Written by Missy Johnston
Board in Sorrento, and settle in for your cruise past Naples Harbor over to Capri. Dockage recommended for this first night in Capri in the main harbor. Head up to enjoy the town on top of the mountain by Funicular. Wander the main shopping street, explore the side streets, and enjoy people watching in a café in the main square. This would be a great opportunity to dine ashore in chic Capri, and enjoy the nightlife as your yacht is always available dockside to return to for the night.
Capri has always been one of the favorite resting places for the privileged. Once home to the Roman Emperor Tiberius, Capri now serves as the perfect getaway in which to experience Italy’s natural, scenic beauty. The extraordinary beauty of Capri, with the Blue Grotto, the charming landscape, and the views of Anacapri, makes this an interesting isla d. While Capri has some Roman ruins and a monastery, the following places are also worth a visit if time permits: Certosa of San Giacomo (XIV century), Palazzo Cerio (XV century), and the Villa of San Michele in Anacapri, known for its’ marvelous garden.
Main Town of Capri
Capri has two levels. There is a walking and shopping area right around the marina. However, the main town, on top of Capri, is accessible by funicular and is lovely with its upscale, tiny shops and many street cafes.
In the morning cruise to the island of Ischia and head ashore to explore the Castello Argonese. Once a separate rock from the island, over many centuries, the rock causeway was built to permanently connect the rock with the island of Ischia. Inhabited for many millennium, Castello Argonese flourished in 1500-1800’s, when over 2000 families lived inside the castle walls for protection against pirates and interior buildings included a convent, monastery, and numerous churches. Today entrance is via a tunnel and after a small entrance fee is paid, the castle can be explored in around 2 hours. In the afternoon explore the rest of this volcanic island where deep underneath Ischia, the volcano is still active, and is sending to the island’s surface, hot thermal waters in springs and geysers laden with various minerals. A mineral laden volcanic mud is also found on Ischia, and used in spa treatments. Considerable scientific research has been done in Ischia over the years to isolate the mineral qualities of the various thermal springs and volcanic muds for the possible health benefits.
There are numerous spas on Ischia for volcanic thermal water and mud treatments. Two recommended spas are www.mezzatorre.it and www.termemanzihotel.com.
Unique to Ischia are “Spa Gardens”, where thermal pools of various temperatures and mineral content are spread throughout a park like setting. Nogombo Spa Garden has sculpture gardens interspersed among mini thermal pools and springs, all cascading down a hillside, providing beautiful views of the Mediterranean Sea. At the bottom of the hillside, is the park beach for a refreshing salt water dip in the Mediterranean Sea after experiencing the various thermal pools.
Towards cocktail time, head to a local boutique winery. Ischia is steadily gaining worldwide recognition for the quality of the wines being produced. At the vineyard of Pietra Torcia, with a call to the vineyard in advance, have a tour of the ancient winery operation, still in use after many centuries, and sample the wines. There is also a restaurant at the winery for dinner, if wanted. Overnight on anchor in the shadow of the castle.
Cruise to the northern end of the Pontine Islands to anchor off of the harbor of the island of Ponza, which many feel is one of the nicest harbors in the Mediterranean. Ponza, rumored to have been named after Pontius Pilate, is the main island of the Pontine Island group, and is one of only two inhabited islands in the archipelago. Located in the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Pontine Islands are known for crystal clear waters in varying shades of blue, which surround these land masses created by ancient volcanic activity. Ponza is believed to be the remains of the edge of a volcanic crater, and has been a resort island for many civilizations throughout time. Today, a little fishing village rings the main harbor, with great seafood tavernas on the quay. Perhaps enjoy lunch at a seafood taverna before heading uphill to see the Roman tunnel built straight through the island by the Romans, to connect the harbor of Ponza to spectacular Luna Bay, ringed by cliffs of white limestone. While you walk through the tunnel, your yacht can cruise to Luna Bay to pick you back up after your exploring, to enjoy a refreshing swim in the this spectacular bay. Anchor overnight.
This side of Ponza is filled with grottos and caves that are fun to explore. Launch the tender for a little cave gunkholing. The water is so beautiful here, reflected against the white limestone. After a day filled with fun head to the uninhabited island of Palmarola, which many feel to be the most beautiful island in the Mediterranean. Anchor overnight.
Cruise south to the island of San Stephano, home of a prison in the 1700’s, cruise past on your way to Ventotene. Ventotene is especially well known as an excellent scuba diving and snorkeling location. Underwater rock walls and ledges drop off just a short distance from the shores of this island and house a large amount of underwater life. As there are only about 600 people that live on Ventotene year around, the waters stay very unspoiled. And as there are no airports in the Pontine Islands these islands are never overwhelmed with visitors. Overnight on anchor with afternoon swimming and snorkeling.
While relatively unknown now, Ventotene was very well known during Roman times. Dug into the rock of Ventotene is an ancient Roman harbor, still in use today. Also dug into the island along the head of the ancient harbor were caves used by the merchants as vendor stalls. These caves are still used today for modern day merchants to hawk their wares. At the head of the Roman harbor are a series of zigzagging steps up from the port to a large piazza above which is the heart of modern Ventotene. Another modern harbor has now been built to the side of the Roman harbor, with a manmade breakwater. However, just like Ponza, it was the Romans that left the largest historical legacy on this island. In the Roman harbor area you can see the remains of an ancient Roman fish farm which are a series of 3 pools carved out of the rock, used to grow fish and eels. Also in this area are basins carved out of the rock in which clean salt water was collected and allowed to evaporate to gather salt for the populace. Alongside the new harbor are the remains of a large Roman palace used by various Emperors’ as a location to banish family members. As Ventotene has little natural fresh water, inland on the island are a series of Roman cisterns and underwater conduits built with remarkable engineering. Visit the palace ruins where you will see fragments of mosaic, painted walls, and ruined baths. The other significant Roman remains on Ventotene are its cisterns, whose underground chambers have been used and re-used over the centuries for a range of purposes. Both can only be visited on an established tour, which are run from the island’s archaeological museum. In the afternoon head to Capri to anchor on the back side of the island, weather permitting.
Capri Blue Grotto
Visiting the Blue Grotto must be done during opening hours, and everyone must transfer into a Blue Grotto boat. There is also a good restaurant for lunch on the beach in Capri on that back side, Luigi ai Faraglioni. Head to Naples to overnight.
Day 8: Disembark in Naples