The Island of Capri
In the shimmering water of the Gulf of Naples stands the most celebrated island since the times of the Roman Empire: the island of Capri. It is a mass of calcareous rock with a geographical extension of 10 square km, sitting only three nautical miles from Punta Campanella, the most extreme point of the Sorrentine Peninsula. It was initially connected to the peninsula when, submerged by sea, it separated from the mainland. It’s territory, with a particular morphologic structure and medium height peaks, consists of the town of Capri itself and the higher point of Anacapri.
Since ancient times the island has boasted a prosperous tourist tradition, and the two Roman emperors, Tiberius and Augustus, chose it as their holiday residence, enticed by its moderate climate and the breathtaking beauty of the landscape. Since the first century A.C. a lot of partisans, following the example of the emperors, spent their holidays in Capri. Over the centuries , the territory has become a place of inspiration and of relaxation for numerous artists, VIP’s and aristocratics, as well as poets, actors and musicians. Capri has become the second home for writers such as Norman Douglas, Massimo Gorkij, Jacques d’Adelsward Fersen, Curzio Malaparte, Oscar Wilde, Alessandro Dumas, and the great Swedish doctor Axel Munte among many others.
The beauty of Capri, just like the many legends associated to its name, and the fame that it has gained over the years, is determined by the various natural and monumental treasures that make it unique in its genre. Icons of Capri are the Faraglioni, the dramatic rocks that are silhouetted against the silvery water which are visible from various points of the coast, are an emblematic image of the island. These rocks moved away from the island due to sea erosion and they are a natural paradise for the small colony of blue lizards living on them. Another natural beauty associated with Capri, is the Blue Grotto (Blue Cave), where it is possible to admire a magnificent show of colours and lights. The structure of the cave itself is a natural wonder. One must enter by boat through a narrow entrance. Back on the Faraglioni, there is the Belvedere of Tragara, a wonderful panoramic point.
There are also many monuments and churches on Capri. In the town of Capri, the church was built in 1374 by Giacomo Arcucci, the secretary of Queen Giovanna I D’Angio. Inside you can see overlapping architectural styles which represent the continuous restorations, such as the one after the Otttoman invasions. The vaulted ceiling is typical of Medieval architecture just like the portal with bas-relief and the frescos dating back to 1300. The small cloister dates back to 4th century and still keeps Roman and Byzantine capitals, while the lager one was built in the following century. The refectory contains a museum devoted to Diefenbach with works by the German painter found in the Blue Grotto. Also worthy of mention is the Church of San Costanzo, in Byzantine style, in the neighbourhood of Marina Grande and dedicated to the patron saint of the island. In Anacapri, stands the church of St. Michele that is one of the finest examples of baroque architecture on the island. Outstanding is the majolica flooring, representing a scene of the earthly paradise. At the top of Mt. Tiberius, stands Villa Jovis or also called Tiberius Villa, with its Imperial loggia offering a magnificent view. No less spectacular is the ‘Palazzo a Mare’ with its Bagni di Tiberio, which is of great archaeological importance, and also was once the residence of the Emperor Augustus. Also in Anacapri it is possible to admire the Barbarossa Castle, owing its name to the pirate Kair-ed-Din who sacked the island in 1534.
Very particular is also is Pizzolungo, a rocky column in the sea which takes on a different shape depending on the angles from which one is looking at it. There is l’Eremo di Santa Maria di Cetrella, on the slopes of Mount Solaro, sheering on Marina Piccola facing Capri. On the south-western part of the island there is another panoramic viewpoint, Migliora, that overlooks the lighthouse area and has a spectacular view. Matermania is the hilly area between Mount Touro and Tiberus, on the east side of the island. At the end of Matermania street one can find a true natural treasure, a masterpiece of Mother Nature; the Natural Arch. It is a mighty rock arch based on a small pillar offering a spectacular view over the bay below. Capri also boasts traditional religious festivals that are organized with great precision and fervor. Among these, is the Procession of St Costanzo in honour of St Costanzo, patron Saint of the island, that is on the 14th of May every year.
Also the procession of St Antonio da Padova, patron Saint of Anacapri, celebrated on the 13th of June every year and the Settembrata Anacaprese, that is a competition among the four districts of the island (Le Boffe, La Porta, Le Stalle e La Pietra) organized by the local council. Capri also attracts tourists for its delicious cuisine, proposed by the different local chefs working in some of the most prestigious restaurants and hotels of the island. Well-known are also are the typical Capresi products: apart from the characteristic lemons and olive oil from the Sorrentine Peninsula, one can find the small bagel, in the shape of a plait. The Tarallino, it is called, comes made in different flavours: olive oil, tomato and oregano, parsley and garlic, marjoram, butter and sage, lard and pepper, almonds, sesame and peanuts.
How to get to Capri
Distance from Sorrento: 8 nautical miles
By sea: Embark at the port of Marina Piccola, or rent a pleasure craft.
Police: tel. 0818370167
Taxi: tel. 0818376657
Post offices: Via Roma, 50 Capri- Viale de Tommaso 8/a Anacapri
Azienda Autonoma di Soggiorno Cura e Turismo: Via P. Serafino Cimmino 1, tel. 0818370424
Via Marina Grande, tel. 0818370634 Piazza Umberto I 1, tel. 0818370686