The first time I can remember hearing about Capri was in history class when we were studying the Romans. It is where Tiberius famously retreated and went mad. However after the Romans, Capri went into a gentle slumber and it is not until the last decade of the 19th century that it became an in spot to visit. Alexandre Dumas and Oscar Wilde visited while German industrialist Krupp commissioned a switchback road to the Marina Piccolo (the road was just restored but is as hair raising as ever) Today, Capri is more noted for its celebrity lifestyle and discrete glamour. Certainly the shopping area is stuffed of designer boutiques and expensive jewellery shops. Although you can rapidly feel overwhelmed by day trippers, once you get out of the main shopping area, everything quiets down.
There are not many cars on Capri. The roads are very narrow and twisty. The bus service is good and Capri is famous for its convertible taxis. The locals appear to drive about in golf carts. or very occasionally small cars. But mainly it is a place for walking and for taking life at a slower pace.
The names of the houses and the streets are painted tiles -- white with blue, green and yellow to reflect Capri's personality.
When you arrive by ferry, you can either hike up the stairs (far easier to walk down) or take the funicular railway up to the main town. The train goes very quickly and lets you out by the clock tower. There is also a decent view back towards the mainland.
There are a number of hikes on Capri -- you can quickly walk out to Tiberius's villa (Villa Jovis) where you can see the infamous Tiberius drop -- a spot where Tiberius's victims were pushed in to the sea -- or down to the Marina Piccola where according to Noel Coward -- Life called to Mrs Wentworth Brewster from the main square. With Marina Piccola, again it is better to walk down and then take the very rickety bus up as the bus service is very frequent. From the Marina Piccola, it is possible to get a good view of Monte Solare as well as the I Faraglioni, Capri's most striking off shore rocks.
Kopisch in 1826. If you visit, you need to be prepared to lie down in the rowboat as the entrance is very low hanging indeed.
As you walk down to the Piccolo Marina, you pass by a bougainvillea covered villa where Lenin and others plotted the Russian Revolution. It seems that such a peaceful and tranquil place where air is scented with jasmine and lemon would have inspired such a thing.
There is a small added attraction as you walk around of checking to see if you can spot any of the celebrities who often visit the island. A very good ice cream place is near the boutique shops and serves fantastic strawberry sorbet.
Capri is one of those places that does exert its spell.
Michelle Styles visited Capri last October. She currently hard at work on her latest early Victorian. Her next release in the North American market is The Viking's Captive Princess in December 09.