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Italy’s Captivating Isle of Capri

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© Travalliancemedia Owned Media (Staff Photo) With its spectacular scenery and elegant vibe, it’s no wonder Southern Italy’s Isle of Capri was once a favorite vacation hideaway of Roman Emperors and European elites. (photo courtesy of Noreen Kompanik)

By Noreen Kompanik, TravelPulse

With its spectacular scenery and elegant vibe, it’s no wonder Southern Italy’s Isle of Capri was once a favorite vacation hideaway of Roman Emperors and European elites. Its stunning natural beauty has been an inspiration to poets, lovers, and travelers throughout the centuries.

Almost every artist, designer, movie star and member of royalty have visited and fallen in love with this dazzling paradise. Yet Capri’s fundamental essence remains surprisingly humble. Its people are warm, friendly, and laid-back. Visitors come to chill and relax, not to see and be seen.

Hopping on an early-morning high-speed hydrofoil from Naples got us to Capri in 45 minutes. The rugged mountainous island juts dramatically from the Tyrrhenian Sea. Its soaring cliffs rocky coves and crystal clear azure waters are utterly breathtaking.

With all the mythical charm and natural treasures the island offers, we wanted to maximize our day visit here. So, we hired a taxi for a trip around the island that allowed us to see and do everything on our wish list. Riding a red vintage Italian convertible with Luigi as our guide made the trip unforgettable.

To truly savor the magic of Capri, these are experiences that shouldn’t be missed.

Blue Grotto

Some believe that Blue Grotto (Grotta Azzurra), Capri’s most famous site is a tourist trap. But you have to do it once. Word of advice, however, is to get here early. The natural sea cavern’s dream-like blue color is created by light streaming through holes in the cavern walls.

Hopping on a wooden rowboat, we had to lay flat on our backs to enter the tiny mouth of the cave. Once inside, our boatman’s melodious voice echoed off the walls of the cavern as he serenaded us with a lovely rendition of O Sole Mio.

Capri Town

A short funicular railway up the side of a mountain links Capri’s major port, Marina Grande with its main town. The small bustling square of La Piazzetta is the heart of the island and the focal point of island life.

It didn’t take us long to understand why La Piazzetta or Chiazza as the locals call it is often referred to as the drawing room of the world. The square is a fountainhead for picturesque narrow winding streets. Charming boutiques and cheery sidewalk cafés abound and the famous Clock Tower chimes on the quarter hour.

Even non-shoppers like me can’t resist the siren call of its artisan boutiques especially those selling Capri’s famous sandals, handmade to order and loved by the late Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

Villa Jovis

One of the best preserved and most magnificent of the 12 Capri villas built by the Roman Emperor Tiberius is Villa Jovis. From this remote palace, Tiberius ruled the entire Roman Empire rarely leaving the island.

Located on the cliff’s edge, views from the property are amazingly beautiful. But according to local legend, the cliff known as “Tiberius Leap” is where disobedient servants and undesired guests were hurled over its steep edge by order of the emperor himself.

Snorkeling at Marina Piccola Beach

It was impossible to resist snorkeling in the bay where Odysseus nearly succumbed to the Sirens’ song—a fitting legend for this alluring island. Waters here are calm and crystalline and the beach provides a magnificent view of the Faraglioni, Capri’s three legendary and enigmatic giant rocks.

Anacapri

To experience the “other” Capri with quiet little lanes and peaceful piazzas, our driver recommended taking the chairlift to Anacapri. Ascending 1,932, the lift climbs to the highest point on the island on the slopes of Mount Solaro.

Panoramas at the top are almost indescribable. Under the clear skies, we could literally see the entire Bay of Naples, Amalfi Coast, and the distant mountains of Calabria.

Scents of lemon groves permeate the air and purple bougainvillea clings to stone walls and terraces. There’s a sense here that time somehow slows down in this quiet little country village.

Dining in Capri

Celebrating the colors of Italy, Insalata Caprese is a signature dish of Southern Italy. Made with tomatoes and mozzarella, the salad is simply seasoned with sea salt, olive oil, and sweet fresh basil. It couldn’t have tasted better than in a quiet luxuriant garden setting at Ristorante Villa Verde just steps from the center of town.

Pizza is king in Southern Italy and Quattro Stagioni is one that’s hard to find outside this region. Each of the four sections of this mozzarella-smothered delight features a specific topping—artichoke, mushroom, olives, and prosciutto. A perfectly-chilled glass of Lacryma Christi (tears of Christ), the most celebrated of Neapolitan wines was the perfect accompaniment.

Most people know that Italy is famous for its gelato and while I’ve never tasted a flavor I didn’t love, lemon gelato here in Capri is simply divine.

As our driver took us back to Marina Grande to board our vessel back to Naples, he flashed a proud big-toothed grin when we told him our day in Capri was one grand adventure.

Just like so many other travelers who have come here before, we were enchanted by the magical allure of this magnificent island.

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