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Capri, Italy

The small Italian island of Capri is situated 5 km from the mainland in the Bay of Naples, a celebrated beauty spot and coastal resort since the days of the Roman Republic until now. It is also part of Campania.

Capri, known in Greek mythology as the isle of the sirens, was a favored resort of the Roman emperors. Most notoriously, the emperor Tiberius had his villa on the island, the location (supposedly) of debauched orgies. Those who displeased the emperor were flung to their deaths from the cliffs. The island is world famous and is very touristy, especially when swamped with tourists in July & August, but other times of year it is calmer and more relaxing.

Capri is a tourist destination for both Italians and foreigners. In the 1950s Capri became a popular resort. In summer, the island is heavily visited by tourists, especially by day trippers from... Read more

Capri, Italy

Destination:

The small Italian island of Capri is situated 5 km from the mainland in the Bay of Naples, a celebrated beauty spot and coastal resort since the days of the Roman Republic until now. It is also part of Campania.

Capri, known in Greek mythology as the isle of the sirens, was a favored resort of the Roman emperors. Most notoriously, the emperor Tiberius had his villa on the island, the location (supposedly) of debauched orgies. Those who displeased the emperor were flung to their deaths from the cliffs. The island is world famous and is very touristy, especially when swamped with tourists in July & August, but other times of year it is calmer and more relaxing.

Capri is a tourist destination for both Italians and foreigners. In the 1950s Capri became a popular resort. In summer, the island is heavily visited by tourists, especially by day trippers from Naples and Sorrento. Many of these visitors make it a point to wear the pants named after the destination. The center of Capri is the Piazza.
Capri is home to the Mediterranean bush, the Arboreal Euphorbia, and the Ilex Wood. The native inhabitants on the island include quails, robins, peregrine falcons, woodcocks, blackbirds, geckos, red goldfish, conger eels, sargos, groupers, mullets, and the blue lizard of the Faraglioni.
Capri has twelve churches, seven museums and several monuments. The most visited attraction in Capri is the Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto). It is a special cave, discovered in the 19th century by foreign tourists and has been a phenomenon ever since. On one side of the grotto are the remains of ancient Roman rock, with a narrow cavern.

Related readings

The isle of Capri is the setting for William Somerset Maugham's The Lotus Eater, a short story in which the Bostonian protagonist arrives in Capri on holiday, wherein he is so enchanted by the place that he abandons his job and decides to spend the rest of his life in leisure on the island.

Pronunciation of the name

Many brand names of products are pronounced ka-PREE in English-speaking countries, but if you want to pronounce the name of the island like Italians do, you have to say KAH-pree.

The etymology of the name Capri is unclear; it might either be traced back to the Ancient Greeks (Ancient Greek κάπρος kapros meaning "wild boar"), the first recorded colonists to populate the island. But it could also derive from Latin capreae (goats). Fossils of wild boars have been discovered, lending credence to the "kapros" etymology; on the other hand, the Romans called Capri "goat island". Finally, there is also the possibility that the name derives from an Etruscan word for "rocky", though any historical Etruscan rule of the island is disputed.

Capri is a large, limestone and sandstone rock. The sides of the island are perpendicular cliffs and the surface of the island is composed of more cliffs.


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Capri, Italy: Port Information


Usually, cruise ships drop the anchor, and you will be tendered to the Marina Grande. After that, you can take a bus, a taxi or a funicular to the Capri town or Anacapri. 

Get around Capri, Italy


By foot: from the main harbour to the town up the hill leads a range of stairs. Stairs and walkways, mostly signposted, crisscross the island.
By funicolare: this mountain tram (same stuff as in Naples, Heidelberg, Barcelona and San Francisco) connects the harbour with the town up the hill. Read also about the unified public transport ticket Campania Unico.
By taxi: The open top taxis are expensive but, if there are a group of you worth considering. Haggle to get a price to ferry you around the island for the day (it won't be cheap - but very little on Capri is!).
By bus: Island buses are readily available to take you to the various areas of the island. They run on a schedule Buses run from:
  • Marina Grande to Capri town (4/hour) and then take bus to Anacapri (4/hour) but the Capri to Anacapri bus gets crowded, so you could take a bus direct from Marina to Anacapri (2/hour).
  • Anacapri Buses go to Capri (at least 4/hour) and to the Blue Grotto.

