Capri: the blue island!

If you are travelling to the South of Italy, Capri is a magic place that you must see! Unless you want to spend some days getting tanned under the Italian sun, a couple of days to visit the whole isle is enough. But we recommend you to decide in advance what kind of holiday you want to spend in Capri, so that you can decide what’s the best time for you to visit it. If you wish to admire the landscapes, have a walk around the narrow alleys and have a drink in the popular Piazzetta, you could go during spring or autumn (we suggest from April to June or from September to October): it is warm so it’s nice walking around under the sun and it is not packed with tourists., so you can really enjoy your time. On the contrary, if you want to spend a holiday by the beach, getting tanned and swimming in the chrystalline sea around the island, we suggest you to go in July/August, but you have to be conscious that you’ll end up in a vortex of people, to the extent that sometimes, while walking along the alleys, you can just follow the stream!

Reaching the magic isle of Capri is quite easy: once you reach Naples, if you go by car, you have to park somewhere, because for the greatest part of the year, you can’t bring your car to Capri (cars are allowed more or less from November to Easter). Anyway, it’s quite useless going to Capri by car: the island is small, you can walk all around it with no effort and it’s definitely more charming rather than driving around. Going by car is a hassle rather than a pleasure, because you’ll find yourself driving in very narrow streets and parking is not easy, being the island so small. So, forget about your car, park in Naples and take a boat to really enjoy your time! We parked at Quick No-Problem Parking, placed in Via Domenico Morelli: it is big, comfortable and the staff is very professional. Moreover it’s brand new and they invested in design elements! Inside the parking you can find the following services: Rent a Bike, Alcohol test, Nursery,  shoeshine,  Infopoint, moreover you can visit the Borbonic Tunnel and there is also an underground meeting hall inside a historic Borbonic cave! For further information and prices you can click here and you’ll be redirected to the parking web page.

The port of Naples is full of ferries, fats ferries and hydrofoils going to and fro Capri, but we warmly recommend you to book your seats in advance or you may risk to remain in Naples! You can ask your travel agency to do it for you, or you can book here:

-        Ferry: 80 minutes – click here to see  the time table and to book online

-        Fast Ferry: 50 minutes – click here to see  the time table and to book online

-        Hydrofoil: 40 minutes -  click here to see  the time table and to book online

Once you’ve reached Capri, everything is easier: there’s plenty of taxis ready to drive you to your hotel or wherever you want! Forget what you heard about the south of Italy: Capri is a very classy and quiet place and no one will shout at you to drag you to his cab!

After leaving your luggage in your hotel, your holiday can officially begin! First of all, you have to know that the island is divided in 2 parts: Capri, the most popular and chic area in the lower part and Anacapri, which is placed a little bit higher on the sea level. Though less popular, we recommend to visit Anacapri also, because it’s really lovely and it’s a perfect place to relax your mind far from the crowded Capri.

Let’s start our tour from mythical Piazzetta (square), which we suggest to visit during the sunset, having a cold drink in one of the bars. Ok, prices are definitely above the average, but they are still affordable. Moreover you can’t miss the chance to seat in an exclusive bar like a VIP and maybe meet an international star! Getting to the Piazzetta is easy: from the port of Marina Grande the funicular train transports passengers directly to the square in less than 3 minutes. If you are coming from Anacapri, the bus stops at the main terminal, just a few meters away from the square.

While sitting with your drink in your hands, you can admire right in front of you, on top of the staircase, the Santo Stefano Cathedral, which is one of the main churches of Capri. The church was designed by the Royal Architect, Francesco Antonio Picchiatti and built in Capri’s flamboyant baroque style: it features cupolettas, vaulted ceilings and molded chapels, typical of the island’s late 17th century religious architecture. Since you are there, it’s worth a visit, also because once you are on top of the steps, you can enjoy a unique and global view over the Piazzetta. Recommended for a romantic proposal or if you want to win a girl’s heart!

Marina Grande is the biggest beach in Capri; it is a free beach, with a couple of private lidos. Here apart from typical restaurants and nice bars, you can also see colorful houses, that once were the homes of Capri’s fishermen and, sometimes, they still are! It is from Marina Grande that the shuttle boat to Palazzo a Mare (Tiberius’ seaside villa) and the Bagni di Tiberio beach club departs.

From Marina Grande, you could decide to have a walk eastwards all around the coast and reach the Faraglioni area, or you can make it short and cross the island! If you go for the second option, you may stop by the Gardens of Augustus, placed on your way to the southern beach.

