Idyllic island in Italy’s Gulf of Naples…
Keep your eyes glued to the window as the shuttle from Naples airport weaves slowly through the narrow streets of the city’s Greco-Roman historic centre. Past alley labyrinths and literary cafès. Past church steeples, Baroque facades, Renaissance statues and frescoed fountains. Past leftovers of the ancient Agora and Forum. To the buzzing port guarded by the turreted Castle Nuovo. Where the shadow of Vesuvius looming in the distance triggers a thought…maybe Pompeii just a bad dream. Long ticket queues to multiple islands, but the wait is short, because Capri ferries depart every 45 minutes. So sit back on the plush seats and enjoy the smooth sail over the Tyrrhenian Sea. Because here on, its stinging electric blue all the way.
Announce your arrival with élan
Idyllic island…the mind pronounces wordlessly, as you approach the stone breakwaters separating the sea from the yacht-studded harbour. Azure blue contrasts sharply with a white-dominant town rising up a stony cliff. Simple houses huddle together in pleasing disharmony. Ancient Roman hideaway. 19th-century art capital rivalling the stature of Paris. And now chic getaway synonymous with jet-setter parties, celebrity escapes and understated luxury. With lemon trees, vibrant bougainvillea, fresh air, warm sun, happy faces, tanned skin. Eager leap right into the Mediterranean!
People everywhere. Quick inspection for transport. Funicular? Bus? Wait…are those vintage cabriolets with open roofs?? Yasssss! Uptown through narrow winding streets. Worth each cent of the 20 euro ride. Disembark at the thronging Piazzetta Umberto. Postpone curiosity for later. Luggage drag to hotel…enticing boutiques and enviable villas all along. Narrow streets, covered passages…this is getting to be very long walk! And uphill! Puff. Pant. Stare at flower-draped walls, adorned frontages, hidden statues in gardens. Finally reach Villa Helios…smile at the much deserved upgrade to partial sea view room. One more spoon of perfect and it will spill! Brilliantly blue with ecstasy?
Find rocks and a dizzying trail
Return to the pulsating Piazzetta for a sun-soak. Wander aimlessly, poke into corners, peek into alleys, eavesdrop on lazy cats, indulge in shameless people- watching. Relish the freshness of Capricciosa Pizza and Limoncello. Savour the lusciousness of Caprisa cake at the historic Cafe Morgano. And queue up for the oldest gelato at the famed Buonocore. Capri start, done right.
Search out the path leading to the Gardens of Augustus, named after Caesar Augustus, founder of the Roman Empire, who adopted Capri as his hideaway. Outside the entrance, get a glimpse of the dizzying trail of Via Krupp clinging to a sheer cliffside all the way down to the rocky shoreline. Meander through the gardens’ lush flower terraces, murmuring fountains and exotic Majolica-tiled walls. Find the best view of the Faraglioni Rocks, the trio of rock formations embedded in the transparent turquoise waters. Gaping much? Blue colored, heart-shaped eyeballs are a thing…and they are born here.
Hike to hedonistic haven
Take a hike to Villa Jovis. 50 minutes of eternity. Who needs heaven when you have this?? Villas, villas and more villas…both sides. Generously proportioned lawns. Tasteful iron grillwork. Gracefully decorated fountains. Delicately hanging trellis. Lusciously draped vines. And secretively hidden statues. Forget shy, get greedy. Get an eyeful.
Go back to 1st century AD. Step into the stony sprawl that defines the 7,000 square feet hedonistic haven belonging to Roman Emperor Tiberius. Isn’t Villa Jovis too modest a name for the first ever Roman imperial palace and largest of the twelve imperial villas on the island? Find traces of marble, mosaic, terraces, gardens and baths in the ruins. Poke around the lighthouse from where Tiberius communicated with the coast and with Rome. Shudder at the sheer 977-feet cliff drop where ‘miscreants’ were hurled to their death. And gasp at the 360 degree view of azure blue infinity…
Glide into a magical sea cave
From the harbour, ferry across the sea in 10 minutes to the famed Blue Grotto. Wait your turn to be transferred into one of the many waiting small wooden boats. Sway to the gondolier lively songs as he rows to a meter-high cave mouth, grabs hold of the chain linked to the cave side, signals a head duck, and whisks you inside the the 190-feet long and 82-feet wide water cave.
Pitch dark inside…wait for the eye adjust. You’re floating on liquid sapphire…magical and intense like the light of a blue flame. So many boats, cameras flashes and gondoliers singing praises for Santa Lucia. Personal swimming pool for Emperor Tiberius with passageways leading to the palace and ancient marine temple, this. Don’t waste time analysing the science of the illumination, because you have only a few moments to soak in the spell.
Pinch yourself back to reality
Hop onto a bus negotiating an uphill hairpin road to Anacapri, the quieter, more rugged side of the island. Destination Villa San Michel, abode of 19th-century Swedish author and physician Axel Munthe. Another luxury villa? Or sacred Greek temple perched on a hilltop ledge? As unreal as it gets.
Spend a few hours immersing in the beauty of the lush gardens. Stroll under the pretty pergola, find hundreds of artworks, admire the carved Medusa head and make a wish at the antique pink marble Egyptian sphinx, crouching and looking out to cobalt blue vistas beyond town to the Sorrentine Peninsula and Mount Vesuvius. Peer down the 921 Phoenician Steps…once the only stony, steep access used to transport fresh water, building material, correspondence and luggage of early travellers. Tough climb down…do you dare?
Daydream with a sensational sundowner
Head to the Faro beach and let your impulse guide you to the Punta Carena Lighthouse. Second largest in Italy, with classic red-and-white old-world appeal…its been a guiding light to voyagers since 1867. Pure vintage and ageless. At the rocky edge of the land, with ultramarine waters all around, you will have one single urge…to sun it up for as long as you can. Give in.
Later, grab a seat with a view in the shack bar, order a drink and drown in the lilt of the soft music. Watch lazy swimmers fill the cove. Witness a romantic beach wedding…tinkling champagne glasses, floating conversation, ballet dancers in bubbles and all. Flashback 2,000 years, to the time when the spectacular scenery of this tiny island attracted its first Greek and Roman aristocratic tourists. Sunset fantasies come to life as the giant blazing red ball sets the sea aflame. And you understand why writers, artists and musicians have always been drawn to Capri shores. This is inspiration overload.
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