What to see in Capri, Italy


  • The town of Anacapri and its surrounding villas and hikes.
  • Blue Grotto (Grotta Azzurra) - The Blue Grotto is a beautiful cave at the water's edge with a tiny opening to the sea that opens and closes with the tide, used as a bath since the Roman times. The entrance is small and depending on the tide there is just enough space for only a small rowboat to get through. Dark at the entrance, one has to enter 20-30 yards and then turn around to view the beautiful sight of the light from the entrance flowing through the water lit turquoise from below by the sun. Hence the sight of the "Blue Grotto". You'll be amazed at the turquoise hues glimmering in the water and against the rocks. The grotto often closes due to tides and waves, and it may take a while for your boat to get in, with many other boats trying to do the same. It may also be advisable to check the tides beforehand to avoid disappointment. The trip on the passenger boat from Marina Grande to outside the Blue Grotto cavern costs about €9, then €12.50 per person for the rowboat to take you in through the tiny entrance which includes the entrance ticket to the cave and demands forom the oarsman for a tip, with a round trip of about 1 to 3 hours. There are also cruises that circumnavigate Capri and stop at the Blue Grotto allowing passengers to board a row boat and enter the grotto Alternatively, one can take a bus to Anacapri, walking 100m (inquire locally), then taking another bus to the Grotta Azzurra. This has the advantage of cutting on the cost from Marina Grande, as well as placing you near Anacapri where much else is to be seen. The grotto is open from 9:00 to one hour before sunset daily. If the grotto closes suddenly (hopefully while you are outside it), consider a cruise around the magnificent Faraglioni Rocks instead. The Blue Grotto is one of those 'love it' or 'loathe it' places. At peaks times the queue of tour bosats and those arriving by land can be 1 to 2 hours long and the total time in the cave is only a few minutes. Some will wonder what all the fuss is about (it's a cave with a small pool of blue water) and will begrudge the cost and time involved in seeing it. Others adore the place.
  • Villa Jovis

    - splendid residence of the Emperor Tiberius, start from Piazzetta Umberto I and turn into Via delle Botteghe, continuing straight on through Via Fuorlovado, Via Croce and, finally, Via Tiberio. After visiting the villa, you could dedicate some time to other attractions in the vicinity, such as the Church of Santa Maria del Soccorso, the Cave of Tiberius and the Lighthouse Tower.
  • Sunrise - If you take the early ferry from Naples (the one at 6:45AM), then as you travel to Capri, the sun rises over the mountains. The sky turns from deep violet to pink to orange to gold. It is an amazingly beautiful sight, certainly worth waking up at the ungodly hour!
  • Villa San Michele - Localed in Anacapri. Swedish physician Axel Munthe built it at the turn of the 20th Century on the grounds of one of Tiberius's ancient villas. The gardens have stupendous views of the island, the Sorrentine Peninsula and Mount Vesuvius. The villa and its grounds sit on a ledge at the top of the so-called Phoenician Steps (Scala Fenicia in Italian), built between Anacapri and Capri very probably by the first Greek settlers (the stairs are very steep and not for everybody). The good doctor actually wrote a book about the building of the villa and it makes good reading (The Story of San Michele). You'll find the book in many languages at the villa gift store. The Villa makes a very nice visit and along the road to get here you'll find nice stores that sell the Limoncello liquor that is quite good (specially cold). There is a small entrance fee, but it's well worth it.
  • Church of San Michele Arcangelo - Also in Anacapri, this church is a very nice example of baroque style on the island. Even though the church is nice by itself, the prize is the tile floor which is a mosaic depicting the expulsion of Adam & Eve from paradise, by artist Leonardo Chiaiese. You'll have to walk on wooden planks on the sides.

What to do in Capri, Italy


Capri is a place to do as little or as much as you like. The four cafes in the main square are the place to be seen in the evenings after the deluge of day trippers have left. Celebrities can occasionally be found sipping drinks there. High end shops line the streets if you feel the need for retail therapy.

  • Walk. Take one of the public footpaths which let you reach, for instance, the "Arco Naturale" and other beautiful sights which the large majority of tourists will only see from their boat trips around the island. Some of these paths are very steep and you need to walk up and down long stairs sometimes. The map you can buy for a small fee at the main tourist office in the harbor shows most of the footpaths. However, it is difficult to get lost on such a small island.
  • Hike. Nearly the entire perimeter of the island is accessible for hiking. Few people, except local fishers and hunters, take advantage of these beautiful natural trails. Several abandoned forts are found along the path and there are trails and paved descents that can take you all the way to the water's edge. This is a great way to explore the natural beauty of the island when the day tripping tourists flood the more populous regions of the island. Bring plenty of water and comfortable shoes if you do hike, you may be a long distance from the nearest road or bus stop.
  • Rent a motor boat. For anywhere up to 5 people per boat, two hours and drive the boat yourself - the perfect way to see the island from the sea - no schedule, you can stop wherever you please to take a swim. Enquire near to the port for the companies who provide these boats.
  • Rent a motor scooter to tour the island. Gets you around much quicker than on foot, but still allows you to easily maneuver the winding roads. Beware of crazy bus drivers especially around corners! Beware as they may only allow experienced drivers to rent scooters.
  • Take the chairlift ride. Called the Seggiovia by locals, it goes from Anacapri up to Monte Solaro. On a clear day the views over the bay of Naples from the summit are indescribable and there are some really pretty gardens and orchards underfoot on the way up the mountain (passing over private homes). The ride takes 15 minutes each way and is a remarkably peaceful break from the tourist crowds elsewhere in Capri. You'll want at the very least 30 minutes at the top, where a restaurant and toilets are available. 
  • Swim, many locals swim in the Blue Grotto after 6PM when the boats stop and in any of the other grottos around the island. Swimming is much safer however at the small beach to the left of the ticket kiosk for the furnicolare in Marina Grande or on the other side of the island at Marina Piccola (resort-like beach) or at any of the natural beaches reachable by boat. Swimming in grottos is only for experienced swimmers and is not for the faint-hearted, as tidal waves frequently close and open the openings to the grottos, and in the process, potentially injure a swimmer against the rocks when trying to enter or exit. Never do this alone, go with a local if you really feel the need to swim inside a grotto or the Blue Grotto which has a very low mouth opening.
  • Marina Piccola is on the opposite end of the island from Marina Grande. You can walk, but the bus is probably easier. The Marina Piccola is a quieter area which has two beach areas where you can swim or layout on the smooth rock beach. But in July and August finding space on the pebbles is very difficult.
  • Water taxi. Available also for private excursions anywhere in the Bay of Naples and Salerno.