The Gardens of Augustus are characterized by a harmonious cluster of colours, given by the dozens different kinds of flowers. Walking around the gardens, you’ll pop up in several small terraces spread here and there, from which you can enjoy totally different panoramas. Definitely the most charming and famous is the view on the legendary Faraglioni, where it’s a must to stop and take a picture. On the opposite side, you can see Via Krupp, which is a paved road, for pedestrians only, sloping down and leading to Marina Piccola. Why such a name for this road? It doesn’t sound very Italian… Well, it was during the XX century that the German entrepreneur Friedrich Alfred Krupp commissioned to an Italian engineer the design and building of a pathway which would link Marina Piccola, where he normally moored his private yacht, with the Gardens of Augustus, so that he could easily reach his yacht from his hotel (close to the Gardens), where he used to stay every summer!

Once you’ve reached Marina Piccola, a small, sunny and warm tiny bay, thanks to its southern position, you can admire from a short distance Capri’s giant sea stacks, best known as Faraglioni and the Siren’s rock where, legend has it, the Sirens seduced Ulysses with their voices. If you want to spend a day on the beach of Marina Piccola, we recommend to arrive early in the morning, because the sun sets at about 4pm (letting you have a shower and go to the Piazzetta for a drink!).

If you type “Capri” on Google images, amongst the first pictures you’ll see, for sure, the Faraglioni, the three spurs of rock rising up out of the sea. Now you have the chance to see them with your own eyes! The rocks have each been given a name: the first, still attached to the land, is called Stella, the second, separated from the first block by a stretch of sea, is called Faraglione di Mezzo and the third, Faraglione di Fuori or Scopolo, being the farthest from the coast. When you see the pictures on the internet, they just look like a couple of rocks in the middle of the sea, but once you are in front of them, you can feel how small we are, compared to the grandeur of nature. Two more places to take great pictures of the Faraglioni are, besides the Gardens of Augusutus, Punta Tragara and Belvedere dei Filosofi on Via Migliera.

If you have reached the nice balcony of Punta Tragara, at the end of Via Tragara, you now have an option, that is going for a walk in the wild nature along Pizzolungo, but beware: this is only for real brave people! We decided to go for it, maybe because we weren’t really conscious of what we were going to face! It is a long long walk along a path overlooking the coast and it’s not uncommon to meet panting people, coming from the opposite side, asking you “Hey, how long does it still take to reach the end of this path?!”. Yes, it did happen to us! By the way, once this adventure is finished, you’ll be satisfied and happy to have seen something unique, that you won’t see otherwise. That’s why, we are describing it to you! While walking, not only can you admire the always amazing panorama from a different point of view, but you’ll also have the chance to see a Villa, which is considered one the most important examples of modern architecture and that, otherwise, can be seen only from the sea. Casa come me (a house like me): this was the name that Curzio Malaparte chose for his home on the island of Capri, a massive block of masonry set on the rocky spur of Punta Masullo. The villa was designed in 1938 by Adalberto Libera, one of Italy’s most famous Rationalist architects, and it is a provocative example of how modern architecture can conflict and integrate with nature at the same time.

Your route now proceeds until you meet a series of steps (yes, your challenge has got a further level of difficulty!) leading to the Grotta di Matermania, a cave where supposedly were performed rituals to the divinities Mitra, the pagan equivalent of Jesus,  or Cibele, goddess of fertility. After the cave there are 200 steps more to climb before arriving at the Natural Arch. (Ah ah! It’s not fair we know, we should have told you before!). Now, unless you are an expert climber, you should be panting but by the end of the day you have finally reached the Natural Arch! This is an amazing Paleolithic natural sculpture, and it is all that remains of a deep and incredibly high cavity, finally uncovered after a part of the cavity collapsed. The arch shows a 12 meter wide section of the vault suspended roughly 18 meters above the ground, forming a natural bridge between the rocks. While you are in front of the Natural Arch, looking beyond the cavity, it seems to be looking at the panorama through a natural window, obviously, with no glass!

Gone there? Are you satisfied with it? We told you that it was worth it!

Not gone there? You should be fresh enough to walk all the way to Anacapri, then!

