Anastasia Mann of Corniche Travel takes us back to one of her favorite destinations.
Like many of us who were long ago bitten by the travel bug, I set off alone on my first trip to Europe at 21. I hopped from country to country on my $6-a-day hotel budget, finding friends and making new ones along the way. It is a lot easier when you are alone. My “student” charter flight landed in Frankfurt. The story about how I got from there to Amsterdam to Bonn to Madrid to Paris to Rome will have to be saved for another day. But on that first trip, a rather odd occurrence in Rome directed me to go south and visit “the island of dreams,” Capri, whose charm captivated Caesar Augustus in 29 B.C. and later, his successor, Tiberius, and numerous artists and writers, who are well known to this day.
Capri’s history was unknown to me at the time, but as my ferry boat from Naples approached the Marina Grande, I felt something stir inside me that still exists today.
Folks who arrive in Capri via cruise ship and the day-trippers from the bus tours have been known to miss the essence of this jewel of the Mediterranean. Many sit at the busy port’s little cafés and drink espresso among the t-shirt and postcard shops, not knowing what splendor awaits them above.
Just a short ride straight up the funicular or via the zigzag mountain road in a 50s convertible Chevy taxi and the juices start to flow. Suddenly you are in an enchanted era of long ago.
Capri is magically frozen in time. From the greens of the vegetation to the multiple colors of the flowers to the transparent blue greens of the sea, one is captured by its fairy-tale beauty. Go for a walk along the terrace of the Certosa and view the famed Faraglioni and the Rock of the Sirens as Ulysses did. Sit at a café bar for a drink in the Piazzetta or on the terrace of the island’s grande dame, Grand Hotel Quisisana, and watch the world gently stroll by.
Capri is a working island along narrow cobblestone paths winding through the village. Wonderful restaurants and petit shops are woven throughout. Explore and you will find everything from a local shoemaker to Ferragamo. All the hotels are boutique but my favorites belong to the Morgano family and include the “Grand Quisi” as well as Casa Morgano and Scalinatella, whose charms, rooms and views are breathtaking. Spend days sunbathing and swimming in the sea at Marina Piccolo or the Bagni di Tiberio or by the picturesque Faraglioni — and the glorious, sparkly nights strolling along the bougainvillea-covered walkways to dine at any one of the charming restaurants around every bend.
The story about why I’ve returned to Capri every year will also come another day.