Capri is a spectacular island, full of beauty. Being a mountainous island, there are several beautiful viewpoints from which to admire the sights, but if you want to have a full 360-degree view, what better than climbing to the highest point of the island?
Mount Solaro is 589 metres above sea level. If you get up here on a clear day, the views will be hard to forget. You are at the highest point of the island and if you look in the distance you can see the Gulf of Naples to the north with its vibrant city at the foot of the volcano Vesuvius and its two peaks. If you look to your right, you will see towns such as Ercolano, Torre del Greco, Torre Annunziata and Pompeii. If you turn east, the Sorrento peninsula will appear in front of you and you can almost guess the Amalfi Coast.
Afterwards, the immensity of the Mediterranean Sea to the south and west will fill you with its beautiful blue tones, to glimpse again the island of Ischia where Billy Wilder filmed Avanti, the island of Procida and again the mainland. If you don´t look too far, just looking at the outline of the island of Capri at your feet, you can clearly make out the Faraglioni, huge rocks that rise out from the sea and are the symbol of the island.
At the top of the viewpoint there is a cafeteria where you can have a drink or a bite to eat before you head back.
Be aware that at peak tourist times there can be a lot of people trying to catch the chairlifts and you will sometimes find a long queue to get on or off, so time your journey well.
Instructions: To reach Mount Solaro, you have to first get to Anacapri, the highest village on the island. For this you can take minibuses that leave regularly from Marina Grande or from the village of Capri, or take an open-top taxi. If you do the latter, it´s quite a bit more expensive, but you´ll feel like a movie actor from the 60s. The views already on the road are dizzying and sometimes you´ll feel like in those old Charlot films where the trams cross each other on the verge of hitting. Not for the faint-hearted!
Once in Anacapri the best thing to do is to take the chairlift that takes you from the small ticket office to the top in very simple individual chairs that will take you up suspended over beautiful fruit trees in the orchards on the mountainside. Be careful not to drop your camera because you´ll want to take pictures on the way up!
Another way is to walk from Anacapri by a viacrucis, but although the path is beautiful, it is long, rocky, strenuous and time-consuming.
Funicular from Anacapri: 8 euros one way and 11 euros return.
- From Capri about 15 minutes and about 2 euros one way.
- From Marina Grande about 25 minutes and 4 euros one way.
Taxi to Anacapri:
- From Capri about 11 minutes and 10 to 15 euros one way.
- From Marina Grande about 19 minutes and 20 to 25 euros one way.
THE FRESHNESS OF THE ITALIAN FLAG ON YOUR TABLE
The best thing to do on this Mediterranean island is undoubtedly to eat fresh fish or seafood and vegetables from the orchards for their freshness.
There is a wide variety of dishes from the sea but perhaps the most famous for an aperitif are marinated anchovies, Spanish anchovies in vinegar and totani e patate, a sort of intensely flavoured squid from the Gulf of Naples with garlic, chilli peppers, white wine and cherry tomatoes.
But if there is one thing that is the quintessential Capri dish, although you can find it all over Italy, and which has gastronomically conquered the whole world, it is the "Caprese Salad".
Caprese salad: Caprese means from Capri, so you know the origin of this fresh and invigorating cold dish, simple and delicious, and ideal for the hottest months of the year when you don´t feel like eating too heavy, but rather something fresh but tasty and hearty.
Caprese salad is made with very fresh red tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil and olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper. The tomatoes are cut into crosswise strips about half a centimetre in diameter. The mozzarella cheese is also cut into round slices. The best mozzarella cheese is buffalo milk cheese, and the best quality is "Fior di latte" (milk cream) from the fields of the Campania region to which the island belongs. The cheese and tomato slices are topped with a dressing made from finely chopped fresh basil leaves, salt, pepper and olive oil.
It is better if it is virgin olive oil. Some people prepare a pesto-like sauce instead, although many say that the latter is not from Capri. To serve this delicious dish, many people alternate the ingredients in tiers, putting a layer of tomato, a layer of cheese, a basil leaf and so on, pouring the dressing or pesto on top. Some people add a little oregano and even a handful of black olives. One suggestion is to let the dish rest for 5 to 10 minutes after preparation so that everything macerates well and the seasoning permeates the tomato and cheese. A few whole basil leaves are a must in this recipe.
