We hadn’t been planning to visit Capri, but there was a boat preparing to go, so we thought, why not? I’d only ever thought of the island as a vast rock rising up from the Bay of Naples but, I reasoned, there must be something of interest to have attracted so many rich and famous people, from the Roman Emperor Tiberius to current day celebrities and politicians.
Clearly lots of people felt the same. Even at the end of September, well past the main tourist season, the boat was packed and we struggled for a place in the funicular railway that took us up the cliff from Marina Grande to Capri Town. Here we found the usual cafes and souvenir shops but, once we had walked through the narrow streets and alleyways to the back of the town, we found a number of peaceful and pleasant paths.
We walked to the top of the island, to the Villa Jovis, where Tiberius had his retreat. The location was apparently chosen because it was set on top of a vast cliff, enabling Tiberius to throw his enemies into the sea far below. As we toiled up the hill in the midday sun we reflected that the Emperor must have had horses (or slaves) to carry him to his residence. Today the road is lined with large villas with luxuriant gardens overlooking the Bay of Naples.
Our efforts were rewarded with spectacular views across the Bay of Naples towards Sorrento and Vesuvius. The villa itself was pleasant to explore, a typical Mediterranean setting with the scent of pine trees and geckoes scuttling along walls: Capri may be a rock, but it is by no means barren.
We stopped at a quiet roadside restaurant where we enjoyed an excellent lunch of grilled prawns and chicken. Then back to the bustle of Capri Town before catching the ferry back to Naples.