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Capri, Italy

Italy, Travel | March 11, 2015 | By

Capri is an island in the Bay of Naples, close to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, that has always been synonymous with beauty, stars, style and impossible glamour.  The island is comprised of three main areas: Marina Grande, Capri and Anacapri.  The Marina Grande is the main port of the island with easy access to the hydrofoils and near the funicular railway.  The town of Capri is the island’s main population center with its designer shops, nightclubs and the famous Piazzetta.  Anacapri is situated high up on the slopes of Mount Solaro and is much quieter (and less crowded) than Capri. 

Best time to visit…

April, May, September and October are the best months to visit Capri due to the gorgeous weather (warm enough to swim but not unbearably hot) and significantly lower hotel rates.  The summer months of June through August are the busiest of the year.  August registers the greatest number of tourists on the island, with an average of 20,000 arrivals per day to the 10 square km island…avoid August at all costs.

Getting there…

Arrive at Capri by sea!  There are daily ferries from Naples and Sorrento to the island and additional ferries departing from Positano, Salerno and Ischia during the summer months.  If you are arriving from Rome, be prepared that the journey will take you approximately 3 hours.  Take the Leonardo Express from Rome’s Fiumicino airport to the city’s main “Termini” railway station then take the Eurostar Frecccia Rossa (TAV) train to Naples.  This is the fastest and most expensive train with tickets costing 40 euros each for the one hour journey from Rome to Naples.  Tickets for the intercity train are 20 euros but the trip takes two hours.  Once at Naples’ main Piazza Garibaldi railway station, your best option is to take a taxi to the port of Molo Beverello for a fixed rate of 10 euros.  The high speed ferries depart from Molo Beverello with single tickets costing 18 euros (40 minutes).  The slow ferries depart from Calata di Massa and single tickets cost 13 euros (80 minutes).

Where to stay…

In my opinion, the hotel Relais Maresca has the perfect sea front location 50 meters from the port with 27 elegant rooms and fantastic views across Marina Grande with Mount Vesuvius in the distance.  It has an unbelievable terrace overlooking the marina where they serve complimentary breakfast every morning and exquisitely refined Mediterranean cuisine for lunch and dinner.  There are also chaise lounges set up on the terrace for sunning and relaxing.  The hotel offers a bathing area situated in a small bay of Marina Grande from early May to late September.  The hotel is steps away from the marina where the hydrofoils arrive so you don’t have to travel far or deal with hauling your luggage up to town!

Complimentary breakfast on the rooftop terrace at the hotel Relais Maresca

Complimentary breakfast on the rooftop terrace at the hotel Relais Maresca

Hotel Relais Maresca (4-Star, Capri)
Via Provinciale Marina Grande, 284, 80073 Capri, Italy
+39 081 837 9619

Capri Wine Hotel (3-Star, Capri)
Via Provinciale Marina Grande, 69, 80073 Capri, Italy
+39 081 8379173

A weekend in….Capri, Italy

Friday

Settle in and buy a round trip ticket for the funicular train to take you through the island’s lemon gardens and up to the buzzing Piazzetta, the heart of Capri.  The funicular railway is by far the quickest way to travel to the center of Capri from the port.   The 3 minute trip departs every 15 minutes and is closed from January through March for maintenance (substituted by bus service).  The ticket office is located to the right of the arrival dock and the cost is 1,80 € for a single ticket. 

In the heart of the Piazzetta

In the heart of the Piazzetta

Once you reach the Piazzetta, relax with gelato or coffee while you gaze at the sea and the boats.  The Piazzetta is a tiny square but always bustling with every seat of the four bars (all open until 2am or so) packed to the rafters.  Stroll down Via Camerelle and browse its famous luxury shops and designer fashion boutiques.  Continue along Via Tragara until you reach the breathtaking Punta Tragara Belvedere overlook facing the Faraglioni rock formations, Capri’s famous three towering rock formations that jut out of from the Mediterranean just off the island’s coast.  The best view of these stacks is actually from the sea and you will have the opportunity to see this on your boat tour tomorrow.  Have a drink at La Pergola bar at the Hotel Punta Tragara and enjoy the beautiful panoramic views. 

