Capri is more than just beaches and boutiques, the island also has a rich history and culture which can be explored in the many small museums on the island, which are beautiful both for the gorgeous venues, including small churches or noble residences once home to illustrious international artists and intellectuals, and for the interesting collections they hold.
An itinerary including the museums on the Island of Capri should begin at Villa San Michele in Anacapri. Once you arrive in Piazza Vittoria, one of the stops on the bus route from Capri and Marina Grande, walk up the steps in the square and take Viale Axel Munthe to the left.
A walk along this scenic lane is a memorable experience in itself, with the colorful flowers, the shade from the lush oleander hedges, the heady scent coming from the perfume and "limoncello" shops lining the road, and the jumble of artisan wares displayed in the workshops sitting shoulder to shoulder so closely that it resembles an Oriental bazaar.
This eye-catching meander ends at Villa San Michele, the historic residence of the Swedish physician Axel Munthe, an avid collector of antique finds from Roman and other archaeological sites.
Here visitors can admire architectural decorations and frescoes from Roman, Egyptian, and Etruscan ruins and stroll through the lovely garden, with its sweeping view from the overlook guarded by an Egyptian sphynx.
From this idyllic spot, visitors can see the Castello Barbarossa, a 15th century fort which is now a research center for migratory birds overseen by the Fondazione Axel Munthe.
The Castello Barbarossa - named for the pirate Khai-ed-Din who set it aflame in 1535 - is open to the public all year round. For more information regarding opening hours, ask at the information office in the Piazzetta in Capri or in Piazza Vittoria in Anacapri.
After leaving Villa San Michele, take the tree-lined lane to the historic city gate of Anacapri, where the Phoenician steps lead down from Anacapri to Marina Grande.
If you've already visited the residence of Axel Munthe, head to Via Giuseppe Orlandi to stop in at the Casa Rossa, former residence of the American colonel John Clay H. Mackowen, another avid collector of archaeological finds unearthed on the island.
The building itself is a blend of a number of architectural styles and often hosts art exhibitions.
For those who appreciate sacred art, along Via Giuseppe Orlandi just before the church of Santa Sofia, the Church of San Michele is famous for its ornate handpainted majolica floor depicting Adam and Eve's Expulsion from the Garden of Eden.
To return to Capri, take the bus at the stop right before the one in Piazza Vittoria toward "Il Cimitero", which is always much less crowded than the piazza stop...or hail a taxi.
Things to do near Anacapri:
- Have a swim at the Punta Carena lighthouse
- Visit the Blue Grotto
- Take the chairlift to Mount Solaro