Capri-An Amazing Stay On An Island That Truly “Rocks”!

It was sad leaving Positano but we still had Capri to look forward to and RIGHTFULLY SO!

We took a short ferry ride with all of our luggage from Positano to Capri.  Our hotel in Positano, Le Sirenuse, was extremely helpful in assisting us in deciding on a ferry time.  Upon our departure, the hotel arranged for all of our bags to get to the ferry, we only needed to get ourselves there.  It was a seamless process.

We arrived midday into the main port of Capri, Marina Grande.  Crowded and chaotic is an understatement.  Marina Grande is the island’s bustling main harbor.  There are hordes of tourists who are dining at the cheap restaurants, sunbathing on the shabby beach, and shopping in the touristy souvenir stores.  Many of these people are just daytrippers from Naples and Sorrento. This can’t be what we left Positano for can it?

Luckily, our driver from our hotel, Hotel Caesar Augustus, found us amongst the chaos and placed us in a private car and transported us away from the hubbub to the charming town built on the slopes of Monte Solaro (we climbed it!), Anacapri.

Ahhh Anacapri.  My second favorite place on the Amalfi Coast after Ravello.  Anacapri is one of the two main towns on the island of Capri.  The other town, Capri, holds the same name as the island.  We chose to stay in Anacapri because I wanted a more quiet, laid back atmosphere than the glitter and glitz of the town of Capri.  The town of Anacapri has a more tranquil feel with its’ traditional whitewashed buildings, quiet piazzas and charming alleyways.  It actually reminded me a lot of Ravello.

In Anacapri, we stayed at the Hotel Caesar Augustus, an ancient cliff-edge villa transformed into a luxury hotel.   Although this hotel was gorgeous, it was probably my least favorite one that we stayed at on the Amalfi Coast (the other two being the Palazzo Avino in Ravello and Le Sirenuse in Positano).  It’s hard for me to pinpoint why, but I think the other two hotels just felt a bit more intimate and special TO ME.  However, don’t get me wrong, the Hotel Caesar Augustus was still amazing with outdoor terraces offering spectacular views, another amazing buffet breakfast, a double layer infinity pool that we actually swam in, an outdoor gym and spa and modern and spacious accommodations.  The one downside was that it was about a five minute walk to the center of Anacapri and the walk was along a busy road with no sidewalks for part of the way.  Another hotel that looked amazing that we checked out which was right in the main square of the Anacapri town was the Capri Palace.  However, with the hotel being town level, the views weren’t quite as good as they were from our hotel.  In addition, I think that the price for the Capri Palace was a bit higher.  IMO, you can’t go wrong with either property!

We ate and explored and enjoyed activities in both Anacapri and Capri.  In Anacapri, one early morning, we hiked up the hidden (we got lost) trail to the highest point on the island, the peak of Mount Solaro.  It was foggy at the top, we couldn’t see a thing!  We hiked down and luckily started to see some of the views that we missed, as the morning fog was giving way to the sun.  The whole hike probably took us about 60-90 minutes and I would rate it as a moderate hike. However, I wanted the views from the top!   A few days later we summited the peak again, but this time for a small fee via the one person chairlift located in the Piazza della Vittoria of Anacapri, right by the Capri Palace.  The chairlift takes about 13 minutes and holds 156 people.  When we got to the peak this time we were treated to spectacular 360-degree views of the sea and rugged coastline.  We browsed in the shop at the top and enjoyed a gelato.  I used my gelato as a prop in some cool pictures of the Faraglioni Rocks.

During our stay, we meandered along the main drag, Viale Axel Munthe and quaint side streets of Anacapri, heading in and out of cute boutiques, gorgeous pottery and craft stores and beautiful food shops.  We bought paninis for lunch from a window establishment, and shared them on a stoop.  I remember this as being one of my favorite meals.  In the Piazza della Vittoria, I spent some time at a local sandal-maker’s outdoor workshop picking out my heels and straps for my custom made sandals that I still love wearing today.  Aren’t they pretty?  At Aurora-the store in Anacapri, not the restaurant in Capri, I bought this lovely plate. (BTW-loved the restaurant-see below).  Overall, we were delighted with Anacapri and were really happy we chose to stay on this part of the island.

