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10 Essential experiences in Capri

The grapevines on the rocks, the cracks in the musk,
The walls that ensnare the clinging plants, the plinths
of flowers and stone: the island is the lyre that was placed
on the melodious height, and chord by chord played by the
light, since remote times its voice, the colour of the letters
of the day, and from its fragrant enclosure, flew the aurora
tearing away the dew and opening the eyes of Europe.
Pablo Neruda, description of Capri.

Stay a While

Capri is a destination in itself. Give yourself at least two weeks although one month is better. You need time to discover all the island has to offer. Spend your days lazing in the sunshine and reviving yourself in the crystalline sea. Explore the island in the early morning and late afternoon. Summer evenings are serene in Capri, there is no need to rush. Take it easy.
photo: marisa berenson capri 1968 by slim arrons

Dine late and finish with a nightcap in one of the many bars or even better, toast your day on the privacy of your hotel or apartment balcony. Capri, when enjoyed slowly, can be a transformative experience. The combination of verdant nature, glorious sunshine, insanely blue water and the echo of history encourage a level of introspection and relaxation that can only be found on this fiery sapphire and cool emerald isle.
photo: slim aarons

The Long Way Down (and bring your swimsuit too!)
Via Krupp to Marina Piccola

This panoramic road which can only be travelled on foot has been cut into the rocks and twists steeply down from the beautiful gardens of Augustus to the eternally chic Marina Piccola.

Every turn offers a new view of the sky or coast. Look down into the turquoise waters to see glimpses of submerged rocks and look upward to see cliffs covered in cacti and mediterranean scrub which fall away straight down to the sea. Look out for the locals who know where to find the best free bathing spots on the rocks below, then try to figure out how to reach them! The effort is worth it. There is something almost primal about free bathing in Capri.


If you want the four star treatment, continue on to Marina Piccola. You can find free bathing there too, on either side of the sirens rock but be warned the powerful lure of the private beach club will probably pull you and your wallet onto a nice comfy lounger with umbrella and cocktails at hand.
At the end of your visit, when you are salt soaked and zenned out, you can either catch the bus back up to Capri or make the effort to stroll back up making the most of the ever changing light that catches on the cliffs and imparts an otherworldly stillness as you make the climb.

NB: Via Krupp is unfortunately more often closed than open,but don't let that deter you (just be wary of falling rocks LOL).Just do what every other intrepid traveller does,climb the fence or like a cat slink your way thru the gate between the wall!! 

House Hunting
Villa Damecuta
1ST Century AD

Yes, we all know that Villa Jovis is the superstar Imperial Villa on Capri and a visit is recommended but one of the loveliest walks you can take on the island is from the gorgeous village of Anacapri to the mysterious Villa Damecuta on the other side of the island.

It only takes about 30 minutes and you will see an intimate side to Capri that few visitors experience. The route is well marked by cute little tiled plaques but you will have to walk on some roads to get there. They can be narrow but dodging the numerous three wheeled little vans that shoot out at you unexpectedly certainly keeps you on your toes.

The walk takes you down lanes lined with whiter than white villas awash with purple bougainvillea. You will discover a more agricultural side to the island with vegetable gardens and little vineyards catching your eye. There will be no tourist hordes to disturb the peace, only some locals going about their business and perhaps one or two other intrepid visitors will cross your path.

Some of the most beautiful views in all of Italy can be had from the lookout just before you reach the Villa. Continue on down the path alongside the helipad (!) until you reach Damecuta. Expansive and enigmatic, the space is harder to read than Villa Jovis but it offers jaw dropping views, wooded enclaves and an ancient charm. It is particularly atmospheric in the late afternoon as the light plays between the trees.

A Powerwalk with a View

Whether you choose to work out in the early morning or late afternoon, the best circuit in town offers incredible views, natural wonders, an architectural masterpiece, a mysterious mosaic floored cave and a good dose of ‘villa envy’ thrown in for the ride.

For a mega workout, head out via the Quisi hotel and along the Via Camerelle lined with high end boutiques and bars towards the panoramic Via Tragara, a level path adorned with flowers and stunning villas with killer views. The views of the Fariglioni throwing themselves up out of the water are mesmerising but avoid a long stop at the lookout, this is exercise time….remember?

The circuit now takes a rustic turn along the Pizzolungo. A winding often shaded path with only the rustle of lizards in the leaves to keep you company. Stop for a second to take in the astonishing Villa Malaparte looming out over the sea. This is where Bardot sulked her way to her doom in ‘Contempt’. Come back another time and you just may be able to talk your way inside.

photo: salviamoilmuseofilangeri.org

Steep stairs take you to your next stop- the mysterious Grotta di Matermania. Once a sacred site this former nymphaeum still contains mosaic traces as well as structures worked into the rock and other decorations. It even offers quasi throne style seating if you need to catch your breath. The view from the mouth of the cave is sublime in the early morning hours.

Take a breath now, more stairs are on the way. Climb up to the restaurant which is cleverly postioned at the top of the stairs and head right to the Arco Naturale. If you want to give the arco a miss, head left along Via Matermania and its jaw dropping views until you reach Via Tiberio. Take Via Botteghe to the Piazetta for a perfect cool down. You can reverse the circuit for a less arduous workout if you wish. Total time…..around 50 minutes to an hour depending on your fitness level. You can jog this circuit if you like but be aware that there are multiple tripping hazards on the Pizzalungo.

The Valentine Hill

Explore the centre of the village of Capri and discover an older, gentler aspect to the island. Covering the area between the Piazzetta and the Castiglione hill, the Valentino quarter represents the oldest inhabited area of medieval Capri.

