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Capri

From: Wind Surf Cruise Review

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ABOVE: Tenders from the Wind Surf land in Marina Grande, where a funicular (behind the arched doorway) provides a quick connection to Capri Town.

For most people who cruise in the Mediterranean, the island of Capri isn't a port of call--it's an extra-cost shore excursion from Sorrento on the mainland, whose port is better able to handle today's large cruise ships.

photoOn the Wind Surf, we were more fortunate: The ship was able to cruise across the Bay of Naples in an hour and anchor just beyond the breakwater of Marina Grande, the main ferry port and boat harbor for Capri. The ship arrived from Sorrento at 8 a.m., and soon passengers were being ferried ashore by the comfortable wooden boats of a local tender service.

photoAfter landing at the pier, I bought a ticket for the century-old Funiculare that climbs the steep hillside from the port to Capri Town. (Tip: Get your ticket at the biglietteria a few meters away from the funiular station. You'll probably want a ritorno or return ticket, since the walk down to the port isn't particularly interesting.)

photoThe funicular dropped me off beneath the viewing platform at the Piazza Umberto I, more commonly known as the Piazzetta, which was still free of crowds at 10 a.m. on a warm Saturday in May. Walking up the stairs brought me to a spectacular overlook with views of the port, the rocky heights of Mt. Solaro, and villas (mostly white) scattered across the plateau and hillsides overlooking the sea.

photoAfter buying a map and guidebook from one of the tourist shops on the fringes of the medieval district, I struck out in the direction of Villa Jovis, the ruins of a villa complex where the Emperor Tiberius ruled he Roman Empire from 27 to 37 A.D. The 20-minute uphill walk took me along pedestrian paths that were filled mostly with locals going into town for their weekend shopping. Along the way, I passed a public toilet and a attractive, naturally landscaped park where an old man had set up a display of tourist-office maps in several languages with a donation box containing small coins.

photoVilla Jovis is built around the summit of Mt. Tiberius, the highest point in the eastern section of Capri, and it's worth visiting both for the ruins and the fine panoramic views of the Golfo di Napoli and the Golfo di Salerno.

photoOn my way back to Capri town, I detoured to the Natural Arch, the three world-famous rocks known as the Faglioni (photo at left), and the Grotto of Matermania, a trip that required climbing up and down hundreds of stone steps on the cliffs above the island's southeastern coast.

photoFinally I returned to the Piazzetta by way of the Via Tragara (where I bought an icy granita di limone from a street vendor) and the Via Vittorio Emanuelle with its upscale hotels and elegant shops.

Shore excursions. Wind Surf offered a pair of tours during its seven-hour visit: "A Taste of Capri," a 4-1/2-hour excursion to Anacapri with a visit to Capri on the way back to the ship, and "The Blue Grotto," a 1-1/2-hour boat ride to the mysteriously-lit cavern (technically known as a "Karst cavity") that has attracted foreign tourists since at least the 17th Century. Both tours were popular. Several passengers mentioned being thrilled by the chairlift ride to the top of Mt. Solaro (589m or 19,33 ft.), the highest point on the island, which was one of the sightseeing choices available to participants in the Taste of Capri tour.

Next page: Rome (Civitavecchia)





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