Love Touring Italy - The Isle of Capri by Levi Reiss
of Capri Featured Hotels / Campania
Region Featured Self-Catering
If you are looking for a
European tourist destination, consider the Isle of Capri in the Bay of
Naples. This tourist attraction popular with jet setters and many others
lies in the Campania region of southwestern Italy on the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Frankly, Capri is the opposite of undiscovered; it ranks with Rome, Florence,
and Venice at the top of Italian tourist destinations. In fact, it is probably
one of the most visited little islands in the world. Make sure to see our
other articles on Campania destinations in this series; they cover Campania's
capital city Naples, the historic ruins east of Naples, the area west of
Naples, and finally Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast.
|The British singer and vaudevillian
Gracie Fields was the first (1934) to popularize the song The Isle of Capri
whose initial stanza we quote: "'Twas on the Isle of Capri that he found
her; Beneath the shade of an old walnut tree; Oh, I can still see the flowers
blooming 'round her; Where they met on the Isle of Capri." Many others
recorded this song including Frank Sinatra in 1957.
The island is quite small,
only 4.2 miles (about 2.6 kilometers) long and 1.7 miles (1.1 kilometers)
wide at its widest point. In general tourist cars are not permitted. If
you are not in the mood for walking in this hilly terrain, there are usually
plenty of taxicabs and buses. We'll start our tour at Marina Grande on
the north shore of the island, about one third of the way in from its easternmost
We'll head westward not far
from the northern coast. Then we go south and back east until we get to
the coast and head mostly north. Our final destination is Villa Jovis in
Capri's northeast corner. There are too many destinations to list. Depending
on your time and your interests, and on your pocketbook as well, you may
not visit them all. Once you have decided what you want to see, get a good
map and plan out your specific itinerary.
Take the Scala Fenicia (Phoenician
Stairway), steps cut out of rock, from Marina Grande to the Rock of Capodimonte
at the city gate of the medieval city of Anacapri described below. The
view is really great, but you will have quite a climb. On your way you
pass the Byzantine Castello Barbarossa (Barbarossa Castle) named for the
Saracen pirate who devastated the island. The Villa San Michele and its
spectacular grounds mark Anacapri's ancient entrance. During the summer
Friday night is evening concert night. Swedish citizens engaged in cultural
work or research are really in luck, they can stay at the guesthouse.
|Do you want to remain in
Capri forever? Walk to the nearby Sphinx Parapet overlooking the Bay of
Naples. According to legend, touch the sphinx's hindquarters with your
left hand while making a wish and it will be granted.
Anacapri, population about
six thousand, is the second largest town on the island. This town is definitely
less expensive than Capri Town, to be described later. From the main square,
Piazza Vittoria, take a chairlift to the top of Monte Solaro, the island's
highest point at slightly less than 2,000 feet (650 meters). This mountainette
is living proof that you don't have to get very high in the air for absolutely
By the way, Monte Solara
features over 850 species of plants. Casa Rossa is an unusual looking old
red mansion that houses a permanent art exhibition called "The painted
island," illustrating daily Capri life in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth
Centuries. Anacapri boasts historic churches including the Thirteenth Century
Church of St Maria of Constantinople, the Fifteenth Century Church of Santa
Maria a Cetrella, the Sixteenth Century Church of Sant'Antonio (known as
the sailor's church), the Sixteenth Century Church of Santa Sofia, and
the Church of St Michele Arcangelo, built in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth
Villa di Damecuta is one of the three standing villas built by the Roman
Emperor Tiberius. It's only a short ride from Anacapri. If the weather's
good and an ambitious walker can get there in about 30-40 minutes. Be sure
to visit the tower and the two rooms that reputedly were Tiberius's summer
hideaway. This villa may have been hit by cinders when Mount Vesuvius erupted
in 79 A.D. destroying the nearby cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The
Villa di Damecuta actually served as a fort when the English and French
were fighting for ownership of Capri.
