As a rabid movie fan, Capri has always been the romantic isle of Hollywood magic for me. Just think about September Affair, It Started in Naples or Contempt.
My vivid imagination thinks about Sophia Loren walking the hills of Capri with dozens of drooling men trailing behind her – isn’t that every woman’s Italian fantasy? OK, snap out of it. This is 2016 and Italian men no longer drool after beautiful women like children following the Pied Piper.
Now, back to the perfect day trip to Capri – the only reasonable method of arrival is by boat from Naples or Sorrento. Oh sure, you can fly there but who has that kind of lire? (Scusi, I mean Euro) Sorrento is the port-o-call for most tourists headed to Capri and you can catch a ferry or hydrofoil from the marina at the bottom of Marina Piccola.
Ignore the noisy tourists on the ferry and get ready for the heady, breathtaking views upon arrival on Capri. Live in the moment because there is a different energy once you step onto this magical island for your dayscape. Depending on your interests, wants and needs, you can mingle in or you can climb…and the higher you climb, the more breathtaking the views.
After the obligatory visit to the Blue Grotto, by way of one of many smaller boats at the marina, you can make your way up the cliff on the Funicolare or take a bus to Anacapri. The difference is The Funicolare leaves you in Piazza Umberto, much closer to the busy tourist section of over-priced haute couture shops and trattorias, while Anacapri is more laid back and artsy. Think Santa Monica only in the south of Italy.
Walking is the only real way to experience a new environment and climbing through the cliffs of Capri is like walking through God’s garden. There simply is no other way to describe the side streets covered in springtime mimosa and bougainvillea; archways draped in wisteria; and jasmine that dot the hillside.
If you rise by way of the Funicolare, grab a picnic basket of bread, cheese and prosciutto crudo and a bottle of your favorite vino and try to find Via Tragara. It leads to Via Pizzolungo, which creeps its way along the northern side of the island, leading you toward the Faraglioni. There are benches along the cliff walk, some natural and some man made, offering many spots to sit and drink in the view. It’s intoxicating on a sunny day but can be quite melancholy on a lonely winter day. If you wind your way to Arco Naturale, a paleolithic natural rock arch, it’ll take you a good two to three hours from stepping off the cable car to making your way back to it. So plan accordingly if you have a return ferry to catch.
A lunch treat was a surprise find at the Villa Brunella, a small boutique hotel right on the Via Tragara. Their restaurant, Terrazza Brunella, charges a hefty coperto (cover charge) just to sit at a table, in addition to whatever you order from the menu. However, the view is well worth it…….and so is the lemon risotto.
If you have time before heading back to your return ferry, make your way to the Gardens of Augustus. A floral delight all leading to the winding road of Via Krupp. You’ll never have time to climb up and down the steep snakelike road if you made it to Arco Naturale first, but the tip of the Gardens offers a bench for a great photo op and a panoramic view.
While many people visit Capri for a day trip, I find there is way too much to see and do to enjoy it all in 24 hours. If you return to Capri, as you will often do once enchanted by its magic, make sure to visit the ancient ruins of the Villas of Tiberius about a 30 minute walk from Piazza Umberto. If a day is all you have, you’ll have to forego Anacapri until the next time and with Capri, there is always a next time. Una prossima volta!