Capri is a famous island in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrentine Peninsula, on the south side of the Gulf of Naples which can be easily reached from Sorrento and Naples.
Features of the island are the Marina Piccola (the little harbour), the Belvedere of Tragara (a high panoramic promenade lined with villas), and the limestone crags called sea stacks that project above the sea (the Faraglioni), the town of Anacapri, the Blue Grotto (Grotta Azzurra), and the ruins of the Imperial Roman villas.
I spent a day in Capri laying on a beach and swimming in warm waters of the sea.
You can watch my 2 min 49 sec Video Capri out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
Via Krupp connects the area of the Charterhouse and the Gardens of Augustus with Marina Piccola, once linked to the town exclusively by way of Via Mulo.
Commissioned by the German industrialist, Friedrich Alfred Krupp, the pathway was built in the early 1900’s, overcoming a difference in height of approximately 100 meters,
Via Krupp was designed and realized by the engineer Emilio Mayer, who cut through the rock almost all the way to the sea, creating a series hairpin bends set so close together they appear almost to overlap.
Observing the path from on high or walking along the winding route, one is inevitably struck by such an incredible feat of engineering and artistic genius, made all the more captivating by the typically Mediterranean vegetation which spontaneously grows along the path.
Along Via Krupp there is a small gate marking the way to the Grotta di Fra’Felice, where Krupp built his villa and, a little further on, a steep and crumbling pathway which leads to the Grotta dell’Arsenale, resting four meters above sea level. A favorite nudist spot, the more adventurous enjoy swimming here, despite the almost constant danger of falling rocks.
Via Krupp has been recently repaired and the rock face above the road is now fairly secure, as noted by the wire strung across the cliff.
Fondest memory: It's extraordinary when you start to dig into things. One fascinating fact upon another creates a wonderful fabric for life's tapestry that makes for wonderful viewing.
Friedrich Alfred Krupp was a German industrialist, owner of the Krupp steel works, who had earned himself the nickname “cannon man”.
It is believed that he was, at the time, the richest man in the whole of Germany.
For a considerable period of time he resided at the Hotel Quisisana. Somewhat surprisingly, he never actually purchased a property for himself on island of Capri.
His presence on the island brought many benefits to Capri, he commissioned the building of the Via Krupp pathway and the Gardens of Augustus. He owned the Grotta di Fra' Felice.
He nurtured a great interest in marine biology and collaborated with the Zoological Department of Naples in the discovery and study of new forms of plankton.
He financed the staging of two major nature expeditions in the waters of Capri and provided two boats for the purpose: the Maya and the Puritan.
Whilst in Capri, Krupp was the protagonist of a homosexuality scandal, which had strong repercussions in Germany.
How amazing that for all his softness and generosity on one side, the industry that funded him was partly responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths.
The trail is easy, despite its spectacular route, and the views exceed your expectations, whether looking towards the Marina Piccola or back to the Faraglioni (pic 3).
Walking. If you want to understand Capri, you have to walk. It's not all that long ago that you had to walk to get anywhere and the size of the streets and alleys indicate that this was so and modernization, as far as vias are concerned, only amounts to bitumen on some roads.
It was less than a century ago when Capri (the town) and Anacapri were linked by a zig-zag trail that you had to walk. It's still there today.
I walked part of it one morning when I took off from our accommodation about 500 metres out of Capri and strode up the hill to Anacapri. I started out pre dawn and spent time on the Via Provinceale (main road between the two) and some time on the old trail.
Fondest memory: To be there at that time was to glean a little understanding of what life must have been like because, although there was a path, the inhabitants of the two villages didn't like each other and mostly kept to themselves.
So I was alone, save for the odd motorscooter and one bus and my mind transported me to another time, another place.
En route there is a cave with the usual madonna and candles (pic 2), bidding me god speed I imagine.
It took rather less time than I anticipated and I was up there comfortably in under one hour and then took time to ascend further on the trail to Monte Solaro, the island's highest peak. I never made it. Time and the trail seemed to peter out but it was an exclusive experience as I pondered life from the deserted slopes of the mount, looking out over the rooftops of Anacapri (pic 3) as the town slowly awoke to greet yet another day when the tourists would climb onto the buses and scooters and the road would be continually awash with some vehicle or another.
Even up here there were religious symbols on the rocks (pic 4) but the over-riding memory was of that splendid view over Marina Grande from near San Michele (pic 5).
It's not grand in that it would take an ocean liner but it's certainly grand when it comes to numbers. There's hardly a time when there's not some craft coming or going and there's no telling what size or shape it might be.
Fondest memory: There's precious few places where you can manouvre a boat around the island so the importance of Marina Grande cannot be underestimated.
When you first alight you will be among others. The tourist numbers coming and going are serious. The number of daytrippers probably almost equals the number of residents so the funicular and the buses (my preferred transport) are constantly on the go.
To get there you need to initially aim for Piazza Umberto on the main road and then take the laneways beside the church.
Proceeding along Via Castello, you will pass by villas which were once owned by artists and lovers of the Island of Capri.
At one stage you'll pass a villa where Mussolini's daughter lives today.
