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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Capri "A celebrated beauty spot and coastal resort since the days of the Roman Republic"

The Island of Capri is one of the most picturesque and visited locations in Campania. Its unique beauties were celebrated in ancient times and later published for the world in Homer's works: Odysseus (known in Latin as Ulysses) sailing past the island, narrowly escaped the fate of those who hear the voices of the Sirens.

Thus the island has a mythical charm, as well as its natural treasures, through the writings and legends of Ancient Greece. Its breathtaking landscapes and beauty stretch from the rocky caves around the island to the edge of the horizon, and has been an inspiration to poets, lovers and travelers throughout the centuries. Geologically speaking, the island is Karst, underlaid with limestone which has been eroded by dissolution over the years forming fantastical ridges towers and sinkholes in the rock. This process over time separated Capri from the mainland.

The island of Capri is composed of two municipalities: Capri and Anacapri, each with their own administration and touch of regional rivalry. The latter is built on a high plateau, affording staggering views of sheer cliffs from dizzying vantage points.

The sea emerging below is very deep, and harsh jagged caves have formed there. The most famous of these is the Grotta Azzurra or the "Blue Grotto", now known to have been a Roman bathing place. This lagoon is haunted by a dazzling shifting turquoise blue. Small openings in the back of the cave admit daylight which, reflecting on the limestone floor and walls, creates a fantastical and magical atmosphere. It has attracted visitors and inspired awe from all who have seen its ancient limestone walls and learned of the history of this oceanic cave.

In contrast to the intimate space and vivid color of the cavern, are the three peaks further out to sea, emerging from the azure blue water, pointing toward the sky. These peaks are known collectively as the Faraglioni. Their names are: Stella, di Mezzo and Scopolo or FuoriCapri are known technically as stacks and are formed when erosion causes a solid land mass to divide and it becomes separated by water, or when a cave or natural rocky arch collapses. A fragment of the land is then isolated from its original body in the shape of a vertical column or steep rock rising out of the sea. The Faraglioni are famed for their breathtaking beauty and home of a variety of rare wildlife. (meaning outside, probably because it is the furthest away). These three splendid fragments of

The phenomenon of Bradyseism is another fascinating geological aspect of Capri and of all the Phlaegraean Fields. Bradyseism is a process in which the surface of the earth rises and falls due to the movement of volcanic lava deep beneath the surface of the earth. Its effects can be seen in Capri in various spots, including the afore mentioned Grotta Azzurra.

When the tide is low, Roman remains are visible through the water on the floor of the cave, suggesting that in bygone times the ground in and around the blue grotto which had itself been the site of a Roman villa, was higher. The artifacts on the floor of the cave are thought to be connected with the Emperor Tiberius who may have used the cave as a bathing place, and probably decorated the floor with statues. It also seems that other entrances to the grotto were created in an attempt to improve irrigation and later abandoned, supplying spaces in the rock by which sunlight could enter with dramatic effect. So unless visitors simply wish to swim in the grotto, it is wise to coincide visiting times with the falling tide.

Tiberius loved the island, and having obtained it from the possession of Naples in exchange for Ischia, he had a series of villas built there, and spent the last ten years of his tyrannical reign secluded from the manic realities of Roman life amid the tranquillity and beauty of this unique island. He also founded the world's first Archeological Museum to display the fossils and artifacts discovered during excavation carried out by his workers for the building of the villas.

For the Greeks and later the Romans till Tiberius, Capri was an island of boar goats, and other animals. Hence the Island was named Kapros, which in Greek means "wild boar".

Capri was colonized by the Greeks, and was later adopted as a possession of Naples, till the Emperor Augustus upon visiting the Island saw a dry twig of the island in flower. The element of the miraculous in this made a profound impression on him, as from that time on he did everything in his power to obtain the Island. Having achieved his aim, bartering Ischia for Capri with the Neapolitans, he commenced with a multi villa building project probably as many as twelve, rendering the island habitable.

La Piazzetta

This pretty square's original name was "Piazza Umberto I", but from the 1930's it has been known as "La Piazzetta" (the use of the suffix "etta" in Italian is a diminutive, and is used in affectionate reference to the square's small size).

In the past it was just the site of the fish market, but has since risen in prestige. Now popular for its bars, it is the choice meeting point for islanders, visitors and villa owners, some of whom are almost as famous as the island itself.

