Postcards & Prosecco
Edition 26 June 2019
- If you think Capri is special you are not alone. Long before today’s celebrities and millionaires found solace in this glamorous tiny Isle, the ancient Greeks and Roman emperors fell under her spell. There’s a good chance you will too.
2. Capri has nearly always been prime real estate. Settled first by the Ancient Greeks in 8 BC, Capri has long been a desired location. In fact, the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus became so enchanted with Capri, he traded the much larger isle of Ischia with the King of Naples for this three-square mile island–thus making it his private (and very adult) playground. A few years late, another Roman Emperor, Tiberius retired here and built himself a dozen homes in less than ten years. He also threw lavish parties, that sometimes ended badly, very badly for his guests. Over the centuries Capri has been home to monasteries, a respite for the infirmed during war time, and a see and be seen haven for the rich and famous.
3. In the Italian language, you’ll find two words for blue. There is blu, as in the English word blue. And then there is azzurro, best described as the enchanted color of the sky from high above the Tyrrhenian Sea. Your visit to Capri will be marked by the stunningly vibrant and different shades of blue blurring the line between sea and sky.
4. For many, Capri is synomyous with the Blue Grotto. This technocolored bright blue sea cave promises to take your breath away. The blue water is brightly illuminated as a sliver of sunlight is refracted into the cave, so deep that by the time the light reaches the water, all the red has been filtered out creating an electric combat blue and turning everything in the water to shades of silver.
After you board the row boat, you’ll travel over to a floating cash register, where you will pay in cash for your entrance to the grotto. The rate changes daily and can range from 10 to 20 euros a person. Be sure to bring euros with you as this ticket, like many on Capri is cash only.
Inside the Blue Grotto, the walls appear very dark, the water so brilliant and blue it’s hard to imagine it’s natural. It’s a bit chaotic as a series of rowers are talking and singing to their passengers while making one circle around the grotto before exiting.
While the Blue Grotto is by far the most famous of these sea caves, you’ll find many throuhgout this region. Swimming in the sea is magical and something I look forward to every summer.
Throughout Capri you’ll find Roman ruins, glittering grottoes, and sun-drenched stone paths. There’s the sweet smell of citrus in the air and bright bougainvillea around every corner.
5. From beneath the earth, to high above the sea, you’ll find a mystical view awaits as you journey to Ana Capri where Mt. Solaro and the Island’s highest point awaits. To enjoy these views, you’ll ride the open-air chair lift up to the top. At the top you’ll find incredible vistas that will lift you high above the clouds. You can linger a bit here, as the crowds thin out. You’ll also find a patio cafe selling snacks and beverages, along with tables and chairs, and restrooms.
6. As you make your way back down to Ana Capri schedule time in your day for a visit to the church of San Michele. The church features a 18th century Abruzzo maiolica tile floor. The artwork and craftsmanship of Leonardo Chiaiese dates back to 1761, and remains one of the most impressive examples of this type of Neapolitan artwork.
You’ll walk the perimeter of the church on wood beams providing you with an upclose view of the impressive design of the artwork. Before you leave, be sure to climb the narrow staircase to the balcony where you may find yourself speechless and the design takes on new dimension and scale when viewed from above. At the center, you’ll notice San Michele the Archangel with a flaming sword driving Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden while a menagerie of exotic animals look on.
7. Watch your step, or in this case, the 921 steps that connect Marina Grande to Ana Capri. For centuries the Phoenician Steps were the only way to reach Ana Capri. Mistakenly named, the Phoenicians were never here on Capri. Rather, it was the Greeks that chiseled the stone stair passageway you can still climb today.
8. The flowers of Capri are special, extraordinary really when you realize the Isle is a large limestone rock. Yet, Capri is rich with flowers and gardens lovingly tended through the centuries including the Carthusian Monastery, the Gardens of Augustus, and the gardens of the Villa San Michele.
9. The Augustus Gardens offer a colorful and shady backdrop to soak in the stunning vistas of Capri. An excellent place albeit usually crowded, to view the famous Faraglioni rocks of Capri, the botanical gardens include park benches and vistas with lovely balconies and terraces. Formerly a private garden for German industrialist Friedrich Alfred Krupp the grounds are enjoyed by many travelers and tourists alike.
10. The rocks of Capri, recognized throughout the world are known as Faraglioni. The best way to enjoy the view is by sea. Your captain will navigate through the Faraglione di Mezzo, the middle rock with the iconic arch as you journey around the magnificent island. Towering 100 meters above the sea, the closest to the shore is Stella, the middle with the famous arch, Faraglione di Mezzo, and the furthest from the shore, the Faraglione di Fuori. A fun fact, the lizards on these rocks camouflage blue, allowing them to blend in with the sea.
There is a lot to see and do on this small island. You cannot do it all in one day trip, and should not try to do so. Part of the charm of Capri includes travelling through the unhurried white washed pathways tucked out of sight and around nearly every bustling corner.
To enjoy Capri, you will want to lose the crowds. Arrive early, consider staying overnight, or splurge on chartering a boat for the day and skip the mass transportation. One of the best ways to enjoy Capri, is by sea. When my friends come to visit, I recommend a sunset boat cruise around the island. It is the perfect way to serenely experience the magic of the island while escaping the mass tourism that overwhelms the island in the summer season. On land, be prepared to spend your day in full sun where you will do plenty of uphill walking. You’ll want sunscreen, sunglasses, and shoes that will help you travel in comfort and style.
Single use plastic bottles will soon be forbidden on the island, in a effort to combat the volume of trash left behind from the 2.3 million tourists the island sees each year.