Thu Oct 11, 2018, 09:52 AM

The last lighthouse keeper of Capri

Basking in the Bay of Naples, Capri is Italy at its most dazzling. Whitewashed villas burst with purple bougainvillea, yachts putter around the island’s glimmering grottoes and what was once an idyllic home of fishermen is now an exclusive glitterati haunt.

But every evening in a modest apartment on the island’s remote south-western tip, a 64-year-old sailor named Carlo D’Oriano slowly climbs 136 steps up a spiral staircase to the lonely lookout tower of the Punta Carena lighthouse and peers through a pair of binoculars across the ocean. When the sun sinks into the Tyrrhenian Sea, D’Oriano logs his handwritten findings in a diary, just as the island’s lighthouse keeper has done each day here for the last 151 years.

Built in 1867, Punta Carena is one of Italy’s most important lighthouses, and is one of the last in the world to employ a full-time operator. But after being manned by a continuous line of 88 lighthouse keepers predating the dawn of Italian unification in 1871, D’Oriano is its last guardian, and these are his final months on duty.

Last year, D’Oriano received word from Italy’s Ministry of Defence that Punta Carena, like 181 of the country’s other 199 lighthouses, is set to become fully automated on 1 January 2019. When it does, D’Oriano won’t just lose his job – he’ll lose his home of 13 years.

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