Capri, Ischia, and Procida

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  • 1. Anacapri

    A tortuous road leads up to Anacapri, the island's "second city," about 3 km (2 miles) from Capri Town. To get here you can take...

    A tortuous road leads up to Anacapri, the island's "second city," about 3 km (2 miles) from Capri Town. To get here you can take a bus either from Via Roma in Capri Town or from Marina Grande (both €2), or a taxi (about €30 one-way; agree on the fare before starting out). Crowds are thick down Via Capodimonte leading to Villa San Michele and around Piazza Vittoria, the square where you catch the chairlift to the top of Monte Solaro. Via Finestrale leads to the noted Le Boffe quarter, centered on the Piazza Diaz. Le Boffe owes its name to the distinctive domestic architecture prevalent here, which uses vaults and sculpted groins instead of crossbeams. Elsewhere, Anacapri is quietly appealing. It's a good starting point for walks, such as the 80-minute round-trip journey to the Migliara Belvedere, on the island's southern coast.

    Anacapri, Campania, Italy
  • 2. Giardini di Augusto

    From the terraces of this beautiful public garden, you can see the village of Marina Piccola below—restaurants, cabanas, and swimming platforms huddle among the shoals—and...

    From the terraces of this beautiful public garden, you can see the village of Marina Piccola below—restaurants, cabanas, and swimming platforms huddle among the shoals—and admire the steep, winding Via Krupp, actually a staircase cut into the rock. Friedrich Krupp, the German arms manufacturer, loved Capri and became one of the island's most generous benefactors. Sadly, the path down to Marina Piccola is closed indefinitely due to the danger of rockfalls.

    Via Matteotti, Capri, Campania, 80073, Italy
    353-4523908-mobile

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €1.50
  • 3. I Faraglioni

    Few landscapes set more artists dreaming than that of the famous Faraglioni—three enigmatic, pale-ocher limestone colossi that loom out of the sea just off the...

    Few landscapes set more artists dreaming than that of the famous Faraglioni—three enigmatic, pale-ocher limestone colossi that loom out of the sea just off the Punta Tragara on the southern coast of Capri. Soaring almost 350 feet above the water, the Faraglioni have become a beloved symbol of Capri. The first rock is called Faraglione di Terra, since it's attached to the land; at its base is the famous restaurant and bathing lido Da Luigi. The second is called Faraglione di Mezzo, or Stella, and little boats can often be seen going through its picturesque tunnel. The rock farthest out to sea is Faraglione di Scopolo and is inhabited by a wall lizard species with a striking blue belly.

    End of Via Tragara, Capri, Campania, 80073, Italy
  • 4. Marina Corricella

    Perched under the citadel of the Terra Murata which encompasses Palazzo d'Avolos (a 1500s palace turned prison and now cultural center), the Marina Corricella is Procida's...

    Perched under the citadel of the Terra Murata which encompasses Palazzo d'Avolos (a 1500s palace turned prison and now cultural center), the Marina Corricella is Procida's most memorable sight. Singled out for the waterfront scenes in Il Postino (The Postman, the 1995 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film), this fishermen's cove is one of the most eye-popping villages in Campania—a rainbow-hued, horizontal version of Positano, comprising hundreds of traditional Mediterranean-style stone houses threaded by numerous scalatinelle (staircase streets).

    Procida, Campania, Italy
  • 5. Marina Piccola

    A 10-minute ride from the main bus terminus in Capri (Piazzetta d'Ungheria), Marina Piccola is a delightfully picturesque inlet that provides the Capresi and other...

    A 10-minute ride from the main bus terminus in Capri (Piazzetta d'Ungheria), Marina Piccola is a delightfully picturesque inlet that provides the Capresi and other sun worshippers with their best access to reasonable beaches and safe swimming. The entire cove is lined with stabilimenti—elegant bathing lidos where the striped cabanas are often air-conditioned and the bodies can be Modigliani-sleek. The most famous of these lidos (there's a fee to use the facilities), found closest to the Faraglioni, is La Canzone del Mare, once presided over by the noted British music-hall singer Gracie Fields and for decades favored by the smart set, including Noël Coward and Emilio Pucci (who set up his first boutique here). La Canzone del Mare's seaside restaurant offers a dreamy view of the Faraglioni and a luncheon here, although pricey, can serve as an indelible Capri moment. Jutting out into the bay at the center of the marina is the Scoglio delle Sirene, or Sirens' Rock—a small natural promontory—which the ancients believed to be the haunt of the Sirens, the mythical temptresses whose song seduced Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey. This rock separates the two small beaches: Pennaulo, to the east, and Marina di Mulo, site of the original Roman harbor, to the west. The small church, Chiesa di Sant'Andrea, was built in 1900 to give the local fishermen a place of worship.

