The round trip of the island by boat starts from Marina Grande.
west, we flank the beach of Marina Grande and of Bagni di Tiberio. The next
stretch of coastline consist of the high calcareous cliff with fissures and
grottoes covered by lush, indigenous vegetation. After passing Punta Gradola, we
reach the Blue Grotto.
Continuing our trip westwards, we pass by Cala del
Rio, the largest creek on the western side of the island, and Cala Tombosiello,
better known as Cala di Limmo. After rounding the Lighthouse of Punta Carena, we
proceed until we reach: the Saint‘s Grotto, inside which calcareous erosion and
action of the sea have created schapes that resemble statues with a religious
theme; the Red Grotto, so named because of the dark colour of the water produced
by the seaweed and underwater influorescence; and the Green Grotto, with its
multitude of colour and light effects.
In the next stretch of coastline with
the broad inlet of Cala Ventroso, dominated by sheer and steep cliffs, there are
no more grottoes until we reach the end of the coastal area of Marina
A little further on, after passing Cala di Torre Saracena, beneath
Via Krupp, appears the Arsenal Grotto, which was used as a temple and nymphaeum
in Roman times.
Its name is derived from the military use to which it was put
during the Middle Ages and even more recently.
About 200 m. fuhrter to the
east, below the Carthusian monastery of San Giacomo, we find the Dark Grotto,
access to which was obstructed by a landslide, that it the tower guarding the
Chartusian monastery in 1808. A little further on, in a small protected inlet,
lies the grotto known as the Sailors‘s Hotel, which was used by fishermen as a
schelter during sudden storms.
After rounding Punta di Tragara with the
Faraglioni rocks, we soon arrive at the small harbour of Tragara. The solitary
rock on the opposite side is known as the Monacone; a few remains of Roman
constructions are behind the legnd that Masgaba, the African architect of
Octavian Augustus, was buied on this rock.
Proceding towards Cala del Fico,
in front of Punta Massullo, on which Villa Malaparte stands, and after rounding
Cala di Matermania, at the foot of the large amphiteatre covery in greenery, we
reach the White Grotto and the Marvellous Grotto. One can be reached from the
sea, and the other by steps with a landing stage. They both provide
extraordinary light effects due to the reflections of the water on the weird
The coastline, which until here previously fell sheer
into the sea from about 200 m. of altitude with severely eroded and degraded
walls, here becomes high and barren featuring a sparse Mediterranean brush and
erosions in the calcareous rock.
Until the next promontory Punta del Monaco,
there are no grottoes opening up of any importence.
After passing Cala del
Salto, below the “Salto di Tiberio”, we reach the small automatic lighthouse
perched on a low rock protruding forwards, known as “Longa di Basso”. Higher up,
the original woodland of Capri can be seen, consisting mainly of holm oaks
Beyond Punta del Capo, we flank a stretch of coastline with
large rocky boulders after which the „ Scoglio della Ricotta“ emerges.
passing Punta Fucile (Rifle Point), thus named due to the characteristic shape
of the fissure cut into its rocks, we reach the Grotto of the Sea Ox, a refuge
of the “Monaca” seal, once a common sight in the Mediterranean.
followed by the last inlet before returning to Marina Grande, Marina di
Caterola, whose reef was produced in 1971 by the crumbling of the overlyng
The excursion (about 2 hours) cannot be made in
adverse weather conditions.
The Passetiello Path
In the vast panorama of island tourism, the “Passetiello” represents one of the
“par excellence” paths, that the true lovers of nature and walking must have
seen at least once in their life ...
It is definitely among the most
suggestive of paths, not only due to the fact that it is immerged in
Mediterranean bush, but also due to the variety of the landscape and sceneries
that open to the eyes of the visitors. An old mule track, the ancient connection
road between Capri and Anacapri, that, departing from the location called Due
Golfi, just a short distance from the centre of Capri, it climbs along the rocky
coast, until it reaches the anacaprese territory, in the Cetrella valley.
The path is for enthusiasts, as several sections are extremely difficult,
with long steep slopes and it is obviously recommended to wear appropriate
clothing, and in particular adequate footwear.
