Capri, Italy

Photo: Berthold Werner [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Berthold Werner [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
You’ve spent the last few days driving along the Amalfi Coast. You hugged the cliffside, gasped at the jaw-dropping views, and breathed in the salty-citrusy air. Despite the maddening crowds, you fell in love. Quickly. So why are you now riding a ferry away from the divine coast?

One word: Capri. The limestone island sits in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrentine Peninsula. The Romans were the first to call it a vacation destination, after seeing the sandstone cliffs, the sea caves, and the secluded bays. It later became a strategic naval base, fought over by the French and the British. Tourists, like you, are the only ones invading Capri today.

The ferry arrives in Marina Grande, on the northern side of Capri. The main port sits at the base of Monte Solaro. Brightly colored houses line the waterfront. Wooden boats crowd the harbor. And the island’s longest beach is just steps away. You’ll return to people watch in the Piazzetta and shop along Via Vittorio Emanuele, but first, head up the hill to find your hotel.

Photo: La Minerva
Photo: La Minerva

After the packed ferry and the overcrowded harbor, La Minerva feels like a private villa high above the craziness. Mediterranean arches and vaulted ceilings make the rooms bright and airy. The air is sweet with bougainvillea, mimosas, and lemons. A verdant lawn surrounds the pool. And the rooftop terrace looks down the southeastern cliffs to the azure sea.

Spend the next few days eating torta caprese, a homemade cake, with a cappuccino for breakfast. Visit the Charterhouse of St. Giacomo, a Carthusian monastery with Roman marble columns that was built in 1363. Ride a gozzo boat around the island, stopping at an empty beach for mozzarella-and-tomato sandwiches.

Take in the whitewashed villas, the lush gardens, and the panoramic view from the Belvedere of Tragara. Wander through the ruins at Villa Jovis. Soak up the sun at Faraglioni Beach. Eat arancini and zucchini blossoms, anchovies and mussels, and creamy ricotta. Then return to La Minerva for a limoncello and sunset. With the daytrippers retreating, you’ll feel like you have the island almost to yourself.

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