What a wonderful dish with the three colours of the Italian flag: red, white and green. This dish can be eaten as a main course, as a starter or as a side dish with grilled meats.
There is also caprese ravioli, caprese calzone and caprese cake for dessert, but that´s another story.
Instructions: You´ll find caprese salad everywhere on the island, I doubt there is a single restaurant that doesn´t have it. The quality, for its simplicity, is good everywhere. I personally prefer to eat it in a restaurant in the harbour of Marina Grande overlooking the sea.
TAKE HOME THE ESSENCE OF CAPRI FLAVOUR
Something very typical of Capri that you have to taste or buy to take as a gift or to taste when you return home and remember the island is limoncello.
Limoncello is a sweet liqueur with a strong lemon flavour that is now produced all over Italy but which has its origins in the Campania region.
Some say it was first produced in the neighbouring provinces of Sorrento and Amalfi in association with the first citrus plantations, as a way of combating the winter cold while working in the fields. Others say that it was some nuns inspired by the sourness of the lemon and its sweet taste, although the most widespread version is that it was born in the early 1900s in Maria Antonia Farace´s guesthouse, who had an orchard with orange and lemon trees on the island of Capri and prepared the liqueur for the island´s fishermen to beat the cold.
Perhaps this last version comes from the fact that it was his great-grandson, Massimo Canale, who first registered the word limoncello in 1988.
The truth is that the best limoncello, despite its current wide spread, is produced in Sorrento, Sorrento and Amalfi coasts and Capri. In this area the lemons are special, with a thicker peel.
Limoncello is prepared by soaking slices of lemon in alcohol and adding water and sugar and leaving it to macerate, to be drunk after a month in the bottle with its classic yellow colour. It is served very cold as a digestive after meals, and can also be used in confectionery.
Other Italian producing regions include Lake Garda, Sicily, Trieste and Trentino. It is also produced under other names in California, Dominican Republic and Yepes,
In addition to limoncello, Capri has other new varieties such as meloncello made with melon or pistachiocello with pistachio and fragoncello with strawberry flavouring, or limoncello cream.
And if you don´t drink alcohol, don´t worry, try the spremuta di limone (squeezed lemon), the most authentic natural flavour of Capri.
A truly refreshing delight. You won´t forget its taste and freshness.
Limoncello can be bought in any local shop or souvenir shop, or consumed in any establishment, as any self-respecting place has a stock of this refreshing drink.
The spremuta can be found mainly in street stalls.
GRANDE HARBOUR AND ITS COLOURFUL HOUSES
Reaching the island of Capri by boat, the only way if you don´t get there by helicopter or swimming, the first thing you´ll see is an impressive natural space that fills it all, with the village of Marina Grande at its feet, the island´s main port. It wasn´t always like this, as the oldest port was Marina Piccola on the other side of the island.
We recommend that from the boat, if you get a good position, you take that special photo that will join the natural immensity of the island with its mountains and sea with the beauty of Marina Grande´s colourful houses, whose Pompeian red, yellow, white, ochre and orange tones will contrast perfectly with the intense blue of the sea, the green of the island´s hillsides, its orchards and the light blue of its skies.
As if that weren´t enough, the small boats anchored at the harbour will add a special charm to your pictures, condensing all the beauty of the island into a few images. If you didn´t have time or didn´t find a good spot from the ferry, once on land you´ll have time to find the best angles, and if you take the boat excursion to see the cliffs, you´ll be able to capture beautiful images of this privileged environment.
As mentioned, the Marina Piccola, on the south side of the island, was already used by the emperors Augustus and Tiberius. The latter, a great lover of the island, built his residence in another part of Capri to spend his last years, the Villa Giove (Villa Jupiter). These same emperors used Marina Grande, a simple fishing port before, building the nearby Palazzo a Mare (Sea Palace).
San Constanzo´s church, dedicated to the bishop who died near Marina Grande and situated halfway between here and the village of Anacapri, commemorates the Patron Saint of the island.
