When I ask the eldest what was the best thing about our recent trip to Italy she replies immediately: ‘Capri’.
Our trip to Capri was gorgeous in every way. According to our Adventure Company itinerary we were to travel from Sorrento to the island by ferry, walk for 2-3 hours to go in a small boat see the famous Blue Grotto, catch the bus to Anacapri and then the ferry back to Sorrento. However Davide, our excellent tour leader, had other plans. He chartered two beautiful motorboats to take our group of five families across from Sorrento for a tour around the island. This was wonderfully relaxing and seemed entirely the most appropriate way to visit such a glamorous place. The white leather-cushioned surface of the sun deck at the front of our boat was covered with reclining children as soon as we were on board.
The adults divided between the comfortable benches on deck and at the back of the boat and our driver, ‘you can call me Captain Jack’ Rafaele, set a course for Capri, which we could see in the distance.
It was a sunny, clear April day with a light breeze: perfect for a boat trip. Once clear of the marina Rafaele asked me to take the wheel for a while, much to the eldest’s consternation. I managed not to sink the boat and we cruised along the coast before turning towards Capri.
The island has long been a luxurious haven for the rich and famous. Roman Emperor Tiberius decided to move permanently to the 6 km by 2.7 km island in 27 AD, which made it effectively the capital of the empire while he lived. He had 12 palaces built there including Villa Jovis, whose ruins can be visited today. Legend says that he had his enemies thrown from the cliff face at a spot still known as il Salto di Tiberio (Tiberius’ Leap) which Rafaele pointed out to us as our boat circumnavigated the island. After passing Sofia Loren’s villa we arrived at the Blue Grotto to find the water crowded with boats like ours and small rowing boats waiting to take people into the cave two at a time. Apparently the entrance to the cave is so low that you have to lie flat in the boat and once inside the cave the boatmen sing loudly and row out again pretty quickly. It didn’t appeal and most of our group opted not to go in. A few minutes later we arrived at Marina Grande, Capri’s main harbour, to spend a few hours exploring on our own.
The eldest and I decided to take the funicular (1,80 euros single) up to Capri town and go for a wander. At the top of the funicular, leaving behind the tiny, main square filled with café tables and a Tod’s shop, we followed narrow winding streets to climb above the town. It didn’t take long to escape the designer shops – we soon came across a sign for a belvedere and decided to follow that. After 15 minutes we were rewarded with spectacular views of the island and surrounding sea and a perfect spot to have our picnic. Far below we saw what looked like a monastery and another viewpoint and decided to walk down towards it. We ended up at the beautiful Giardini di Augusto, manicured gardens with stunning views of the coast and well worth the 1 euro entrance fee.
All too soon it was time to head back to the Marina and the boat. The kids flopped onto the front deck again and Rafaele took us back to the mainland where we were met by reality in the form of a minibus to take us to dinner.
Family travel lowdown: We travelled as guests of The Adventure Company (0845 450 5316; www.adventurecompany.co.uk on their 8-day ‘Around the Bay of Naples’ family trip. This costs from £1,039 per adult and £987 per child including flights, hotel accommodation, transfers, some meals, excursions and the services of a local tour leader.