December 01, 2014

Posh Capri Town

From Roman emperors to Grand Tour travellers and modern-day movie stars, the rich and powerful have vacationed for centuries on Capri, a small island off the Sorrentine coast of Italy. But Capri is also the name given to the larger of two towns on this rocky paradise, and it’s this town that is responsible for the island’s glitzy reputation.


The Isle of Capri, Italy


We arrived in Capri by ferry from Naples, at the port of Marina Grande. It was late afternoon and we had to fight our way through an impatient mob of day-trippers returning to the mainland. Then we travelled up to Capri town in style, in a caravan of white convertible taxis (€15). When not gasping at the incredible views, we gasped at the sharp drops along the side of the road and the skill of our driver as he maneuvered the narrow switchbacks. There’s also a bus and a funicular railway connecting the port with the town, which is perched high upon a hill.


Marina Grande, Capri

Capri's White Convertible Taxis




Unlike my previous visit - a quick day trip from Sorrento - we would spend two nights on the island, at the Hotel la Residenza. The taxis carried us to the top of the hill but we walked the rest of the way and were greeted by birdsong in the hotel’s courtyard and fragrant lilies in the airy lobby. On the second floor, the breakfast room welcomed guests with lovely views over the pool and out to sea.


Hotel la Residenza, Capri Town

Courtyard of Hotel la Residenza

View from the Breakfast Room


After settling into our room, we set off to explore a bit of the town before dinner. Much of Capri town is restricted to pedestrian traffic but it’s wise to heed the beep of the small lorries that ferry goods and tourist luggage through the winding cobbled lanes.


Pedestrian Lanes of Capri Town

Luggage Transport



The two main shopping streets in Capri, Via Vittorio Emanuele and Via Camerelle, have been nicknamed "Rodeo Drive" for good reason. Dolce & Gabbana had a colourful pair of girls' sandals in their window for €395. 


Prada

Salvatore Ferragamo


Dolce & Gabbana Sandals



Celebrities like Tom Cruise and Sting vacation at the luxurious Grand Hotel Quisisana, which  was originally built as a clinic. The name Quisisana means "here one heals". 


The Grand Hotel Quisisana



Prada and the Quisisana Hotel are definitely out of my price range but I’m pleased with my sole purchase in Capri, a multi-hued bird (€65) from Sea Gull at Via Roma, 23. The shop specializes in local hand-painted ceramics.


Ceramic Bird from Sea Gull

Artwork at the Entrance to Sea Gull



Limoncello, the local lemon liqueur, also makes an inexpensive souvenir of your visit to Capri. The taste reminds me a little of cough syrup so I passed.



Limoncello


The focal point of Capri town is Piazza Umberto I or “La Piazzetta”. This tiny but fashionable square has been described as “the drawing room of the world”. This is where you'll find the Tourist Information kiosk (at the base of the bell tower) and around the corner is the entrance to the funicular. We shared a sandwich for lunch (€8) at Bar Tiberio, one of a trio of cafes on the square, and watched the world go by.



"La Piazzetta", Piazza Umberto I


Bell Tower, Funicular Entrance and Tourist Information


Bell Tower Clock


Lunch at Bar Tiberio


Both nights we chose to dine at open-air Capri’s, not far from the Piazzetta at Via Roma, 38. The restaurant boasts splendid views of Mount Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples. The staff was welcoming, the atmosphere was casual, and the food was simple and delicious: lemon veal (€18) and grilled vegetables (€12) the first night; and Pizza Capricciosa (€13, with ham, mushrooms, artichokes and tomatoes) on the second. For dessert, I was able to resist the sweet-smelling waffle cones at Buonacore Gelateria, Via Vittorio Emanuele, 35 and enjoyed instead a small cup of lemon gelato as we sauntered back to the Residenza.


Ristorante Capri's

The View from Our Table at Capri's

Capri's Focaccia with Mozzarella and Tomatoes



A short walk from Hotel la Residenza is the Giardini di Augusto, the Gardens of Augustus (admission €1), where we strolled amongst the lush bougainvillea and viewed the famous Faraglioni Rocks.


Gardens of Augustus

Faraglioni Rocks


Sure, Capri can be pricey, but it is possible to partake of the island’s delights without breaking the bank. And with such enticing food, amazing views and plans to explore Anacapri in the morning, I was sure I’d arrived in paradise!

Next:  Simply Lovely Anacapri

Related Post:
Gardens of Augustus, Capri

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