Capri and the Amalfi Coast boast a sensual blend of both natural and cultural wonders
A place of legend, home to the mythical Sirens, Capri is impossibly beautiful. Ever since the Roman Emperor Tiberius brought the international attention to this island in 27 AD, the history of this volcanic, astonishing gem shining amid azure waters has gone from strength to strength.
Replete with testimonies of its famous guests, the island is dotted with flamboyant villas and lush gardens. Adored by celebrities, intellectuals and the elite, a visit to Capri stays with you forever. Whether you are searching for remnants of its ancient Roman glory and head to fabulous Villa Jovis – once home to Emperor Tiberius, who loved the place so much that he had 12 villas built there – extravagant memories of the dandy who owned Villa Lysis, or wish to explore a superb garden and admire dramatic views from Villa San Michele in Anacapri, at the opposite end of the island, the sheer beauty of this piece of Dolomite that somehow landed on the Mediterranean will capture you.
Made of limestone, its rock cliffs abruptly emerge from the sea, capturing the essence of a magic island. For moments of peace and tranquillity, head to Monte Solaro or the Sentiero dei Fortini, admire Via Krupp, a marvel of aesthetics, plunging down to the sea, while the world-famous natural wonder of the Blue Grotto is a triumph of azure colours in a superb game of light that defies reality.
Not to be missed: Blue, Green, Red and White Grottoes | The Statua dello Scugnizzo | Via Krupp | Tiberius’ “jump” | The Natural Arch | Villa Malaparte from the sea | The Bay of Marina Piccola | Punta Carena Lighthouse | The Coral Grotto | The Faraglioni | A cockatil in Piazetta | A climb of Mount Solaro with the chairlift | A walk to Tragara | An eventing at The Taverna | Anacapri | Gaze out with the Sphinx of Villa San Michele | The Gardens of Augustus | Boat trip around the island | Villa Jovis | Via Camerelle for shopping | Have a great Pizza | Buy handmade Capri sandals | The Phoenician Steps
Inscribed in the UNESCO list of heritage marvels, the Amalfi Coast will leave you short of superlatives. 50 km of fabulous coast where every corner hides a different, surprising wonder. Dive in the fabulous Punta Campanella Marine Reserve, in Marina del Cantone, where flora and marine life thrive in underwater grottoes and ancient ruins. Be amazed by pretty Nerano or the charming beach in Marina di Praia, by Praiano, a tiny inlet reached by a steep path. Glamorous Positano, lying dramatically on a pyramid high above the water, is rich in fashionable boutiques: do not miss a chance to discover exceptional artefacts crafted by local artisans.
Enjoy scenic Amalfi and its stunning, mesmerising naval past or walk along its quaint alleys, then admire the Bizantine-influenced, lavishly decorated Cattedrale di Sant’Andrea, up a sweeping, 62-step staircase. Originally built to house the relics of Saint Andrew the Apostle, the cathedral was built in the 13th century, with later additions up to the 19th century. Not far from Amalfi is the Grotta dello Smeraldo (the emerald cave), a stunning, 24-metre high cave, with 10-metre high stalagmites and equally impressive stalactites hanging from the ceiling; the grotto even features its very own underwater presepe (nativity scene). Ravello is stylish and glamorous, but also offers sublime Villa Rufolo. Created by a Scotsman, Sir Francis Neville Reid in 1853, the villa is surrounded by a fantastic garden displaying exotic colours, decadent towers and luxurious blooms. When Richard Wagner visited the place, he was so impressed by the beauty of these gardens that he drew inspiration to model the garden of Klingsor in his opera Parsifal.
Not to be missed: Praiano and the Emerald Grotto | Furore gorge | Swim off the coast of Nerano or Li Galli | Explore the Valle di Mulini and the Arsenal in Amalfi | Visit striking Amalfi Cathedral | Shopping in Positano | Pick a lemon in Amalfi and taste the real Limoncello | Swim around the Li Galli islands | Pick a unique artifact from the local artisan boutiques | Enjoy the beaches of Maiori | Trekking on the Path of Gods | Snorkeling at Punta Campanella | Reserve of Valle delle Ferriere
Few cities in the world inspire such fierce loyalty as Naples, a vibrant, fiery, noisy and proud city that captures with its honesty. Its history going back several millennia, Naples astonishes with dazzling art collections and countless frescoed churches. Savouring food here is an intense, gluttonous affair, while you could spend a lifetime perusing in the attractive artisan workshops and boutiques. And then THAT view of the Vesuvius across the bay, painted by countless artists, sung by adoring poets and admired the world over. Walk around its exceptional museums – the Museo Archeologico Nazionale and the Museo di Capodimonte, the Sansevero Chapel with the mesmerizing Veiled Christ by Giuseppe Sanmartino, a sculpture so real you would feel like touching the marble veil to sense its texture – or wander around its countless, richly decorated churches.
Or why not explore underground Naples to see its mysterious labyrinth or aqueducts, cisterns and tunnels? Then walk along Via Scarlatti in the Vomero for a glamorous spot of shopping or a delicious coffee, Piazza Bellini in the historic centre or Piazzetta del Leone: wherever you turn, Naples is an enthralling, unlimited source of fabulous amazements.
Not to be missed: Museo Archeologico Nazionale | the Museo di Capodimonte | the Sansevero Chapel | Via San Gregorio Armeno for a walk | Castel Sant'Elmo for a great view | Piazza Bellini | Fontanelle cemetery | The Lungomare | San Gennaro Catacombs | Castel Nuovo | Explore the district of Santa Lucia | Palazzo Reale | Visit Pompei and Ercolano
The biggest island in the Gulf of Naples, Ischia is a treasure trove of surprises and mythical places: legend has it that Ulysses landed at Scheria lido and the Pietra della Nave is a testimony to that.
Famous for its thermal waters and lavish gardens, relax on its lazy beaches, cosy harbours and chestnut forests, along with secluded rocky spots where swimming in pristine, deep waters is a joy, then head to Monte Epomeo for divine vistas. With its pretty rainbow of coloured houses, Procida too grants some of the best views in the region from the Abbazia di San Michele.
The Vivara Nature Park is home to unique flora and abundant birdlife, for an island where tranquillity and beauty live in unison.
Not to be missed: Visit the impressive Castello Aragonese | Explore exotic La Mortella Gardens | in Ischia Swim by Maronti, the Pirate’s beach in Ischia | Swim by secluded| Punta Caruso in Ischia | Swim in Chiaiolella in Procida | Explore the isle of Vivara, a nature reserve| Discover Procida and its rainbow-coloured houses | visit Terra Murata in Procida
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