First popularised as a holiday destination by the Roman Republic, the Italian island of Capri shows no signs of losing it's allure.
How to get there:
Both British Airways and EasyJet operate routes between London Gatwick and Naples.
Transfer options from Naples depend on your budget and joie de vivre.
Make like the backpackers and day trippers and hop on a ferry from the nearby port. Regular buses run from outside the airport to the port but signposting is limited so be prepared to ask for directions. Alternatively jump in a passing taxi but agree on a fare beforehand – don’t pay more than €20.
For seamless service book a private transfer, in advance, with BluRide (+39 334 66 52 634; www.blueride.it/eny-index). The company will organise VIP transfers from the airport to a private speedboat at the port. In Capri you will be met by one of the island’s iconic open air-taxis, which will whisk you up to your hotel.
Transfers by helicopter, departing from Naples, take a mere 15 minutes, but you’ll be entertained with unparalleled views of Mount Vesuvius and the whole Amalfi Coast. Hoverfly SAM is a popular choice (email@example.com).
Be aware that once on the island you will not be able to hire a car, a privilege afforded only to residents. Exploring via taxi is probably the most attractive option but do not dismiss the island’s public buses that career around the tight hairpin bends at pleasingly often intervals, and a less pleasing speed.
Where to stay:
The latest hotel on the island to make waves is the JK Place Capri (+39 081 838 4001; www.jkcapri.com), the sister ‘residence’ of JK Roma and JK Firenze. An interlocking series of rooms on the ground floor, including a cavernous entrance hall and intimate dining room, all decorated in a beguiling mix of mid-century modern, Mediterranean and New England styles, recall the buildings original incarnation as a private villa. Service is, naturally, impeccable. In fact the only disappointment, if pushed to come up with one, is the location. It’s a fraction too close to the coming and going tourists in the harbour but those sweeping views across the Bay of Naples and complimentary shuttle service will soon ease any misgivings.
On the opposite side of Capri you will find Hotel La Minerva (+39 081 837 0561; www.laminervacapri.com) and Hotel Canasta (+39 081 837 0561; www.hotel-canasta.com). Though the Minerva is more expensive and it’s reputation more established there is little to discern between the two small hotels. They share an envious spot at the end of a shaded pergola of bougainvillea, which snakes down from the cobbled shopping streets of the main town, and both boast beautiful gardens and pools scented by the surrounding Mediterranean flora. If possible, ask for a sea-view room and note ahead that whilst breakfast is included, neither has a restaurant. At the Canasta ask the manager, Pietro, for advice on local restaurants that the tourist guides miss out and scenic walks along the rocky coastline.
For unparalleled luxury and the freedom to explore more of the Amafi coast, Bespoke Yacht Charter (0207 368 3328; www.bespokeyachtcharter.com) offer an impressive selection of charter options, including a handful of the only vessels in the Mediterranean allowed to accommodate more than 12 guests onboard. A fantastic option if you are two or three families traveling together; the company also offers numerous boats for one day charter with prices starting at €3,000.
Buca di Bacca (+39 081 837 0723) hidden down a winding street, is low key and quiet. There is no outside terrace so ask for the window table. Order a carafe of the locally sourced wine.
The Michelin starred Ristorante Mamma (+39 081 837 7472) boasts incredible service and clean, minimalist décor. If it’s on the menu that day, ask for the freshly caught pezzogna, grilled and doused in proper Italian olive oil.
Often, and inexplicably, overlooked, E’ Divino (+39 081 837 8364) is one of the island’s most romantic restaurants. The tables spill from the ground floor of the owner’s house (there’s a double bed in the dining room) onto a terrace framed by vegetable gardens and illuminated by fairy lights.
Finally, no meal, or day, on the island is complete without a sizeable helping of gelato. Join the seemingly permanent queue outside Gelateria Buonocore. (+39 081 837 7826), for a taste of Capri’s finest flavours in a freshly made waffle cone.
What to do:
It’s an old cliché, but a cliché for a reason: Capri has to been seen from the sea. Fight the urge to lounge pool-side and book a morning tour of the island with Capri Relax Boats (+39 331 608 4109; firstname.lastname@example.org). Your skipper will most-likely be the grandson of one of the island’s original tour-guides, employed by the Grand Hotel Quisisana, in the 1920’s, to row guests around the coast. A dab hand at pointing out the villas that once belonged to Roman emperors, teetering precariously on the limestone rocks high above you, they will also drop anchor at the best swim spots and crystal clear grottos.
After a leisurely lunch in the Piazetta follow the hand painted ceramic signs, embedded into the centuries old walls, to the remains of a collapsed grotto – the Arco Naturale. The path continues on in a pleasing loop through the island’s more remote countryside. Stop for a refreshing lemon granita and, appetite permitting, a bowl of handmade pasta at La Grottelle (+39 081 837 5719), moments from the arch itself.
In Anacapri, the main town’s more rustic counterpart, take a ride on the Mount Salero chairlift. The twelve minute journey will carry you up to the island’s highest point. With your feet firmly back on solid ground pay a visit to Villa San Michele. Created by notorious Swedish physician Alex Munthe, who settled on the island in the late 19th century, the villa is a treasure trove of collector’s items from antiquity paired with breathtaking gardens.
Confusingly, given the popularity of the island’s beach clubs, Capri is lacking in sandy beaches. Instead the island rises vertically from the sea that surrounds it and, with no tide, the water remains a clear and beguiling azure colour. La Fontelina (+39 081 837 0845; www.fontelina-capri.com) stands out from the rest, for laid back luxury and a chance to be a part of it’s glittering history – the club has played host to Brigitte Bardot and Clark Gable, amongst others. Perched on a rocky outcrop just above the water’s surface, ask your hotel to book a sun bed for the day and a table at the restaurant for lunch, well in advance. The walk down is a steep 300m descent so consider arriving by water taxi. Once there keep cool with jugs of ice-cold sangria, feast on fresh fish and take a swim in the shadows of the Faraglioni rocks.
Leslie Geddes-Brown visits luxury hotel The Ritz-Carlton, Abama in Tenerife.