During our stay, we also went down to Capri a lot for the restaurants, beach clubs, the town and our boat tour, and yes we took the steps (just once).

We had every dinner in Capri.  Two restaurants recommended to us prior to our stay that stand out are Da Giorgio (Fran F!) in the heart of the Capri town and Aurora (everyone!) on Via Fuorlovado, right off the main square.  At Da Giorgio, we had a window side table and enjoyed a pizza and salads with a stunning view over the Bay of Naples.  At Aurora, my favorite restaurant on Capri, we sat outside along the avenue and indulged on tuna appetizers and eggplant balls (Julie S!) and shared a linguini with clams as our main course.  Everything at Aurora was beautifully prepared (but not foo foo fancy) and absolutely delicious.  Another thing that I loved about the restaurant is that the staff were just as attentive to us as they were to Ryan Seacrest (sitting a few tables away) and a famous World Series of Poker champion (can’t remember his name-he also stayed at our hotel).  We felt just as special.

If you want to eat at Aurora, you must make this reservation well in advance.  It is hard to get.  Last thing about dinner- many had told us about Da Paolino Restaurant aka The Lemon Tree.  After researching, reading, asking people, etc, I decided this restaurant sounded to touristy for us, not to mention, it wasn’t in the main part of town.  We skipped it.

Our lunches were great as well.  We had our best table and view of the whole trip  (maybe ever) for lunch at La Terrazza di Lucullo, the restaurant at our hotel.  When we ventured away from the hotel, we hit two beach clubs for lunch.  The first was Il Riccio.  The location of this club was amazing as it is a cliffside venue overlooking the Blue Grotto (more about the Blue Grotto below).  Also, the restaurant and club were gorgeous with aqua blue decor against white cabanas and stone staircases leading down to the sea.  And the food was good too!  The one downside we faced was the experience in general.  This restaurant is so chic and “sceney” as was evidenced by the diners and the staff.  (I felt old and unattractive :-). ).  We were not treated as we were at our time at Aurora, an even bigger hotspot. I felt as if the host/hostess was surprised to see us and the waitstaff anxious for us to move along so a more glamorous bunch could be seated.  Luckily, we hit Fontelina Beach Club another day, so we were saved from being completely turned off from the Capri beach club scene.

It is a tough walk down (and up!) a long and winding path to Fontelina Beach Club.  From the center of Capri, the walk takes about 30 minutes.  You can also arrive and leave the beach club via boat.  Rob and I walked both ways!

The club is directly opposite from the Faraglioni Rocks and you can great pictures of the rocks as you navigate the path to and from the club.  We started our beach club afternoon with lunch at the restaurant. We shared some apps, salad and a local trout dish. Yum!

After lunch, we utilized our lounge chairs that we had reserved prior to arriving on Capri.  After all, we needed to have one true beach club experience and I enjoyed it a lot! Rob and I lazed on our “beds” and enjoyed the people watching and the view of the iconic rocks. We fell asleep under the signature blue and white umbrellas as the sea lapped against the jagged coast below us.  There was actually a ladder leading into the sea, but the water looked rough so we didn’t take a dip.  Overall, it was a great afternoon, albeit a bit pricey.  It was a very expensive nap!

Being told it would be a shame to not see Capri by boat, we arranged, with our concierge, a private boat to take me and Rob around the island, with a pit stop at the Blue Grotto.  We were to meet our boat at the Marina Grande, that same chaotic port we arrived at and hadn’t been to since.  We had a few options as to how to get to the port, taxi, bus or…….steps.  We chose steps, after all, it had been some time since we had our daily step workouts in Positano.  We were ready for some more…

The Phoenician Steps that lead from Anacapri to the port of Marina Grande are 921 stone steps with views to admire the entire island.  That is, when u are not sweating profusely and tending to your sore and tired knees.  It was no 1865 steps, like we descended in Positano, but it was tough nevertheless. When Rob and I finally found our captain amidst the chaos, we were ready for some serious lounge time on the boat.