Via Migliera is a little lane leading straight to the more quiet Anacapri, where you can go if you want to spend some time in a relaxing area of the island, not overwhelmed by tourists. The lane ends at the Belvedere del Tuono viewing point, perhaps the most spectacular of all in Capri, where you can enjoy a 180° view of the rocky coast, with the Faraglioni on your left and a spike of rock on your right, where the lighthouse stands, welcoming boats to this corner of paradise. Seagulls will keep you company: taking advantage of the currents of air beneath the viewing point, wings outstretched, they “dance” in front of you and you can just rejoice, while trying to take a picture of their crazy flights.

The walk to Anacapri is 3 kms long: ok, ok, you don’t have to walk at all costs in Capri; you can actually decide to take a bus. In this case, get ready for a thrilling experience!!! Bus drivers are very skillful and they perfectly know how to drive a bus along the narrow streets, so you are completely safe, but you won’t have this feeling while the bus goes like the wind skirting the cliff! Once you have safely reached the picturesque historic center of Anacapri, you’ll discover a very different island, made of quiet little lanes and peaceful piazzas, with characteristic and tidy shops selling typical linen clothes and sandals in the Capri style. While walking along the white streets of Anacapri, all of sudden, in Via Orlandi, you may think you cannot see straight: you’ve come across Casa Rossa, a Pompeian red building, whose façade is characterized by mullioned windows, and square tower; but what really makes this building unique, is that there is no order in the way everything is set on it and windows seems to have been thrown on the walls, with no alignment, giving you an effect of defamiliarization. Casa Rossa is the house where the American lieutenant John Cay H. Mackowen, who came to Italy soon after the American civil war, used to live until 1899. At present Casa Rossa is a museum, that houses a permanent exhibition of images of Capri and also the three ancient roman statues which were found in the Grotta Azzurra.

From Anacapri you can take the chairlift, that brings you to the top of Monte Solaro, where you can enjoy the most spectacular view in the island of Capri. From here, 589 meters above sea level, being the highest point on the island the view extends to the Bay of Naples, the Amalfi Coast and, during clear days, to the mountains of region Calabria.

Last but not least: Grotta Azzurra. If you want to leave the island with peace of heart, eyes full of magic beauty and the feeling to have been in a fairy world, then leave your trip to the Grotta Azzurra as the last part of your journey. Once you reach the bay where the “barcaioli” (boatmen) are waiting for you for a trip inside the Grotta, you just have to jump on a boat and enjoy the experience! This is a unique event from the very beginning: the barcaioli are very welcoming and nice, most of them can speak basic English to explain you the details about the grotto. Each boat can accommodate no more than 4 people and once the barcaiolo tells you to put your head down, just do it, because the passage is so tiny that if you seat normally, you’ll hit your head on the rocks and the boatman, in order to get in, has to catch a rope and pull to get in! Once you are inside, you’ll probably experience one on the best moments in your life as a tourist: water is luminescent, glowing blue, all the boatmen row in order in a circle around the grotto, they start singing songs from the Italian tradition and their voices echoes from one wall to the opposite one of the grotto and you are totally raptured by the light, colours, sounds and atmosphere, feeling like flying, rather than floating! The blue colour of the Grotta Azzurra is created by the daylight which gets into the grotto through an underwater opening located below the entrance to the cave. The light is filtered by the water which absorbs the red tones, leaving only the blue ones to pass into the cave. For this reason, according to the position of the sun, the best time to visit the Grotta Azzurra is between 12am and 2pm. It is said that, during the Roman period, the emperor Tiberio had a private access to the grotto from a kind of tunnel and he used it as a marine nymphaeum. The cost for your trip inside Grotta Azzurra is about 15 euros, plus a tip that the boatman will ask you and that you’ll be glad to give him, after such an experience! Grotta Azzurra is open every day from 9am to 5pm, according to weather conditions, because when it’s very windy and there’s rough sea, the entrance is not accessible.

Watch the video inside Grotta Azzurra here.

As you can see, the size of the island of Capri is inversely proportional to the things and attractions to see! Anyway, don’t worry, because you can manage to see everything in a short time. You just have to get ready to fill your eyes and heart with beauty!

 

Hotel Villa Ceselle
Street: Via Monticello, 1/D
Capri
Tel.: +39 081 8382236
Email: info@villaceselle.com
Website | Maps & Directions

Hotel Villa Ceselle is a charming little hotel immersed in the nature but a few steps away from the center of Anacapri.

