One of my favorite activities is walking. It helps me clear my head, gets the blood flowing and makes me feel well. I also need, from time-to-time, to be near the sea breathing in the salty air, swimming and, of course, eating the freshest seafood. So, the first time I went to the island of Capri I fell in love: no cars, beautiful vistas and the smell of the sea. Forget all the cliches about movie stars and rich industrialists–although they are still present–but once away from the chic gathering spots there are parts of the island where actual Caprese eat, shop and live. This is my Capri.
In the summer Capri is mobbed with tourists (boats come a few times a day from Naples and Sorrento) but off season–from October to March–everything slows down. The weather can be tricky but even with grey skies the views are spectacular. Anacapri is a village on the island located only a short bus or taxi ride uphill, less touristy and expensive but for me the best passeggiate are in Capri. Be sure to check beforehand that restaurants and hotels are open because fuori stagione the schedules change. Here are a few of our tips for a weekend escape to Capri off season.
How to get there:
From Rome: take a fast train with Italo or Trenitalia from Termini or Tiburtina stations to Napoli Centrale (1 hour ride). A taxi or limo can get you to the main port of Naples (Beverello) but the subway is great too: only 2 stops to the “Municipio” station and you’re at the port. If you haven’t booked your hydrofoil (aliscafo) on-line there are kiosks where you can buy tickets near the dock. Arriving after the 45-minute boat ride at the Marina Grande of Capri is magic. You can arrange to have your hotel pick you up or take a taxi. I prefer to take the funicular, which is a beautiful, short ride up to the main piazza–the Piazzetta–and costs only €1,80.
Where to stay
Off season, many of the luxury hotels have reduced rates. The Quisisana is the most famous but as it’s near the often noisy Piazzetta (officially called Piazza Umberto I) I prefer Casa Morgano or smaller boutique hotels like Hotel della Piccola Marina plus Airbnb has great options for every pocket.
Ready to spend 48 hours on Capri Island?
Friday – aperitivo & dinner
Your boat lands at around 6 pm at Marina Grande, take a cab or funicular to your hotel, drop the bags off in the room and freshen up. Grab a scarf and a coat and head straight out for an aperitivo. You can choose to do this at posh Hotel Quisisana or at one of the outdoor cafes in the Piazzetta.
You’ve probably worked up an appetite, so head straight to Ristorante Buca di Bacco da Serafina. The perks of low season include not having to make a reservation ahead or waiting in a long line. They have fish specials and Capri-style ravioli but also a pizza oven if you want a quick meal after all the travelling.
Saturday – exploring the island
10 am: vineyard visit & wine tasting
After breakfast, prepare for a morning among the vines at vineyard Scala Fenicia. This vineyard is dedicated to saving the grapes native to Capri and their primary wine is a Capri Bianco DOC, which is a blend of Greco di Tuffo, Biancolello and Falanghina. The trip to the vineyard takes you up the ancient Phoenician steps (scala) and is an amazing hike before settling in for the wines.
1 pm: time for lunch
You can either continue hiking after the winetasting or take a short bus ride to Anacapri for the view and a panino or a light lunch at Ristorante Gelsomina. Da Gelsomino has a fantastic view of the bay and their menu is seriously Caprese–great pastas, with or without seafood and baked fish entrees will reward you after your walk. Finish with a limoncello or a fennel-based digestivo and you’re ready for the next step.
5 pm: riposino, or afternoon nap
When in Capri do as the Capresi do and take time for a nap. The crisp, salty sea air will help you snooze!
7:30 pm: dinner with the locals
Stroll to Ristorante Da Tonino for dinner. This is my favorite restaurant on Capri. Brothers Salvatore (chef) and Gennaro (sommelier in the front of the house) Aprea are the sons of the restaurant’s namesake Tonino, and serve up exquisite meals. For starters they have a killer foie gras and their pasta with rabbit ragu is well known, paired with amazing wines.
Sunday–more Capri adventures
10 am: by the sea, by the sea
Head out to Punta Tragara to see the famous Faraglioni rocks from afar. These impressive formations came to be after centuries of wave erosion but besides their beauty they are the point that attracts swimmers in season. There are steps that take you down to get a closer look at the Faraglioni (literally ‘sea stacks’).
11:00: nature trails
Proceed towards the Arco Naturale past the magnificent Casa Malaparte and, if time permits, Emperor Tiberius’ Villa Jovis (but careful, the site closes at 3 pm). The villa was finished in 27 AD when the emperor moved from Rome to Capri, feeling safer on the island far from conspirators where he could rule the empire in relative tranquility. The Casa Malaparte was built in the late 1930s for the writer Curzio Malaparte. It is not open to the public but the view of the exterior from above is still spectacular. To see the inside, watch Jean-luc Godard’s 1963 film ‘Contempt’, for which he got special permission to film in the house.
1 pm: lunch
Amble your way to restaurant Le Grottelle. Off season this trattoria is only open for lunch and on a clear day you’ll have a view of Sorrento from your table. Their spaghetti with clams and house wine are great and the friendly service of the family-run restaurant is heart warming.
6:30: Time to say bye bye Capri
You have three options at this point: 1) catch the boat back to Naples and hop on a train for Rome, 2) stay in ‘la Bella Napoli’ for a pizza dinner, or 3) head to the Amalfi Coast with a hydrofoil in the opposite direction.
48 hours on Capri island in short:
Via Tragara, 6
Tel. 081 837 0158
Hotel della Piccola Marina
Via Mulo 14/16
Tel. 081 837 9642
Ristorante Buca di Bacco
Via Longano, 35
Tel. 081 837 0723
Via Migliara, 72
Tel. 081 837 1499
Ristorante Da Tonino
Via Dentecala, 15
Tel. 081 837 6718
Via Arco Naturale, 3
Tel. 081 837 5719
Elizabeth Janus is a passionate traveller, and makes it a point to peruse the farmer’s markets in every place she visits to get an immediate pulse of the city. For the last decade, she has been guiding discerning clients on food adventures at farmer’s markets, speciality shops and into her home for unique Italian meals to experience Italy as an Italian..