ISLAND OF CAPRI - ITALY
Celebrated for its natural beauty, rich history, mild climate and breathtaking vistas, the Island of Capri is one of the most well-known tourist destinations in Italy.
Once infamous as the "Island of Sin," Capri Island, about 15 mi south of Naples in the Bay of Naples, is now known as a desirable place to visit and a romantic spot for honeymooners. (Its name literally means "goats," coming from the Latin word capraeae, and you might see some of them there.)
For centuries, Capri was a retreat of sorts. Pirates hid their loot there, and it's where Emperor Tiberius built Villa Jovis, the first-century villa where he spent the last, debauched years of his reign. Visitors can see the Salto di Tiberio, the point from which he would fling to their death those who no longer pleased him.
These days, Capri is a retreat for the youngish jet set and assorted Hollywood celebrities. Don't expect lush tropical scenery, but do expect old-world charm, gorgeous grottoes and silver- and rose-colored cliffs that plunge straight into clear blue water.
Also expect superb restaurants, good shopping, watersports, lush gardens, Roman ruins, churches and wonderful streets in which to stroll—as well as some of the highest prices in Italy.
The approach to Capri is by sea, and the main harbor, Marina Grande, is the main terminal for ferries and boats arriving from Naples, Ischia and the Amalfi Coast. From Marina Grande, there is a funicular that heads directly up to Capri Town, the main village on the island, where most of the shops and restaurants are found. There is also a former mule path starting from the Largo Fontana, a small square on the quay side of the marina that leads to the area just below the clock tower in Capri Town and takes about 15 minutes on foot. The two highest peaks are Mount Tiberius (1,095 ft) on the northeast side of the island, and Mount Solaro (1,932 ft} situated in the center of the island above Anacapri.
Anacapri, the island's only other town, is an exclusive little village a bit higher up in the hills. A local bus runs regularly from Capri to Anacapri, and from there you can take a chairlift (called the seggiovia by locals) to the limestone formation of Mount Solaro. From this impressive vantage point you can enjoy breathtaking, expansive views over the sea and the Bay of Naples.
Almost the entire perimeter of the island is accessible for hiking, and walking is the best way to appreciate the beauty and spectacular views off the rocky coast. Other geographical landmarks worth noting include the famous Il Faraglioni cluster of offshore rocks, and a symbol of Capri, on the southeast side of the island. The rock formation can be best viewed from the Via Pizzo Lungo, one of the most beautiful seaside paths in the world. The Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto) is a gorgeous cave at the water's edge on the northwest side of the island and is best reached by boats that depart from the Marina Grande or from a bus that runs from the center of Anacapri, and then by boat.
Capri Island was first Greek, then Roman. After the breakup of the Roman Empire, the island was owned for some time by the Duchy of Naples. It was in turn raided by the Saracens and Turks, and in the following centuries Capri was dominated by the Normans, Lombards, Anjovins, Aragonese and finally the Spanish.
The island experienced a period of glory between the 18th and 19th centuries, driven by the active political and artistic environment in the diocese of Naples. Witness to this period of cultural growth is the architecture of beautiful churches, monasteries and other buildings in the main island centers of Capri and Anacapri. The island came back into vogue in the mid-19th century, with Italian and foreign visitors flocking to the island. The first hotel opened in 1826.
The climate on Capri is quite temperate, with mild winters and hot (but not stifling) summers. The average temperatures in winter are about 55 F, and highs in the peak summer months can reach about 84-86 F. The rainy season starts in late November and continues until about the end of March.
The best months to visit Capri are May, June and September. In July and August, the island tends to be overwhelmed by tourists, foreigners and Italians alike, especially huge tour groups. Though Capri can be seen on a day trip from the mainland, two or three nights are really preferable.
For nature lovers the best time to visit is in late March and April, when the flora and fauna are at their peak. Although Capri is relatively quiet in winter, the season has its special charm, as the island and its local residents are at their most authentic.
Visit the justly famous Blue Grotto, accessible by boat from the Marina Grand. To visit Capri's lesser-known grottoes, hire a fisherman's boat from Marina Piccola.