Events

From April to the end of the summer, the island also comes to life from an artistic and cultural point of view. Concerts are organized almost every evening in the squares or the splendid villas built by Tiberius, as well as painting and sculpture exhibitions, plays and dance performances. This wonderful island is a destination that attracts visitors of all nationalities!

  • Festival of San Costanzo. On May 14 every year, the patron saint of the town of Capri, San Costanzo, is celebrated.
  • Festival of Sant’Antonio. On June 13 every year, the patron saint of the town of Anacapri is celebrated with a large rustic festival.
  • International Folklore Festival. During the 1st week of August, Anacapri plays host to a range of events in its squares, featuring musical bands and folk dance companies.
  • Settembrata Anacaprese. September. A large rustic festival for celebrating the grape harvest: 10 days of celebration dedicated to the island’s typical produce, including shows, competitions and games.
  • Capri Film Festival. Every December since 1991, Capri has hosted an international festival dedicated to the cinema. The event attracts Italian artistes, Hollywood stars and independent filmmakers keen to present their works in this exclusive location.

Arco Naturale - Natural arch in the landscape reachable by a beautiful hike around the southern edge of Capri.

What to eat and drink in Capri, Italy


Eat

Some restaurants, especially around the town center, can be VERY expensive. A good alternative: go to the local grocery store (one near the port, another in Anacapri) and make your own delicious sandwiches. (However there are few park benches and few public spaces to sit and eat on Capri.) Cafes at the harbour are particularly costly.

  • Deco Supermercato, Via Matermania, 1, ☎ +39 081 83 76 840. open till 20.30 (not on Sunday). This is one of the few quite large and relatively cheap super market in the island.
  • R. Buonocore, Via Vittorio Emanuele, 35, ☎ +39 081 8377826. Very close to the 'Piazzetta', this place is plenty of very good sweets but the best is their ice cream with just done/still hot cones. Assistants speak English.
  • Buca di Bacco, Via Longano, 35, ☎ +39 081 837 07 23. A very nice and cosy restaurant with excellent seafood pasta dishes. Not so expensive and very good food. Book in advance
  • Bar Columbus, ☎ +39 081-837-1441. Is in the same building that the funicular to Monte Solaro goes up (in Anacapri). The downstairs is a bar, good antipasti dishes, open daily, on Via Caposcoro.
  • Donna Rachele Is a new and very good restaurant pretty close to the main square in Capri. Prices are not cheap but they are certainly worth it. They have a good wine selection and will make a nice recommendation if asked. There is also a beautiful tile mosaic on the second floor. Telephone: +39 081 8375387. Via Padre Serafino Cimino, 2bis, 80073 Capri.

Drink

After getting off the train that goes up the hill, walk up to the square with the pillars all around, and you'll find a little drink stand. Buy a Red Orange Smoothie; they are excellent when the weather gets hot.

Safety in Capri, Italy


As with many other places, hike at your own risk. Cacti, prickly pears, bees, and steep slopes and edges are the primary things to be cautious of on some trails, but otherwise, hiking on Capri's trails is generally quite safe. However, be careful when walking down paths around the villas when alone, as many of the residents of the villas keep large dogs which may roam freely onto the public pathways; these dogs are not particularly friendly to foreigners of the island.
Swimming in the Grottos is only for the very experienced, as tides can easily open and close the Grottos and smash swimmers against the rocks when trying to enter or exit. Swimming alone in the Grottoes is highly discouraged.

Language spoken in Capri, Italy


Southern Italian dialects (at least some of which are considered separate languages by linguists) can be very hard for people used to Tuscan or other Northern Italian dialects to understand. Even when locals speak standard Italian, you may find their accents difficult. Never fear: Just ask them to repeat things more slowly (Ripeti più lentamente, per piacere=Repeat more slowly, please).

Some people speak some English, but do not expect to be able to get by easily with English alone. Spanish-speakers will have a much easier time, because centuries of Spanish rule as part of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies has infused local speech with a good deal of Spanish influence.

LOCAL TIME

7:43 pm
June 20, 2019
Europe/Rome

CURRENT WEATHER

25.54 °C / 77.972 °F
overcast clouds
Fri

25.89 °C/79 °F
scattered clouds
Sat

26.38 °C/79 °F
light rain
Sun

25.25 °C/77 °F
sky is clear
Mon

26.26 °C/79 °F
sky is clear

LOCAL CURRENCY

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