Not to be had….our first stop was the crowded and touristy Blue Grotto. The Blue Grotto is a sea cave that creates an intense blue reflection that illuminates the cave when sunlight shines in through the seawater.  It is a very popular thing to see (obviously by the number of boats we faced when we got there) on the island of Capri.  When you get to the Blue Grotto by boat, whether private or tour company boat, you must wait for a small rowboat to come and pick you up to take you to enter the sea cave.  Luckily, there was no order at the entrance, and we had a rowboat come up to us immediately upon arriving as the rowboat skippers likely know that their tips will be substantially more if they take clients from private boats.  They were right.  Our big tip was worth every penny for not having to wait (sometimes people wait an hour!) and for having a private rowboat for just Rob and me (sometimes there are four in a row boat).

Watch your head! You have to lay back in your wooden rowboat and glide through the low cave mouth when entering the grotto.  If you don’t you may have an ear or worse hacked off by the chain that protects the entrance to the cave.   Once inside, all of the row boats (about 6 at a time) row around and bob in the dark, on the surface of water with the intense blue glow.  The rowboats stay inside the Blue Grotto for about five minutes.  We were told that we were not allowed to swim or disembark from our rowboat inside the cave.  Our handsomely paid rowboat skipper allowed us to anyway (Crazy kids-Rob and I).

A few things to note.  Sometimes, they will close the entrance to the Blue Grotto in the event of rain or rough seas.  This happened to us when we were there due to high winds and we needed to adjust our “schedule” to see the grotto on a different day.  Our concierge was quite helpful in rearranging everything for us. Also, the cave closes to the public at 5:30 p.m.  If you are on a private boat, you can swim into the grotto after this time. Although this is illegal and possibly dangerous, many people do it.  I even have friends that saw the grotto this way.

It was smooth, relaxing and uninterrupted sailing after the Blue Grotto around the whole island of Capri.  Some highlights of our trip include sailing through the Faraglioni Rocks, stopping at the green grotto and the white grotto, marveling at the Natural Arch and getting a glimpse of the lighthouse at Punta Carena.  In my opinion, a visit to Capri would not be complete without a sail around the spectacular island.

We explored the busy and vibrant streets of Capri town too as we wandered in and out of the trendy shops and gourmet food purveyors while admiring all of the gorgeous flower arrangements that align the streets.  We had fun people watching in the piazzetta, the heart of Capri’s social scene. The piazzetta is a small, charming square, lined with cafes and restaurants and bustles throughout the day and night.

We also hit Pompei on the way to Naples for our flight home. We had a private tour of Pompei at 5PM.  We had heard that Pompei could be packed, with crowds rivaling those in the streets of Times Square.  However, nobody got the memo the afternoon we went.  We had Pompei pretty much to ourselves.

Pompeii is a city of ruins that lies at the foot of Mount Vesuvius.  For background, a volcano erupted in AD 79 and destroyed the city, trapped 2000 people and covered the city in layers upon layers of ash and pumice-stone. It has been excavated over several centuries.  Today, we see the ruins of the Roman town and its way of life.

Our tour was about two hours and hit the highlights.  We saw the Forum (aka main square), the theaters, some homes (of the wealthy ones-even they had toilets outside) the tombs, the marketplace and the most interesting part for Rob (ok and me) were the brothels.  In the brothels, there were pictures above the doors as to what would take place in that room.  The men knew what they were getting based on the picture above the room they chose.  However, the true highlight for me had nothing to do with Pompei.  It was a rainbow (or should I say ruinbow-ha) that appeared over the ruins during our visit.  What a treat!

We spent our final night in Naples and went for pizza, as we were told pizza is a must in Naples.  It was a fun last night but I was completely unimpressed with Naples and found it dirty and chaotic.  Maybe if we had more than one night, I would have seen a different aspect of the city.

We headed back to NY the next day, on our BUSINESS CLASS flights that I had gotten for FREE!  Sad to be home, we fondly looked back about our amazing trip starting in Ravello, then hitting Positano and ending in Capri.  We loved Italy so much that Rob and I are off to explore the Northern Italy next summer….and I got FREE BUSINESS CLASS tickets again!

Till next summer…….arrivederci!

 

 

 

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