If you choose to visit Naples and its ancient history, you will be pleased to discover that with just a short ferry ride, you can reach an amazing azure sea and sandy beaches where you can bask in the southern Italian sun.
You can choose between the three islands of Naples:
Capri, Ischia, and Procida..
And if you want to learn more, I invite you to click on our blog. The blog is constantly updated and will offer you not only ideas on what to visit, but give you technical details of the individual monuments of Naples.
Capri is unlike the neighboring Ischia and Procida of karstic origins. Initially, it was part of the Sorrentine Peninsula, and it was then submerged in the sea and separated from the mainland, where today we find the strait of Bocca Piccola.
Capri has a complex morphological structure with medium height peaks and vast inner highlands. The coast is jagged with numerous caves and bays that alternate with steep cliffs.The most famous one is undoubtedly the Blue Grotto, whose magical light effects have been described by many writers and poets. Characteristic of Capri are the famous Faraglioni, three small rocky islands, not far from the shore, that create a scenic and picturesque landscape.
When you think about Capri, one of the first images to come to mind is the Faraglioni: the three spurs of rock, within meters of the island's Southern coast, which rise up out of the sea. Each rock has a name; the first, still attached to the land, is called Stella. The second, separated from the first block by a stretch of sea, is the Faraglione di Mezzo, and the third is the Faraglione di Fuori or Scopolo, meaning the head or promontory stretching into the sea.
The Scopolo sea stack provides a unique habitat for the famous lizard Podarcis sicula coerulea. The rock is the only place in the world where you can find this lizard, the blue color of which is said to be the result of the amphibian's vicinity to the sea and sky. The average height of the Faraglioni is 100 meters.
Ischia lies at the northern end of the Gulf of Naples near the islands of Procida and Vivara. It is the biggest in the Gulf, and it's also Italy's second most populated island, second only to Sardinia. Ischia's main industry is tourism, centering on thermal spas that cater to mostly European (especially German) and Asian tourists, eager to enjoy the fruits of the Island's natural volcanic activity, its hot springs, and its volcanic mud.
The Blue Grotto is a natural sea cave, 60 meters long and 25 meters wide. The cave mouth is two meters wide but only roughly a meter high, so to enter, visitors must board small rowboats, which transport a maximum of four passengers. The skipper will have you lay back along the bottom of the boat while he guides you through the opening using a metal chain attached to the cave walls. Inside, pass from complete darkness into a sparkling cavern, lit by azure light, while the sounds of ancient Neapolitan songs echo along the stone walls.
San Michele Villa
San Michele Villa was the dream home of the Swedish physician and writer Axel Munthe. Munthe first came to Capri in 1885. He built his villa in Anacapri on the ruins of an ancient Chapel dedicated to San Michele, following a series of sketches made on a wall. The result was a building articulated on various levels: the study is on the first floor and the loggia crosses pergolas and columns to reach a circular viewpoint that looks out across the Bay of Naples. In Villa San Michele, a number of ancient artifacts are displayed. Objects found by Munthe in Capri, Anacapri, and elsewhere, some of which were donated by friends. There are fragments of sarcophaguses, busts, Roman paving, marble, and columns. In the garden there is a Greek tomb and a granite Sphinx that gazes out over the whole Island of Capri.
Gardens of Augustus
If you've only got a couple of hours to visit the Island of Capri and want to take that classic shot of the sea and the Faraglioni before you leave, head to the Gardens of Augustus. Close to the center and only steps away from the Charterhouse of San Giacomo, the Gardens of Augustus are composed of a series of panoramic flower-decked terraces overlooking the Faraglioni on the one side and the Bay of Marina Piccola and Via Krupp on the other.
In the early 20th century, German industrialist Friedrich Alfred Krupp commissioned the engineer Emilio Mayer to design and build a pathway that would link Marina Piccola, where he habitually moored his yacht each summer, with the area surrounding the Charterhouse of San James and the Gardens of Augustus, close to his suite at the Grand Hotel Quisisana. To scale the roughly 100 meter drops, the engineer cut a series of hairpin bends into the rock, set so close together that they appear almost to overlap, and he built one of the most fascinating streets in the world!
The main building of Terra Murata is Palazzo D’Avalos. It was built in 1500 from the D’Avalos family, the governing family of the Island until 1700, along with the Palace’s walls. In 1830 the building was converted into a prison that was closed in 1988.
The former prison consists were realized in the late XVI century by Cardinal Innico D’Avalos and the architects Cavagna and Tortelli. At the time it was the Master's palace, and it later became the Palace of the Bourbon dynasty, which, in 1815, turned it into a military school and, eventually, into a prison that lead to a later expansion. The monumental complex is made up of Palazzo D’Avalos, the courtyard, the barracks of the guards, the building of individual cells, Veterans Building, the medical center, the house of the director, and an esplanade. Currently the Palazzo D’Avalos can be visited only by booking the ticket in advance.
Abbey of San Michele Arcangelo
The religious and cultural heart of the village of Terra Murata is the Abbey of San Michele Arcangelo, a Benedictine foundation dating back to the XI century. Destroyed and rebuilt over the centuries, its current architecture dates back to 1500. The imposing abbey complex testifies to the role it had in the past as a religious and cultural center for the island. From the architectural point of view, it is a system made up of multiple layers and transformations made over the centuries. The oldest part of the building dates back to the XV century; however, there are historical records of 1026 indicating the existence of a monastery in this place.
The Abbey of San Michele Arcangelo is one of the most prestigious and richest churches in southern Italy. Additionally, you can visit the church to see the nativity scene composed of wood and terracotta mainly by pastors of the XVIII century Neapolitan School. Another important part of the museum tour is the library, the heart of which contains texts dating back to the XVI century; the oldest book dates back to 1534.
Among Procida’s beaches, one of the most beautiful is the beach of Pozzo Vecchio on the west side of the Island. It’s called the Postman's Beach because it's the spot where one of the most popular scenes from the movie The Postman (a movie by Michael Radford and Massimo Troisi adapted from the novel Ardiente paciencia by Antonio Skármeta) was filmed.