An Easy Day Trip From Sorrento
A short jaunt from the pretty town of Sorrento affords you a lovely day trip to the Isle of Capri. The naming conventions here can be a little confusing for first-time visitors. The largest town on this little island is also called Capri. Meanwhile, a smaller town located high in the western hills is called Anacapri. I would recommend making time to visit both.
Getting to the Isle of Capri
A small word of caution before we proceed. The ferry ride to Capri can be a bit rough, even for those who pride themselves on having strong stomachs. On the day we visited, the water was rather choppy, and the ferry we took really shook up my insides. Thankfully, it’s only about a 20-minute journey!
As a point of reference, we took the HSC Ferry Isola di Capri. They also have a hydrofoil and fast ferries to the island. But honestly, I’m not sure if any one mode of transport would offer a smoother ride than the others. You can check ferry times here: Caremar
A Journey Not For The Weak-Stomached
By the way, 20 minutes can feel like a lifetime when you’re trying not to throw up. Partway through the shaky ride, I went outside to get fresh air, but it failed to help my rolling stomach. As my nausea worsened, I spent the last 10 minutes of the journey trying, unsuccessfully, to get into the bathroom. (I kept getting pushed aside by other women, apparently either bolder or more desperate to use the facilities than I was.)
Eventually I resorted to sitting in my seat, with my head between my legs until the ordeal was over. As people filtered off the boat, I had one nice Italian lady stop by my seat to offer me some dry crackers. She didn’t speak any English, but she did sweep her hand up from her stomach to her mouth then outward, the universal hand gesture for the act of vomiting.
I wasn’t alone in my suffering either; several people from our tour group were in the same boat (both literally and figuratively). So, as soon as we reached Marina Grande, our tour guide pointed out the closest pharmacy and told us to ask for Xamamina (Italian for Dramamine). It sounds as though this is a fairly common request there.
Mark and I walked around Capri until the Dramamine took effect and my stomach settled back to normal.
What To See on the Isle of Capri
The Blue Grotto
There is evidence of human settlement on the island of Capri going back as far as the Neolithic and Bronze ages. Capri also became a popular resort for Italians in the Roman Republic era. One of the big attractions here is the Blue Grotto, a low-slung natural cave overlooking the ocean. It got its name due to the way sunlight passes through the entrance, giving the water a translucent blue appearance.
Back in 27 AD, Emperor Tiberius moved the Roman capitol to the island of Capri. He used the Blue Grotto as his own personal swimming hole. Many of the statues which once decorated the inside of the grotto are now on exhibit in a museum in Anacapri. You can read a bit more about Emperor Tiberius in my recent post on the Palatine Hill in Rome. One of the villas Tiberius built on Capri, the Villa Jovis, is one of the best preserved Roman villas in Italy.
When the weather is favourable, you can take a guided tour inside the mouth of the Blue Grotto by rowboat. Unfortunately for us, weather conditions weren’t on our side and the grotto was closed to small boats. However, they still had regular boat tours running, so we hopped on one.
The boat tour gave us just a small hint of what the water colour must be like inside the grotto:
The Faraglioni Rocks
The boat tour also gave us a closer look at the Faraglioni Rocks – three massive rock formations so big that they each have their own name: Stella, di Mezzo and di Fuori.
The rocky cliffs have some pretty interesting formations! Check out this cave:
How would you like to live here? You’d have thighs of steel walking up and down the hillsides every day!
The boat tour took us directly through the center arch of the di Mezzo rock.
It’s considered good luck to smooch your loved one as you pass through the arch:
Even though the waters were still a little bit rough, we sailed smoothly through the opening to the other side of the arch:
Once we arrived back at Marina Grande, we decided to take a bus up to Anacapri. As you may remember, Anacapri is a smaller town at the top of the hills. The buses are fairly small, as you can see below:
This is probably because the road is very winding and narrow. So narrow in fact, that when I looked down through the window I couldn’t see anything but the cliff face below!
Once we reached Anacapri, we settled in at a little outdoor cafe for lunch. This was the moment when we discovered something miraculous: wine was the same price as water! Which one do you think we chose to go with our pasta dishes? *wink*
By the way, watch where you step when you’re walking through Capri and Anacapri! If you’re lucky, you may see a bit of wildlife running around:
Something else we discovered in Anacapri was giant lemons. These were about the size of pomelo grapefruits. They are said to be sweeter than regular lemons and are often the type used for making limoncello.
If you have time, you can also take a chair lift to the top of Mount Solaro, the highest point on the island. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to take it in. There is also the Villa San Michele Museum, a beautiful villa built by Swedish physician, Axel Munthe in 1885.
Anacapri is touristy, but not nearly as busy and bustling as Capri, so if you need to get away from the crowds this is a nice little place to stroll and explore before taking the ferry back to Sorrento.
From Sorrento: Ferries for Capri depart from Sorrento’s Marina Piccola port. Ferries run more frequently in the summer months.
From Naples: Ferries from Naples to Capri depart from two ports: the Molo Beverello and the Calata Porta di Massa. Ferry schedules for Naples to Capri can be found here.
(Post updated March 2018)