Moorish influences dominate the area and are most evident in the architecture, porticoes and tiny courtyard of the tiny buildings. Places of note to visit included the intriguing Villa Narcissus built by the American painter Cyril Coleman which contains a courtyard reminiscent of those found in Pompeii, and the neighbouring convent of the Teresian Sisters and the Church of San Salvador. The alter in the interior of the church is made from the columns of ancient yellow marble taken from Villa Jovis. The stairs at the entry to the convent offer breathtaking views.

Wander up and down the narrow streets and take advantage of the myriad of local artisan stores which offer more than the usual souvenirs of Limoncello and sandals. Perfect for a late afternoon browse.

The Charthouse of San Giacomo

The charterhouse of St James is the oldest historical building in Capri, dating to the early 14thCentury and the site still remains a centrepoint for local Caprese life. Within, you will find a library, a school and a museum. During the summer season many local events are also held at the charterhouse and they offer a great opportunity to see the locals at play.

The museum features several huge canvases by the German Painter Wilhelm Diefenbach . The paintings are dark and atmospheric, shot through with streaks of light, they leave a disturbing impression which is quite at odds with the hedonistic atmosphere of the island. Inside the church there are some charming frescoes from the 14th to17th centuries. This area has a more intimate and joyful feel. Usually uncrowded, the charterhouse area provides a perfect retreat from the sun and crowds during the middle of the day.
The surrounding gardens are cool and rustic. Take a picnic lunch and enjoy the spectacular views of the Fariglioni. They seem so close that you feel you could just reach out and touch them. Gorgeous.

photo: marisa berenson by slim arrons
A View from the Top
Cablecar to Monte Solaro

photo:arnold lavas
The highest mountain summit in Capri can be reached on foot but the quickest and most toe curling way is by cable car from Anacapri. The occasionally hair raising ride (depending on the wind) carries you up above cultivated slopes introducing you to the agricultural heart of the island.

Below, yellow broom sweeps across the mountainside and above, the blue sky hangs, unbroken by clouds. The combination of yellow and blue has a dazzling impact which is amplified when you reach the top. If you visit in the late afternoon everything seems blue, gradiations of blue from the sky, the clouds and the heat hazed mist all the way down to the cobalt sea below.
The view from the lookout is mesmerising. In front of you is the neopolitan gulf rushing out towards Ischia, Procida, Naples at the foot of Vesuvius then onwards towards Sorrento. You can have a coffee with a killer view at the café or just wander freely exploring the nearby attractions of the Hermitage of Cetrella and Barbarossa Castle.
Green Ice
Grotta Verde by Boat

Wipe away the memory of your tourist packed visit to the Blue Grotto with a leisurely swim in the Grotta Verde. Located at the bottom of a limestone amphitheatre the grotta contains a passageway through which it is possible to swim. The effects of light and colour in the Verde rival those of the blue grotto and it is usually completely uncrowded.

The shimmering interior offers a feeling of expansiveness and exhilaration. It feels like you are swimming inside Elizabeth Taylor’s jewellery case as emerald green light radiates from below and bounces around the walls of the cave.
You can swim at the Verde via a boat tour of the island but the best way is to hang the expense, grab a snorkel and hire a boat for yourself. Unforgettable.
High Anxiety
Ttavel to Anacapri by Orange Bus

One of the greatest and most hair raising journeys in the world can be had for the price of a bus ticket on Capri. Catch the bus from Capri or even better from Marina Grande all the way up to Anacapri.

Score yourself a seat on the right hand side of the bus, preferably at the back to ensure maximum chills and thrills. Along with a good dose of vertigo, you will also experience a nice serving of claustrophobia because the buses are usually packed. The Capri road system is a network of perilous winding roads that are so narrow at times they resemble laneways. Your bus will be spend it’s time dodging oversized private buses, taxi’s and screaming motor scooters which really highlights the ‘yikes’ factor.

Not freaked out enough? Look down. The only thing between you and a screaming death into the foaming waters below is a knee high stone fence. Locals cross themselves on this journey and you may hear a quiet prayer or two as you make your ascent. But don’t worry; the intrepid orange buses haven’t lost a passenger yet.

Calm yourself by exploring the delightful village of Anacapri and then brace yourself for the return journey. Be sure to take the left side at the back of the bus this time.It doesn’t get any easier going down. Forget Magic Mountain, this is the best thrill ride you will take in your lifetime!

NB: I  could upload our video,but me laughing at my sister's terror is just to cruel ! So here is one from maisimoi.

Go Deep
Scuba Dive Capri And the Amalfi Coast

If you are into scuba diving, Capri and the Amalfi coast offer you a watery wonderland to discover. Always be sure to hook up with an official diving company, there is a good one in Marina Piccola and go for it. Night dives are particularly worthwhile. If you are a newbie to diving, lessons are available.
photo: capri mare diving club

Further afield is the stunning Cilentro Peninsula, about 90 minutes south of Positano. This area abounds with sparkling coves and eerie grottos. This is fantastic snorkelling territory and it is very easy to just ask a young local guy to take you out in his boat – set the price first of course!

Diving is also incredible in this area, again to get the most out of it, organise a guide and go with a reputable company. Just a little warning though, for years locals have been talking about a ‘big fish’ that took a bite out of a young woman’s kayak one sunny afternoon. Maybe a Great White taking a summer vacation? Google Great Whites and the Med to freak yourself out ;) Have fun!

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