Visitors arriving in Capri, generally take the Funicular (a cableway) from the port to the terrace near the "Piazzetta". The journey up through the island, and the marvelous view from the top, are great moments to catch holiday snapshots of this breathtakingly beautiful island.

In any Italian town, the "Piazza" is a significant spot, being the hub of social life, where one engages in the "national sports" of relaxing, socializing, looking, and being looked at. No setting is more ideally suited to this than Capri's "Piazzetta".

Furnished with fashionable bars, set amidst staggering views, surrounded with elements of historic, classic and modern architecture, it is not surprising it has become known as "The World's Living Room". The four famous bars are surrounded by palaces restored in the Seventeenth Century, including the Cerio Palace, dating back to the Thirteen Hundreds and the Angevin era.

Alongside stands the Clock Tower (Torre dell'Orologio), originally the Bell Tower of Saint Stephen's Cathedral. Its interior was made from materials re used from the floor of the ancient Emperor Tiberius' Villa Jovis.

To the South-East side of the square stands the Town Hall which used to be the Episcopal Palace, restored in the Seventeen Hundreds. A passage, linking the Palace to Saint Stephen's Cathedral, remains as evidence of its older religious function.

From fish market, to fashionable meeting place, the "Piazzetta" has always been the nucleus of the island's social life. Locals, fishermen, the rich, the famous the well to do, and countless travelers have enjoyed it as the perfect place for relaxation and pleasure.


Carving their own niche in the skyline of Capri, sculpted by the wind and sea, and home to rare plants and wildlife, stand Stella (Star), Faraglione di Mezzo (in between) and Scopolo. These three rocky stacks, rising from the azure Tyrrhenian Sea, are collectively known as the Faraglioni.

Backdrop to holiday snapshots and postcards over the world, in modern times, the FaraglioniStella, the stack still connected to the mainland, is known for its spectacular fans of spray from waves on choppy days. The windblown sea swirls into the Faraglione's underwater hollow, before erupting, showering down onto the rocks. have stimulated visitors and writers imagination throughout the ages as far back as antiquity, and were the setting for many myths.

Quieter days at the Faraglioni are also charged with magical charm. Sunlight glancing on the surface of the water, mingles with light cast up from spaces in the rock below, creating fascinating shifting shades of iridescent blue around the rocks. Scopolo, the Faraglioneblue lizards, found nowhere else on Earth. furthest from land, is famous for its unique

The ultimate touch of mystique surrounding the Faraglioni is the relationship between the depth of the sea immediately surrounding the rocks, the strong currents flowing there, and the way the spray, splashing round the Faraglioni is shot through with light, creating an array of sparkling colors.

Weather veiled in morning mist, surrounded in mystic colors and fine spray, or the splendors of sunset, the Faraglioni remain mysterious and fascinating

Gardens of Augustus

After the gleaming shop windows and glamour of Capri, the Gardens of Augustus, towards the top of the island, are a retreat into a natural paradise, complete with unforgettable panoramas. The garden's tranquility and natural beauty is nothing if not therapy.

From the vantage point of the Gardens, apart from the splendid views of the sea, are fantastic photographic vistas.

To one side the undulating roofs and picturesque bell tower of the St. James' Certosa (Charterhouse), a Carthusian Monastery, lie in the foreground below the Gardens.

Ahead, the Faraglioni rocks rise from the blue of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

To the other side, a narrow road zigzags dramatically in hairpin bends down Capri's cliff reaching the harbor of Marina Piccola below.

This fantastic feat of engineering is known as Via Krupp, named after a German steel magnate, Friedrich Alfred Krupp, who, in the early nineteen hundreds, came to Capri to convalesce after an illness, and later commissioned both the Gardens of Augustus and the road that takes his name. Via Krupp, however, is not always open because of the possibility of falling rocks.

The gardens themselves are laid out on a series of colorful terraces filled with an abundance of flora found on the island. Each affords a unique and fantastic view from their lofty vantage point. On one of the terraces is a Stele (a commemoration stone) by Giacomo Manzù to Lenin, who visited the Island and stayed there in 1908.

Capri, in a myriad of ways is a dream destination, becoming more beautiful the higher up the mountain one goes.

Port of Marina Grande

The charming seaside Port of Marina Grande, encompassed by two narrow arms or quays, borders the picturesque town of Capri.

Lying to the North of the island, and facing the Gulf of Naples, the port welcomes every kind of wanderer, on every kind of journey. Commercial travelers and tourists arriving from the continent on hydrofoils, arrive west of the port, whilst, sailing boats, luxury yachts and other vessels lie at anchor to the East.