In and around Capri, walk and hike on the island's many trails, or the Via Pizalungo for one of the most spectacular seaside walks.
In Anacapri, enjoy the walk down from Anacapri to Capri using the Scala Fenicia, or walk on the Belevedere-Migliara for a gorgeous view of the sea and Faro (lighthouse) on the southwest part of the island. Another beautiful coastal walk beckons on the western side of the island: The Path of the Forts stretches 3 mi from the Blue Grotto past four Saracen fortresses used during the Napoleonic Wars, ending at the Faro lighthouse.
Even though the people of Capri (called Capresi) have seen many tourists come and go, you'll find them surprisingly nice and helpful. For rushed day-trippers, Capri will seem like a crowded place full of expensive boutiques and throngs of tourists. For those who stay a bit longer, enjoying hikes with beautiful views of the sea, and venturing outside of the two main towns, Capri will show another side—fragrant paths along a craggy coastline, beautiful sunsets and the ever-changing color of the sea, and locals who greet you with a buongiorno on the narrow paths.
Capri pants (three-quarter-length slim pants) were introduced by European designer Sonja de Lennart in 1948, with the name deriving from the island of Capri. They rose in popularity during the late 1950s-'60s when the late Grace Kelly wore them on the island.
Insalata Caprese is a tomato-and-mozzarella salad that originated on the Island of Capri.
The locals on Capri speak a type of Neapolitan dialect, which is also known as Neapolitan-Calabrian or Southern Italian. In 2008, a law was passed in the region of Campania noting that the Neapolitan dialect was to be protected, and Neapolitan has been recognized by UNESCO as a language and a heritage.
DOS AND DON'TS
Do greet the locals in Italian. Learn some basic Italian phrases such as per favore (please) and grazie (thank you). It is considered polite to greet shopkeepers or restaurant hosts with a buongiorno (good day) during the day or buona sera (good evening) after 3 pm.
Say arrivederci or arriverla (goodbye) when leaving.
Do take sturdy walking shoes to Capri. The spectacular hiking trails and narrow paths are not meant for flip-flops or high heels, and such shoes are best avoided to prevent a twisted ankle on the many steps and cobblestones.
Do dress nicely, yet comfortably, on Capri. Keeping the bella figura (looking nice) is appreciated and practiced by Italians. Italians tend to dress up and follow the latest trends. Dressing poorly is considered to be vulgar, particularly in a public place.
Don't use a radio or portable music player in open-air spaces (squares, roads, beaches) on the island, as it is strictly forbidden.
Don't take a sleeping bag or tent, as it is prohibited to camp or set up a tent anywhere on the island.
Do make sure to cover up when you're in public. It is prohibited to walk around Capri, or use any form of public transport, with a bare torso or wearing just a bikini top and shorts.
Sights—Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto); the famous Il Faraglioni Rocks; Arco Naturale; Monte Solaro.
Memorable Meals—Homemade ravioli Caprese; gelato or torta Caprese
Late Night—Cafes in the Piazzetta (main square) in Capri Town
Location - Capri Island is a port-of-call for some, and a shore excursion for others. Larger cruise ships tend to dock in Naples and offer an optional visit to the island. Smaller ships anchor off the coast of Capri and tender passengers to Marina Grande, which is a small port located a short distance downhill, via taxi, funicular or bus, from the larger Capri town.
In general, you will eat very well on Capri, but not inexpensively. Traditional Italian food with a Caprese flavor is what you will find on the island. The local Caprese cheese is something of a cross between mozzarella and ricotta and is used on the pizzas, and as a stuffing in ravioli Caprese, one of the island specialties. Seafood is plentiful and fresh, particularly scoglioto (spiny fish), gamberoni (shrimp), scaglie (crabs) and calamari.
Passport/Visa Requirements: Passports are required by citizens of the U.S.
Predominant Religions: Christian (Roman Catholic).
Time Zone: 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+1 GMT). Daylight Saving Time is observed from March to October.
Telephone Codes: 39, country code; 081, city code
Copyright ©2017 Northstar Travel Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Courtesy of: Darla Logsdon
See More Sunsets Travel