Cliffs of Capri
The Essence of Capri
Dropping by Naples on a cruise? Cruisers who disembark for the day passing through the Stazionne Marittima port terminal have a myriad of options: explore Naples, tour the Amalfi Coast to Sorrento and Amalfi, visit the ruins of Pompeii, take a ferry to Capri, or some combination thereof if there is time ashore. What ever you chose, make sure you include Capri.
Capri encapsulates some of the best of the Mediterranean. Rugged, with grey cliffs rising almost perpendicular from the dark sea, yet the island is ablaze with colour and life; its beauty dazzles the senses. There are towns perched on the hillsides, harbours filled with a rainbow of brightly painted boats and sleek, elegant yachts, caves beckoning mysteriously along the coast, and a festive atmosphere provided by the holiday makers happily discovering the nooks and crannies of this Italian playground.
Ferry to Capri
You reach Capri by ferry from the mainland, the ride taking a half hour or so and costing around twenty euro. Once in port you are reminded of Santorini as, to reach the town of Capri on the hills above, you must take the funicular (cost two-euro one way). As you ascend to the town above, you have a bird’s eye view of the harbour below and of the plots of lemon trees with bright fruit that wink at you from gardens on either side of the railway. You make a mental note to taste the local limoncello. Hint: Make sure you take lots of money as not only will you have to pay the same amount to return to Naples, you will want – no, need – to shop here! Capri is known for its designer stores. Easier-on-the-pocket shops are available as well. Scour the many alleyways and narrow streets and you will find incredible souvenirs of your visit.
The main square, Piazza Umberto I, with its clock tower boasts open air cafes where you may be tempted to dine. Don’t be surprised if you find a celebrity at the next table – it’s been known to happen. Since ancient Roman times, this has been the place to have your vacation home. Magnificent villas overlook the sea around the island, obviously in private locales, reminding one of white seagulls resting on the cliffs.
Touring by Boat
You can see some of these villas by opting for an around-the-island cruise (about 20 euros per person depending on the size of the tour). This is a definite recommendation. You get to marvel at the cliffs up close and enter shallow grottos along the way. The water turns a jewel-like turquoise in these crannies in contrast to the dark blue of the sea. How far you can enter the inlets carved by the waters is dependent on the tides and winds. One the many grottos along the coastline, the Blue Grotto, is famous for its fascinating colours within and must be visited on its own though you can see the entrance from a boat tour. Be sure to put aside hours from your Capri visit if you decide to take in this tourist attraction. Normal wait times are two to three hours to cycle through the line for a five-minute visit to the grotto. Personally, the author enjoyed the few minutes sailing through the arch in the Faraglioni rocks where legend says you kiss your loved one for good luck. Short and sweet, saving you time to enjoy many other aspects of the island.
On Shore Attractions
Rocks, grottos, and the sea aside, the essence of Capri is found in its flowers. Visit the Gardini di Augusto where you can enjoy the riot of colorful plants, the statuary, and the view down over the town. Rest awhile on the benches scattered about the walks, amuse oneself remembering the names of the flowers you recognize, and puzzle over those you don’t. If you don’t mind heights, peer over the railings at the Via Krupp, a snake-like pathway constructed down the cliffside to the sea by a German magnate of the same name many years ago. Used as a quick way to get to his yacht moored in the harbour, and later by adventurous tourists, it is now closed to passage due to the possibility of rock falls.
You can capture the flowers of Capri by visiting a perfumerie. Ancient formulas for the distilling of perfume were found by a local prior after the last war, and thus resulted in one of the smallest perfume laboratories in the world. Woman’s perfume always includes the local Capri carnation which grows wild here, and the men’s fragrances always contain rosemary gathered from Monte Solaro, the highest point on the island. Purchase your favorite combination of scents and every time you wear the perfume, the delightful smell will transport you back to the lovely isle of Capri.
This article first appeared in Real Travel Experts. All images courtesy of Compass Media.