December 18, 2017

Capri, Italy- Island Life

I first visited the island of Capri, seven years ago with my family. We had gone in the spring, when it was just beginning to bustle with tourists. The weather was perfect mix of sun and clear Carolina blue sky, with a constant cool breeze brushing up from the shore. I remember how quiet and naturally beautiful it was; everything felt so serene. We spent the day wandering through the slender streets and archways buying knick-knacks at various shops along the way. We had taken a ferry boat over from the mainland, so our time there was limited, but I never forgot how perfectly picturesque it was, which is why I made it a point to revisit.

Living in Gaeta at the time, made it surprisingly easy to get to this lush island. I travelled two hours south to Napoli, and then hopped onto a Ferry heading to Capri. It’s important to note, you can get to the island by hydrofoil (50 min), as well as by Ferry (60/90 min) from both Naples and Sorrento. Whichever form of transportation you decide to use, both dock at the Port of Marina Grande. My Ferry ride cost about 13 euro, and although I did get a little sea sick, there was enough room to spread out and try to relax.

Once I reached the island, shook off the nauseous feeling, and started walking towards the harbor, I was struck speechless by the dramatic landscape. The array of pastel painted buildings in comparison to the arching cliffs and blue-green water just looked stunning in the morning sunlight. After walking around the harbor, and finding a few shops, cafes, and an info center, it was obvious that the island’s main attractions were up in Capri town. So, the next task was finding the cheapest way up the mountain. I’m a poor college kid, remember? Rather than spend a small fortune on a cab, or bus, I decided to take the funicular. The station is situated right across from the docks, and you can buy the tickets nearby. One way on the funicular costs 1.30 euro; if you plan on venturing all over the island I recommend buying the day pass for 8 euro.

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The island of Capri is known for being a major tourist attraction, as well as one of the more expensive destinations in Italy. With that said, I think it is a must-see, and you will be missing out on a breathtakingly beautiful experience if you decide to skip it.

Locals were shocked when I said I was staying on the island for a few days, rather than just doing an afternoon visit like so many others. But, due to the timing of my trip (Fall) I was able to find several hotels at a discounted price. It was one of the few times I got to stay in a hotel, rather than a hostel, and damn do I cherish those nights in a big bed all to myself. Any backpacker/ traveler knows the feeling.

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The only downfall of visiting during this time of the year was that many of the shops and boutiques were closed. Since it is a touristy place, the island is more-so lively in the spring and summer months.

With the island being small, there are only so many places to eat and grab a cappuccino. Although this café is right in the center, and a little pricier than some others, it proved to be the perfect place to sip my coffee, have some lunch, and people-watch. Not too shabby, don’t you think?

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The main way to get around the island is to walk. Although the island is broken up into three parts, the port, Capri town, and Anacapri, each section is relatively flat, and is comprised of small cobblestone walkways that branch out. Although it would be difficult to get lost on such a small island, I do recommend taking a map from the hotel so that you have the places of interest highlighted.

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The main piazza in Capri town is the perfect place to sit and watch the sunset. The benches are always occupied by people taking in the view, and yet it never feels crowded.

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As I walked around Capri Town, I came across Giardini Augusto, which was a must-see garden on the map. Although it is small, it provides stunning views of the island’s landmarks, such as Faraglioni, and is filled with colorful flowers and intimate walkways.

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Of course you can’t go to the island of Capri without making you way up to Anacapri. After taking a very scary bus ride through some narrow streets, I finally arrived at the top of the island, or so I thought.

Anacapri, like Capri town, has a variety of shops selling souvenirs and luxury items. Perfume is a specialty. I ended up purchasing a small bottle of “the flowers of Capri” for twenty euro, but if I had more money to spend, i definitely would’ve mixed several different flavors to create my own scent. If you continue to walk along the side street next to the shopping center, you will eventually come to the Villa San Michelle and the church of San Michele Arcangelo. Both are recommended by locals, and the villa is known for having a beautiful garden out back. Further down the road I came to a steep set of stairs that I found out lead down to the Marina Piccola. This is a ‘beach’ comprised of rocks where people layout and swim in the summer.

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After taking a little stroll around Anacapri, I personally think that Capri town has more to offer, but it’s still got the island charm. The best part of Anacapri is the chair lift, which runs to the highest peak on the island, Monte Solaro. It was 10 euro for a round trip ticket, and just like when skiing, I practically fell into the seat as it rounded the corner and held on for dear life.

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From the top, you can see the entire island.

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With the island being so small, it is easy to walk around and stumble upon one hidden Eden after the next. This particular area was my favorite.

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Lemoncello is sold in many of the shops on the island, and a few local shop owners even offer tastings. I tried this sweet liquor a few years ago, and loved it, so I decided to buy this little bottle for the family back home.

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In all of the travel books that I’ve read, a visit to the Blue grotto is an absolute necessity. The turquoise colored are supposedly stunning, and it was one of the main things I was looking forward to doing during my time in Capri. Unfortunately, due to unsteady sea conditions, the boats refused to run all three days I was on the island. Since the grotto can only be entered by a rowboat when the tide is low enough, the locals didn’t want to risk the journey. I did price it out, while I was standing on the dock and for 3 hours it is 12 euro. So, the next time I visit this gorgeous island it will be during the summer, and I will see the grotto.

Every time I visit Capri I love it more than the last. It’s the perfect escape. Although, it is not a beach scene per-say, the views, shopping, food, and hospitality will make you feel like you’re at an exclusive resort. It’s high-end taste and elegance, makes it a must-see in my book.

 

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