We were in Sorrento for four nights in late March. When traveling with six people sometimes it just makes sense to hire a guide to take us around. So after reading great reviews of Blue Grotto Tours I decided to hire a private guide from them for our daytrip to Capri. It was a fabulous idea!! We were supposed to meet our guide, Michele, at our hotel at 8am but we were running a bit late. This made us miss the 8:35am ferry, but had no problem making the 8:55am ferry. Not a big problem for us due to the time of year, but if traveling in high season would make it a priority to be on the earlier ferry and beat more of the crowds. We loved Michele. He was young, friendly, funny and enjoyable.
From our hotel, Grand Hotel La Favorita (read my review here), it was just a 5-10 minute walk down to Marina Piccolo to catch the fast boat. Now, I had read that Blue Grotto tours provides you with a convertible and driver when driving on the island. I figured being a group of six we would not be in a convertible and was a bit disappointed. But when we arrived on the island there was a convertible minivan waiting for us!
Apparently, these are made by Italian coachbuilder Giovanni Vernagallo and are used to shuttle tourists around the island of Capri. Particularly delighted to be in a convertible as this was a beautiful day, and frankly our nicest weather day of the trip.
We drove on what is commonly referred to as the “Mamma Mia Road” (because you say “Mamma Mia” when driving on it!) up to AnaCapri on the top of the island.
From here we bought tickets to take the chairlift to the highest point. Michele had told us earlier we would be riding up to the chair lifts and asked if anyone was afraid of heights. None of us are, but all along my mom thought we were going to ride up a mountain in a tram with other people as she had done many times before. When we reached our destination, mom suddenly discovered we each had to ride in our own little chair by ourselves. They were basically chair lifts like for skiing. Since my mom has never skied, she was not sure how to get on or off them. It was too late to back out, so up she went, not even knowing how to wait for the chair and sit in it as soon as it comes behind you. The man who worked there had to yank her around into the right position to get safely into the chair and had to do the same when she got off. But she did it and absolutely loved the ride!!
It was a beautiful clear day and the views were spectacular as we climbed the 589 meters up the mountainside. We appeared to be floating as we passed over vineyards and terraced farms watching the people working in their gardens below.
At the top is an area with amazing views of the island and the Bay of Naples. An incredible vantage point. There also was a small shop with souvenirs and snacks. We spent some time up there enjoying the views and taking pictures.
Back down the chairlift. Michele took us to another viewpoint on Anacapri and told us a bit about the history of the island.
Now we were given some free time to walk around, explore and shop in Anacapri. Michele had told us about the sandal maker who makes sandals while you wait. You pick out the design, color, etc. and then the cobbler makes them there for you. Michele had also mentioned that every Friday (and today was Friday) a group of college students would come from a student tour group called “Bus to Alps” and 250 college students “invade” the island. He said they would be arriving at the sandal store shortly and suggested we head over there soon and beat the rush. Lauren and I made a beeline for the store and boy was he right!! About 10 minutes later the students started to arrive. Luckily that gave us just enough of a head start to pick out our designs and get our shoes first in line. It takes him about 15-20 minutes to make each pair of sandals, so you can imagine how long it might take to wait. You can have the sandals delivered to a spot near the ferries in Capri for you to pick up later in the day, or even have them delivered to your hotel wherever you are staying in Italy. But that does not allow you to check the fit and have any adjustments made like we did.
It was lunchtime and Michele recommended Le Arcate Ristorante & Pizzaeria located out of the way in Anacapri. We had a great lunch of pizzas, bresoala and proscuitto et melone.
After lunch our convertible taxi picked us up and drove us back down to Capri. Michele took us to the other side and we saw the beautiful Gardens of Augustus and other amazing views.
From here we had some free time to explore Capri on our own. We loved this island and would not hesitate to spend a night or two here on a future visit.
Sadly we were never able to visit the Blue Grotto as it was too windy and they were not taking the boats into the Grotto that day. Michele called several times during the day to check in to see if it had opened, but in the end they were never allowing boats that day. He did offer to take us on a boat ride around the island, but we were tired and it was getting a bit windier so we elected to skip that and in return the price per person of the tour was dropped by 15 euros each. We took the funiculare back down to the marina and caught a ferry back to Sorrento.
We had a fabulous day and loved having Michele tell us interesting things about the island and just get us from place to place without us having to worry about where to get the chairlift/funiculare, etc. As I said, I do not think it would be that difficult to do on your own, but always nice to have a day not to think about anything and it was helpful to have him getting us from one place to another before the crowds hit- why his tip on the sandal store was definitely worth it!!