Italy’s Isle of Capri, a treasure in the Tyrrhenian Sea, a delight on or off season
By Eva Stelzer
The Isle of Capri has drawn hedonistic visitors since Roman times. Today’s visitors represent the glamorous jet set, fashionistas and nature lovers alike.
Located in the Tyrrhenian Sea in the Campania region of Italy, Capri is the name of both the island and the main town. Breathtakingly beautiful Capri is swarmed in July and August, but May and September still boast amazing weather and thinner crowds, with enough action to keep any traveller happy. By late September the streets and alleys are quiet and you can get to know the locals.
Bring your most comfortable walking shoes! Most of Capri is closed to traffic and there are few parking places; mid-March to November there is no traffic allowed except for residents and those with motorbikes. If you get tired of walking take public buses or taxis.
Exploring on your own is exciting, but it’s always good to have a to-do list to fall back on. As Charles Dickens once wrote, “In no place on earth are there so many opportunities for delicious peace and quiet as on this small island.”
Here are five great picks for visiting Capri:
The Blue Grotto
You may ask yourself what’s so special about a cave, but the Isle of Capri’s Blue Grotto is one of nature’s finest attractions and it is worth making the effort to set up your tour. It’s also one of the island of Capri’s biggest tourist attractions. It’s a pricey attraction to get to, but the water shimmers in a strange way as the sunlight enters from an underwater opening. Since the water filters out red, you end up seeing a very pure blue. There is also something special about seeing Capri from the distance, with her white rocky cliffs plunging into the aquamarine sea.
One thing to keep in mind when planning your trip to the Blue Grotto is to remember that you can only enter with a calm sea and a low tide. Ask about sea and tide conditions before paying for the boat ride, but don’t miss it.
Il Faraglioni is more than just a rock, it’s a star. This towering sea stack is a result of geomorphology–the power of wind and water–and is one of the most popular natural sites and attractions of Capri. The best way to get up close to Il Faraglioni is by hiring a boat or joining a day tour on the water. Check the sea conditions in advance. The boat trip is a great way to bird-watch, and you can hire a special tour if you want to climb a stack. However, you can also get a terrific view and a good drink by relaxing on the terrace of some of the more posh hotels if that’s more your speed.
Gardens of Augustus
For travelers who don’t want to miss out on man-made beauty, the Gardens of Augustus at Campania are a retreat into a cultivated paradise, complete with unforgettable panoramas. Commissioned by German steel magnate Friedrich Alfred Krupp in the early 1900s when Krupp came to Capri to convalesce, the Gardens were designed to complement Krupp’s mansion and nature. Due to falling rocks on the roadway, the Via Krupp is not always open so check in advance.
The highest point and one of the best vistas on Capri is Monte Solaro, 589 meters above the stunning blue sea. From here you have a 360-degree view, looking down on the sea stacks at Il Faraglioni (above), the towns of Capri and Anacapri, the Sorrentine Peninsula, Mt. Vesuvius and all across the beautiful Gulf of Naples.
You can get to the top by chairlift or walking, which is an hour’s climb and fairly strenuous. There are also buses and convertible taxis to Anacapri, where you can enjoy the views of gardens and a few ruins from a cable car that takes you on up to the top (12 minutes). Refresh yourself in the rocking chairs at La Canzone del Cielo with a cold drink.
The summit also has the remains of an early 19th-century fort (Fortino di Bruto) built during a war between the British and French.
Have a Drink
Capri is a great place to sit back and people-watch. Find a beautiful terrace to relax and take it all in with a good drink. Panta Rei is one of the island’s most sophisticated bars and a good place to sip a limoncello. The Quisisana is known for being at the crossroads of everywhere in the town of Capri. There is a small front terrace for seeing who arrives or goes inside to the posh black-and-white Quisi Bar, but it is not for the faint of pocket–prices are high.
Images: courtesy of Eva Stelzer and LMA communications.
Eva Stelzer is the owner and founder of Evia, a bespoke travel service. A former academic, she has spent many years delivering experiential journeys and travel writing. Learn more at eviactive.com
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