Europe Italy Travels

A day in Capri

November 15, 2014

The mountainous isle of Capri is a top rated holiday destination for worldwide travelers and few islands can rival with its glamorous image. Most arrive from Naples or Sorrento by ferry with either a few hours or a few days to spend in this enchanting destination whose impressive limestone rock soars from the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Famed for its unparalleled scenery and sea views, Capri is all about heights as you’ll notice as soon as you reach the harbor.

All ferries arrive at the port of Marina Grande which is usually overrun by daytrippers (more than 20,000 on average in the high season!). With its tacky souvenir shops and cheap restaurants with touristy menus, this is not the Capri you came to see and you should start making your way up now.

The island really has two communities so you have your pick of starting your day either in Capri town for expensive shopping or Anacapri for a quieter morning. We hopped on the bus to the latter which is situated on a plateau above Capri. From there you can take the chairlift up to the top of Monte Solaro, the highest point of Capri.

The 12-minute ride up offers plenty of panoramic photo opportunities and confirmation of the island’s scenic charm.

Once at the summit, you get a good view of Capri’s wilder side and natural beauty.

Giant cliffs hide secret coves and sea caves, tiny rocky beaches are only accessible by boats, villas peak out from underneath the luxurious foliage, and then there’s the bluest of sea… No wonder this is a dream honeymoon destination.

You can opt to walk down or take the chairlift again back to Anacapri which has a quaint little old center. Take some time to wander around a few historical buildings such as the cathedral and a number of imperial roman villas worth checking out before venturing into the slightly crazier part of the island.

View from Anacapri of Marina Grande and the surroundings of Capri

You can take a public bus to get to the center of Capri town but the ‘proper’ way to experience the island is to hail one of the iconic convertible taxis, put on your sunglasses and let your hair loose in the breeze feeling every little bit like Jacky O in the 1950s. While it sits lower than Anacapri, the town of Capri still offers breathtaking views especially along its circular path which goes up and around the south side of the island.

Most of Capri town is only accessible by foot so wear comfortable shoes and be ready for a bit of a hike as you explore the narrow lanes, passing magnificent villas and gardens fit for celebrities.

Heading uphill from Capri town towards the Arco Naturale (signposted) will lead you straight to the off-the-beaten path and must-try restaurant Le Grottelle.

The views alone from the terrace are worth the little trek to get there and while you won’t feast on fancy, Michelin star grub, the simple and authentic food served here is the perfect accompaniment to the impressive scenery.

Simple dishes such as a tomato salad are something else with the island’s sun-ripened tomatoes and the peppery basil that grows on its terraces.

Spaghetti with tomato and basil

Fried antipasto

Grilled shrimps

Walking back down towards the old center of Capri, you’ll soon discover what has made the island such a hit with the shopaholics and well-heeled of society as you passed by myriads of fancy designer boutiques and high-end restaurants. The maze of narrow lanes is often overcrowded during the day so this is where it pays to be an overnighter as you’ll have them ‘practically’ all to yourself in the evenings when the crowds have gone.

Almost every lane will lead you straight to Capri’s most famous square, Piazza Umberto I, more commonly known simply as the Piazzetta. It is the center of the island’s social life and a perfect place to sit back and relax at one of the four bars, glancing up to admire the surrounding monuments such as the clock tower and cathedral, but mostly just enjoying the people-watching opportunities in what people refers to as the ‘world’s little theatre’.

You shouldn’t leave without a taste of the local specialty, the torta Caprese, a flourless, chocolate-almond torte which originated here on the island, simply sublime. I have a recipe here if you can’t make it to Capri!

Just steps from the Piazzetta is the funicular, a scenic way to go down to Marina Grande where you’ll be catching the ferry back. One last food stop for the ride – lemon gelato, a refreshing local flavor…

A short day trip was enough to get a glimpse of Capri and its beauty albeit a pretty commercialized and touristy one. The island has a lot more serene spots and remote paradises if you extend your trip for a few days and take a walk along the numerous footpaths leading to the secret coves we could see from above. A revoir….

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