The modern harbour was built in 1928, in front of which you will see its famous-coloured houses, all lined up facing the sea. Inhabited, at their feet there are many shops, bars and restaurants to give you all the amenities you need. There is also a stop for the funicular railway that goes up to the village of Capri. Behind the houses, we can make out the island´s orchards, terraced down to the sea, full of Mediterranean fruit trees such as lemon trees, orange trees, olive trees, fig trees and vineyards.
The port has two docks, Levante and Ponente, which is the main one and probably where you will get to and from the island. These are also good places to get a good photo of the whole area.
The largest beach on the island is to the right of the port, which will make you laugh if you compare it with others, but remember that the beauty of Capri is not in its tiny beaches but in the natural beauty of the mountains, the sea, the vegetation and the weather.
Instructions: That´s where you´ll get there and that´s where you´ll get out. Minibuses and taxis leave from there to get around the island, and walking trails, as well as the funicular to the village of Capri.
A UNICORN IN FRONT OF THE EUCHARIST. THE CHURCH OF SAN MIGUEL AND ITS MOSAIC.
Capri is not only memorable scenery, there is also a small church that by itself deserves the trip, the church of St. Michael the Archangel in the village of Anacapri.
Anacapri is less visited than the village of Capri, but as well as being the starting point for climbing Mount Solaro, it houses an unthinkable treasure in the pavement of this church, which can be considered Capri´s best-kept secret.
The neoclassical façade is not too striking at first glance except for its dazzling white colour that contrasts with the blue of the sky, but wait until you enter and see the floor.
The floor is octagonal, like the plan of the church, and was created by a distinguished ceramist based in Naples, Leonardo Chiaese, and is made of brightly coloured majolica of natural origin. It is so beautiful that the seats were removed to make it more enjoyable. The Garden of Eden is shown at the exact moment of Adam and Eve´s expulsion for committing the Original Sin. The two of them can be seen leaving Paradise at the lower right of the pavement. The centre of the design is occupied by the forbidden fruit tree to which the snake is coiled, signifying evil and the devil, happy to have achieved its goal. All around the tree is an orchard where countless animals live in peace without disturbing each other. There are elephants, lions, goats, dromedaries, birds, monkeys, tigers, geese, crocodiles, dogs with almost human faces and even a unicorn.
This pavement was made and laid in its present location in 1761, almost half a century after the church was built in 1719.
A popular legend has it that the temple was built as a promise by a Teresian nun in gratitude to the Virgin Mary for stopping the failed attempt by the Ottomans to occupy Vienna in 1683.
There are wooden walkways at the edges of the pavement so that you can walk along them without stepping on them. In addition, a spiral staircase leads up to the choir for a full view of the pavement created by Chiaese.
It is on Via S. Nicola, near Via Giuseppe Orlandi in the village of Anacapri.
Minibuses from Capri or Marina Grande arriving in Anacapri generally drop visitors off in Piazza Vittoria, on Via Giuseppe Orlandi, just below the chairlift to Mount Solaro. The church is about 4 blocks from here. Continue along Via Orlandi, leaving behind the road by which we arrived by minibus, and about three blocks further on is Via S. Nicola on the right and the church immediately afterwards.
Opening hours: From April to October, it is open from 9 am to 7 pm, the rest of the year from 10 am to 2 pm.
Telephone: +39 081 837 2396
THE KRUPP WAY
If you are in Capri and you want a bit of challenge and adventure, do you dare to go down the Krupp Way? The Krupp Way is one of the most beautiful paths you can find in the Mediterranean Sea or in the world, described as "a path that is a work of art in itself". Its 8 sharp horseshoe bends allow us to overcome a difference in altitude of 100 metres during 1.3 km, with a gradient of 7.5%. Far from being tiring, the gentle descent, together with the number of times you stop to take photographs due to the beautiful changing landscape, turns it into a delightful adventure walk. The ascent is another matter, which, although also gentle, is a little more difficult. You should also be careful on rainy days to avoid slipping on the wet ground. As the path is on a cliff above the sea, you also have to watch out for possible limestone rock falls from the cliff face, especially on wet days, which is why the path may be partially or completely closed at certain periods. It is a challenge because despite its smoothness, you have to be fit.
The path links the upper part of the island, where the suggestive Augustus Gardens and the Charterhouse of San Giacomo are located, with the lower part, where the Tyrrhenian Sea and the little harbour of Marina Piccola are located, in the south of the island.