La Pergola at Hotel Punta Tragara (Capri)
Via Tragara, 57, Capri, Italy
+39 081 837 0844
$$$$

For a dip in the sea set against the Faraglioni, take the footpath from the Tragara scenic overlook to the two beaches on the island shore directly opposite the sea stacks: La Fontelina and da Luigi.  Afterwards, there is a ferry service that will take you back to Marina Piccola.  If you prefer to head back to town, retrace your steps back along Via Tragara but instead of continuing on Via Camerelle, take the road uphill on the right (Via Padre Reginaldo Giuliano) until you come out on Via Fuorlovaldo and Via Le Botteghe.  Take the funicular train back down to the marina and get ready for dinner!

Find limoncello made from the island's lemons in the Piazzetta to bring home.

Find limoncello made from the island’s lemons in the Piazzetta to bring home.

Situated on the ruins of the Greek walls in the heart of the old town center, Ristorante Buca di Bacco is a great place to eat grilled fish without breaking the bank.  The restaurant also has an extensive wine list.  Reserve the table next to the panoramic window for a fantastic view and order the famous pizza “sfilatino”!  From the Piazzetta, walk through the passageway to Via Longano and you’ll find the restaurant within just a few steps.  Open Thursday through Tuesday. 

Ristorante Buca di Bacco (Capri)
Via Longano, 35, 80073 Capri, Italy
+39 081 837 0723
$$$

Saturday

From the Marina Grande, board a bus to Anacapri (a 20 minute ride on a minibus).  Buses run every 15 to 20 minutes and a single ticket costs 1,80 €.  From here, take the chairlift to the summit of Monte Solaro for the most spectacular views of the Bay of Naples and Salerno from 589 meters above sea level.  You’ll be able to see the historic center of Capri, the Faraglioni, Mount Tiberus, Punta Campanella and the Sorrentine peninsula.  The chairlift takes 12 minutes to reach the summit and costs 10 euros to ride.  It runs from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm from March to October and 10:30 am to 3:00 pm from November to February.

Enjoy lunch at Il Riccio restaurant, the beachside restaurant of the Capri Palace Hotel on Anacapri, approximately a 20 minute ride from Capri and a 10 minute ride from Anacapri.  The restaurant is right near the Blue Grotto with a homey picturesque atmosphere and breathtaking views over the sea.  The food is exceptional and only the freshest local ingredients are used.  Enjoy the dessert buffet while basking in the gentle sea breeze!

Il Riccio (Anacapri)
Via Gradola, 4, 80071 Anacapri, Italy
+39 081 837 1380
$$$

You can either ride the chairlift back down or make the 30 minute walk on foot, stopping to visit the hermitage of Cetrella (the site of what was once the writer Compton Mackenzie’s home).  Before taking the bus back to Capri, make sure you visit Villa San Michele, the house museum created by the 19th century Swedish writer and physician Axel Munthe, that boasts one of the island’s most panoramic and beautiful views from the terrace.  In addition to being a beautiful place full of light, it also houses Munthe’s collection of art, archeological treasures and a sphinx that looks out over the sea.  It’s truly a magical place that needs to be experienced!  The entrance is 6 euros and is open from 9:00 am until an hour before sunset.  Concerts and cultural events are held in the evenings in the chapel or the gardens.

Walk through the center of Capri town along a series of scenic lanes with a sweeping view from the Marina Piccola Bay at Via Krupp to the Faraglioni to the Augustus Gardens, panoramic gardens and incredible feat of engineering.  The Augustus Gardens are in a historic property adjacent to the Charterhouse of San Giacomo, purchased by the German industrialist Friedrich Alfred Krupp at the beginning of the 1900s to build his residence on Capri.  Entry to the Augustus Gardens costs 1 euro from the beginning of April to the beginning of November.  The best times to visit are early morning and late afternoon due to fewer crowds.  Venture up to Via Krupp, a historic switchback paved footpath connecting the Charterhouse of San Giacomo and the Gardens of Augustus area with Marina Piccolo, for an amazing view of the cliffs and water.  Commissioned by Krupp, the path covers an elevation difference of 100 meters.  Via Krupp is currently closed due to the danger of falling rocks but can be viewed from above from the scenic overlook in the Augustus Gardens.