The world famous Grotta Azzurra
(Blue Grotto) on the northern coast of Capri is only about two miles (three
kilometers) from Anacapri. Some feel that this tourist attraction put Capri
on the map, so to speak. To get inside the Grotto you have to lie down
inside a tiny boat that navigates its narrow passageway. On windy days
the Grotto is closed to traffic because of the waves. The lovely blue color
of the water inside the grotto must be seen to be believed. As an added
bonus objects in the water take on a silver color. On the downside you
may have to wait a long time outside the grotto before spending your allotted
few minutes inside. The best view is between 11 AM and 1 PM.
With a population exceeding
seven thousand Capri Town is the island's largest municipality. You can
get there by rail, bus, or taxi from the port. If you are ambitious you
can climb your way up. The town center is officially called Piazza Umberto
I, but most people say the Piazzetta home to the Museo Caprense Ignazio
Cerio (Ignazio Cerio Centre of Capri) named for a doctor, archeologist,
and naturalist. Its two thousand exhibits include specimens from Capri
and all over the globe.
|Our next stop is the beautiful
Giardini di Ausgusto (Augustus's Gardens) that didn't belong to the Roman
Emperor Augustus but to Friedrich Alfred Krupp, son of the founder of a
German industrial empire. Krupp resided in Capri towards the end of the
Nineteenth Century and built a villa upon Roman ruins. Later he donated
the gardens to the Town of Capri. A nearby road called Via Krupp is a rock-hewn
staircase. Unfortunately it is closed to the public.
Our final stopping place
is Villa Jovis, the largest of the twelve villas built by Emperor Tiberius
to honor twelve Roman gods. The view is what one might expect from a built-for-the-ruler-of-the-world
kind of villa. There's a cliff and you might guess its use given that there
were no checks and balances in those days.
What about food? One can
imagine that precious little food is now raised on this upscale island.
At the same time fancy restaurants abound. You can probably get just about
anything you want cooked to order. And a lot of the food is produced close
Let's suggest a sample menu,
one of many. Start with Insalata Caprese (Mozzarella, Tomato, Basil, and
Olive Oil). Then try Ravioli alla Caprese (Parmesan and Ricotta Egg Ravioli).
For dessert indulge yourself with Torta Caprese (Chocolate and Almond Cake).
Be sure to increase your dining pleasure by including local wines with
|We conclude with a quick
look at Campania wine. Campania ranks number 9 among the 20 Italian regions
when it comes to acreage devoted to wine grapes and to the total annual
wine production. The region produces about 64% red and and close to 36%
white wine, as there is little rose.
Campania produces 17 DOC
wines. DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which may be
translated as Denomination of Controlled Origin, presumably a high-quality
wine. The G in DOCG stands for Garantita, but there is in fact no guarantee
that such wines are truly superior. Only 2.8% of Campania wine carries
the DOC or DOCG designation. There are three DOCG wines: the red Taurasi,
the white Greco di Tufo, and the white Fiano di Avellino. I have tasted
the Fiano and found it to be top of the line.
Capri was well known for
its wines even before becoming the headquarters of the Roman Empire. As
an expression of continuity some Capri's vineyards are situated among the
ruins of Tiberius's villas. Capri actually produces its own wine, imaginatively
named Capri DOC. Capri DOC wine is mostly white but may be red. Both wines
are made from specified Italian grape varieties with a certain percentage
of local grapes. Because the local real estate is quite pricey, growers
may try to overload the vineyards effectively diluting the wine. Be careful
when you pay for Capri wine that you aren't sold wine from the neighboring
island of Ischia.
/ Isle of Capri Featured Hotels
/ Campania Region Featured Self-Catering
About the Author - Levi Reiss
is the author or co-author of ten computer and Internet books, but to tell
the truth, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied
by the right foods. He knows about dieting but now eats and drinks what
he wants, in moderation. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario
French-language community college. His new wine, diet, health, and nutrition
links to his other sites.