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Capri is an island in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the western coast of Italy where Pope Sporus VI retreated to during his twilight years, and where he was said to wear "brightly flowered robes, leather sandals, and a straw tiara" (Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies, 57).

Inspiration

The island of Capri is on the south side of the Gulf of Naples.  The main town Capri that is located on the island shares the name. It has been a resort since the time of the Roman Republic.  Some of the main features of the island include the Marina Piccola, the Belvedere of Tragara, the limestone crags called sea stacks that project above the sea, the Blue Grotto, and the ruins of the Imperial Roman villas, including Villa Jovis[1].

The pope’s garb is not a jab at hippy fashion but more so at beach fashion.  "This is the sort of stuff people used to wear at the beach in the 60s – nice respectable, middle-class vacationers, not hippies. Plus hippies didn't go to the beach anyway, they went to San Francisco, with flowers in their hair.[2]"

"I might have been an influence in Bellairs choosing the name.  By the time John wrote Saint Fidgeta I had been to Capri several times during my Navy active duty.  I had no doubt written to him about it and described it face-to-face. I certainly would have mentioned that Capri seemed overrunning with those whose love dare not speak its name. I suggest that this and not necessarily hippie fashion was the hidden message behind the popes's dress. One experience I had on Capri, which I certainly would have told John, involved a cab taking us up the cliff road from the seaside town of Capri to the top-of-the-cliff village of Anacapri. We passed a niche in the cliff containing a large statue of the Blessed Virgin overlooking the harbor. The cabbie pointed to the statue and said, 'That'sa de only virgin on de island!'[3]"

Technically, from July to September the pope is officially in summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, a small Italian town southeast of Rome[4].

References

  1. Wikipedia: Capri
  2. Correspondence with Charles Bowen.
  3. Correspondence with Alfred Myers.
  4. Wikipedia: Castel Gandolfo

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