corsica
By Thomas P.

Even when I was planning this trip, Capri was one of our most important destinations, since this small island is one of the most famous travel destinations around the world.

Capri

Capri is an elegant island, combining the breathtaking natural beauty of the unique architecture houses and quaint cobbled tidy streets.And all these, overlooking the deep blue sea, which in many places is breathtaking, with Roman villas and well-preserved forts in steep capes, with medieval streets and old churches, ancient paths that now look like secret passages. The named "Rock of dreams", is one of the top travel destinations of the world.

 

Approaching the port

We were under the lighthouse of Punta Campanella, at the edge of the peninsula of Sorrento, from where the Capri is located only three miles west. Travelling at a calm sea, we approached the port of Capri located on the north side of the island.

Marina Grande, as the port is called, lays at the narrowest point of the island, under a green hill, while Anacapri is located on the west side of the island, unseen behind the mountain of Solaro.

Marina Grande is a large busy port and along the marina Picola, located on the south side, are the two coastal settlements of the island.
The biggest settlement however, were most people live, is Capri, located just above Marina Grande with great traffic during the summer period.

Capri

On the west side of Marina Grande there is the commercial centre where the ferries from Naples and Sorrento arrive continuously, as well as many tourist boats, filled with people. On the east side there is a marina for yachts, which is crowded of course all the time.

But the heart of the port is at the western end of Marina Grande, where Piazza Vittoria ends and is the central point of departure for the various parts of the island. We can find here the funicular that carries people at the Village, the bus and taxi station, as well as the issue point of tickets for the ferries. These also are the transport means we can use, since private cars are forbidden on the island.

The funicular operates since 1907 from morning to evening and within five minutes uphill route covers a distance of 650 meters to the town. Definitely, it is the best and fastest mean to get to the town, while giving us a panoramic view of the island. The cable car ends to Loggetta, at 138 meters altitude, a square located just behind the famous «Piazzetta», with panoramic views of the harbour and the Bay of Naples, the mountain of Solaro, with houses surrounded by greenwood facing the sea.

 

At «Piazzetta»

Leaving the funicular for the next day, we preferred to go to the centre with one of the specially equipped taxis on the island. White with open roof, with the typical sun tent, they are the trademark of Capri and drive to all parts of the island.
Very soon we were at Loggetta, admiring the beautiful view of the marina Grande.

Capri

Alongside there is the Clock Tower, that is doubtless the most recognized symbol of Capri's Piazzetta. The nickname of Piazzetta comes from its rather diminutive size. This rectangle is just a few meters square, almost all of which are covered by café tables .It is the most famous spot of Capri as well as one of the most favourite squares around the world. Here is the heart of the island and is used to said "all come here to see and be seen."

Decades ago «Piazzetta» was the flea market Capri. Today, the few buildings facing the square have been converted into cafes and restaurants operating nearly 24 hours. It is the busiest part of the island, a meeting place for visitors and locals.

A very small neighbourhood that looks likes an open theatre scene.
Despite the incredibly large crowd that has gathered here, «Piazzetta», is certainly an unforgettable experience to sit under the umbrellas enjoying a coffee, a Limon cello or one of the fantastic ice creams.

It's impossible to visit without passing through it, and hard not to stop once there for at least a quick espresso. It’s hard to navigate from one end to the other, so visitors often give up, and instead they take a seat for a leisurely drink just watching. Everybody passes through this place, from princesses, to actors, billionaires, and even your next door neighbour sitting elbow to elbow.

Capri

During the day, Piazzetta is crowded but stopping by for a few minutes to soak up a bit of its famous atmosphere is something you shouldn’t miss.

The small Piazzetta can be bustling and crowded, however is no need to go far to find peace and quiet, because from here all roads start leading to every corner of the island. You can go to all the corners of the island on foot. Capri is the ideal place for walking!
And of course, we can under no circumstances claim that we discover Capri unless we walk its wonderful paths decorated with colourful flowers and tall trees, next to wonderful houses, luxury villas and unique hotels. And this entire magical scene consists an amazing harmony. In almost every step, we can’t stand not stopping to admire the beautiful images... Every path is ending to a "balcony" with shocking spectacle of the sea.

