Destination Attractions: Things To Do On The Isle Of Capri, Italy

Enjoy spectacular views of the crystal-clear, turquoise sea from the Isle of Capri. Visit the Blue Grotto, the world-famous Piazzetta, or the Gardens of Augustus.

Capri is a beautiful island near the cities of Naples, Sorrento, Pompeii, Positano, and Amalfi on the western Italian coast. To reach Capri, which is pronounced CAH-pree in Europe, you can take a hydrofoil or ferry from the port of Molo Beverello in Naples; the ferry takes less than 1 ½ hours to get to Capri, and the hydrofoil arrives in half that time. You can also leave from Sorrento, which is closer to Capri; the ferry takes about 40 minutes and the hydrofoil takes 20 minutes, and hydrofoils are available from both Positano and Amalfi too.

The boat ride across the Gulf of Naples will take you to the port of Marina Grande on the Isle of Capri, and from there you have many options. You can get on a boat that will take you to the Blue Grotto and take you for a tour around the whole island, you can get on a bus to go to other parts of the isle, or you can ride the funicolare, a tram that goes up the mountain to the Piazetta. Wherever you go on Capri, you will see the most spectacular scenery; turquoise-blue, crystal clear water, huge rocky cliffs, beautiful gardens, picturesque little white houses stacked up on the hillsides, grand hotels, and ruins of a Roman emperor's villa are some of the sights of Capri you will see there on a visit.

The Blue Grotto was used as a meeting place by couriers during the times of the Roman Empire, and was rediscovered in the 1800s. To get to the Blue Grotto, you can take a mini-bus from Anacapri, walk, or ride a boat from Marina Grande; the boat will take about 35 minutes to get to the grotto. If you take the bus, you will have to walk down a long flight of stairs to wait for a small rowboat to pick you up to go into the cave; if you take the boat you'll have to transfer from the larger boat to a smaller boat to get to the cave. Unless you are on a tour that includes the price of the boats, you'll have to pay three times; there's a fee for the larger boat, one for the smaller boat, and a tip for the oarsman. If the waves are high, your trip may be cancelled, because it's tricky to get into the grotto. There will be several small rowboats, each with 3-4 passengers and an oarsman, hovering around the grotto; each oarsman grabs onto a chain outside the grotto and when the water goes down he'll pull the boat into the cave. The grotto opening is barely visible from outside, and passengers have to lie down as the boat goes into the cave because of the very low entrance. Inside the cave there's an eerie blue light that comes up through the water; it's really an amazing sight and you can take spectacular photos. If you can get the oarsman to sing an aria, you'll hear an echo. You won't stay long in the cave, since there's only room for about three boats, but the trip is worth any price to see the beautiful Blue Grotto.



From Marina Grande you can take the funicolare up to the Piazzetta, a square that is filled with charming outdoor cafes, shops, and the amazing, luxurious Grand Hotel Quisisana. Stroll around the square, have a glass of wine or a cup of coffee and a pastry, or try a Capri Salad (insalata caprese), which is made of sliced tomatoes and buffalo Mozzarella and drizzled with olive oil, capers and basil. If you follow the cobblestone pathway that goes up the hillside, you'll soon come to the Gardens of Augustus, formerly owned by German industrialist Friedrich A. Krupp, who developed the gardens when he lived in Capri, and later donated them to the town. The town named the gardens after Caesar Augustus, the Roman emperor who first visited Capri in 29 AD and bought the island from Naples. Krupp also had the Via Krupp built, a private road that links Capri and the beach at Marina Piccola, and is certainly a work of art.

From the gardens you will have a wonderful view of the Faraglioni, three huge rocks that jut up out of the sea. One of the big rocks has a tunnel that cuts through the bottom, and another is home to a rare type of blue lizard. You can get different views of the Faraglioni from various places on the island; good views can be had from the gardens, from Marina Piccola, and from the boats that circle the isle. There's a beach and restaurant, La Fontelina, that are near the base of the Faraglioni; you can get there by walking along the Via Tragara or by boat.

The Roman emperor Tiberius lived on Capri from 27 to 37 AD, and built a magnificent house there, the Villa Jovis. Although it is thought that Tiberius built at least twelve villas on Capri, the ruins of only three survive, and Villa Jovis is the most elaborate. The ruins include parts of cisterns, since the villa is on top of a mountain and away from sources of water, thermal baths, servant's quarters, the Great Hall, an observatory, a beacon tower used by the emperor to stay in touch with the Roman fleet, private apartments, and "Tiberius' Fall," a balcony that overhangs a steep cliff; Tiberius supposedly had people who displeased him thrown off the balcony at times. You can hike up to the Villa Jovis from the Piazzetta; it will take about an hour but is a fairly easy walk.

Anacapri is on the western side of the island, and from Piazza Vittoria, you can take a chair lift up to the top of Mount Solara, which will take about 10-15 minutes. Once at the top, you will have a great view of Anacapri, the Gulf of Naples, the Gulf of Sorrento, and the Faraglioni. If you walk back down the mountain, which will take approximately an hour, you will pass by the little church of Santa Maria a Cetrella, and you will certainly see some beautiful scenery. The Villa San Michele is also found in Anacapri; it was preserved by a Swedish doctor, Axel Munthe, who lived there from 1896 to 1910 and designed an amazing house, incorporating pieces of the ancient ruins into his plans. There are beautiful gardens there, amazing views, and the story of the villa is told in Munthe's book, "The Story of San Michele," which would be a good read if you plan to visit Capri.

Wherever you go on the Isle of Capri you will have amazing views of the sea. If you like to relax on the beach or go boating, you will love Capri, long a favorite of the wealthy and famous of the world. Since the island is fairly small, you really don't have to get in a hurry to see the sights, and it's a nice place to slow down and breathe in the fresh air, get some sun, or just enjoy the spectacular views.

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