Until 1928, all docking took place directly in the bay, which in those days was smaller, formed of a natural reef. Larger vessels weighed anchor further out to sea, with goods for trade and passengers being rowed ashore in dinghies.

Since its expansion, the scene has become spacious, with a seaside resort and wide beach.

Houses along the port are still structurally typical of the ancient dwellings of Capri's fishermen. The upper level of the house is used as living space, and the lower as a boat house.

In the past, these homes were built literally at sea level, with the water lapping at their front doors. For years this was a source of amazement and delight to tourists.

However, since the restructuring of the port, the water level has changed, and their previous position is now only visible in old photographs.

These houses are one of the few remaining traces of pre-glamour Capri.

They stand as evidence to residents and visitors of the islanders' dependence on the sea, of their ancient lifestyle and their cultural roots.


Built in 1907, the Funicular is a cableway connecting the port of Marina Grande, to the Piazzetta, at the city centre. The trip, which lasts only a few minutes, affords staggering views of the island.

Departing from the port, the view is crowned by surrounding hills. As the car winds its way up the mountain, pasts houses, vineyards and citrus groves. The view expands into unforgettable panoramas: wide valleys, sheer cliffs, lush flora, blue bays with beaches nestled into the rock, set into a sparkling sea, and the gulf of Naples, etched on the horizon.

Via Vittorio Emanuele III

Lined with designer labels, exclusive boutiques, and luxury hotels, Via Vittorio Emanuele III is a haven of high class shopping for big spenders. Shopping in style, enjoying the atmosphere or simply hanging around brimming with "class" is what this street was designed for. However, it is not only for shoppers.

Via Vittorio Emanuele however, surpasses shopping and continues towards the top of Capri.

Leaving the historic and acclaimed Quisisana Hotel and numerous boutiques behind, the road climbs to the serene Carthusian Monastery and the Gardens of Augustus above, tranquil respite from the strains of vanity fair.

Torre Saracena

Torre Saracena, is one of Capri's historic bathing establishments and restaurants which, for more than a century, has been offering visitors to the island an enchanting place where to soak in the sun and enjoy the finest Mediterranean cuisine.
The Torre Saracena is located in the picturesque bay of Marina Piccola, with wonderful views across the water to Capri's majestic Faraglioni rocks.
Torre Saracena is a family-run establishment headed by Giovanni di 'Pennaulo and his wife Raffaela who, together with Gemma and Giovanni, offer guests their own authentic brand of island hospitality. For over 3 decades, talented chef Domenico Guaraccino has been creating the most exquisite Mediterranean fare, presenting menus featuring mouth watering fish and seafood specialities and a number of wonderful dishes from Capri's historic gastronomic tradition.

Torre Saracena offers a dreamlike setting for quite unforgettable receptions, gala events, and private parties.

The restaurant is open for lunch every day of the week, from April to October. Torre Saracena is also open on Saturday evenings, by reservation only.

Lido del Faro

A mere ten minutes away from Anacapri's historic center, at the end of a strikingly beautiful panoramic road through, lies the bathing establishment and restaurant Lido del Faro. Situated right on the water's edge beneath the majestic lighthouse, the Lido was built into the jagged rocks of the island coastline in 1971 by the D'Esposito family, who took great care so as not to impair the beauty of the site, and to create a facility in perfect harmony with the natural environment.

Seated on the restaurant's fabulous terrace, just a few meters above the level of the sea, guests are treated to breathtaking views and excellent food. The Lido has gained a reputation for its lunch menu featuring outstanding fresh fish and seafood. The restaurant is also open for dinner on Friday and Saturday during the months of June and July and every evening in August.

Not to be missed, the legendary hors-d'oevres with mini pizzas, prawn and rocket salad, marinated salmon and anchovies. First courses to tempt the palate include linguine with mussels and courgette flowers, seafood risotto, squid and potatoes, and delicious Capri-style ravioli. Not surprisingly, the produce of the sea is a major protagonists in main courses with grilled fresh fish, baby squid, local pezzogna fish cooked with tomatoes and herbs and pan-fried local prawns.

A selection of irresistible desserts including the classic Capri chocolate-almond cake, lemon profiteroles and homemade ice creams awaits the sweet of tooth.

Pizza enthusiasts will be delighted by the specialities made in the traditional wood burning oven.