 

Augustus’ Gardens – Via Krupp – Marina Piccola

We started from the south side of Piazzetta and went down to Via Emmanuelle. The street leads to the famous gardens of August, one of the most famous attractions and the most beautiful places on the island. These beautiful public gardens are decorated with colourful flowers and various kinds of trees.

Some stairs lead to a beautiful balcony on the cliff, with spectacular view of the Faraglioni rocks. These rocks, which seem to emerge from the sea at the southeast end of the island, are the most photographed spot and trademark of Capri. We sat here for a while, until we enjoyed enough this unique spectacle.

We are still on this beautiful balcony and going a few steps westward we have a panoramic view of Marina Piccola.
If we take a look exactly downwards we will remain amazed from the famous Via Krupp, the footpath which is constructed on the vertical rock. A masterpiece of engineering and aesthetics, a perfectly friendly coexistence with the natural landscape, which shows us how even a road can be an excellent artwork.

Via Krupp, which is about 1350m, built between 1900 and 1902, at a vertical distance of roughly 100 meters by a series of spectacular bends, cut and set into the rock so close together that they appear almost to overlap.

The historic Via Krupp connects the Gardens of Augustus area with Marina Piccola.

Capri

Going down in this wonderful path we soon arrived at marina Piccola, located in the middle of the south side of the island. It is the smallest of the four villages of the island and is the southern "port" of Capri. There is no marina, nor any breakwater that protects from the south winds. It is a natural and open bay, which only serves the tourist boats.
Marina Piccola is set amongst vertical mountains of the island. It is a rocky coast, with restaurants and cafés lying on the rocks, while the few houses of the village and luxury hotels are literally drowned in green, under the shade of tall pines.

 

Faraglioni – Natural Arch

After some relaxing, we went again on Via Emanuelle. We turned on Via Camerelle and admiring the wonderful shops, we went to a small path leading to Via Tragara.

This road heads southeast and ends at Punta Tragara, which is the southeastern point of the island.

It is a very quiet downhill road that takes us back to Roman times, where some of the most beautiful houses and hotels of the island lie. The beautiful bougainvilleas climbing the tall stone walls of the houses, the colourful flowers and beautiful trees, give the Via Tragara a unique beauty.

After a wonderful walk we arrived at another balcony with great view, just above the famous Faraglioni.
Faraglioni is a complex of three vertical and high rocks, which are very close together and seem to emerge from the deep sea, offering an amazing spectacle. Their unique profile is the result of the corrosion of the waters and action of the rain and wind.
The first Faraglioni, known as the "Faraglioni di Terra", stands 110 meters high and is joined to the island by a short isthmus.
The second one is called "Faraglioni di Mezzo". Mezzo is the Italian word for "half". The Faraglioni di Mezzo stands 80 meters tall and has a natural arch at its base, large enough to pass a small boat.

Capri

The third Faraglioni is called "Faraglioni di Fuori" (Fuori is "outside" and stands 102 meters tall and separated from the previous one by narrow (8m) stretch of sea and is the home of a special kind of lizard , the blue lizard of the Faraglioni, with the same colour as the sky and sea.

We stayed long enough to admire these unique rocks and we finally decided to go on to Arch Naturale which is in the middle of the east side of the island.
We were walking into a dense oak forest, where everything suddenly darkened, as the rays of the sun were unable to pass through the dense foliage of the trees. We walked among hundreds of trunks, while admiring the spectacular view of wild rocks at a great height in the deep sea.

Capri

Capri

Continuing our path through the dense forest, we began to climb the steep stairs that are located at the vertical cliffs. This is the hardest part of our entire route.
At last we arrived at the isolated café-restaurant Le Grottelle that, tucked in the pines and cliffs, is a wonderful place for a few moments of relaxation with a wonderful view of the sea. After enjoying an icy lemon sorbet, we took the downhill path and in a few minutes we arrived at another famous attraction of the island, Arco Naturale. A work of art of nature, a big arch of 12 meters wide and 18 meters high, through which we admire the unique sight of the green waters, 200 meters below.

Pretty tired, but full of wonderful memories we returned to café-restaurant Le Grottelle. From here, we went to Via Matermania, another beautiful alley which brought us back to our small Piazzetta.
The first lights slowly begin to lighten Piazzetta and as the time was passing by, we were waiting to get a taste of the night atmosphere of this tiny neighbourhood.