The Krupp Way was commissioned by the wealthy German patron of the arts, industrialist and engineer Friedrich Alfred Krupp, a lover of the island of Capri, to connect the luxury hotel Grand Hotel Quisisana where he used to live for several months a year with his oceanographic ship dedicated to underwater research, for which he was assisted by the engineer Emilio Mayer. The path took three years to be built (1899-1902), and the German citizen was named honorary citizen of Capri for this until then unthinkable connection.
Unfortunately, shortly after its completion, the entrepreneur was accused that in addition to his yachts, he used the path to secretly attend orgies with young islanders in San Felice cave. When the scandal broke, the city council asked Krupp to leave Capri and Italy. A week later, the art patron committed suicide.
mberto I, head towards the clearly visible church of Santo Stefano. Leave it on your right going down Via Vittorio Emanuele which continues down as Via Federico Serena. Then reach Via Matteotti where you turn right to find the Augustus Gardens and its belvedere linking up with Via Krupp.
The path is sometimes closed due to landslides, but the views from the Augustus Gardens are well worth it.
THE FARAGLIONI OF CAPRI, SYMBOL OF THE ISLAND AND HOME OF MERMAIDS
If there is one thing you must see in Capri, it is the imposing Faraglioni, a natural monument that symbolises the island. Whether taking a boat tour or from the Augustus Gardens or from Mount Solaro, the sight of these huge rocks rising out from the sea is sure to impress you.
The Faraglioni are the symbol of the island and the logo of Capri.
They are four immense rocks, declared a nature reserve:
Faraglioni di Terra or Saeta (Arrow), the highest one at 108 metres high, the only one attached to the ground. The Faraglioni di Mezzo (Middle) or Stella (Star), 81 metres high and with a huge opening inside through which boats can pass, is called the Arch of Love. If you cross it with your loved one, don´t forget to kiss him or her. This arch was known to the Romans and an image of the Madonna della Stella (Virgin of the Star of the Seas) was placed on it for some time.
The Faraglioni Fuori or Scopolo (Pila, or promontory in the sea) and Scoglio or Monacone, somewhat further out, are home to rare species such as the emblematic blue lizard. The Monacone takes its name from the monk seals that inhabited it until 1904.
Legend of the Mermaids:
The inhabitants of Capri presume their island to be the famous island of the mermaids cited by Homer in the Odyssey and place their home at a precise location, the reefs of the nearby Marina Piccola. Homer did not exactly specify the location, but his instructions suggest a place in Sicily. The Greek poet Hesiod placed them on the island of Antemessa, and Apollonius of Rhodes cited them in the Argonautics.
Mermaids were mythological beings half-bird half-woman in the Greek tradition who later lost their bird part for the fish tail. They enchanted sailors with sweet songs, luring their ships against rocky reefs so that their crews would die. The Homeric story tells us in canto XII of the Odyssey how Ulysses or Odysseus was warned by the goddess Circe of the dangers that awaited them on their way to Ithaca. Approaching the island of the mermaids, following the advice of the goddess, Odysseus had his sailors´ ears plugged with beeswax and ordered them to tie him hand and foot to the mast of the ship. Noticing his presence, mermaids begin to sing. Odysseus, bewitched, wants to be unbound, but his men squeeze him tighter and they all go out safely.
Mermaids, displeased, throw themselves into the sea. The dead body of one of them, Parthenope, was carried by the tides to what today is Naples and buried with honours. The Greek city Parthenopea, the future Naples, was born there.
Instructions: The best way to admire the Faraglioni is on a boat tour or from the viewpoints of Augustus´ Garden or Mount Solaro.
STROLL FROM MARINA GRANDE TO THE AUGUSTUS GARDENS: VIEWS, BUSTLE, LUXURY AND CALM.
This stroll goes from the port of Marina Grande to the most beautiful public gardens of the island, a haven of peace with an excellent viewpoint over the southern part of the island and the faraglioni of Capri, all surrounded by well-kept gardens and overflowing with colourful flowers. Piazza Umberto I is very lively as most of the tourists arrive here, and it is the main point of passage for the locals. Opposite there is the church of Santo Stefano, a cathedral until Capri lost its diocese in 1818. Built in 1688 on the site of Santa Sofia Benedictine convent, it was consecrated in 1723. It is the largest in Capri and stands on a stairway in the Piazzetta of Capri, next to Umberto I Square.