La Fontelina

The Fontelina of Capri bathing establishment and restaurant boasts one of the most spectacular locations in the world; right on the sea's edge at the feet of the gigantic Faraglioni rocks, the island's legendary symbols of the power and beauty of nature. This is also a site of great historical importance, a place once close to the hearts of the emperors of ancient Rome.

For more than 50 years now, the passion and naturally hospitable nature of the Arcucci and Gargiulo families have ensured that clients of La Fontelina are treated to flawless service and superb regional and international cuisine.

Reservations are strongly recommended.
The rocky beach, with its shallow reefs, is not suitable for children.
The restaurant is open for lunch from mid-April to October.
A shuttle service is available to Marina Piccola each afternoon, sea conditions permitting.

La Canzone del Mare

Boasting a glamorous past as one of the principal locations of Capri's Dolce Vita, La Canzone del Mare, is still one of the most fashionable places on the island. Nestled in the sunny bay of Marina Piccola, the bathing establishment enjoys an unbeatable position, gazing out across the sea to the Faraglioni and the Siren's rock.

The sundecks and restaurant of La Canzone del Mare's are situated on the terraces surrounding the main swimming pool. In a quiet and particularly secluded part of the facility, a second pool has been built in to the rock, complete with whirlpool. Directly below the terraces, lies La Canzone del Mare's lovely, white pebble beach, equipped with sun loungers, deck chairs, and beach umbrellas.

Clients spending the day at la Canzone del Mare are offered the use of the establishments traditional beach huts or one of the attractive new cabins: built in stone and designed so as to offer the maximum in comfort and modern technology. Air conditioning, telephone lines, and internet access, feature in these "mini apartments", each equipped with comfortable bunks and private bathroom.

La Canzone del Mare's restaurant has received international acclaim for the excellent Mediterranean cuisine served to guests dining on its wonderfully romantic sea edge terraces. Menus feature all the local specialities, including a vast array of fish and seafood dishes.

Da Gioia

A delightful little bathing establishment in the Bay of Marina Piccola, da Gioia boasts a fabulous solarium right on the sea's edge and an excellent restaurant where to enjoy lunch. The restaurant, specializing in fish and seafood, is also open on Saturday evenings throughout the month June and every night of the week during the high season months of July and August.

Da Gelsomina Migliera

In one of the most strikingly beautiful areas of the island of Capri, amidst the green countryside and vineyards of Anacapri, one finds Da Gelsomina with its fabulous panoramic swimming pool. Snacks are available from the poolside bar whilst those wishing to have something a little more substantial can dine at the establishment's highly acclaimed restaurant, enjoying excellent food and the magnificent sea views from the light filled dining room and sunny terraces. At Da Gelsomina, guests can enjoy the finest local cuisine accompanied by the restaurant's own wine, produced from the vines which can be seen from the property. Da Gelsomina also has a number of guest bedrooms. A shuttle service is available, all day, to and from Piazza Caprile in the center of Anacapri and Da Gelsomina's restaurant and swimming pool.

Club Nettuno Capri

Club Nettuno Capri is one of Capri's historic bathing establishments, situated on the northern coast of the island and just meters away from the famous Grotta Azzurra.

In recent years, the Club Nettuno has developed in to full scale Beach Club, complete with world class restaurant, all day snack bar, adult and children's swimming pools, fully equipped sundecks, private access to the sea, mooring buoys, and professional shuttle service, by bus or boat.

With its exclusive privè, Club Nettuno is particularly popular with those searching for a little privacy. The establishment's wellness center and fitness area allow customers to indulge in wellness treatments and keep in shape, all just a stone's throw from the sea.

Serving an enticing selection of beautifully presented fish and seafood specialties, Club Nettuno's Il Tridente restaurant pays worthy tribute to the flavors and aromas of the Mediterranean sea. Customers enjoy their meal al fresco on the terrace, from where to admire an unforgettable view of the sea surrounding Capri and the Bay of Naples. Throughout the day a range of tasty snacks and refreshing drinks are available at the bar.

Bathing resort, restaurant and beach club, Nettuno is also an exclusive events venue, providing a much sought after sea edge location for glamorous wedding receptions, gala dinners, banquets, and even live music concerts. Transportation to the Club is available from Capri, Anacapri, Marina Grande and Marina Piccola by shuttle bus and from the port of Marina Grande by boat.

