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ust call me a sucker for places that
mix glamour, a dab of history and
some dolce vita. The famous isle of
Capri and its lesser-known sisters
Ischia and Procida in the Bay of
Naples crack that combo nicely,
having been colonised by Roman emperors,
eulogised by Dickens, Stendhal and Goethe,
and now favoured by the jet-set.
When the hydrofoil disgorged me on to
Capri's quayside I was expecting paradise,
not a shouty melee searching for souvenir
shops. Visitors with any sense will break
away from this circuit, to appreciate the
island's natural charm and aesthetic.
If you're staying, plonk yourself in one
of the glossy hotels hermetically sealed
from the masses - JK Place is the hot ticket.
Contemporary and ultra-chic, it commands
a magnicent position with knock-out views.
Explore beyond the craggy coastline where
waters segue from azure to aquamarine to
amethyst and you encounter lush, green
hillsides and scented pine forests. The iconic
Italy's famous Capri and its sister islands
Ischia and Procida combine glamour,
history and good living WORDS MIKE NORTH
Blue Grotto with its emerald hues dazzles, but
visit early morning or evening, otherwise it's
chocka with small craft.
Not far from the grotto is Michelin-starred
Il Riccio, literally cut into the rocks. I feasted
on fat red snapper under a tangle of shrimp,
mussels and whelks, partnered by tangy
Falanghina - an indigenous white wine.
Most tourists avoid the history trail so
it's possible to clamber ruins and discover
archaeological traces of the Imperial Age in
peace. A must is Villa Jovis, the residence of
Emperor Tiberius, who ruled Rome from here
and threw many an enemy o nearby clis.
Shopaholics should plunder the two
designer-packed main drags - via Camerelle
and via Sopramonte. Alternatively, take the
funicular up Mount Solaro for a magical
sweep of the island: distant Sorrento to
one side and Ischia the other, where I was
delivered by hydrofoil in 30 minutes.
The island's unique green 'tufo' rock is a
legacy of a volcanic past. The interior erupts
with green hills, chestnut woods, vineyards
and forests, but Ischia's major attraction is the
hot springs. Numerous hotels make
use of these with therapeutic thermal
and mineral treatments.
Cultural counterpoints to the
holiday vibe include the 15th-century
Castello Aragonese, whose stout walls
hide churches and a convent where
Poor Clare nuns were left on seats after their
death to decompose.
Then there's La Mortella, the magnicent
garden created by composer Sir William
Walton and his wife, Susana. At the garden's
summit, where the couple's ashes are
interred in rock, there is a serene 'meditation
space'. Prince Charles thought it worth visiting
Ischia for this alone.
When it comes to cuisine, I enjoyed two
venues as much for the experience as the
EXPLORE BEYOND CAPRI'S CRAGGY
COASTLINE WHERE WATERS SEGUE
FROM AZURE TO AQUAMARINE