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A line of sailboats from Catalina Yachts ranging from 8 to 26 feet in length.

The only way to get to the Mediterranean island of Capri is by sea - ferry or hydrofoil. These are regular trips from from Naples and Sorrento and run many times a day. Prices are in the range of 5-10 US Dollars and last either 80 minutes (from Naples) or 40 minutes (from Sorrento).

"High season" as it is known is the tourist period and lasts from May 1st to September 30th. During this time it is critical to make reservations in advance to be able to get a hotel room. Camping and sleeping outside is prohibited.

In some attempt to distance themselves from the worst of the tourist stereotype, walking around in only a swimming suit (or less) or with loud sandles is prohibited everywhere except the beaches.

There are two main concentrations of buildings: Capri which is located in the narrowest eastern portion where, and Anacapri which is located in the north western portion of the island. The total population is split almost evenly between the two towns (7000 in Anacapri and 8000 in Capri), though this varies significantly with tourist season.

Historically, the island was originally a Greek colony and later became a resort town known as Capreae in the early Roman Empire. Caesar Augustus lived in Capri for a period of time. In the 10th century the population moved from mostly costal villas to more housing further from the shore with the threat of pirate raids. Since 1850, Capri has returned to its status as a tourist resort well known for its mild climate and beautiful scenery.

/--------------\__             ___ 
|                 \__  port   /   \
|                    \_______/     |
\.    Anacapri                     |__
  \.                                 /
    \                  Capri        /
  ._/                              /
 /                        ____    |
/              ^    _   ./    \   /
|                  / \_/       \_/ o
|                 /              o
|___     _____   /               o
   / ___/     \_/                o
  / /
While this map is not to scale (and likely to be a bit distorted depending on your font), realize that this entire area is about 5 square miles. The island is about 4 miles long and varies between 1.6 miles wide and 0.7 miles. The highest point (marked as a '^' above) is Monte Solaro which rises above the sea 589 meters (1932 feet).

This Italian island's name is pronounced CAP-ree, rather than ca-PREE. Capri was not named for goats (as one might guess from the name, since "capreae" is Latin for "goats") but for a colony of wild boars that the first ancient settlers found there ("kapros" is Greek for "boar").

Our tour group went to Capri in March (during the off-season) via a large ferry boat from Naples. Everyone else in our footsore group opted for a bus tour, but my friend Carol and I decided to hike around on our own. Those who went on the bus tour said it was rather unsatisfactory, and was geared more for people who wanted to shop at the many expensive boutiques scattered across the island.

Capri is very, very expensive if you plan to stay there; expect to pay upwards of $300US a night for a hotel room. A much better tactic is to stay someplace on the coast (like in Sorrento) and make a day trip out to the island.

Capri is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. I think Carol and I spent a solid five or six minutes just wandering around going "Wow!" after we got there. The scenery is just stunningly gorgeous.

We took a funicular up from the dock to the main town. After exploring the lovely Augustus Garden, we went to the 14th century Carthusian monastery of San Giacomo. We wandered into the municipal public library that's housed in the monastery, and the young man there let us into the museum, which was closed for the day. The museum is pretty small, but still has its share of treasures.

We also went up to see the Villa Jovis, the Roman ruins at the top of Capri. The Villa Jovis was the palace of the Roman emperor Tiberius; he ruled the empire from the island for about 12 years until his death (if you've seen the movie Caligula, much of it takes place in the palace at Capri).

The ruins are very much worth seeing, but, unless you're in much better physical condition than the average U.S. tourist, don't believe travel expert Rick Steves when he says one can make it from the town to Villa Jovis in a mere 45 minutes. The hike up the mountainous island will take you closer to an hour or an hour and a half. I'm pretty sure the hike would have been too much for at least half our tour group. Wear good shoes, and bring water, because you'll need it.

The path up to Villa Jovis is not as well-marked as one would hope, and it's easy to take a wrong turn and end up at the Natural Arch instead. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, because the natural arch -- a huge arch formed naturally by the action of wind and water -- is quite beautiful.

The trek to Villa Jovis also lets you see some very nice houses and landscape. Chances are, though, you won't be in a mood to notice them until you're on your way back down to the town.

We did not go see The Blue Grotto, which is a partially submerged cave you can visit in which the water seems to glow a brilliant blue. Other people we met there said that while the grotto's pretty, you don't get to spend much time there considering how much the boat trips cost, and all in all it's a bit of a tourist trap.

Ca"pri (?), n.

Wine produced on the island of Capri, commonly a light, dry, white wine.


© Webster 1913.

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