Capri – the island of sirens and lemons

Visiting Capri has long been a dream of mine. Ever since I read in some of those boring airline magazines an interview with an airplane pilot, who, being asked what’s the best place on earth he had seen, responded: Capri.

Oh well, I haven’t seen the whole world (yet), and I can’t say whether or not it’s the best on earth. But I truly liked it! Even more because we visited it in the low season (February), and could enjoy its splendor in full.

Rome was a great starting point for a tour to the island of sirens (as it was called in Greek mythology), being a low-cost air destination, and just couple of hours drive from Naples. Naples, together with Sorrento, is a starting point for ferries to Capri.

The ferry took 50-60 minutes each way and cost approx 20 EUR roundtrip. The trip was spectacular, opening awesome views to Vesuvius on the east and the islands of Ischia and Procida on the west, until we reached the green cover and clear blue skies of Capri island.

Views to Vesuvius from the ferry

Capri has a very well-developed internal bus system. Regular buses cross every part of the city, but if possible, I’d recommend avoiding them. You can enjoy and see so much by just walking the narrow steps and streets of the island! Gorgeous villas, cute and nicely decorated gardens and sweet tiny shops are what you will encounter when making the road on foot.

The smile of Lucia – one of the many villas along the footsteps from Marina Grande to the town of Capri

The island has two main villages: Capri and Anacapri. From the ferry port (Marina Grande) we used the steps to reach Capri, which is located on approx half the maximum height of the island. Then we got the bus to go from Capri to Anacapri (located at the very top of the island), via a roller-coaster mountain road which opened breathtaking views to the sea below. In February when we visited, Capri was definitely the more populated village. Lots of tourists, residents, cafes opened, but, just a single restaurant! (which was so well hidden, that it was almost empty..seems the other tourists had no luck finding it! :))

The central street of Capri

The city of Capri offered amazing views to the island

Anacapri was more to my taste. Quiet, boutique, color-abundant, sunny, green..There were just two main streets here, but both had so much to enjoy! Sights, interesting houses, a church with clock tower, amazing gardens, and a single open cafe with delicious sweets!

The red house – built for an American colonel at the end of 19th century, now open to the public

The church of San Michele in Anacapri

Anacapri central square after some Sunday morning celebration

Anacapri is among the starting points for a visit to the Grotta Azzurra – the blue cave which is the biggest sight on the island, but which was closed when we visited. In short, this is a sea cave 60 meters long by 25 meters wide which can be visited only by a small boat. The entrance to the cave is so tiny, that to enter the cave everyone in the boat lies down, and the boat is pulled inside with a rope. I’ve seen pics of the grotta and they are…something that will make me come back, one day 🙂

Lemons are the symbol of Capri. Almost every house has lemons in its garden; they appear on street signs, door fronts, benches, and in the shops you can get all kinds of lemon candy, and the famous liqueur limoncello. The pasticcerias also sold a local pastry called Delizia al Limone (lemon delight).

Delizia al Limone – one of the local pastries

 At the end of our island trip we decided to check the beach near Marina Grande. Clean sea but rough pebble beach..not very attractive. Still, during the high season many people enjoy the spectacular bays here..some of them reachable only by boat.

Capri beach next to Marina Grande at dusk

If I have to summarize my experience in Capri, I would say: diversity. You can’t get bored walking the small streets and picturesque roads of the island. And being there without the crowds, enjoying the fresh breeze, the scent of lemon trees and the blue skies is utterly recharging. That is why, perhaps, Somerset Maugham chose Capri as the place for his short story The Lotus Eater – a story where the main character escaped from a banking job in London to enjoy the peace and solitude of Capri island. Capri is the place to breathe, relax and recharge.


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