    Via Marina Piccola, Capri, Campania, 80073, Italy
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  • 6. Monte Solaro

    An impressive limestone formation and the highest point on Capri (1,932 feet), Monte Solaro affords gasp-inducing views toward the bays of both Naples and Salerno....

    An impressive limestone formation and the highest point on Capri (1,932 feet), Monte Solaro affords gasp-inducing views toward the bays of both Naples and Salerno. A serene 13-minute chairlift ride will take you right to the top (refreshments available at the bar), where you can launch out on a number of scenic trails on the western side of the island. Picnickers should note that even in summer it can get windy at this height, and there are few trees to provide shade or refuge.

    Piazza Vittoria, Anacapri, Campania, 80071, Italy
    081-8371428

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €11 one-way, €14 return, Chairlift closed in adverse weather
  • 7. Sant'Angelo

    On the southern coast, this is a charming village with a narrow path leading to its promontory; the road doesn't reach all the way into...

    On the southern coast, this is a charming village with a narrow path leading to its promontory; the road doesn't reach all the way into town, so it's free of traffic. It's a five-minute boat ride from the beach of Maronti, at the foot of cliffs.

    Sant'Angelo, Campania, Italy
  • 8. Villa Jovis

    Named in honor of the ancient Roman god Jupiter, or Jove, the villa of the emperor Tiberius is riveted to the towering Rocca di Capri...

    Named in honor of the ancient Roman god Jupiter, or Jove, the villa of the emperor Tiberius is riveted to the towering Rocca di Capri like an eagle's nest overlooking the strait separating Capri from Punta Campanella, the tip of the Sorrentine Peninsula. Lying near the easternmost point of the island, Villa Jovis is a powerful reminder of the importance of the island in Roman times. What makes the site even more compelling are the accounts of the latter years of Tiberius's reign from Capri (AD 27–37), written by authors and near-contemporaries Suetonius and Tacitus. This villa was famous for its sybaritic living, thus sounding a leitmotif whose echo can be heard at the luxurious hotels of today. There are remarkably few discrepancies between the accounts of the two historiographers. Both point to Tiberius's mounting paranoia in Rome, while Tacitus outlines his reason for choosing Capri (Annals, Book IV): "Presumably what attracted him was the isolation of Capreae. Harborless, it has few roadsteads even for small vessels; sentries can control all landings. In winter the climate is mild, since hills on the mainland keep off gales. In summer the island is delightful, since it faces west and has open sea all round. The bay it overlooks was exceptionally lovely, until Vesuvius's eruption transformed the landscape." Capri in Roman times was the site of 12 spacious villas, but Villa Jovis is both the best preserved and must have been the largest, occupying nearly 23,000 square feet. The entrance to the site lies just beyond the pharos (lighthouse) built under Tiberius and used until the 17th century to warn ships away from the narrows between Capri and the mainland. Pick up a site map at the ticket office, which gives a useful breakdown of the various areas of the villa to be visited. Nearby, you can find Salto di Tiberio (Tiberius's Leap), the place where ancient gossips believed Tiberius had enemies—among them his discarded lovers and even unfortunate cooks—hurled over the precipice into the sea some 1,000 feet below. After taking stock of this now-harmless viewing platform and its information panels, take the upper path past the baths complex around the palace residential quarters to view the heavily restored Chapel of Santa Maria del Soccorso and its large bronze statue of the Madonna, a gift to the island from the Caprese painter Guido Odierna in 1979. The walk around the perimeter of the site gives an idea of the overall layout of the palatial residence, which in places rose to five stories in height. From here descend some steps and then a ramp to the ambulatio (walkway), which offers additional spectacular views and plenty of shade, as well as a triclinium (dining room) halfway along. The center of the site is a complex devoted to cisterns. Unlike in Pompeii, there was no aqueduct up here to provide fresh running water, so the cisterns next to the bath complex were of prime importance. From La Piazzetta allow 45 minutes each way for the walk alone.