Deparure from Marina Grande with the funicular railway that goes up from the harbour to the foot of Piazza Umberto I, the centre of Capri. The ride up is beautiful, passing through citrus orchards: orange, mandarin and lemon trees producing lemons for making limoncello, the local drink. Leaving the funicular, you reach a viewpoint with excellent views of Naples, Vesuvius, Marina Grande and Mount Solaro. It has vaulted domes, an altar with an organ and the façade is half hidden among the houses. Inside there is a XV century painting of the Madonna and Child with Saints Michael and Anthony of Padua, which, according to legend, was thrown over a cliff by pirates and miraculously returned to its place. The marble floor has the curiosity of having been built with fragments of the Emperor Tiberius´ Villa Jovis.
Leaving the church behind us, walking along Via Vittorio Emanuelle, later called Federico Serena, there are chic white houses, luxurious shops (Rolex, Chanel, Prada) and beautiful hotels decorated with flags, tiles, majolica tiles and flowery vases. The Grand Hotel Quisisana and the Regia Cristina stand out. All very luxurious and well cared for. At the end of this street, we turn right into Via Matteotti, passing the Carthusia I perfume shop, which exudes wonderful aromas, its façades covered with floral vines. A few metres further on there is the entrance to the Gardens, our final destination on this walk. Try a "Spremuta di Limone" in a little stall on your right decorated with huge regional lemons. Augustus Gardens, Capri´s botanical park, were originally built by the German sponsor Krupp for his residence at the beginning of the XX century and bore his name until 1918 when it was changed to the present one.
Instructions: The funicular costs 1.80 euros each way, and the entrance to the gardens costs 1 euro. The walk takes only 10 minutes non-stop from the funicular.
FISHERMEN AND COFFEE.
There are plenty of places to relax and watch the atmosphere in Capri, but sooner or later you have to return to Marina Grande, either because you want to do your last shopping, which is usually cheaper than in the normally luxurious shops in the villages of Capri and Anacapri, or just because your return boat departs from that port.
On the waterfront, facing the harbour, as well as shops of all kinds, there are several cafes to relax from your visits and walks around the island, while you can watch the bustle of people coming and going, tourists and locals alike.
Marina Grande´s cafés are on the waterfront, so you´ll have a great view while enjoying a delicious Italian coffee.
There are many fishermen´s boats in the centre of the port of Marina di Capri, and it is very pleasant to watch how they prepare their fishing gear in peace and quiet or how they clean or paint their boats.
If you are lucky, you might also see the catch of the day being unloaded for later distribution to the island´s restaurants so that you can eat some good fish. Fishing on Capri is still largely artisanal, as it was in the old days, and it is a treat to watch these activities.
Italian coffee is one of the best in the world. Normally, you will be surprised by the amount of coffee you are served, sometimes you will think you are being cheated, but that is traditional here as the difference is that it is espresso coffee and it is very concentrated, so the small amount you are served wake you up the same as a half-litre pot in many other countries.
Coffee is a product originally from the Horn of Africa. The first beans arrived in Venice in the XVI century and became Italians´ drink par excellence. This country is the birthplace of espresso, considered by many to be the best in the world and a part of Italian life. It is very amusing to observe how when Italians order a cup of coffee, apart from the common espresso, each one orders a different one to his or her own taste, something that in any other place would torture a waiter, but to which here they are quite familiar. Of course, the most common are espresso and café macchiato, the same but with a little milk. If you like it, ask for it this way: café macchiato, with name and surname, because if you just ask for macchiato, they are likely to bring you milk with some coffee, which is called latte macchiato.
Internationally famous is the cappuccino, coffee with milk, cacao powder and cream. The simplest version of this is the café latte, which is a few coffee with much more milk. If you want a more watered-down coffee, ask for a lungo or americano.
Rest in front of the fishermen´s boats and let life pass you by, watching them at work and the colourful people passing by, enjoying an authentic Italian coffee.
Instructions: The ones in front of the fishing harbour are Molo Café, Bar Il Gabbiano and Water Point, where you can also grab a bite to eat and try the limoncello.
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