Gelsomina alt

Da Gelsomina is a family restaurant perched above a cliff on a rural area of Capri. It also has a swimming pool, and people using the pool by day also dine here. Some, however, also come just for the restaurant in the evening. As I noted, the road is not particularly short, taking about 15-20 minutes by car – provided the driver doesn’t get lost in conversation with someone else along the way. Ultimately, though, the road is worth it. With its garden, hall, spectacular view, delectable fare and upmarket diner profile, Da Gelsomina offers enjoyment. The restaurant is especially first rate in its raw seafood and crustaceans. Everything we had was great, but the raw red shrimp (gamberro rosso) carpaccio in a balsamic sauce in a bed of garden cress and rocket salad was a masterpiece!

On the way back, a different driver took us back to our hotel. This time, there were no apologies or flattery – he returned us to the hotel promptly.

Along the way, I only learned from him about when Vesuvius erupted, the resultant ramifications, the triumphs from the days when Maradona played for Napoli, the must-see places along the Amalfi coast, the history of the restaurant, the way that Capri’s population drops in winter, the seriousness of the air pollution caused by motorcycles and ferries, as well as Peppino di Capri’s house – all in detail, of course.

Ask whatever you want – I can give you an answer!

Da Gelsomina orta


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