    Via A. Maiuri, Capri, Campania, 80073, Italy
    081-8374549

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €6, with audio guide, Closed Mon.–Wed. and Jan. and Feb.
  • 9. Villa San Michele

    From Anacapri's Piazza Vittoria, picturesque Via Capodimonte leads to Villa San Michele, the charming former home of Swedish doctor and philanthropist Axel Munthe (1857–1949), and...

    From Anacapri's Piazza Vittoria, picturesque Via Capodimonte leads to Villa San Michele, the charming former home of Swedish doctor and philanthropist Axel Munthe (1857–1949), and which Henry James called "the most fantastic beauty, poetry, and inutility that one had ever seen clustered together." At the ancient entranceway to Anacapri at the top of the Scala Fenicia, the villa is set around Roman-style courtyards, marble walkways, and atria. Rooms display the doctor's varied collections, which range from bric-a-brac to antiquities. Medieval choir stalls, Renaissance lecterns, and gilded statues of saints are all part of the setting, with some rooms preserving the doctor's personal memorabilia. A spectacular pergola path overlooking the entire Bay of Naples leads from the villa to the famous Sphinx Parapet, where an ancient Egyptian sphinx looks out toward Sorrento: you cannot see its face—on purpose. It is said that if you touch the sphinx's hindquarters with your left hand while making a wish, it will come true. The parapet is connected to the little Chapel of San Michele, on the grounds of one of Tiberius's villas. Besides hosting summer concerts, the Axel Munthe Foundation carries out ornithological research in the surrounding area and has an ecomuseum that fittingly reflects Munthe's fondness for animals. Here you can learn about various bird species—accompanied by their songs—found on Capri. Munthe bought up the hillside and made it a sanctuary for birds, and today this little realm is still an Eden. The foundation also organizes weekly guided visits (Thursday afternoon April–October, call to reserve a place) of the ruined Barbarossa castle, almost clinging to the side of the cliff above Villa San Michele. Dating to the late 10th century, when Capri was ruled by the ancient maritime republic of Amalfi, and named after the admiral of the Turkish fleet, Khair-Eddin, or Barbarossa (Redbeard), who stormed and took the castle in 1535, much of the original layout has been changed over the centuries.

    Viale Axel Munthe 34, Anacapri, Campania, 80071, Italy
    081-8371401

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €10
  • 10. Capri Town

    On arrival at the port, pick up the excellent map of the island at the tourist office. You may have to wait for the funicular...

    On arrival at the port, pick up the excellent map of the island at the tourist office. You may have to wait for the funicular railway (€2 one-way) to Capri Town, some 450 feet above the harbor. So this might be the time to splurge on an open-top taxi—it could save you an hour in line and a sweaty ride packed into a tiny, swaying bus. From the upper station, walk out into Piazza Umberto I, better known as the Piazzetta, the island's social hub.

    Capri, Campania, Italy
  • 11. Certosa di San Giacomo

    An eerie atmosphere hangs around neglected corners of this once grand, palatial complex between the Castiglione and Tuoro hills, which was for centuries a Carthusian...

    An eerie atmosphere hangs around neglected corners of this once grand, palatial complex between the Castiglione and Tuoro hills, which was for centuries a Carthusian monastery dedicated to St. James. It was founded between 1371 and 1374, when Queen Giovanna I of Naples gave Count Giacomo Arcucci, her secretary, the land and the means to create it. The count himself then became devoutly religious and retired here until his death. After the monastery was sacked by the pirates Dragut and Barbarossa in the 16th century, it was heavily restored and rebuilt—thanks in part to heavy taxes exacted from the populace. The friars within were detested by many Capresi for refusing to open the gates to minister to the people when plague broke out. The monks were expelled in 1808 and it subsequently served first as a hospice and then as a prison. You enter the complex via a grandly imposing entryway, which leads to the Capri's public library (closed at time of writing) and the spacious church of San Giacomo (built in 1690, reopened after renovations in 2010). After admiring the church's Baroque frescoes, follow the signposts down toward the Parco, which leads down an avenue flanked by pittosporum and magnolia toward the tranquil monastery gardens and some welcome benches with stunning views. Take heed of the signs reminding you to watch your step, as the ground is uneven in places. Beyond a covered road lies the Chiostro Grande (Large Cloister)—originally the site of the monks' cells and for many years the home of a high school. Nearby is the 15th-century Chiostro Piccolo (Small Cloister). Both are often venues for summertime open-air concerts. The Quarto del Priore hosts occasional art exhibitions from international artists, but the showstopper here is the Museo Diefenbach, comprising a collection of restored large canvases by influential German painter K.W. Diefenbach, who visited Capri in 1899 and stayed until his death in 1913. For years, Diefenbach rivaled the Blue Grotto for sheer picturesqueness—he was given to greeting visitors replete with flowing white beard, monk's cowl, and primitive sandals.