Be prepared for a dining experience unlike any other!  Tucked away in the side streets and alleys above the marina is an enchanting, romantic, fairy tale of a restaurant that is Da Paolino Lemontrees.  The tables are nestled under the lemon groves so you feel like you are sitting in your own romantic garden while you dine above the lemon trees.  The food is divine and the portions are very generous.  The servers bring you complimentary homemade limoncello and it was so good that we bought two bottles to bring home with us.  My personal favorite was the complimentary dessert buffet with anything and everything your heart would desire, complete with a gelato bar!

Dining under the lemon  trees at Da Paolino

Dining under the lemon trees at Da Paolino

Complimentary dessert buffet...yes, please!

Complimentary dessert buffet…yes, please!

Da Paolino Lemon Trees Restaurant (Capri)
Palazzo a Mare Street, 11, 80073 Capri, Italy
+39 081 8376102
$$$$

If you want to sample the nightlife but don’t want to get caught up in the “touristy” bars of the Piazzetta, check out Quisi, the terrace bar of the Grand Hotel Quisisiana.  Anema e Core (“soul and heart”) is the best known club on the island is where you can grab a drink while listening to the band.  Panta Rei is a relatively new club that has a restaurant, bar and spa area with pool that was created by owner/architect Massimo Esposito who also designed the newest 5-star Villa Marina hotel on the island. 

Quisi (Capri)
Via Camerelle, 2, 80073 Capri, Italy
+39 081 837 0788

Anema e Core (Capri)
Via Sella Orta, 1, 80073 Capri, Italy
+39 081 837 6461

Panta Rei (Capri)
Via Lo Palazzo, 1, 80073 Capri, Italy
+39 081 837 8898

Sunday

As soon as you wake, head down to the private jetty in Marina Grande, the departure point for boat tours for the Blue Grotto (on the same dock where most of the hydrofoils from the mainland arrive).  You’ll want to purchase a ticket for the full circle island tour by sea that will take you to the Blue Grotto and sail you through the arch in the Faraglioni rock formations.  The Blue Grotto is a remarkable cave through which sunlight passes through an underwater cavity and shines through the seawater, creating a blue reflection that illuminates the cavern.  The cave extends some 50 meters into the cliff at the surface and approximately 150 meters deep with a sandy bottom.  Entrance to the grotto is 13 euros.  The tour lasts approximately two hours and costs 15 euros.  These tours tend to book up quickly so morning is your best bet!  You can also hire a private boat which is more expensive but you can stop wherever you want to swim.

Beautiful Marina Grande

Beautiful Marina Grande

Panda’s Tips for Capri:

  • A coffee served at one of the tables in the Piazzetta costs 4 euros but only 1 euro if you drink it standing at the bar.
  • If you want to take the bus from Capri to Anacapri and the line is too long at the stop in Piazza Vittoria, walk back along Viale De Tommaso and wait for the bus at the previous stop so that you can board the first bus that arrives.
  • If you want to save money, dine in Anacapri where the eateries are generally less expensive than in Capri.
  • The island is known for its ravioli capresi, insalata caprese, and torta caprese.  Be sure to try Capri’s legendary limoncello, a sweet liqueur made with the island’s lemons.
  • The tip is generally included in the price of the meal (especially if you see a cover charge) but some people choose to round the bill up and leave extra.
  • The house wine in Italy is amazing!  Simply ask for red or white wine.
  • Significant discounts are often available if you purchase your train tickets in advance online here.