The bay of Marina Piccola

The bay of Marina Piccola if the most famous of Capri's beaches, blessed by a incredibly beautiful setting with breathtaking views of the Faraglioni rocks. Bagni Internazionali has its own private beach and large sun decks where clients can pass the day away in total relaxation within inches of the sea's edge. Excellent fish and seafood is served at the establishment's highly acclaimed restaurant "Terrazza Ciro a Mare".
For those guests seeking absolute privacy, Bagni da Maria, part of the Bagni Internazionali complex, has an enchanting and magnificently secluded little beach.


Chairlift Monte Solaro

A chairlift links Anacapri (286 meters above sea level), with Monte Solaro, the highest part of the island (589 meters above sea level). The journey lasts 12 minutes.
From March to October the chairlift is open from 09.30 to sunset; from November to February from 10.15 to 15.00. The chairlift is closed on Tuesdays.

Funicular railway

If you are heading for the center of Capri, the Funicular railway, a train which
slides through the lemon groves, links Marina Grande to the heart of Capri in 5 minutes.
The train departs roughly every 15 minutes, more frequently at peak times.
Small sized, muzzled dogs on leads are permitted aboard.
The UnicoCapri ticket can be purchased at the ticket offices in Marina Grande or Piazza Diaz in the center of Capri. In Marina Grande the ticket office is not located at the entrance of the Funicular railway but, rather, on the left hand side of the port, where the ticket offices of the various navigation companies can also be found.


The Sippic buses serve the routes Capri - Anacapri, Capri – Marina Piccola, Capri- Marina Grande (also known as the St.Costanzo line), Capri-Damecuta, Marina Grande – Anacapri and Marina Piccola – Anacapri (the latter only during the summer season).
The Staiano Autotrasporti
link Anacapri to the Grotta Azzurra and the Punta Carena Lighthouse (Faro). The journeys for both destinations take roughly 20 minutes.
Buses run frequently, although times are subject to variation.
Tickets can be purchased directly on board the bus, in the ticket offices of the Funicular railway in Marina Grande or in Piazza Martiri d’Ungheria, close to the Piazzetta, where the bus station is located.
An electronic card is available (a deposit of 1 Euro is required at the time of purchase) on which the desired number of journeys can be charged.
The UnicoCapri is designed for use on all means of public transport.
There are three types of ticket: single journey tickets, hourly tickets and daily tickets.
From April to October the number of tourists coming to the island is extremely high and visitors are likely to find long queues at the main bus stations: it is worth knowing then that the bus routes can also be followed by foot.


Taxis wait at the port and in the areas of greatest tourist movement. They can be hailed along the road or called by phone.
Capri taxi drivers are generally courteous and helpful. They can also be charming entertainers, especially for those who have little time at their disposal and are interested in a whirl wind tour of the island.
The cars are often open top vehicles allowing passengers to enjoy to the full the atmosphere of the island: passengers are advised to wear a hat or head scarf and sunglasses.
The tariff is established by the taximeter.
On the other hand, for a tour of the island of Capri, the price is generally established prior to departure, according factors such as the season, the duration of the tour, the chosen route etc.


Motorbikes can be rented at the port, in Capri, and in Anacapri.
Bikes can be hired for a few hours, a whole day or longer. Special deals are often made for longer rentals.

By Sea

Those looking to visit Capri by sea can rent canoes, pedalos, dinghies, traditional Sorrentine row boats or ‘gozzi’ equipped with sunshade and ice box, or motorboats with, or without, captain.
During their excursion, passengers can stop to have lunch at one of the restaurants along the coast, purchase the ingredients for a pic-nic, or ask one of the boatmen to buy the necessary provisions.
The latter solution is highly recommended: not only will the goods bought be charged without any additional supplement but, more importantly, passengers will put themselves in the hands of someone who shops in Capri on a daily basis and knows exactly where to buy the sweetest peaches, the tastiest mozzarella cheese and those authentic tomatoes of Capri.
Those who prefer to do it themselves should head for Marina Grande and order a well dressed “panino caprese” with mozzarella and tomato. the perfect snack to savor on board, whilst soaking in the sunshine.
Another option is to join one of the organized tours around the Island of Capri.
The tour of the island usually lasts 45 minutes and includes a visit to the Grotta Azzurra in one of the small rowing boats, although the duration of the trip be longer in high season if passengers have to wait to enter the cave.
Those who come to Capri with their own boat can moor at the tourist port. Here they will find all the services they require. In the summer, mooring docks are increased by the use of floating jetties.
Those who choose to drop anchor at sea must do so at least 300 meters away from the coastline.

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