Capri: The tiny island with a big heart
If its crystal clear sparkling water and idyllic landscapes are not enough to entice you, there’s lip-smacking Italian cuisine and a historic centre for history buffs too! Don’t judge by its size, Capri, in Italy, is a colourful and quaint getaway a hop, skip and jump away from Sorrento. Ferries depart from Naples and Sorrento throughout the day in intervals of 30 minutes or so, and in the summer, routes from Positano, Amalfi, Salerno and Ischia, also open up.
To kick-start their day at the island, one can opt for a boat tour, which is abundantly available through various vendors on the island. Fair warning — the tours are only available till 5pm or so, post which, the last ferries of the day too, start making their way back home to the mainland. On the boat tour, various attractions of the island are visited and it’s a great way to discover the area for those who’re looking at a day trip. One can hire a boat/yacht for themselves or hop on a shared one and enjoy the sites. A major part of the tour would be to visit the island’s world famous caves or as they locally call it — grottoes. There are three of them — The Blue Grotto or Grotta Azzurra, the White Grotto or Grotta Bianca and the Green Grotto or Grotta Verde. As it’s the only one which allows visitors to enter the cave, most tour boats slowly motor past the Blue Grotto, post which you’ll have to transfer to a smaller boat that can fit through the narrow opening in the rocks. A little bit of an inconvenience, but once you’re in, a breathtaking view would be an understatement.
The White Grotto is subtler in nature, one would really have to have the boat closed up against the sides of the cave to see the stalagmites and stalactites hanging from the ceiling. However, one stalagmite in particular, near the top of the cave, reportedly resembles a statue of the Madonna (a representation of Mary in Catholic and orthodox churches). The Green Grotto is a treat to the eyes with the blue colour of the water reflecting off the walls of the cave, resulting in a beautiful Emerald tone radiating from the cave.
Once you’re done with the boat trip, they’ll dock it off at the Marina Grande, which by all means, is as picturesque as a postcard. The marina is studded with cute cafes, bars that spillover to the sidewalk, curio cottages and an abundant spree of souvenir shops. If you’re in the mood to splurge, Ristorante da Gemma is a great fine dine option right at the corner of the marina. It opens up to the beach and is not only a treat to your taste buds but your eyes as well. A typical meal with a starter, main course and a drink would cost you anywhere between 55 to 65 Euros per person. For those on a tighter budget, Ristorante Panorama, which is a little higher up on the island, is the perfect pit stop with a delightfully refreshing al fresco area. Wherever you find yourselves dining, don’t forget the island’s world famous specialty — the Caprese Salad.
Post lunch, a nice stroll in town would almost be a crime to skip. With a modest entry fee of one Euro, The Gardens of Augustus is a botanical garden that holds the best flora that Capri has to offer. The gardens are a quick and easy walk from the town centre. It also offers an amazing view of the Marina Piccola Bay and the Faraglioni Rocks — two of the island’s other attractions.
Making your way up the island, you can also take a bus to Anacapri — the other small town on the island, which is more quaint and filled with the local crowd. Artisanal shops, rustic and inviting small churches and hiking trails guided with olive trees and fauna, it’s an old-charm lover’s paradise.
And last, but not the least, a trip to Capri is almost incomplete without hopping on a chairlift from Anacapri to the top of Mount Solaro. It’s the highest point on the island and easy to get to. The chairlift only takes 12 minutes and 11 euros for a round trip, but the view from the summit is like no other on the island — an amazing panoramic glimpse of the almost never-ending Mediterranean Sea, and you’re left with a heart filled with glee.