    Via Certosa, Capri, Campania, 80073, Italy
    081-8376218

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €6, Closed Mon.
  • 12. Forio

    The far-western and southern coasts of Ischia are more rugged and attractive than other areas. Forio, at the extreme west, has a waterfront church, Chiesa...

    The far-western and southern coasts of Ischia are more rugged and attractive than other areas. Forio, at the extreme west, has a waterfront church, Chiesa del Soccorso, and is a good spot for lunch or dinner.  Head to the whitewashed Soccorso church to watch a gorgeous sunset—perhaps the best spot on the island to do so.

    Forio, Campania, Italy
  • 13. Giardini Poseidon Terme

    The largest spa on the island has the added boon of a natural sauna hollowed out of the rocks. Here you can sit like a...

    The largest spa on the island has the added boon of a natural sauna hollowed out of the rocks. Here you can sit like a Roman senator on stone chairs recessed in the rock and let the hot water cascade over you. With countless thermally regulated pools, promenades, and steam pools, plus lots of kitschy toga-clad statues of the Caesars, Poseidon exerts a special pull on tourists, many of them grandparents shepherding grandchildren. On certain days, the place is overrun with people, so be prepared for crowds and wailing babies.

    Citara Beach, Forio, Campania, 80075, Italy
    081-9087111

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €38 low season, €45 high season, Closed Nov.–late Apr.
  • 14. Grotta Azzurra

    Only when the Grotta Azzurra was "discovered" in 1826, by the Polish poet August Kopisch and Swiss artist Ernest Fries, did Capri become a tourist...

    Only when the Grotta Azzurra was "discovered" in 1826, by the Polish poet August Kopisch and Swiss artist Ernest Fries, did Capri become a tourist destination. The watery cave's blue beauty became a symbol of the return to nature. In reality, the grotto had long been a local landmark. During the Roman era it had been the elegant, mosaic-decorated nymphaeum of the adjoining villa of Gradola. The water's extraordinary sapphire color is caused by a hidden opening in the rock that refracts the light. Locals say the afternoon light is best from April to June, and the morning in July and August. The Blue Grotto can be reached from Marina Grande or from the small embarkation point below Anacapri on the northwest side of the island, accessible by bus from Anacapri. You board one boat to get to the grotto, then transfer to a smaller boat that takes you inside.

    Capri, Campania, 80071, Italy

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: From €15 from Marina Grande via various companies, then €14 by rowboat with Coop. Battellieri, Closed if the sea is even minimally rough
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  • 15. Ischia Ponte

    Most of the hotels are along the beach in the part of town called Ischia Ponte, which gets its name from the ponte (bridge) built...

    Most of the hotels are along the beach in the part of town called Ischia Ponte, which gets its name from the ponte (bridge) built by Alfonso of Aragon in 1438 to link the picturesque castle on a small islet offshore with the town and port. For a while the castle was the home of Vittoria Colonna, poetess, granddaughter of Renaissance Duke Federico da Montefeltro (1422–82), and platonic soul mate of Michelangelo, with whom she carried on a lengthy correspondence. You'll find a typical resort atmosphere in this area: countless cafés, shops, and restaurants, and a 1-km (½-mile) fine-sand beach.

    Ischia Ponte, Campania, Italy
  • 16. Ischia Porto

    This is the island's largest town and the usual point of debarkation. It's no workaday port, however, but rather a lively resort with plenty of...

    This is the island's largest town and the usual point of debarkation. It's no workaday port, however, but rather a lively resort with plenty of hotels, the island's best shopping area, and low, flat-roof houses on terraced hillsides overlooking the water. Its narrow streets and villas and gardens are framed by pines.

    Ischia Porto, Campania, Italy
  • 17. Monte Epomeo

    The inland town of Fontana is the base for excursions to the top of this long-dormant volcano that dominates the island landscape. You can reach...

    The inland town of Fontana is the base for excursions to the top of this long-dormant volcano that dominates the island landscape. You can reach its 2,589-foot peak in less than 1½ hours of relatively easy walking.

    Ischia, Campania, Italy

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