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Monday, September 28, 2015

Oh, The Side Trips of Italy



I don't know of anyone who hasn't dreamed of traveling in Italy.  I've always wanted to drive my Ferrari along the Amalfi Coast and see the ruins created by Vesuvius at Pompeii.  I've longed to look out over the Mediterranean Sea and swim in it's clear azure waters.  But, I digress.  Just off the south tip of the Bay of Naples lies the Island of Capri.  This is a great spot.



There are several ways to reach Capri.  There are ferry boats from several locations such as Amalfi, Sorrento, Naples, Salerno and more.  It's not far off the mainland.  It was once part of the mainland, but the limestone that forms the island eroded and now it is disconnected from the mainland.  The fact that the island of Capri is in fact currently an island leads to its being very different from the mainland.  Things are far more easy going on the island.  One of the boat companies is called relax. 



So, Capri is full of history.  Parts of it are reportedly used in Homer's Odyssey.  It's covered in rugged peaks and limestone cliffs and spires rising right up out of the sea.  It is a playground for the rich, but you don't have to be rich to enjoy it.  You can take a boat tour around the island for a day coming in from the mainland for around 20 Euros.  It's not all about the rich.  There are also some reasonably priced accommodations on the island, and you can rent scooters to get around. 



So, what to do in Capri.  Boat tours that stop at various points around the island are very popular.  You can sail, take a yacht, take a tour boat, rent a private boat, or bring your own boat.  There are a lot of options.  One of the most popular stops on boat tours is the Blue Grotto.  This is a cave and inside the conditions make it reportedly some of the bluest water in the world. 



Now, the Blue Grotto is a stop on any tour.  It is a separate activity.  Just outside the grotto is where you start your tour for that.  There are guides who will take you from the boat you came in on and put you in a four person boat specially designed for this trip.  You go through a very low opening in the rock and into the cavern on the other side.  It's not for everybody, because some may be claustrophobic or something, but it is an Adventure for Everyone.  It's the bluest water you'll ever see, and it's one of the most famous grottoes around.



Most boat tours take you all around the island with stops at grottoes, land marks, parks, towns, and all that.  Some of them take you to the lighthouse, the Villa San Michele, various beaches and rock formations and ports.  By and large, the boat tours are the most popular activities on the island.



There are land activities as well.  One of the more popular destinations is the top of Mount Solaro.  It's about 1,500 feet up and you can climb it and get some stunning views of the mainland and the sea.  It's some of the more gorgeous views you'll ever see.  The best part about this one is that if you aren't in the mood to climb a mountain, you can take the chair lift up.  I like those options. 



But, if you take the chair lift up, try to walk down.  All over Capri are amazing walkways that have stunning views and unique things to see along the way.  Going down Mount Solaro, you have some historic places where you can stop and look around and a plethora of amazing views.  There aren't a lot of cars on the tiny island, so this is a great time to take  advantage of the air and the freedom that you have on foot.



Most of the more interesting sites can be reached in part by boat.  Capri is not a large island and has only two towns on it.  But, if you are coming ashore, consider renting a scooter.  There are roads, once again with amazing views around the island and between the cities of Capri and Anacapri.  If you're not comfortable on a scooter, then pretty much stick to the boat.  Most things are accessible in part by them.  In Capri, there's even a funicular that takes you from the port up to the town proper and back.  It's all pretty convenient.



Can you stay on Capri?  Yes.  There are a wide variety of accommodations on the island.  There are more expensive than not expensive, so check with a travel agent or a large website like Hotels.com or Wow.  Sunset on the Mediterranean is not to be missed.  If you stay, you will love the view.  Make sure that you are somewhere that you can see the sunset when it happens.  And bring your camera.  Phone cameras are nice, but a place like Capri deserves a really good camera.



Capri is a place to come and enjoy the view, the food, the arts, and shopping for those who like to spend a lot of money on the best of the best.  It's got it's own style and set it apart from the rest of Italy.  It's more laid back there and you can take some time to just soak up the sun at a beach with a stunning view.  It's a short trip from the mainland as well.  What's my favorite part of going to Capri?  It's the whole package.  I've always wanted to visit Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast.  Well, that's where you catch the ferry from.  Then you go to an amazing island that's famous for the bluest water in the world, take a chair lift up to a mountain top with amazing views of the Mediterranean Sea, take the ancient walkways back down stopping at historical sites, rent a scooter to drive around the island, and take a boat tour around the island.  Visit the Blue Grotto, dine along a cliff, stay in a comfortable hotel with a view of the sea, and then take the funicular back down to the ferry launch and head on back to mainland Italy.  What a great side trip while in Italy.  It should not be missed.  If you are booking a guided tour, which is recommended if you've never been to Italy, you can get one that includes a trip to Capri.
Enjoy!

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