Experience the magic, beauty of Capri

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- With its craggy coastline, lush flowers and mesmerizing blue-green waters, visiting the Campania region of Italy is almost like stepping into a different country.

One of the jewels of this region is the small island of Capri, located in the Bay of Naples. Unlike the other islands in the bay, Capri wasn’t formed from a volcanic source, but is actually a continuation of the limestone peninsula of Sorrento. Here, rows of white houses spill down the side of cliffs and small town squares offer unique shopping and dining opportunities.

The best time to enjoy Capri’s charm is in the early summer, when the weather is warm but the island isn’t overcrowded. To get there, visitors must take a ferry from Naples or Sorrento, which takes about 40 minutes.

From the port, visitors have the option of taking a bus, taxi, cog railway or steps up to Capri Town, or a bus to Anacapri, the island’s second main city. Capri Town is the more crowded, wealthier section of the island and has lots of the pricier designer shops. It’s nice to simply walk around and admire the beautiful views and window shop. A wonderful and free place to take gorgeous photos is the Giardini di Augusto, a public garden and monastery.

Anacapri is less crowded and offers a diverse array of shops, with many selling local specialties such as beautiful jewelry made from the coral that grows around the island, and limoncello. From the main town square, where the buses make drop-offs, people can take a 12-minute chair lift ride to Mount Solaro -- the highest point on the island. On a clear day, the view is spectacular. This is also a good place to go hiking along one of the many scenic trails around the island or have a picnic. The chair lift costs €5,50 round-trip and is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Another good site to visit is the church of San Michele which features a detailed mosaic floor depicting Adam and Eve being cast out of the Garden of Eden. Visitors aren’t allowed to walk on the floor -- a wooden walkway goes around the perimeter and for €1 they can take the circular staircase up to the organ loft and get a good overview.

Besides the many photo and shopping opportunities, Capri also has a few beaches and good places to scuba-dive. If going to the beach, it’s a good idea to bring sandals or water shoes because instead of the traditional sand, Capri’s beaches are rocky.

Capri offers lots of chances to taste some local specialties; pick a restaurant with a view and sit back with a glass of the local white wine. Pasta and pizza are common menu items, but the buffalo mozzarella and fresh-grown tomatoes take these dishes to a whole new level.

Whether Capri is your primary destination or just a day-trip from the mainland, few can deny it’s a captivating, beautiful place. Just be prepared to leave your heart, and your shopping money, behind.