 

 

“This article is now featured on GPSmyCity. To download this article for offline reading or travel directions to the attractions highlighted in this article, go to Walking Tours in Benevento on GPSmyCity

Positano, Italy

Panda in Positano

Italy, Travel | March 9, 2015 | By

Glamorous with its celebrity-packed beaches, lively historic center and breathtakingly gorgeous seascapes and view, Positano is the most sought after destination on the Amalfi Coast and the most photographed fishing village in the world.  With Positano’s breathtaking natural beauty, high craggy cliffs and calming sapphire-blue sea, it is truly the jewel of the Amalfi.

Best time to visit…

Given Positano’s mild Mediterranean climate of warm summers and mellow winters, there is never a bad time to visit.  The best time to visit the Amalfi Coast is from May to June when the flowers are blooming and sun is already warm enough for swimming in the crystal clear waters.  The ideal month to travel here is May due to the mild climate, beautiful colors and the absence of crowds.  Prices in May to June are lower than in July and August.  September to October is also a great time to visit.

Getting there…

You can arrive in Positano either by land (train, bus or private transfer) or by sea.  Naples, Sorrento and Salerno are the main transportation hubs for the Amalfi Coast.  Positano is a 75 minute drive south of Naples.  On your drive, you’ll pass Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius, the beautiful town of Sorrento and down the mountain coastline until finally descending to the town.  Just a warning, the roads are quite windy with hairpin turns and can get quite crowded during the summer months.

If you’re traveling to Positano from Rome, be aware that the journey takes at least four hours.  From the Rome Fiumicino Airport, take the Leonardo Express to the city’s main Roma Termini railway station and take the Eurostar Freccia Rossa (TAV) train to Naples.  This is the fastest but most expensive train (40 euros) with the journey taking a little more than an hour with trains departing every hour.  Train tickets can be purchased in the station at the ticket office or automatic dispensers or online at the Trenitalia website.  Significant discounts are often available if you purchase your tickets in advance online here.

Once you arrive at Naples Stazione Centrale – Piazza Garibaldi railway station, follow the signs to the Circumvesuviana (the regional railway line situated under the main railway station) and take the one hour train to Sorrento.  From Sorrento, take the Sita bus to Positano.  Sit on the right hand side of the bus to get the best view on the 30 minute ride to Positano…the road to the Amalfi is a series of stomach churning curves!

If you are arriving in the summer months, you have the option to take a hydrofoil operated by Metro del Mare from Naples (or Sorrento) to Positano and Amalfi which makes for a beautiful and scenic tour of the coast.  Take a taxi (or Alibus) to Molo Beverello port in Naples.  The trip takes approximately 40 minutes.

View of Positano from the hydrofoil

View of Positano from the hydrofoil

Where to stay…

Residence Villa Yiara is an adorable boutique hotel housed in an 18th century building on top of a hill with spectacular balconies overlooking the bay of Positano.  Every room features a sea-view terrace and the friendly staff serves you continental breakfast complete with cappuccinos, fresh squeezed orange juice, fruit, pastries and NUTELLA on your balcony every morning!  If you don’t mind climbing the stairs that lead straight into town (and it is a climb), you will love this hotel.  All rooms, with their charming white and yellow décor, have been recently refurbished and offer free Wi-Fi.  This was by far the largest hotel room we stayed in throughout our entire stay in Italy and our stay was an absolute delight.  If you’re arriving by sea, hire a porter to take your bags as you walk through the town to the taxi station then taxi up to the hotel. 

Our room at the Residence Villa Yiara

Our room at the Residence Villa Yiara

Complimentary breakfast on our balcony each morning

Complimentary breakfast on our balcony each morning

Residence Villa Yiara (Positano)
Viale Pasitea, 294, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
+39 089 812 2379

Hotel Buca di Bacco (4-star, Positano)
Via Rampa Teglia, 4, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
+39 089 875 699

A weekend in….Positano, Italy

Friday

Get settled and stroll into town to explore the central Spiaggia Grande with its boutique shops, restaurants, bars, wine bars and cafes near the marina.  Visit the beautiful domed Church of Santa Maria Assunta and its famous Byzantine Madonna painting that dates from the 13th Century, the beautiful Positano Botanical Gardens with panoramic views of the Amalfi Coast, and the Grotta la Porta cave where prehistoric remains have been found.  You can also take a ferry to Via Positanesa d’America, a stunning walkway on the cliff.

