This article, Capri Walks: The Best Way to See the Island, originally appeared in the June/July 2017 issue of Dream of Italy. This is an excerpt on a longer article on 6 great walks/hikes on Capri. Updated 2018.
To enjoy a more peaceful side of Capri, this walk circles around Capri town as it leads to the Arco Naturale (Natural Arch), then skirts along the rugged coastline on Via Pizzolungo to the Punta Tragara overlook before returning to the center of town. In the Piazzetta, look for the archway in the building marked “Municipio” in larger letters. Start off there and along the way, you’ll find plenty of colorful ceramic signs (this is Capri after all!) indicating the pathway to follow.
As you leave the hubbub of the Piazzetta behind, the pedestrian-only walkway climbs out of the center of Capri town. Soon you’re surrounded by a very different Capri, a peaceful residential area with one beautiful villa after another. Peek through elaborate wrought iron gates to see lush gardens and imagine life in this idyllic spot.
At a well-marked crossroads, bear right along Via Matermania until you reach steps leading down to several viewpoints of the impressive Arco Naturale. Gaze through the arch to catch a glimpse of little boats passing by far below. With the sound of seagull calls and wind rushing through the pine trees, this is the Capri that captures your heart and doesn’t let go.
To delve even deeper into the natural beauty of the island, climb the steps up from the Arco Naturale and look for signs marked “Matermania.” A steep staircase zig-zags down the mountainside and passes by the Grotta di Matermania, a natural cavern that was once home to an ancient Roman nymphaeum. Although little remains, the dramatic setting evokes stories of the past.
Soon the vista opens to the sea with the tip of the Sorrento Peninsula in the distance. The walk along Via Pizzolungo is pure nature, with few signs of modern life and only the sounds of boats and bird calls filling the air. Stop along the way to look down at the unusual Villa Malaparte nestled on top of Punta Massullo. With its modern design and brick red color, the house stands out strikingly against the blue sea. It built in the late ’40s as the home for Italian writer Curzio Malaparte, but with such a view it’s hard to imagine being able to focus on writing!
After more twists and turns, the walkway leads past a spectacularly close up view of Capri’s famous Faraglioni rock formations. Continue on until Punta Tragara, another popular overlook – and for very good reason. From here you enter back into the buzz of Capri. Follow the walkway until it becomes the Via Camerelle, the most elegant shopping street in Capri. Take a right at the Grand Hotel Quisisana, decked out in flags, and in a few minutes you’ll be back in the heart of Capri at the Piazzetta.
This roundtrip walk takes approximately two hours and involves a fair amount of steps going down between Arco Naturale and Grotta Matermania.
— Laura Thayer
Laura Thayer is a freelance writer and photographer living on the Amalfi Coast. She has contributed to Fodor’s and DK Eyewitness guidebooks and shares about life on the Amalfi Coast on her blog, Ciao Amalfi. For more, visit www.ciaoamalfi.com.