I arrived before dawn, hence the weird light in some of the shots. I had the whole area to myself, except for one person collecting some rubbish. The old walls were telling me a tale or romance and money, of an island once owned by the near poor but now dominated by the rich-beyond-belief.
Fondest memory: Finally you'll get to the Punta Canone viewpoint which owes its name to the cannon placed here during the British occupation of 1808.
From here the vista sweeps across the open sea, over the Faraglioni, Monte Tuoro, Tragara and the Charterhouse of St Giacomo, the Gardens of Augustus, Via Krupp and the bay of Marina Piccola.
The walk takes a decided downhill turn after Arco Naturale as you wind through the Mediterranean forest and arrive at the nymphaneum, a monument where a spring was once utilized for bathing.
It is known as the Grotta di Matromania or Matermania.
Scholars have attributed the cult rituals which were performed in the cave to the divinities Mitra or Cibele, goddess of fertility.
By now you will have put many of the nearly 1,000 steps behind you but they will almost pass unnoticed as you glide from view upon view, bypassing the Faraglioni.
The red construction (pic 4) that you can't help but notice on the promontory (known as Capo Fasullo, after the legendary fisherman), was built by Curzio Malaparte, and is one of the very few villas of Capri to have a private jetty.
Kurt Erich Suchert, whose name in art was Curzio Malaparte, was born in Prato to parents of Anglo Saxon origin. He became actively involved in politics, frequenting intellectual circles and societies. In 1927 he became Editor in Chief of the “Mattino” newspaper and moved to Naples. Later he became Editor of the “Stampa” newspaper.
Fondest memory: During the war he fought on the Italian-French front, in Russia, Poland, Germany, Croatia, Finland. Among his works: Kaputt, La Pelle, Sangue, Donna come me. As a consequence of his political ideas and for his “brutal” way of expressing them, Malaparte was arrested on more than one occasion. Curzio Malaparte arrived in Capri for the first time in 1936 to visit his friend Axel Munthe. Here he bought a piece of land right on the cliff edge at Capo Massullo where, in 1938, he built a villa which he called “A house like me”, which perches, fiery red, on the promontory. After a long legal battle, the villa now belongs to the Giorgio Ronchi Foundation, dedicated to the nephew of Malaparte, who died in 1944 during the war.
The Giorgio Ronchi Foundation was established in 1945 by the world famous scientist Professor Vasco Ronchi, to honour the memory of his son Giorgio who was killed in 1944 by the very last German bomb to hit Florence.
The Foundation was directed by Professor Ronchi until his death on October 31st, 1988.
The Foundation has published its scientific journal since 1946. The "Atti della Fondazione Giorgio Ronchi" is a publication dedicated to classical and modern optics, history and philosophy of science, science of vision, ophthalmology, astronomy, optical instrumentation, infrared and electromagnetism.
The Atti has a large readership of opticians, astronomers, university institutes and departments, eye clinics, and many public and private Research Institutes in Italy, Europe and all over the world. It also organises interesting cultural exchanges with a large number of international scientific institutions. The prestigious Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, universally acknowledged as the top University in Italy, holds a complete collection of the "Atti della Fondazione Giorgio Ronchi"
(known also as Church of the Earthly Paradise)-Anacapri.
The building was designed around a central lay-out with a cupola and an octagonal floor-plan fanning out into six radial niches with apses. The Church preserves original baroque altars in painted wood and a choir (also in wood) positioned over the vestibule at the entrance.
Built in 1719, the church was most probably designed by Domenico Antonio Vaccaro as part of a convent which was subsequently demolished. The extraordinary tiled pavement depicting the Expulsion of Adam and Eve was created in 1761 in Naples by Leonardo Chiaiese, a tilemaker from the Abruzzo region, following the design of Francesco Solimena.
The building was the inspiration of Serafina Mother of God, religious founder of the Convent of the island's already attached church Teresa, and she had decided to restructure.
To ensure the construction of the new church the bishop of Capri, Michael Gallo Vandenejnde, belonging to the Neapolitan nobility, came and decided to be buried here, as evidenced by an inscription in marble which is located behind the main altar.
Fondest memory: It's not something you see everyday. This tiled pavement will rivet your gaze as you walk around the boardwalk to view it but, may I let you know before you walk in there, the best is yet to come.
The view from above (there's a narrow spiral staircase to ascend (pic 3)) is even better and the lighting much more in harmony with the scene.
One tends to get "churched out" in Italy but this is one so different to anything else you've ever seen I recommend you go take a look.
After walking the vertical cliffs of the Via Krupp and getting an eyeful of the Faraglioni I thought anything else would be in second place but I hadn't counted on Marina Piccola (small marina).
It's located on the opposite side of the island to Marina Grande and is certainly aptly named as no large boats will ever venture here.
When I was there it had a quiet charm though I can well imagine that in summer that "quiet" would be virutally non existent.
Fondest memory: When we arrived as part of the Via Krupp walk I was in a bit of a hurry so I caught the bus back up to Capri and met up with Rosemarie, ultimately convincing here this walk was worthwhile.