Along the first part of the path
there is an ilex wood, one of the three ilex woods still present on the island,
with the typical Mediterranean flora, that then mixes into a deciduous wood that
proliferates in this area thanks to the marine tides that create the ideal
Finally one reaches the Passetiello where, by climbing a high rock
face, one can view the scenery of the Faraglioni and the Marina Piccola. The
arrival at the Cetrella valley with its hermitage, brings this fascinating route
to an end, where there is a typical chestnut grove and the Anginola valley with
a black pine grove (Pinus nigra), arboreal essence native of Asia and the
mountainous areas of Eastern Europe. It is possible to return to the centre of
Anacapri from Cetrella along a path or, by going up again towards Mount Solaro
by using the chair life service.
How to get there
Due Golfi. After
the inhabited area and cultivated fields, between the ilex groves and the high
bush one reaches the Cetrella valley, near the ancient hermitage of St. Maria,
with a splendid view of the Faraglioni.
Max height m. 589 - Time needed for
the trip: around 3 hours.
The Scala Fenicia, is a series of steps built by the first Greek colonizers, and
was the only communication route between Marina Grande and the top parts of the
island until 1877.
The commodities were carried by the women from Capri on
their heads, whose particular beauty was object of admiration by the numerous
travellers at that time. Despite the name “Scala Fenicia” the construction is
attributed to the Greeks, as the top part of the steps are carved into the rock
according to the customs that they used when joining the acropolis to the
harbours. The steps begin in the Sea Villa district, the most ancient Greek
centre in Capri and, crossing gardens and vineyards, it climbs and crosses the
road used today by cars near the chapel of St. Anthony.
The church square
represented a moment of pleasant and relieving rest for those people who climbed
the tortuous slope.
Probably, in place of the chapel from the mid 1600’s,
there was already an area built in Roman times where people could rest, and
there is proof of traces of Roman masonry.
The chapel remains under the
village Capodimonte, on the summit of which there is “Porta della Differenzia”,
that owes its name to the rivalry among the Municipalities.
centuries the Scala Fenicia has also taken on a role of a botanical station on
the island. Brother Paolo Boccone, a Cistercian monk and botanic of the Duke of
Tuscany, found some of the most beautiful species at the Scala that he used in
his “Museum of rare plants” at the end of the 1600.
The Grotta di Matromania
The "Grotta di Matromània", which is half hidden amid the grand scenery of the
rocks dropping sheer down the extreme south-eastern side of the island,
doubtlessly retains the memory of the deity to which it was dedicated in its
name. But the cult of Mitra was certainly brought to Capri later than the
Julian-Claudian age; and it is thus obvious to think, rather than of Mitra, of
the "Magna Mater" whose Corybantic cult is attested in the Sorrento peninsula
during the reign of Domitianus by the poet Statius. The savage beauty of the
site among woods and rocks should have rendered it particularly suited to the
Orgiastic rites of the goddess Cybele.
Whether this place was dedicated
to the "Magna Mater" or not, the Grotto has the appearance of an imposing
natural cave transformed into a luxurious nymphaeum in which was collected the
dripping water which filtered through the rocks above, formerly more abundantly
than now, into a small cave at the bottom of the grotto.
The irregularly shaped
Grotto was consolidated and rendered more regular with massive masonry
structures by the Romans, so as to assume the shape of a rectangular apsed hall;
the walls at the two sides originally supported the vaulted ceiling of the
Grotto; the end being formed by two high semicircular plinths and by the natural
rock wall, out of which flowed a spring of fresh water that was collected in a
small hollow; this precious clear water could be reached by a row of
These structures and arrangements clearly point out the character
of this mysterious grotto; it was not a sanctuary, but an arrangement whereby
the hidden water springs of a natural cave were adapted to the more noble and
luxurious function of a nymphaeum. Its decoration cannot have been less refined
than the one we have recognized in another nymphaeum, that of "Grotta
dell'Arsenale": the evidence of mosaic tesserae of glass paste, incrustations
imitating stalactites and mother of pearl, molluscan shells and pods which were
collected in large amounts during the haphazard explorations of antiquarians and
so-called archaeologists, proves that the semicircular plinths, the walls and
the vault were covered here too with a flashy polychrome decoration of stuccoes
and mosaics, according to the taste and the fashion of the Hellenistic nymphaea
which were adopted by the Romans in their finer town houses and in their most
From "Capri. Its History and its Monuments" by Amedeo
Maiuri, published by Istituto Poligrafico dello Stato.
To lodge in Capri