This sun-soaked corner of paradise in the Tyrrhenian Sea has long welcomed the rich and powerful, its pleasant climes seducing all those who venture here. A long, long time ago, the Roman emperors Augustus and Tiberius discovered its charms, making Capri their private retreat away from the intrigue of ancient Rome. The Roman Empire might now be history but Capri continues to attract modern-day royalty: Pop divas, Hollywood stars and mercurial novelists are the latest to have made this fabled isle their own.
You begin to sense what Capri’s all about as your boat docks here – the Marina Grande and Marina Piccolo are chock-a- block with yachts and speedboats. The main tourist district, up in the hills that blanket this island, is a pedestrian-only zone. But that’s part of the island’s charm – there’s much joy in walking around the lanes, browsing the small boutiques, savouring lemon granitas and watching the azure waters of the Bay of Naples peeking through the trees.
The town’s main square – The Piazzetta – is constantly abuzz, its bars and restaurants alive with the sounds of revelry. The lanes leading off from near the Piazzetta, especially Via Camerelle, Via le Botteghe, and the Via Li Campi, are packed with restaurants, bars and boutiques.
Capri’s Roman past can be seen at the Villa Jovis. Walk up to Tiberius’s Leap, overlooking the sea. It’s said that anyone who found himself in Tiberius’s bad books was thrown off this cliff! A rather grim past, but today it’s a pleasant, windswept point just right for dawdling awhile and letting the warm sun fall on your face. Walk over to the Giardini di Augusto (Gardens of Augustus) for fantastic views of the rock formation that has come to symbolise Capri – the Faraglioni Rocks. To the east of the gardens lies Certosa di San Giacomo, a 14th-century monastery.
Also close-by is via Krupp, a pathway leading down to the Marina Piccolo. Come here at dusk; the ocean ablaze with the rays of the setting sun makes it an impossibly romantic stroll. The main tourist district has enough to keep you occupied, but there’s more: Take a boat tour to the Grotta Azzura (The Blue Grotto), a cave that lights up with an iridescent glow when the sun’s rays pass through the sea. Monte Solaro, the island’s highest point, accessed via a walk or a chairlift, offers breathtaking views. And if you’ve got the time, head down to the Arco Naturale, an arch formed from the remains of what was once a sea grotto.
Excerpt taken from the Jan 2015 issue of India Deluxe