Many people come to Capri for the sun and the shopping and to enjoy an aperitivo in the main plaza (piazzetta) while watching people go by. And while these are must-do activities there is so much more to this beautiful island.
With a little effort you can take yourself away from the large crowds and be rewarded with stunning views and a better understanding of the history of this place and the people who have made the island their home. Here are some of our favorite places to hike and walk around the Island.
At 589 meters (1932 ft), Monte Solaro is the highest point on the island. From the top you can enjoy panoramic views that include the Faraglioni rock formations and the center of the town of Capri, and as far as the Sorrento Peninsula, the Galli islands, and the whole of the Gulf of Naples. On clear days, you can catch a glimpse of the Gulf of Salerno. There is a chair lift from the Piazza Vittoria (11 Euros round trip, 8 Euros one-way). It takes about 12 minutes and offers nice views. Or, to get away from the crowds, you can hike to the top from the Piazza della Pace. It takes about an hour and there are many steps, but the path is easy to follow and not at all crowded. At the top there is a cafe and bathrooms. We recommend skipping the lift on the way down as well, and instead continuing on a quiet path (marked in red) to the Belvedere Migliera, an easy path with even more beautiful views and very few people. From here you can continue down to the lighthouse before returning to town. All along the way you will pass along vineyards and villas, and enjoy the perfume of the abundant flowers of the island.
VILLA LYSIS TO VILLA JOVIS
Not far from one another but from very different points in history, Villas Lysis and Jovis are both worth a visit. Villa Lysis was finished in 1905 and was the refuge of the exiled French count Jacques d'Adelsward Fersen, who left Paris after a scandal involving school boys. He and his male lover led an interesting life in Carpri, and this story is told in each room of the villa. To arrive, from the Piazzetta take via Le Botteghe, Fuorlovado, Croce, Tiberio and Lo Capo. It's an easy walk through a maze of pretty streets with plenty of scenic overlooks and opportunities to stop for a cafe or a gelato.
You can take paved roads from Villa Lysis to Villa Jovis, or you can take a shorter, more interesting (and more challenging) dirt path from right outside of the Villa Lysis. Villa Jovis is a Roman palace built by the emperor Tiberius and completed in AD 27. He ruled here from the time of its completion until his death in AD 37. It's the largest of 12 Tiberian villas known on the island and spans 7000 meters (1.7 acres). Portions of the villa have recently been reconstructed, and a walk through the complex gives you an idea of its former splendor.
PHOENECIAN STEPS TO VILLA SAN MICHELE
Villa San Michele is the most-visited site on the island, and for good reason! This breathtaking villa was completed in the early 20th century and was one of the homes of the Swedish physician and author Axel Munthe. Inside you'll learn of his work on the island and of his writing, as well as enjoy the beauty and care he put into desgining this home. This villa can be easliy reached by a short walk from Anacapri, but we recommend arriving via the Phoenecian steps.
For thousands of years these 921 steps were used by anyone who needed to transport goods from Marina Grande up to Anacapri. Much of the hard work was done by the island's women, who regularly climbed up and down the steps balancing heavy vases on their heads. Today there is a monument to these women at the top of the steps. Also, even though the carriage road had been bulit at the time of the construction of Villa San Michele, much of the building materials were transported by donkey up the Phoenecian Steps.
The steps begin in Marina Grande, close to Palazzo a Mare. From the port, walk along Via Palazzo a Mare and, after about 400 meters (437 yards), you'll see a sign indicating the steps to your right.
Although the steps can be climbed in about a half hour, why rush? There is so much to see along the way, including some of the best views on the island and the tiny chapel dedicated to Sant'Antonio of Padua, the Patron Saint of Anacapri. From the top of the steps you'll quickly reach the Chapel of San Michele and the ancient archway which once marked the border between the towns of Capri and Anacapri.
You can follow this link for walking tours in Italy by Tourissimo.
These are just three of the many rewarding walks/hikes you can enjoy on the island of Capri, but there are so many more! If you've had your own adventure on the island, we'd love to hear about it! If you're ready to experience all the island has to offer, join us on tour, or contact us for your own private Capri adventure.