And, as luck would have it, she enjoyed it as much as me. Beautiful weather, beautiful scenery, good company; sometimes it all turns out right!
Set in the cliffs behind the sea is a massive grotto (pic 2), one on many on the island. For some time I couldn't take my eyes off it, so intriguing were the shapes. Apparently, so I learnt later, it is accessible but only by abseiling.
At first, walking down the main street, Capri only partially endeared itself to me. However, once past the Piazza Umberto in the winding back ways, I became enchanted, as I'm sure others have before me.
Fondest memory: The myriad of narrow lanes twisting this way and that, boutiques, cafes, greengrocers and souvenir shops all vying for the attention of customers in places where you would think only the desperate might venture but, no, that's the essence of Capri. Its very charm emanates from these back alleys and will forever charm you rmemory.
From Piazza Umberto you can go in any direction and find joy and satisfaction (assuming you like walking) for there is so much to see beyond the normal day tourist haunts.
This is where the rich and famous shop, though they are apt to appear incognito here, and unlikely to put in an appearance in the middle of the day when the trippers swamp the place.
I couldn't get enough of walking on Capri. It mattered little where I chose to stride, my expectations were always exceeded. The second morning I chose the Arco Naturale as my goal. It seemed hardly any time at all before I was there.
Fondest memory: This rock had a significant impact on me. I hadn't discovered in my research that it even existed. Faraglioni, Blue Grotto and Anacapri were the things to do yet here I found the most spectacular formation on Capri, followed closely by the massive cave above Marina Piccola.
Just getting there was a bit special, the route meandering through the eastern alleys out of Capri, passing by restaurants and expensive villas (the only kind on Capri) before breaking free at Arco Naturale and then rapidly descending (pic 3) on Via Matromania to a different type of scenery.
I returned to our accommodation to pick Rosemarie up and we then proceeded to do the whole walk together.
On an island of delights, picking out a favourite almost seems like sacrilege but I would be remiss if I didn't reflect the joy that San Michele has brought into my life
Fondest memory: I went there because it was recommended. Two months later I am wallowing in all that is San Michele.
Though some might come and look and say it's nice, I can't help my overwhelming curiousity and the more you learn about San Michele and the man who conjured it up, the more fascinating it becomes.
Axel Munthe has written a best seller, "The Story of San Michele". If you are a traveller or a doctor or simply love reading, DO NOT FAIL TO BUY IT!
It's an enchanting read about the life that led Axel to make his home here and will take you back there every time you pick the book up and, take my word for it, that's not a bad thing.
Bits of historic remnants from the time of Tiberius and other classical items have been incorporated into the villa and it's pretty much as he left it.
For mine it offers the most wonderful of all Capri's magical vistas with history, a garden and a man's life thrown in.
As you near Anacapri it's on your left though on your first trip up there you'll probably be gaping at the stunning drop off the Via Principale.
It costs around 6 euros to get in and the villa offers such a variety of architecture and garden delights it's well worth the admission
Favorite thing: The prices in Capri are high for just about everything. Snacks will cost you as much as a full meal. One way to avoid being gouged is shopping at a mini mart in Marina Grande. It has yellow awning and is called Salume'ua da Aldo. Its four stores down from the left of the Funiculare entrance. At the mini mart you can buy cans of Coke for 1 euro, whereas in Capri you will pay as much as 2.50 to 3.00 euro. The snacks are cheaper there as well. It would be a good idea to stock up there before heading up to Capri, assuming your working on a budget!
Favorite thing: During the offseason many of the stores, hotels, as well as the funiculare are temporarily closed. I was in Capri in Feb. 2008 and the funiculare was basically closed until the high season. Plan on catching the orange buses from Marina Grande, they run every 15 minutes.
The vast, sprawling ruins of the Villa Jovis, once a holiday villa of the Roman Emperor Tiberius.
Walk up in the late afternoon and enjoy the breathtaking views at sunset.
Fondest memory: The garden of the Villa san Michele perched at the highest point of Anacapri, with its cool, ine-covered loggia, splashing fountains and red granite sphinx gazing out to sea.
The Cruise - the Blue Grotto - is the best part of this trip, and is worth the money you pay to enter it.
You might be able to skip the rest of the sights, and just go straight for the Blue Grotto, if you'd like to save a bit of cash. It's best to prepare cash (the exact amount for the entrance to the Blue Grotto) for this trip, because you might get wet, and if you do, it's best not to have your money on you. Well, it's best not to have anything with you. If you've a camera, bring your Ziploc bag to put it in. You don't want to miss the sights, but you don't want your camera ruined.
We think Capri dell' Isola is the better cruise company, although one would see Laser Capri once one walks off the boat at the pier. It's a longer trip, and the departures are more frequent. Besides, it's right next to the tourist office - in case one gets bored waiting for the boat to depart.
It's much better going on the cruise to go into the Blue Grotto because overland transport is confusing - and you know what maps are like in Italy.
Fondest memory: The Blue Grotto, the Blue Grotto and the Blue Grotto.
You have to go there. It's expensive, but you have to go there.
The experience is hilarious, and special.