Capri The Lotus Island

The isle of Capri is south of the city of Naples.  The limestone and sandstone island is technically located in the Tyrrhenian Sea which is connected to the Mediterranean Sea.  Capri is but a thirty minute boat ride from the famous Italian city of Sorrento. 

Marina Grande below along the northern part of Capri

The Italians call this island, “ka:pri,” while us English speakers call it “ke pri.” Regardless how you pronounce it, we were overwhelmed with the islands beauty and friendliness of its citizens.

This man greeted us along the trail to the Jovis Villa.

 History of Capri dates back to the Bronze Age, Greeks and Romans.  The Caesar of Rome, Tiberius Augustus, built several villas on this island which is four miles long, and two miles wide. 

Kathie and I decided to spend four days on Capri in late May 2018. 

There are really no budget places on Capri.  Maybe that is the reason why so many people come over for a day by high speed ferry. We did find a three star hotel, Capri Wine Hotel, operated by Raffaele and Elena. 

Like most Capri Hotels, Capri Wine Hotel is perched overlooking the major port Marina Grande, the Gulf of Naples and you can see Mount Vesuvius in the distance. 

What made Capri Wine Hotel special was the genuine friendliness of the owners and their main chef, Sura, from Sri Lanka.  Every morning Sura made the best omelet. Sura brought the omelet to the table with a big smile. 

Elena advised us about doing several treks.  Our first was going to the “Natural Arch.”  Locating an alley from the center of Capri, we walked passed picturesque villas, cafe’s and shops.  At the end, is this magnificent view through a natural arch.

We were advised to walk down the three hundred steps along this narrow path.  We came across this ancient grotto.  We felt like Indiana Jones. 

It was hard not to notice The Villa Malaparte is perched on a rock overlooking the famous Faraglioni rock formations.   It was built in the 1930’s and is a good example of Italian Modern architecture.

On another morning we hiked up to Villa Jovis.  This once famous villa was built by Caesar Tiberius back in 27AD.  He loved Capri, and built this villa to protect him from getting killed like a former family member.  The compound is in ruins, but you can still see the large rooms, elaborate pools and enjoy the spectacular views.

Most people take a boat around the island.  You can hire one for about two hundred dollars.  We decided to take the larger–18 euro—boat that quickly filled up with plenty of people.   Luckily, we were in front of the line and got to choose our topside seats.  As we were waiting, we met a beautiful couple from New Delhi, India.

Pinky would not settle with an arranged marriage.  She insisted and married Rocky.  They have been happily married for twenty years.

Surprisingly, this large tour boat did go through the main Faraglioni arch.  We stopped at several coves and around the island, passing the famous Lighthouse. 

There are several ways to get up to the upper Capri Town.  You can be stuffed into a bus, pay twenty dollars for a taxi or take the funicular.  For two dollars, it was well worth the wait for the last option.  You really don’t want to walk from the main port to town.

The main piazza is known as “Umberto.” We sat at one of the cafés and just enjoyed people watching.  We came across a religious ceremony and a large group for a wedding.  Capri is well known for its openness towards gays. 

 

Plenty of famous people—besides us—have visited Capri.  Tom Cruise is an example.  Way back at the beginning of the 20th century a famous tycoon named, Friedrich Alfred Krupp lived here.  He built a beautiful garden and steps down—known as “Via Krupp”– to a grotto.  Legend has it that a group of people would have sexual orgies in the grotto.  Friedrich was eventually asked to leave the island.

The major highlight for most people who visit Capri is visiting “The Blue Grotto.”  Raffaele advised us to take an early bus from Capri town across to the village of Anacapri, the other town on the island, and then take another bus to the Blue Grotto.

What was going to be a three hour wait the day before turned into a ten minutes by going early.  In essence, the experience of the Blue Grotto is “a hoot.” 

You are tucked into a small row boat which goes under a very small entrance, which then opens up to a magnificent chamber of blue waters.  Our row boat captain sang to us and even took our picture. 

At the end of the experience, our row boat captain aggressively asked for tips.  I don’t have a problem with this, but some people do.  I first gave our man two euros.  I could easily see the guy was not happy with this tip.  I gave him two more.  Some people give these fine captains a whole lot more. 

Anacapri may be even lovelier than the main town of Capri.  It sure is a bit quieter. 

We were able to do the single chair lift up Mount Solaro. 

The views at 1,932 feet are spectacular.  There was once a famous spa up at the top, now a café.  I spotted an old abandoned pool.  I wonder if Rita Hayward swam here as she was one of many famous people who have visited this place. 

 

A view of Anacapri from the chair lift. A famous villa in Anacapri—Villa San Michele—sits perched overlooking Marina Grande. 

Close by to the entrance to the chair lift up to Mt. Solero, is The San Michele Villa.   Not very large, the villa suited its master, author and Doctor Axel Munthe.  His book, “The Story of San Michele” was a big hit during the 1920’s. It was translated into 45 languages. 

We did visit a quirky villa in Anacapri called “Casa Rossa.” The owner, Dr. John Jay Mackowen” was an American physician and a Confederate officer.  He and his wife once owned the “Blue Grotto.”    

Food is a tad more expensive being that Capri is an island.  We did enjoy a superb “Vegetable Soup” from Verginiello’s.  The restaurant was established in 1961.  Kathie did turn away from eating an “Octopus plate.”  It was just too much Octopus for her. 

The famous Capri Salad originated from this island

The reason I titled this blog, “Capri The Lotus Island,” is from a short story written by Somerset Maugham.  A fictional story, “The Lotus Eater,” is about a man who falls in love with the island and decides to stay.  I think there are plenty of people who would love to live on the isle of Capri.  I am one of them.