Capri
Do It in a Day
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It sounds impossible, but a day trip to Capri (pronounce it CAH-pree[.WAV File], please!) can be pleasant and unforgettable if you plan it right. Giving yourself plenty of time to navigate Naples traffic, take the very first hydrofoil of the morning from Beverello or Mergellina. The trip lasts about 40 minutes and leaves you at the dock in Capri's Marina Grande. From there, hop immediately onto one of the boats bound for the Blue Grotto (make sure it's not "Blue Grotto and the Tour of the Island"). True, the Blue Grotto is a tourist trap par excellence, but it really is spectacularly beautiful. When I lived in Anacapri, I swam in the luminescent water of this seaside cave every day at 7 a.m., before the boats arrived. It's forbidden, sometimes dangerous and always magical.


La Piazzetta
Afterwards, return to Marina Grande and take the funicolare up to Piazza Umberto I (the Piazzetta), a charming square that is basically one big outdoor cafe. Follow either Via Longano or Via Le Botteghe to the crossroad, then take Via Matromania to the Natural Arch. On the way, you might want to stop at Bar Paradiso, a simple place hidden above one of the most spectacular views in Italy. Have an insalata caprese (slices of tomato served with mozzarella and basil leaves) and some of the local bianco caprese white wine. After lunch, continue to the Grotta di Matromania, a natural cave where the ancient Romans staged strange rituals to worship the gods. Walk down the steps to the well-maintained path that leads to Tragara; you will have Capri's most famous landmarks, the Faraglioni, to your left the whole time. From the terrace, follow Via Tragara, one of the most gorgeous streets on earth, back to the Piazzetta. This walk (sans lunch!) takes about 90 minutes; it is steep at times and always breathtaking (in more ways than one).

If you're still ready for more, walk a few yards from the Piazzetta and take a bus to Anacapri. The 10-minute ride is dramatically beautiful and equally hair-raising. Get off at Piazza della Vittoria and walk 5 minutes down Via San Michele to Axel Munthe's Villa di San Michele, a lovely garden mecca filled with classical statuary. You can top off the day with a chairlift ride up Monte Solaro (from Piazza della Vittoria), where you will be rewarded with even more wonderful views of the Bay of Naples; or walk down the hill a few hundred yards to the church of San Michele, with its world-famous majolica floor depicting Adam and Eve in Paradise. When you're ready to leave Anacapri, take the bus straight back to Marina Grande, where you'll catch the hydrofoil to Naples.

by Kristin Jarratt


Click here for information about how to get to Capri.

The guidebooks will tell you the Villa San Michele was built in the 1880s by the Swedish doctor Axel Munthe, atop existing ruins of a villa of the Roman emperor Tiberius. What they don't say is that Munthe took decades to fill his cliffside aerie with statuary he "acquired" all over the world. They don't tell you of the overwhelming love he had for the impoverished inhabitants of Anacapri, for whom he was often the only physician. They don't mention that Munthe used the proceeds of his best-selling book, The Story of San Michele (which you should read if you're going to Capri!) to fund bird sanctuaries in Italy. No guidebook can convey the endless devotion and love of Axel Munthe for this house, but as you stroll through its bright, airy rooms and magnificently landscaped gardens, you will feel the doctor's presence everywhere. Come with us now on a virtual tour of Villa San Michele.

Click here for a Photo Album of Capri.

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