The high, steep cliffs of white limestone dotted with greenery encircle the welcoming Marina Grande, the port always crowded with boats, where tourists from all over the world land to make a dream come true. Capri, the glamorous island par excellence, immediately begins to unfold its eternal charm as it directs its eager guests to Piazza Vittoria, to the funicular railway that for more than a century has made it possible to overcome the great difference in height between the sea- level port area and the town centre in just a few minutes
The first impact is with the magnificent view of the gulf from the terrace as you exit the funicular. A few steps and the Clock Tower heralds the legendary Piazzetta, or Piazza Umberto I, chic and worldly, a meeting place for the international jet set and a place to visit for anyone staying on the Blue Island. Framing it are the Town Hall and the church of Santo Stefano, formerly the cathedral, which houses the venerated statue of San Costanzo, Capri's patron saint. And in front of the church, in the family palace of Ignazio Cerio, a well-deserving unveiler of the island's history, the Centro Caprense named after him and founded by his son Edwin, has since 1949 housed precious archaeological evidence, from prehistoric to Roman times, and illustrated with equally
important finds the island's geology, flora and fauna.
From the Piazzetta the shopping streets start, such as Via Camerelle, with its renowned multi- starred hotels and exclusive stores. Via Tragara, the street of lovers, accompanies the vision of one of the island's world-renowned symbols, the famous Faraglioni, which with the nearby Scoglio del Monacone rises white between the blue of the sparkling sea and sky. Overlooking the three Siren rocks are also the Gardens of Augustus, donated in 1918 to the municipality by the German industrialist frequenter of Capri Alfred Krupp, who also gives his name to the most daring street, with thousands of steps, dangerous hairpin bends and a steep incline. An astonishing 1902 work now reopened to the public.
In addition to Krupp, Capri was loved by numerous personalities from the worlds of culture, finance and industry in the 1900s, who left behind villas by great designers that themselves became attractions, admired from both land and sea. From Villa Fersen to Villa Malaparte, "The House Like Me," on Capri and from the Casa Rossa, an exhibition center for contemporary painting, to Villa San Michele, Axel Munthe's house museum in Anacapri. From Villa San Michele one then reaches the Barbarossa Castle, with its natural oasis owned by the Swedish state.
Even more illustrious had been the island's enthusiasts in antiquity. Purchased by Octavian Augustus in place of Ischia, it was part of the emperor's personal estate, and with Tiberius, who chose to move there permanently, it actually played the role of capital of the empire. Remains of the emperors' predilection are the vestiges of twelve villas, all in splendid panoramic locations. The most famous is Villa Jovis, immense, with a huge surrounding park leading up to the famous Leap of Tiberius, on the cliff overlooking the sea.
Among so many wonders of nature, not to be missed are visits, to Capri, to the 14th-century Carthusian monastery of San Giacomo, the oldest building on the island, and, to Anacapri, to the Baroque church of San Michele Arcangelo with its 18th-century ceramic floor depicting the "Earthly Paradise," the work of Leonardo Chiaiese. Among the island's great attractions, the Grotta Azzurra in the Anacapri area, formerly a nymphaeum in Roman times and then rediscovered only in 1826, is among the most sought-after destinations for admiring the striking reflections that have made it famous. But all around the island are many other splendid caves, most of which can be seen by reaching them from the sea. And the circumnavigation of the island offers many other beauties, from the delightful coves with small scenic beaches to the towers and the three Fortini, which protected the northern side of the island, to the 1867 Lighthouse among the most powerful in Italy. In addition to the sea, Capri offers interesting excursions on land. Beginning with the climb up Mount Solaro with the hermitage of Santa Maria a Cetrella at the summit, which can also be reached by chairlift. Ė that the highest point, offering a unique view of the entire island and the nearby Sorrento Peninsula, of which it was once a part.