Have a drink at Buca di Bacco Bar, a meeting point for both locals and tourists alike and the clear hotspot of Positano.  Enjoy panoramic views of the azure waters and mingle with the locals and people from all over the world!

Buca di Bacco Bar (Positano)
Via del Brigantino, 35/37, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
+39 089 811 461
$$

Head up the hill for dinner at Ristorante Caffè Positano for an incredibly romantic dinner on a balcony perched on the edge of a cliff.  The views from the terrace are absolutely breathtaking and the food is fresh and local.  The best part is that the prices are very reasonable for a restaurant with these spectacular views!

Ristorante Caffè Positano (Positano)
Via Pasitea, 168/170, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
+39 089 875 082
$$

View from our table at Ristorante Caffè Positano

View from our table at Ristorante Caffè Positano

Our table for the evening!

Our table for the evening!

Saturday

Rise and shine ready to tackle the Sentiero degli Dei (“the God’s Pathway”), a breathtaking and extraordinary panoramic 8 km (3 hour) footpath above the Amalfi Coast.  A must-do for any visitor to the Amalfi, the walk from Agerola to Nocelle feels like you are walking through paradise with its stunning views of the coastline and the island of Capri.

Begin the walk in Bomerano, a fraction of Agerola.  Catch the Sita bus from Amalfi to Agerola and ask the driver to let you off at the Bomerano stop.  From here, follow the road signs that lead you to the start of the walk.  You will end the walk in Nocelle, a fraction of Positano nestled on the slopes of Monte Peruso.

The path is marked by white and red signs with “02” written on them.  You will pass the Convent of San Domenic, the Vallone grarelle, caves and terraces dropping from the cliffs to the sea and vineyards before reaching Nocelle.  You can then decide whether to make your way downhill by bus or on foot via the 1500 steps that lead to the district of Arienzo.  If you descend 300 steps further, you can take a quick dip at Arienzo beach before walking back to the center of Positano.

Agerola is famous for its fiordilatte, a particular type of delicious fresh mozzarella cheese.  Stop in one of the town’s salumerias before you start the hike and buy some fiordilatte to try with focaccia bread to eat along your walk.  If you’d rather have a sit-down meal, have lunch at La Tagliata restaurant which is located 1 km past the village of Nocelle.   Eat on one of their three terraces where you can enjoy a fantastic view of the water, Positano, the Galli isles and the island of Capri.  The restaurant has organic vegetable gardens on each terrace so you can even select your own produce for them to cook.  There is no menu – mama cooks it all for you!

La Tagliata (Positano)
Via Tagliata, 32b, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
+39 089 875 872
$$$

If you’re in the mood for a pricey but remarkable experience after your long hike, make a dinner reservation at La Sponda restaurant at Le Sirenuse hotel.  A Michelin star restaurant, La Sponda boasts the best view in all of Positano.  The spectacular views and unforgettable atmosphere are enhanced by the four hundred candles that are lit at dinner in the restaurant.  Enjoy the cuisine inspired by Mediterranean tradition created with only local, fresh ingredients set against the stunning sparkling sea. 

La Sponda (Positano)
Via S. Sebastiano, 2, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
+39 089 875 066
$$$$

If you have a wild hair and are looking for some fun on the town, check out the town’s only nightclub Music on the Rocks.  The legendary nightclub on the Spiaggia Grande beach is literally built on the rocks and carved out of a waterfront that offers a beach club by day and disco at night.  The inside of the club looks like an actual cave with exposed rock walls and ceiling with white columns and illuminated pottery.  Rada restaurant sits upstairs, a beautiful but expensive restaurant with gorgeous waterfront views in a posh setting.  We dined at Rada then had a fun limoncello-filled night with the pirates at pirate night until the wee hours of the morning! 

Music on the Rocks (Positano)
Via Grotte dell’Incanto, 51, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
+39-089-875 874

Dinner at Rada

Dinner at Rada

Pirate Night at Music on the Rocks

Pirate Night at Music on the Rocks

Cheers to limoncello shots!

