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For those in search of the opportunity to relax by the sea - yet still partake in an active cultural and social scene - a trip to the lovely islands of the Bay of Naples is definitely one for the bucket list: we’re talking about Capri, Ischia and Procida.
The Capri Island is a summer residence of choice since Roman times, and stomping ground for poets, writers and a slew of legendary personages. The famed Piazzetta di Capri is the traditional launchpad for a visit to the rest of the Island.
Everything on Capri is reminiscent of the splendor for which the Island is known: from the spectacular Gardens of Augustus (from the 1930s), to the Certosa (Basilica) di San Giacomo, and the marvelous villas surrounded by blooms and flowers.
Those in search of a clean, clear sea, the renowned Grotta Azzurra at Anacapri is a must – as are the Faraglioni, three jagged peaks immersed in the water. Having been divided from the coast in a landslide, the Faraglioni donate a gorgeous scenography to the landscape.
For the majority of visitors, shopping is one of the reasons for coming to Capri. The island was once the playground for the rich and famous and with past wealthy guests like Sofia Loren, Jacqueline Onassis, Maria Callas and others shopping in Capri, it’s no wonder that the island has a reputation for being expensive. The best streets for designer fashions are the sloping Via Vittorio Emanuele, which leads down from the Piazzetta to the Grand Hotel Quisisana, another Caprese landmark, and Via Camerelle. You'll find big name stores like Alberta Ferretti, Versace and Roberto Cavalli along these streets. There is also a branch of Prada on the panoramic terrace close to the funicular.
Ischia is the largest of all the Campanian islands; vast and morphologically diverse, it welcomes about 6 million visitors annually.
Few islands host such an eclectic offer of different sights on such a small territory: hot springs, gold-sand beaches, museums, citrus groves, pine woods, vineyards producing the white or red Epomeo wine, and a renowned gastronomic culture. Known as the Emerald Island because of its luxuriant vegetation, it is also the largest of the three Neapolitan islands.
Because Ischia also has a wealth of regenerating natural springs, the thermal bath parks and spas here are practically more than can be counted. More importantly, they are appreciated throughout the world.
The smallest and most authentic of the three Parthenopean islands, less crowded than Ischia and less famous and sophisticated than Capri, Procida is a little jewel. With its secret bays, small fishers hamlets and brightly colored Mediterranean architecture, the island is a little photographer’s paradise. The many testimonies by Roman poets and historians who praised the island show that it was as famous as Capri and Ischia in ancient times. It was cited by Virgilius who called it “high” and by Statius who defined it as “aspera” (steep).
With its beautiful panoramas and its typical Mediterranean architecture, the island has been chosen as a film set for numerous films, among which Il Postino, a fictional story about Pablo Neruda’s years of exile in Italy. Some scenes of The Talented Mr. Ripley were also filmed here.
Several authors have set their novels in Procida. One of the most notable ones is L’isola di Arturo (1957), one of the greater works of Elsa Morante, who was exiled to Procida during the Second. World War for her anti-fascist activity. The novel Graziella by Alphonse de Lamartine is believed to be largerly autobiographical and recounts the author’s youth love with a poor fisherman’s girl on the island at the beginning of the 19th century.
After sunset, life on the three islands finds its best definition in romantic walks and in the typical cuisine, served at characteristic restaurants offering only delicious local specialties.