I had a lot of expectations from my time spent in Sorrento and along the Amalfi Coast in Italy. After all, generations of poets, writers, artists and actors have helped propel this particularly picturesque region of Italy into the stuff of modern fairy tales. Sadly though, too many people only spend a day or so exploring this, one of Italy’s most beautiful regions whether on a day trip from Rome or part of a Mediterranean cruise. That’s how I first experienced the Amalfi Coast, more than seven years ago while cruising from Rome to Istanbul. While I don’t regret the experience in any way, it wasn’t until I recently traveled to Italy with the untour company Monograms Travel that I truly began to understand why so many people from around the world love this special corner of Europe.
Whether you’re on a cruise or staying nearby in either Naples or Sorrento, getting to Capri is easy. It was especially so for me as I wasn’t only staying in the beautiful city of Sorrento, but I was also traveling the region with Monograms. I explain more about what Monograms does in this post, but they’re very much an untour company. That means they help coordinate transfers and hotels but after that, much of what you see and do is completely up to you. In each location they have a Local Host though whose job is to help you settle in and coordinate anything you might want to experience. Offering a variety of optional excursions, there are plenty of ways to fine-tune the travel experience. One of the excursions I decided to go with was a daytrip to Capri, one of the best decisions I made on my trip. Picked up from our hotel, I joined others in the group and waited for the ferry to take us the short way across the Bay to the sparkling island of Capri.
What to See and Do
There is most definitely a tourist trail on Capri and it quickly became obvious that all day-trippers follow the same route around the island. That was fine for me though, I was more curious about seeing the island than worrying about other tourists. While it is technically possible to do it on your own, it would probably cost more to take a taxi everywhere and you’d miss out on the insights provided by the local guide. Booking my excursion through Monograms gave me peace of mind and offered convenience, exactly what one needs when time is short.
The day began with a bus ride up to Anacapri, where I then took a funicular ride up to the top of Monte Solaro. My legs dangling over backyards and gardens, the 360-degree views well worth the price of the ticket, even if the open-air ski lift ride itself was a little intimidating. But there’s a lot more to Anacapri than just the lift, as I discovered on a morning wander around town. Thanks to its position at the top of the island, the views from all levels are really the highlight and I found myself drawn to the cliffside walks more than once. But then I decided to walk away from the tourist zone into the city itself and was charmed by what I found. Instantly I was reminded of the romantic islands of Greece with the whitewashed and pastel colored homes, the easygoing locals and a pace of life that seemed simpler. It was a Sunday and I watched quietly as church services ended and finely dressed residents started to flow out from the church, stopping for a glass of espresso, wine or just to chat with neighbors. It was an unexpected moment and one that I know will forever form my memories of Anacapri.
The meander around the island continued from Anacapri to what is the highlight for many people, the town of Capri itself. As incredible as it sounds, the island has been a popular resort since the time of the Ancient Romans, but most of us know it today as the stylish retreat for the rich and famous. And stylish it is, especially the village of Capri itself where there’s no doubt that this is the place to see and be seen. Walking into the center of town, the views and the ancient clocktower compete for attention, but there’s a lot more to Capri than just the main square. Once I shouldered my way past the tourists and seemingly endless number of very high-end boutiques, I found a somewhat quieter side to the village near the Villa Krupp where, you guessed it, even more gorgeous views are on display. The softly colored buildings, luxury hotels and restaurants and those water views, these reasons and more are why people have been visiting for millennia, a trend that’s in no danger of ending.
There’s of course a lot more to Capri than buying sandals and looking at water views and for many people that means hopping on a boat. The Blue Grotto is arguably the island’s most popular tourist attraction, but that’s also why I decided to skip it. Frankly, I didn’t have the time – the line of boats waiting to capture a few seconds in the small water cave was hours long, but even if I had the time it didn’t really interest me. No, instead at the suggestion of our guide I enjoyed an hour-long boat tour around the entire island of Capri, seeing sights and buildings I would never have been able to appreciate from land. I always love being on the water, but in a place as special as Capri it was somehow just a little bit better than normal.
Leaving that afternoon, I gave a soft smile as thanks to Capri as the boat left the main harbor. It was a beautiful day in one of the world’s most famous islands and for me, a day very well spent.
Worth the Time?
Visiting Capri is an all-day affair no matter your starting point. I traveled there in the easiest way possible for a day-tripper, directly from nearby Sorrento. If you’re traveling from a cruise ship, Naples or Rome though you’re in for a much longer day. In my opinion though, spending time on Capri is important for a number of reasons. What interested me perhaps the most was the island’s incredible history and I think it’s important for any visitor to the region to see why this getaway has been so popular since the days of the Roman Empire. Capri also provides a sort of luxurious and even romantic getaway that is impossible to find anywhere else nearby. There’s just something special about islands I think, they capture our imaginations in a way few other places can manage and Capri is certainly no exception. It’s also just a lot of fun to play the part of an ultra-elite jetsetter, even if it’s only for a few hours. Browsing boutiques, enjoying great meals and admiring those stunning sea views, they all come together to create a day no one will soon forget. Of course, I imagine spending the night at any one of Capri’s famous luxury hotels is even better, but for my purposes a day there was more than enough, facilitated effortlessly with kind help of my Monograms Local Host.