Travel Tuesday: Capri, Italy

Ahhh, Capri. Let me tell you…this place is magical, magical but expensive. I visited Capri for two days and one night on my Europe trip in 2010 (that was all I could afford, like I said the place is pricey). Capri is an island in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrentine Peninsula, on the south side of the Gulf of Naples in the Campania region of Italy. The main town on the island shares the name. It has been a resort since the time of the Roman Republic. There are only two towns – Capri, just above Marina Grande, and Anacapri, the higher town. Both Anacapri and Capri have a range of hotels. Anacapri (where we stayed) appears to have more budget accommodations and is more peaceful at night while Capri is the main center and has more nightlife. Beaches are scattered around the island. Lemon trees, flowers, and birds are abundant.

What to See in Capri:

Faraglioni, rock formations, are one of the island’s natural wonders. The faraglioni make up the classic view one associates with Capri. On the shore, the Faraglioni beach is one of the island’s most beautiful beaches. There are several other unusual rock formations in the sea around the island, including a natural arch.

Anacapri, the highest town on the island, has splendid views of the harbor below. Near the central square there’s a chair lift to Mount Solaro and a street lined with shops, several of which offer limoncello tasting. Olive trees, grapevines, and flowers give it a Mediterranean charm. Take the chairlift ride called the Seggiovia by locals, it goes from Anacapri up to Monte Solaro. On a clear day the views over the bay of Naples from the summit are indescribable and there are some really pretty gardens and orchards underfoot on the way up the mountain (passing over private homes). The ride takes 15 minutes each way and is a remarkably peaceful break from the tourist crowds elsewhere in Capri.

Villa San Michele, in Anacapri, was built around the turn of the 20th century by the Swedish physician, Axel Munthe, on the ruins of the Roman Emperor Tiberius’s villa. Its gardens have panoramic views of Capri town and its marina, the Sorrentine Peninsula and Mount Vesuvius. The villa and its grounds sit on a ledge at the top of the Phoenician Steps, between Anacapri and Capri, at 327 meters above sea level. San Michele’s gardens are adorned with numerous relics and works of art dating from ancient Egypt and other periods of antiquity. They now form part of the Grandi Giardini Italiani. The story of the villa is recorded by Dr. Munthe in his book entitled The Story of San Michele, published in 1929. There have been numerous reprints since.

Capri is the main town of the island. Piazza Umberto I, often called La Piazzetta, is the central square that houses cafes and the cathedral of Santo Stefano. The piazza is filled with people both day and night. There’s an archaeological museum in the town.

Grotta Azzurra, also known as the Blue Grotto is known throughout the world for its size, the intense blue tones of its interior and the magical silvery light which emanates from the objects immersed in its waters. In order to enter the Grotta Azzurra visitors climb aboard small rowing boats, with a capacity for two, maximum three, passengers and, lying on the bottom of the boat, enter the low and narrow mouth of the cave. The light is filtered by the water which absorbs the red tones, leaving only the blue ones to pass into the cave. A second phenomenon creates the silver appearance of the objects immersed in the water. It is believed that, in the Roman period, under the rule of Tiberius, the interior of the Grotta Azzurra was used as a marine nymphaeum. There have been those who imagined the cave as the habitat of Nereidi or of Sirens or believed it to be the realm of devils who bewitched all who dared to enter.

 

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