 

At Villa Jovis

In the next morning we were sitting again at Piazzetta planning our excursion on foot. We walked on Via Le Botteghe in order to get to the north-eastern end of the island where there is the famous Villa Jovis.
We soon arrived at Via Tiberio, one of the less busy streets of Capri. After about an hour walk, among beautiful houses with large gardens, in the shade of the pine trees, we approached the northeastern point of the island, which is the second highest peak after Mount Solaro.

Capri

There, at 334 meters altitude, is the Villa Jovis, the largest and best preserved of the 12 villas of Tiberius found in Capri. This was his main residence, structured on several levels. Tiberius selected this point to build the villa, at the top of Monte Tiberio so as to ensure the maximum safety and observe the strait of Capri, the island of Ischia, Procida, the Gulf of Naples, the Sorrento peninsula up to the Gulf of Salerno and Cilento. From this palace, he governed the empire for more than eleven years.
At noon we returned to Piazzetta and took the small bus to Anacapri.

 

Anacapri – Mount Solaro

Anacapri is the second largest village, built on the west side of Mount Solaro. Invisible from marina Grande and from the town of Capri, with more than 6000 inhabitants, is a quiet and less developed area of Capri. This does not mean that lacks beauty and attractions, while being the ideal place for those who prefer more peaceful and quiet holidays.

From the piazza Vittoria, where the bus stopped, Via G. Orlandi, the main pedestrian street of Anacapri starts. It's a pretty long road and the central market as well. Many shops, small cafes and restaurants, small squares that gather a lot of people make a picturesque scene.
The great experience however is taking the chair lift from the station at the end of piazza della Vittoria which goes along the west and more gentle slopes of the highest mountain of the island. We could admire the large plateau where Anacapri lies as well as the entire west side of the island.

The chair lift left us a few meters from the top of Solaro. We went up some stairs and reached the ruins of the castle, where the view is breathtaking in every direction. We were at the highest point of Capri, at an altitude of 589 m above sea level, from where you can admire the entire island, as well as Ischia, Gulf of Naples and the peaks of the Apennines further. It is certainly the most panoramic point of the island with amazing view of the Mediterranean Sea and Italy.

Capri

 

On board

For two whole days we were discovering the island reaching all the corners on foot.
Therefore we missed our Rib and navigation very much. So, the third day was dedicated to a cruise around the island.
We started from Marina Grande, travelling westwards and reached the famous Blue Cave, Grotta Azurra. It is certainly the most famous place of Capri, the most spectacular and with no doubt one of the most crowded. Grotta Azurra covers a surface area of about 70m in length, 25 in width and 22 in depth. Its entrance is so small that opens and closes with the tide. Only a small rowboat can get through when the sea is very calm. Entering inside we will be amazed by the turquoise waters and the beautiful sight of the light from the entrance.

During July and August many boats wait in the queue to enter as well as hundred of tourists on mainland’s stairs.

Having the fascinating colours of Grotta Azurra in our minds, we kept on our trip to the west side of Capri. This side extends to a length of about 20nm and is the only part of the island where the green hills descend relatively smooth at the sea, creating some beautiful bays, but without the presence of any beaches.

Capri

The most beautiful part of this side is its southern end, called Punta Carena. Here is the homonymous lighthouse, which is the second most important lighthouse of the whole of Italy, after the lighthouse of Genoa. It is an impressive octagonal tower with red and white colours, operating since 1866.
Passing by Punta Carena we navigated on the south side of the island, which is very impressive and famous for its rugged coastline, as well as the numerous caves formed at the base of compact vertical rocks.
The sea here is very deep, without dangerous points, and so we were navigating close to the rocks following the coastline.
We passed by Marina Piccola and reached the south-eastern end of the island where the well known Faraglioni are. We passed slowly through the impressive arch of the middle rock and continued to the east side of the island. About half of this side, no more than two nautical miles in its entirety, there is the open bay Cala di Matermania. It is surrounded by very impressive vertical cliffs, while above us the famous Arco Naturale is set. Cala di Matermania is certainly the most spectacular bay of the island and here is gathered the largest number of vessels. Many of them stay at night here since they are very safe from the Mistral wind.
We decided to anchor here and enjoy our last night at Capri opposite the unique Faraglioni.