It used to be a private villa and it has recently totally renovated, so you’ll enjoy all the modern comforts, air-con and wi-fi included. The atmosphere is immediately magic: once you enter the gate, you’ll walk along a path flanked by perfumed lemon trees, leading to the villa, which is totally surrounded by a garden of green grass, with coloured flowers, lemon and orange trees. If you are lucky, you’ll get a room on the ground floor, with a French window to the garden, so that when you wake up in the morning, you can immediately breathe the fresh air. All is silent and you can only hear the birds songs or leaves moved by the breeze.

Otherwise, you’ll probably end up on the first floor, in a room with a view on the sea…not bad as an alternative to the garden, don’t you think? The rooms are furnished using soothing neutral tones, to let you stay in a relaxing atmosphere, and feature the elegant vaulted ceilings and arches, typical of Capri’s traditional villas.

Though a 3 stars hotel, the standard is very high, the environment extremely pleasant and with all the facilities you may need. The staff is extremely kind and supporting: if you don’t know how to plan your trip, ask at the concierge, they will suggest you the best tour of the island according to your available days! That’s what we did, indeed, and we were very satisfied.

E’ Divino: surprise is just a few steps away from the Piazzetta
Street: Via Sella Orta 10/A
Capri
Tel.: +39 081 8378364
Email: info@edivincocapri.com
Website | Maps & Directions

Would you like to dine out and feel at home at the same time? In capri YOU CAN!

This restaurant is unique in every sense. First of all, the name is a play on words between “è divino” (divine) and “è di-vino ” (made of wine).

In the second place, but this is perhaps the most essential feature of the restaurant, everything develops inside a real house. Guests eat in the bedroom, in the kitchen or in the living room and everything is set up exactly like a real house, furniture included! We must admit that in this case the location is more than 50% of the work!

Unfortunately we called too late to reserve the table, so we did not have the chance to eat on the bed, but they gave us a table in the internal courtyard, and it was very nice to dine out, without noises and people walking by and looking at the stars above us!

Being in Capri, the restaurant offers you dishes from the Mediterranean cuisine: though using simple ingredients, they are revisited in a creative way, obtaining delicious and tasty food. The restaurant also offers a good selection of wines.

Concerning the service, the night we ate there, they had some problems in managing so many people all together, so they were running to and fro and without a rational organization of the work. As far as we know, that was a usual behaviour, but we’ve also aknowledged that a famous Italian chef gave his support and advice to reorganize the restaurant, so that even the service could be on top as well as the food.

The price-quality ratio, considering that you are just a couple of steps away from the Piazzetta, is very good.

Unfortunately we can’t describe and recommend  you dishes, because we were there in 2012, and since Trips To Italy wasn’t born yet, we didn’t review the food. We just remember that it was good, and this is a good starting point to stop by and eat something at E’ Divino! Anyway, we do hope to go back there soon and write down our comments about the dishes!

Don’t miss it, you may regret!

Our Tip: if you want to eat in a “special” room, call some days in advance to reserve a table, or you’ll end up eating where they have available seats.

Capri linen clothes: what you need in the hottest days

Walking along the streets of Capri, your eyes will be probably attracted by pure white linen dresses, shirts and other clothes. Some will look at them thinking “yeah, it looks so fresh that I can imagine myself wearing it and feeling great relief from the hot sun of Capri, instead of sweating under this fashionable but synthetic fabric shirt”!

As a matter of fact, linen has extremely good heat shielding properties and it well absorbs humidity, so the body enjoys a great feeling of cool and comfort.

Capri has made of linen (together with sandals) a symbol of the island and along the streets you can find many shops selling lovely clothes made with linen. The most fashionable colour is, of course, white the colour of Capri and summer par excellence. Nonetheless, many other hues are available, especially in the pastel colours.

Some may think that these clothes are a little bit overpriced, especially the plain ones, but never forget that you are in Capri and second, linen is a very prestigious and longlasting fabric: being a natural fiber it is naturally durable and resitant to washes. When you buy a linen garment, you can be sure that it will last long and look good throughout its life. All the most famous designers include some linen styles, when presenting their collections.

Ladies, match a linen dress with a Capri sandal and you’ll be a step closer to the real Capri style!

Our Tip: if you’re not sure what color to buy, go for white and you’ll never be wrong. And be patient if it crumples: it’s a natural characteristic of linen and it will get plain again after ironing.

Capri Sandals: wear them like a movie star

The ancient art of making sandals – the essential footwear for all the peoples of the Mediterranean area – from a human need, soon became a myth in Capri.

