Thursday, 5 May 2011

Postcard from Capri, Campania

Unfortunately, I chose the hottest day of August to visit Capri. And in August Capri is packed with tourists from all over the world - as well as Italians...

This might not sound too tempting, but I think that if you visit the island outside the peak season you will find the island quite delightful.

Capri is situated just outside the Sorrento peninsula in the region of Campania. In ancient times, the island was in fact connected to the mainland by a small strip of land that (obviously) now has sunk into the sea and separated it from mainland Italy.

The coastline of Capri is full of cliffs and caves, the most noted being "La grotta azzurra" (The Blue Grotto) which is one of several  sea caves worldwide that is flooded with a brilliant blue or emerald light. It is said that the Roman Emperors used this cave as their private "bathroom".

The island has been a place for intellectuals from all over Europe as well as politcal refugees. Pablo Neruda, the poet, lived here several years in the 1950s and when king Farouk of Egypt was expelled from his country in 1952 he seeked refuge on the island. In the 1950s you could also bump into people like Onassis, Maria Callas and Brigitte Bardot on the island. 

The island still attracts the rich and famous people and you really need to have your pockets filled with euros if you intend to stay here for more than just one day. The rich comes here mostly to spend lazy days in luxurious hotels or to stay in one of Europe's most famous spa - "Capri Beauty Farm". In the evenings you will find them sitting around in the upper class restaurants. (The kind of restaurants that I can't afford...)

Capri is full of expensive designer shops and in addition to the world known brands such as Gucci, Prada etc, the island also has its own succesfull designers. One of them, the designer Emilip Pucci opened his first shop here in 1949 and he is the one that invented the Capri pants (or Capris). If you have brought a suitcase full of euros you can shop till you drop on Capri...

Arriving in Capri you will sail into the Marina Grande which is the largest harbour on the island. From here there is a kind of "funicular" that brings you to Anacapri. In Greek "ana" means "up" or "above", signifying that Anacapri is higher up than the town Capri. You have an excellent view over a part of the island from here. Not knowing about the funicular I started my walk upwards through some narrow streets and a good 800 steps. Only to see the funicular passing me by when I was halfway up the steps....

At Anacapri you will find the famous villa "San Michele" which belonged to the Swedish doctor, Axel Munthe, and this is a very popular place for most tourists.

On Capri the climate is perfect for growing exotic fruits like bananas and figs. And lemons are grown in abundance. It is said that this is the place where they make the best Limoncello in Italy, thanks to the wonderful lemons.

Capri is really worth a visit or two, but the next time I will plan my trip more carefully than the first time when one morning I just hopped on the ferry from the Amalfi coast where I spent my holidays. I imagine that an island in full bloom in April or May will be a sight "for sore eyes"; there won't be too many tourists and the temperature will probably be just perfect.

Here are some pictures from my daytrip to Capri..

 "A piece of Paradise" (written in dialect) states this sign I found on a garden wall


Untreated lemons - perfect for making Limoncello...

One of the narrow streets that took me from Marina Grande...

Here you can buy refreshments as well as the popular Italian Granita. (A kind of ice/slush). I just love lemon Granita. It saved my life after walking up 800 steps from the Marina Grande...

Capri's "designer-street"

Map of the island of Capri

Here you can buy the most wonderful fruit and vegetables

The view from "Villa San Michele".

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