Capri, Italy is well-known as a paradise for fashionistas and top travel destinations. If you venture beyond the maze of boutiques like Dolce & Gabbana or Versace, you’ll find that you can do more with your purchasing power by taking on a variety of challenging hikes.
As the ferry from Naples, Italy approaches Marina Grande, it is obvious that this Italian island has a pulse-pounding potential. Perched on a rocky bluff above Marina Grande’s narrow strip pizzerias and trinket shops is Capri. This small town has a number of shops and cafes and beautiful people who have made sweater-draping an art form.
It is worth visiting Capri, Italy, on your travel list. Capri is a beautiful place to visit in Europe and Italy.
Visitors can climb the slope by foot but most prefer the funicular. It drops passengers just below a charming terrace, where a bougainvillea-draped column frames views of stucco homes that tumble towards the coast.
Visiting the Most Beautiful Places in Italy
White sails look like huge shark fins, slicing the teal water. But, more concerning are the formidable cliffs west of the city, marked by a faint, zigzag stripe called the Phoenician Steps.
These centuries-old steps were the only way to access Marina Grande and Capri. Anacapri is Italy’s smaller sister town, and shops tend to carry authentic Italian wares rather than the latest runway fashions.
Today, the narrow winding road that runs along the cliff edge connects Anacapri and Capri. This provides an adrenaline rush, especially when you ride one of the public busses at night when everything is dark except for the marina lights.
A funicular takes visitors to Capri in Italy a terrace gives you sweeping views over the island. Even though the local looks jaded, she makes the sign of the cross as we go around a difficult bend. She coolly disguises the gesture by attempting to act like a hair toss.
The Phoenician Steps might be a better alternative. We think so, at least when they are attempted in broad daylight (and if you go down rather than up). We find ourselves at the top, looking down on the seemingly endless and daunting staircase. The colorful fishing boats from Marina Grande are 200m below.
The big stone steps are a great place for lizards to scamper between, weaving among dried leaves, and disappearing into the weeds. But soon we’re huffing and puffing, with our legs and lungs burning.
As the steps descend into an alleyway leading to town, we come across a couple from Britain, who are already looking red and panting at the top of the climb.
The wife asks, “How far is it to the top?” “Did your sack lunch go with you?” I answer. My husband, who is clearly the initiator of this little adventure, stares daggers at my eyes as I desperately try to blink a Morse code message to his wife: “Forget about what Nike says!” Just DON’T do it!”
Hubby is unflinching and follows her, and they should have felt a similar sense of satisfaction to ours. We could have survived these sadistic steps if we were able to overcome the greatest challenge “Stairmaster Island”, as Scott calls it.
We thought so until we embarked on the Sentiero dei Fortini. This rocky path links the remains of several Napoleonic-era forts that lie along Capri’s wave-lashed west coastline. It is a top-rated travel destination in Europe.
Start your day with lunch at Add O’Riccio. This friendly restaurant overlooks the Grotta Azzurra. It is a cave that has a reputation for reflecting the blue light of the ocean.
We had hoped that we could take a boat tour through the cave. We were unable to swim in the cave’s water so we shared a delicious plate of cheese ravioli with a huge Caprese salad (“Grande like me”) and then set off for the fort course, a few hundred meters further down the road.
After descending just a few steps to the dirt trail we are rewarded with Orrico, my favorite of all the forts.
Travel Guide: Capri Italy’s Past
The semi-circle of stone seems to have formed from the jagged precipice on which it rests, much like neatly organized molecules that spontaneously form out of natural chaos.
The fort is now open to the skies, but there are still interesting features such as a brick fireplace. It’s easy for British soldiers to gaze out at sea, pensive, looking for signs of the French fleet. They did take Capri in 1808. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies returned the island to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in 1813.
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We continue on through a cool forest where pine needles dampen our footsteps. Soon after, we are forced to leave the forest and climb over rocks and into and out of gullies. We also pass blue-fingered caves and fjords that plow at the eroding Italian limestone.
The path is marked with painted ceramic plaques that show the fauna and flora encountered along the way. These include the unimaginatively-named “wall lizard”, the Western whip snake (“not toxic, but prone to bit”), and, more surprisingly, the Moray eel. I know that if I come face-to-face with an eel, it will be a disaster.
As I scream at the thunderous sound, I realize that a storm was coming. Scott murmurs, “Or”, and I realize that it could be cannon fire. We live to hike another day and choose to trek to the Arco Naturale, a huge natural stone arch on the east coastline, as our grand finale.
The arch can be reached via a short walk from Capri along Via Matermania. We are seduced by Via Pizzolungo which is more scenic but more difficult and takes longer to reach. It also flirts with the southeast coast.
The route winds through the Faraglioni, an array of thrusting pinnacles off the coast. It also passes by the Grotta di Matermania (a cave with a horseshoe shape that may have been used for fertility rituals). We descend one final staircase to see the Italian arch, after a final ascent.
It is rough and unpolished but it glows in the sun, providing a keyhole view of the aquamarine ocean. The gray skies that have beleaguered us start to clear and a rainbow appears just beyond the arch. This is a celestial confirmation we are gazing at one of Capri’s greatest treasures. It’s a beautiful view on an island full of big bucks, bling, and beauty.
Tips for Getting Around Capri, Italy
It’s only a short bus or taxi ride from Naples to Molo Beverello harbor, where you can board a ferry or jetfoil that will take you to Capri. Capri is not a place for cars, but public transport or taxis make it easy to get around.
Monte Solaro: The chair lift takes you to the top of Monte Solaro in just over ten seconds. 360-degree views of Capri will reward you.
Villa Jovis: This route leads to the crumbling Roman villa built for Emperor Tiberius. It is located in a residential area just outside Capri. Although the 45-minute hike is steep, the view from the Amalfi Coast’s stone and brick ruins make it worth it.
Anacapri’s Hotel Caesar Augustus is one of the best spots to see the sunset. Drinks in hand, guests enjoy a drink and gaze at the stunning spectacle that is reflected in the pool’s mirror-like surface.
Where to Stay in Capri, Italy
Hotel Caesar Augustus sits on a clifftop at 1,000 feet above Anacapri’s Bay of Naples. This Relais & Chateaux property has 55 rooms and suites. It also includes an elegant bar and lounge, a fireplace, and a candlelit restaurant. The most popular choice for honeymoons is the cascading terraces that offer stunning sunset views of Mount Vesuvius.
The Capri Palace Via Capodimonte. The hotel has 79 rooms and suites located in Anacapri. It is also home to L’Olivo, a Michelin-starred restaurant and Spa The Capri Beauty Farm. Gwyneth Paltrow is one of its most ardent fans.
Grand Hotel Quisisana. Via Camerelle. This 150-room 19th-century grand dame has attracted celebs such as Sting and Tom Cruise to its exclusive cocktail terrace in Capri’s heart.
The best time to visit Capri, Italy
The best time to visit one of the most beautiful places in Europe or around the globe is between April and October. Many hotels and restaurants are closed in winter.
More information about Capri, Italy: www.capritourism.com