It seems that the emperor Tiberius, who chose the island as his residence, himself wore sandals with a rigid sole and strips of leather wrapped around his ankles. Nobody could ever imagine that centuries later, those same sandals, with the necessary changes due to progress and trends, would become a symbol of the Italian craftsmanship and of Capri! At the very beginning, being so comfortable, they were used by fishermen, but over the years, the creativity of the island’s able artisans produced an unmistakable style and design, which is now famous all over the world.

In the ’50s, Capri became the meeting point of the international jet set: actors and movie stars crowded the beautiful island of Capri and took part to mundane evenings. The sandals went through a transformation, becoming a glamorous icon, beloved by stars like Jacqueline Kennedy, Grace Kelly, Soraya, Maria Callas, Anita Ekberg and Sophia Loren. Even today, the Capri sandals are beloved by celebrities around the world, thanks to their glamorous style, but always retaining the classic and elegant lines of the past.

Basically, the models handcrafted today are not so different from those worn in Tiberius’ day: a flat sole, with strips of leather cunningly plaited. In the last few decades, they have become more fashionable and they are enriched with shades of gold and silver, or lively colours like shocking pink or turquoise. They are usually enriched with accessorizes like pearls or stones, but the most appreciated are probably the ones with Swarovski stones, which make the sandals very bright and shiny!

Ladies, if you go to Capri, a pair of sandals is a must have! If you need a good excuse for your husbands, you can always state that Capri’s sandals offer a guarantee of exclusivity, charm and quality and that you’ll never have another chance to get a pair of this marvellous sandal….until your next trip to Capri!

Our tip: although you are in the province of Naples, where negotiating is almost an art, do not exceed with negotiation. Remember that Capri is very an exclusive island and things work in a totally different way, than in other places. So, if you wish, you can ask for a discount, but do not force the situation.

 

Capri: a stripe of land, that decided to separate from the rest of the world!

At the beginning of the 20th Century while digging for the enlargement of hotel Quisisana, bones of prehistoric animals were found, together with weapons and tools from the Paleolithic era. These findings support the thesis that Capri was once part of the mainland.

The first to settle in Capri were the Greeks, who reached the island in the 8th Century BC. The only remains from that period are traces of the Greek walls, Phoenician steps that connect Marina Grande with Anacapri and some epigraphs in the stones.

It is believed that the first Roman Emperor to reach the island of Capri was Augustus, but it was actually Ottaviano, who arrived in 29 BC and, deeply impressed by the incredible beauty of the island, took it from Naples, in exchange for Ischia. Soon after Ottaviano, Emperor Tiberius resided on the island for a decade and it was from Capri that he managed the Roman Empire. It is said that Tiberius asked to open a private access from above, to enter the “Grotta Azzurra” that he used as a private nymphaeum. The island of Capri is deeply influenced by the presence of the two emperors, who gave a significant mark to the architecture and the development of the urban area. Besides the construction of the port, the sophisticated drainage and water storage systems, farms and dwellings, also twelve Imperial villas were built during the stay of the two emperors. Just to quote some examples, Villa Jovis, Villa Palazzo a Mare and Villa Damecuta were built during the Roman Empire time.

It was in the very early middle ages that San Costanzo, the future patron of the island, arrived to Capri and in the 9th Century a cathedral was built on the site of his grave.

During the 7th Century, Capri suffered many attacks from the Saracens, who would deport the inhabitants as slaves, while in the following centuries it was dominated by the Duchy of Naples,  Longobards, Normans, Anjouins, Aragonese and the Spanish.

In the 17th Century Capri was hit by the plague which rampaged through the whole Country in that period and it killed over 300 inhabitants of the island.

Soon after, in the 1800s the name “Capri” started becoming known all around the world and in a few years Capri’’s fame increased with the growing interest in travel, which brought to the island the first of a long stream of foreign visitors.

It was in 1826 that the Blue Grotto was “rediscovered” so spreading the fame of the island around Europe and beyond, attracting travellers from all the corners of the world. Thanks to this event, a new chapter of Capri history begins and the island is conquered only by tourists, writers, artists and royal families. Amongst those to have stayed on the Island of Capri we find the Russian exile Maksim Gorkij, the German artist Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach, Count Jacques Fersen, Friedrich Alfred Krupp, Miradois (the monk who lived in the Cave of Matromania), the writer Norman Douglas, Thomas Mann to quote just a few and, more recently, Pablo Neruda and Graham Green.