Cheers to limoncello shots!

Sunday

You deserve a beach day today!  Spiaggia Grande, Positano’s main beach, is one of the liveliest and most glamorous beaches on the Amalfi coast.  Lined with a string of bustling restaurants and bars, the three hundred meter long beach has two bathing establishment and a free area.

My personal preference and favorite beach in all of Positano is Fornillo Beach.  Fornillo Beach is accessible from the center of town via a short and lovely walk between the sea and the cliffs.  It is close enough to town so it’s not difficult to get to yet far enough that is much more peaceful with cleaner water than Marina Grande.

On the beautiful walkway to Fornillo Beach

On the beautiful walkway to Fornillo Beach

Fornillo Beach

Fornillo Beach

Laurito beach is a small little beach that can be reached via a flight of stairs that starts in the small square opposite Hotel San Pietro.  Laurito has two casual restaurants, a free beach and a private beach that belongs to a small hotel.  The beach gets its name from the many laurels growing in the area and is beautiful as well!

Arienzo beach, or 300 steps beach because of the impressive number of steps you need to climb down to reach it, faces the south west so it enjoys the sun longer than any beach in Positano.  The beach consists of private and free areas.  On your way down to the beach, you’ll be able to see some of the most luxurious villas on the Amalfi Coast, including one that once belonged to Franco Zeffirelli!  Sita buses and buses operated by the Flavio Gioia Coach company stop at both Laurito and Arienzo beaches and depart from the center of Positano.  A shuttle boat service is available from both Positano and Praiano to the beaches.

Have lunch at Lo Guarracino restaurant with its breeze-kissed shaded terrace draped in bougainvillea, gorgeous views of the water and the freshest seafood that is located along the seaside path that leads you to Fornillo Beach.  The seaside path starts near Covo Dei Sarceni Hotel at the town dock.  Walk 10 minutes down the path until you see the restaurant to your right. 

Lo Guarracino (Positano)
Via Positanesi D’america, 12, 84017 Positano, Italy
+39 089 875 794
$$$

If you have the time, I highly recommend day trips to Ravello and Pompeii.  Ravello is situated in a more elevated position than the other pearls of the Amalfi Coast and boasts the most picturesque and exceptional views of the coast from its marvelous villas and gardens.  Don’t miss Villa Rufolo, famed for its beautiful cascading gardens and divine panoramic views, a villa built in the 13th century for the wealthy Rufolo dynasty.  You can hire a private driver or take the Sita bus to Ravello. 

Pompeii was an ancient Roman town-city that was destroyed and buried under 13 to 20 feet of ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.  The objects that lay beneath the city have been well-preserved for centuries due to the lack of air and moisture, providing a detailed insight into the life of a city during the time.  During the excavation, plaster was used to fill the crevices in the ash layers that once held human bodies so you can actually see the exact position the person was in when he/she died.  Take a ferry, bus or taxi to Sorrento.  From Sorrento, you can take the Circumvesuviana train to the Pompeii Scavi station.  Some people actually now prefer visiting Herculanium which is smaller than Pompeii (take the Circumvesuviana train in Sorrento to the Eculano station).  Herculaneum has not been fully excavated and some consider it better preserved.  If you have the time, visit both!

Panda’s Tips for Positano:

  • Sit on the right hand side of the bus to get the best view on the 30 minute ride to Positano from Naples…the road to the Amalfi is a series of stomach churning curves so be prepared!
  • If you visit Positano during the summer, the Feast of the Assumption (feast that centers around the famous Madonna icon) is held on the 15th of August and is an important event for the city!
  • The tip is generally included in the price of the meal (especially if you see a cover charge) but some people choose to round the bill up and leave extra.
  • The house wine in Italy is amazing!  Simply ask for red or white wine.
  • Significant discounts are often available if you purchase your train tickets in advance online here.

“This article is now featured on GPSmyCity. To download this article for offline reading or travel directions to the attractions highlighted in this article, go to Walking Tours in Positano on GPSmyCity

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