Five kilometres from Naples, surrounded by sparkling blue water, lies the island of Capri. On a beautiful day in May, we boarded a ferry, and within an hour, were disembarking onto a marina heaving with tourists. In spite of the crowds, the chic atmosphere, and the many offers from tour guides touting for business, Capri Town itself retains a feeling of charm and elegance.
The weather and tides conspired to prevent us taking a boat trip to the famous Blue Grotto where the Roman Emperor Tiberius carved his landing stage, instead we took a bus to the second largest town of Anacapri where we jumped on the rickety Seggiovia chairlift to the highest point on the island, Monte Solaro. From here we looked down on the deep turquoise water, and the seabirds whirling around the rocks below. The nearby Isole Faraglioni rocks provide a focus for the endless stream of photographers who queue for pictures of their friends with this stunning backdrop.
The Villa Jovis, at the eastern tip of the island is also visible from here. Built in the first century BC by the Emperor Tiberius it was the largest of twelve Roman Villas on Capri, and the most luxurious of them all. Located at a height of 334m above sea level, it was both private and secluded with many sophisticated systems designed to collect and distribute rainwater throughout the palace. Legend has it that Tiberius would have his enemies hurled from the sheer cliff behind the villa, now known as Salto di Tiberio, Tiberius’s Leap.
Facing the view on the chairlift down the mountain was even more spectacular, as was the size of the queue for the lift, which had quadrupled since our own departure. We headed for lunch of courgette chips with deep fried cheese parcels, melon with parma ham, and could not resist ordering the Caprese salad which takes its name from the island.
Strolling through town, we checked out shops where sandals can be made to order while you wait, while more tourists queued to choose their designs.
With a ferry to catch back to Naples, we climbed onto another crowded, sweaty bus and returned to Capri Town, and having misread the timetable, found a couple of hours to spare. We ventured up the funicular railway from the port of Marina Grande, to the centre of Capri Town. Elegant tourists, with giant cameras sipped tempting cocktails in expensive looking café’s while we ventured out of town, along narrow lanes dividing local villas from their ramshackle gardens, vegetable patches, and fruit laden lemon trees.
We had hoped to spend some time on the beautiful beaches, and dip into the azure waters, but sadly there was no time left. We returned to the crowds and queues of the port, and climbed aboard the hydrofoil for our trip back to Naples.
Another beautiful day in the sunshine, and there’s still plenty to fill a return visit to Capri one day.