Italy'S Isle Of Capri
A travel guide to the isle of Capri, off the Italian coast. It's a small, but beautiful island, rich with history.
The region known as Campania is blessed with some of Italy's most dramatic coastline. It offers a sprinkling of magical islands and a rich heritage in ancient ruins.
The isle of Capri is a hydrofoil ride away from the mainland. Once you take the funicular, to the bus, to the chair lift to the top of this island...you know you're most definitely NOT in Kansas anymore. The mainland of Italy looms before you, as do the jutting islands called Faraglioni. The water below, very far below, is a blue carpet with frayed edges. Upon closer inspection those frayed edges become waves pressing the shore. From this vantage point, you believe there really is something mythical about the area.
Capri's natural and manmade attractions are undeniable. The island abounds in olive groves, cliffs, hills, and garden terraces overlooking the blue water of the Mediterranean. Naples and Mt. Vesuvius repose in the distance, with white ferries and hydrofoils constantly zipping across the water. Countless little paths and steps offer opportunities to explore the island on foot, while churches, historic villas and a ruin or two offer sightseeing possibilities.
Capri has two main villages, Capri Town lies on the eastern half of the island. A funicular ascends to the town center from the port of marina grande, where the ferries and hydrofoils arrive. The other village, Anacapri, is a steep climb uphill from Capri by bus or taxi. Anacapri is at an elevation of 980 feet and is less upscale than it's livelier sister city.
Both Julius and Tiberious Caesar built summer villas in Capri and tourists have followed in their footsteps ever since. Evidence suggests Tiberious built as many as twelve villas on the island.
Like a seagull preparing for flight, the Villa San Michele perches over the isle of Capri. The views to the east, across the Marina Grande are nothing less than stunning. Today, the villa is a museum and a must-see item on any itinerary.
San Michele was built, beginning in 1896 by Swedish-born physician and author Axel Munthe. The architectural style is a mixture of elements from various cultures and eras, closely following Munthe's own instructions. When the excavations for San Michele were begun, remains of a Roman villa were unearthed and can still be seen. Many of the classical sculptures in the villa were retrieved from Capri's sea bottom, where they were hurled (perhaps in celebration)after Tiberious death. Dr. Munthe wrote a controversial memoir of this unusual residence. The book, which was highly praised by his contemporaries, is partly a product of Munthe's fertile imagination.
Many people make the trek to the Villa Jovis, (Jupiter's Villa) the largest and best preserved of the Roman villas on the island. In its heyday, the villa was a vast complex, including imperial quarters, grand halls, baths and gardens.
Another option is the 90-minute boat trip to the Blue Grotto, so named for the brilliance of the light reflection through the waters. This is just one of many such grottos which ring the island. The grotto can be closed to the public, if the sea gets too choppy for safety.