How we approach life is often through a one way glass. Most of us live very insulated lives and don’t really understand what others are experiencing as showcased these past few weeks. Travel allows us to open our minds, to change our mindset and our view of what is really happening in our world and to the people in it. It opens our eyes to inequities, to injustice but also to magnificent beauty. It begs us to approach life in a more simple lifestyle so we don’t miss the good stuff but also to be more tolerant. Who doesn’t want La Dolce Vita?
Of course, at this time during a pandemic things are vastly different and although countries are slowly waking up and starting to allow some travel, I imagine it will be quite a while until travel and tourism are back where they were pre-pandemic. The global community is there and waiting for us all to come back and experience the history, the food, the architecture, the mountains and the deserts, the safaris and the seas.
As I was looking back on my many trips over the last years I realize how many memories and moments I have yet to share with you.
This time I wanted to take you virtually to the Island of Capri on The Amalfi Coast to share more of those special adventures and memories.
I have been lucky enough to have visited Capri three times and certainly will go back again when things are different. There is a very special vibe and atmosphere that you don’t find in other places here.
If you are wondering if you should stay on the island itself vs. taking a day trip, I can highly recommend it is an experience not to be missed. Why stay overnight on Capri? The magic of all the towns on The Amalfi Coast really becomes apparent when the daytime tourists head back to their home bases outside of the Coast. Often they are on day trips from Rome and trying to cram everything into one day. Ridiculous!!! if you ask me as you have experienced nothing this marvelous, unique country and its people have to offer.
Capri is a quick boat ride from Naples, Sorrento, Positano or Amalfi (Amalfi is a town on The Amalfi Coast). In the off-season you must go to Sorrento to get a ferry over to Capri as the small ferries don’t run in the winter. Even from The Path of the Gods high above Positano the Faraglioni Rock formations on Capri are visible and beckon you into the sea.
Have you heard of the rock formation called the Faraglioni? At one time it was all connected to the island. Did you know the rocks each have names? “Stella” is connected under water now, but all slowly were eroded by the sea. The other two are Mezzo and Scopolo. You can experience them from the water as you sail right thru them. For me this was a dream come true on my first trip here. Then take a swim in the warm waters of the Mediterranean.
When you arrive on Capri you come into Marina Grande where all the ferries arrive and you take the funicular which connects the marina on the coast with the Piazza Umberto. Just look for the clock tower. I highly suggest hiring a guide to make the most of your stay. There is much to explore vs. just shopping and eating your way around town.
The main square has loads of outdoor cafes to see and be seen. Locals call it the Piazzetta. Here you will also find the Catholic Church, Santa Stefano built around the 17th century.
As you stroll around enjoy the jasmine and bougainvillea while admiring the beautiful villas and hotels along the streets stretching out to the sea. Stop in at Carthusia and select the perfect perfume from the dozens available.
Anacapri is the highest point of the island and much quieter. I had the good fortune to stay here and was not disappointed. The food was amazing and I loved wandering the tiny, historic lanes lined with all sorts of shops. The main Piazza Vittoria can be reached by bus or driver, maybe an open air cab, from Marina Grande where you arrived.
Be sure to walk up the steps to find the chairlift to take you to the top of Monte Solaro and the stunning, jaw-dropping views of the entire Sorrentine peninsula.
After that, grab some lunch next door and then maybe get some sandals made or visit the Villa San Michele down the lane. This villa has more than just gorgeous views of The Coast it was built by a Swedish physician named Axel Munthe. The gardens here allow you to really immerse yourself in the Isle of Capri and his art and sculpture collection are on view. The sphinx of Villa San Michele faces the sea and Mount Vesuvius and was to guard the dreams of visitors, how romantic and hopeful.
After lunch head back down to Capri town and explore the Gardens of Caesar Augustus if you can bear to not just wander the Via Camerelle. This is the Rodeo Drive of Capri. Upscale boutiques, shops and hotels line the street.
I was in need of a watch on one trip and can you even believe my watch broke and it was not easy to find a replacement! I got a Capri watch and to this day I love it and I get many comments on it. I even met a couple here in Connecticut who told me they bought several as gifts. Lucky were those gift receivers :). However, that was better than on a trip to Puglia I broke my glasses! Never made the mistake again of traveling without a spare set. A watch is not a necessity as we always have our phones, but glasses!
After wandering thru the streets, head towards the Gardens of Caesar Augustus with more amazing views from the terraced gardens overlooking the Faraglioni on one side and Marina Piccola and the Via Krupp on the other. These botanical gardens showcase the beauty of this island and contain sculptures and all manner of plant species. I had never seen capers growing in nature. Have you? I love using capers in my cooking.
When you are visiting the gardens you can look down towards Via Krupp. The switchback path winds its way down the mountain connecting the gardens with the marina below and was commissioned by a German industrialist named Friedrich Krupp. I believe due to rock fall the path might still be closed.
A fun place to grab lunch nearby is the Hotel Quisisana. We sat out around the pool. Quite the experience! From this lovely upscale hotel you can also see the Certosa di San Giacomo which was a Carthusian monastery founded back in 1363. History is everywhere if you will only take the time to see it.
What is it about Italy that captures our hearts when we are there and makes us dream of forever returning? I think there is the magic of a slower pace of life in a heartbreakingly beautiful place. I do believe La Dolce Vita is more than just a saying. It is why life in Italy draws us to it. It forces you to appreciate the simple pleasures of life,not just travel through it.
Take in the smell of lemons, the sea, the slower living, the relaxed attitude, the connection to family and the food. It is not about having “stuff, but about living each day to its fullest. You must immerse yourself in the traditions and culture, the music, the sea which is an irresistible color of turquoise. Don’t be in a hurry to get to the next spot to check off your travel itinerary but stop and really get to understand what makes any place you visit special. After all, isn’t that why you came. I certainly hope it wasn’t for a selfie! Share a meal with friends or make some new ones. Don’t worry about gaining weight on The Amalfi Coast! There are thousand of steps and the healthy food will keep you in shape. It encourages a healthy attitude towards life and of course, the wine! The aperitivo is all about slowing down, visiting with friends, old and new and savoring the time, the drink and the food.
When you travel anywhere please respect the place, the culture and the people so the beauty is there for the next generation of tourists. It is not about just saying you were there, grabbing a photo and moving on. What a waste it would be to visit The Amalfi Coast just to check this or that off your bucket list. It is so much more than pretty pictures as it beckons you to find a place in your heart so you will return again and again.
There are many other things to do here like hike to Villa Jovis but save that for a time when you are not on a day trip as it is a long hike from town. If you need some thoughts on hotels or guides, just send me a note and I’ll try to help or direct you to the best resource. Hope I’ve given you a reason to check out Capri. Send me your questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.