Capri: where antiquity and hedonism collide

The marina at Capri where thousands of tourists arrive every day during summer (Wikipedia)
The famed island of Capri (pronounced CAR-pri) less than an hour by ferry from Naples, is every bit the playground of the rich and famous.

The tiny, narrow streets are lined with every premium luxury brand you can name, and a few more. Superyachts pack the little harbour and thousands of day trippers make the short journey every day during summer, filling the tight alleyways with avid window shoppers and well-heeled celebrities alike.

The frantic summer season is brutal with traders making hay while the sun shines. A glass of beer can cost 8 euro at a street cafe and an ordinary wine at a fancy hotel or restaurant is 15 euro for starters. But come winter the little 10 square kilometre outcrop shuts down and reverts to a virtual ghost town.

Of the 15,000 or so permanent residents, many take off on their own off-season holidays while the ritzy boutiques close and the hotels run on skeleton staff, if the stay open at all.

The economy of Capri is all but 100 per cent tourism, with most visitors coming to enjoy the parade of beautiful people and all their trappings. There are some remains of Roman buildings, beautiful gardens, a chairlift to the 500m peak, Monte Solero, and boat rides to the famous Blue Grotto. The local produce is lemons and it's used for everything from the zesty limoncello liquor, cuisine and even perfume.

The island of Capri, with its overt hedonistic personality, is full of contrasts, contradictions and dichotomies. Ancient, mythical and spiritual on one hand, capitalist, superficial and ruthless on the other.

Rod travelled to Capri with Tauck Tours and offers stories to commission.

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