Emma Fennymore explores the seductive island of Capri…
Capri is a beautiful island located in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrentine Peninsula on the south side of the Gulf of Naples in the Campania region of Italy. The main town on the island shares the name.
It is a legendary Mediterranean island that has seduced emperors, artists and showbiz stars for decades. Between Roman ruins, rugged seascapes, mysterious grottoes, grand villas, glam cafes and lux boutiques, this Italian paradise has attracted attention since the early 20th Century. It is widely recognised for its contrasting nature, intense colours, fresh seafood cuisine and beautiful sunsets.
From the mid 19th century onwards, following the ‘rediscovery’ of the Blue Grotto, Italian and foreign visitors flocked to the island attracted by its climate, inhabitants’ hospitality and the magnetic atmosphere. A number of international eccentrics and wealthy visitors, such as Alfred Krupp Pablo Neruda and Charlie Chaplin, choose Capri as their permanent or seasonal residence, contributing to the highly varied cosmopolitan and international colony that has made the name of Capri famous throughout the world.
Whilst in Capri there are many places to visit, much culture to explore and many shops in which to indulge yourself. One of the main attractions that appeal to both tourists and locals is that of Tiberius’ Sacred Sanctuary also known as Capri’s Blue Grotto.
To visit this phenomenal sight all you have to do is hop aboard a wooden rowboat, lay back and let yourself be carried through a tiny stone portal to another world by your able skipper, who navigates seamlessly under the metre-high cave mouth. Inside, pass from complete darkness into a sparkling cavern, lit by azure blue light, while the sounds of ancient Neapolitan song echo along the stone walls. Once inside the Grotto you will experience the beauty of the crystalline blue sea with silver reflections. Forget floating on water, you will feel as if you are suspended in the heavens. The Blue Grotto is a once in a lifetime natural experience that is a must see at least once in your lifetime.
Another popular aspect of Capri is the fashion and shopping concept that is located at the Piazzetta. On the maps, Capri’s most famous square is called Piazza Umberto I. For the rest of the world it’s the Piazzetta. One thing everybody agrees on, is that it’s the heart of the island where, sooner or later, all those visiting Capri come to watch the world go by.
The Piazzetta has always been the centre of life on the island. In the past, it served as market square, where fish, vegetables and occasionally meat (until recent times meat was a rare commodity) were sold. In 1938, the young islander, Raffaele Vuotto, placed a few tables outside his bar in the Piazzetta and from that moment on, the square became a fashionable meeting place for both locals and visitors who, until that time, had socialised either at home or in the island’s hotels. Today, Capri’s celebrity-packed Piazzetta provides the perfect hunting ground for camera-clicking paparazzi, eager to capture images of the rich and famous and holidaymakers hoping to brush shoulders with their favourite Hollywood star.
Another location that shouldn’t be missed whilst visiting Capri is Marina Piccola. To the locals this bay beholds the myth of where they say Ulysses was seduced by the sirens. So, if you like the idea of spending a day on a beach with a view of the Faraglioni, you’ll love the pretty little bay of Marina Piccola (which lies directly opposite Capri’s giant sea stacks). On the sunny South side of the island, sheltered from the wind by a steep wall of rock, the bay is almost always warm. In fact, even in mid-winter you might easily spot the locals bathing in the sun.
Boat tours are available around Capri that will allow you to experience the sunset, a sight considered one of most enchanting moments of a day in the Mediterranean. You’ll be free to admire the natural beauty of the island – from the Faraglioni rocks to innumerous grottoes and the Punta Carena lighthouse – with a glass of Champagne in hand, whilst accompanied by your own personal sailor.
Although the majority of holidaymakers staying on Capri wouldn’t dream of leaving this paradisiacal island, not even for a minute, those lucky enough to be here for more than a week or two might well be tempted to make the most of its location in the Bay of Naples and to use it as luxurious base from which to visit neighboring islands and the mainland.
Throughout the year, regular ferry and hydrofoil crossings transport passengers boarding at Capri to the nearby ports of Naples and Sorrento. In the summer months, ferry connections are also available to and from the Amalfi Coast. Those who have always fancied sailing the seas in authentic Capri style can rent a boat, with or without skipper, in the harbour of Marina Grande.
If you would like to visit Capri, let a specialist on the area book you in for your own personalised break, services and bookings are available from www.bespokecapri.com