If you enjoy stunning scenery, awesome architecture and basking in the sun on a white, sandy beach, a trip to the Island of Capri should be your next move.
This tiny volcanic island of irregular altitudes is only 5 km off the shores of Campania, in the Gulf of Naples. It is one of the loveliest and most popular tourist destinations in all of Italy. Capri is tiny: about 6 km long, 3 km wide, with a coastline of approximately 17 km, yet don’t let the size fool you. This is a place of natural beauty and wonder that will bring you back time after time.
The coast of the island is surrounded by towering, limestone cliffs that stretch as high as 570 meters above sea level. Rugged cliffs, white sand beaches, beautiful olive groves, fragrant lemon trees, garden terraces filled with blooms, narrow, winding roads and magnificent views of blue water in the Gulf of Naples makes the island Italy’s shining jewel.
Capri can only be reached by boat. Ferries and hydrofoils run constantly throughout the day. Most people arrive at Marina Grande by hydrofoil. Once you reach the small port, it’s easy to catch a bus or cab to your specific destination. Capri is the name of the island, but is actually divided into two sections. The eastern section takes the name of the island. The western part is called Anacapri. The main road connects the two sides, but side streets are restricted to the people who live there. The entire island is classified as a pedestrian zone.
Start your day at one of the white sand beaches, or hop an excursion boat for a tour. Stroll down the 600 year-old streets of the quaint town or step back in time at the church of San Costanzo. Follow the main road into Capri town. From Piazza Umberto, continue on to Villa Jovis, the largest of twelve imperial villas that two great emperors, Tiberius and Octavius Augustus called home. Stand on Mount Tiberio and gaze at the azur colored water of the sea from 1100 feet above sea level.
Take a boat to Matermania and view the wonder of two natural masterpieces, the Marvelous Grotto and the White Grotto. Stand in awe at the light show inside the Marvelous Grotto, as the water reflects the outside light and the one from the White Grotto below.
In Matermania, you’ll see spectacular grotto that was used by the Romans as a monumental fountain. See the remains inside that enclosed an apse and a hall. Outside, the Natural Arch that was once used as an entrance to a huge cave is a testimony of bygone days. The sides have been eroded by time, but the natural wonder is something you won’t want to miss.
End your first day on the Island of Capri at the terrace bar in Punta Tragara. It is located at the southeastern tip of the island, facing the famous Faraglioni that rise from the sea below. This is a wondrous spectacle that will leave you breathless.
For a great dining experience, head back to the Natural Arch for an exquisite meal at Le Grottelle. Then, hit the Taverna Anema e Core, the hottest nightspot on the island. If nightspots aren’t your thing, head back to your hotel and spend some time in the pool, or curl up to read a good book while sipping some great Italian wine.
The friendly streets of the towns of Anacapri and Capri stand on their own: there’s a lot to see and do in both places, so be sure to check out what each town has to offer. Piazza Umberto is in the heart of Capri. It looks like a courtyard and is surrounded by quaint ships, cozy cafés and the Santo Stefano Church.
Stroll along the maze of narrow streets and seek out artists’ studios. Watch local craftsmen and artisans work their magic. Ceramics, sculptures, paintings and other artistic creations are just waiting to be discovered. Choose something to your liking for a memento of your time on the island.
Seek out one of the many distilleries in town, where Limoncello (lemon liqueur, Capri’s specialty) is made. The liqueur will tickle your taste buds: it is exquisite. Close your eyes as you sample it. It’s heavenly.
If you love architecture, check out the Charterhouse of St. Giacomo. This fabulous structure was constructed during the Middle Ages. Its functions have changed several times over the centuries, and today it houses a school, a library and a museum. It’s located next to the Gardens of Augustus.
The Gardens of Augustus are built on the ruins of ancient Roman structures, which originally were owned by the rich German industrialist, Frederic Alfred Krupp. He resided in Capri during the 19th century and later donated the gardens to the town of Capri. The gardens were renamed after Roman Emperor Augustus. They overlook the steepest face of Mount Solaro and the sea. Scenic terraces provide panoramic views of the rugged cliffs along the island’s coastline.
If you’re an adventurer, take a difficult hike up to Mount Solaro, the highest point on the island. Marvel at Capri’s natural wonders that is home to over eight hundred animal species. The scenic view is a spectacular experience for all nature lovers.
Take the chairlift down to Piazza Vittoria, the heart of Anacapri. Enjoy a meal in one of the town’s many restaurants. The aromas will tantalize your taste buds and get you in the mood for a marvelous meal.
If you enjoy the “night life,” spend the evening at Zeus or Underground, which are located almost next door to each other. If nightspots are not for you, head back to your hotel for a good night’s rest.
Walk the coast along the Migliera Belvedere, the most scenic road on the island. It winds through scenic landscapes featuring vineyards and valleys. The belvedere is most rewarding. It overlooks the coast and offers a panoramic view all the way to the Faraglioni. Be sure to stop for lunch at Da Gelsomina. While eating your meal, take in the lovely view of the Gulf of Naples. From here, take the northwest road, which passes the Torre Della Guardia, an awesome medieval lookout post with a marvelous view of the western island. Stay on the road that runs along the northwest tip.
Soon, you will see Capri’s most famous landmark: the Blue Grotto.
The Blue Grotto is a magical ocean cave located on the northwest side of Capri. You will be taken by rowboat through a small opening into a cave that’s illuminated by a submerged opening on the outside. The reflection of light makes the water a deep, vivid blue, hence the name. Visitors are bathed in the blue light, which seems to give a deep feeling of well being, peace and tranquility. It’s a truly awesome experience that’s very hard to put into words.
Tips for Visiting the Island of Capri
- Wear comfortable shoes. If you want to make the most of your visit, there will be a lot of walking involved.
- Avoid the area in July and August, at the peek of the tourist season. The island is packed with people at this time of year. You’ll enjoy your holiday much more if you visit in the winter months when things are calm and the temperatures are mild.
- Capri has many areas for you to explore. Make up your own itinerary and enjoy the island at your leisure.
- Instead of staying in Capri, book lodging in nearby Sorrento. The trip only takes twenty minutes and you will save a lot of euros.
- Ask locals what sights are to be seen. They can often point you to wondrous sights and magnificent views that aren’t listed in the guidebooks and tour pamphlets.
- Enjoy every minute of your trip. Take home souvenirs and plan another visit soon.
By Mary M. Alward