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Review: Sorrento with HF Holidays

Specialist Holiday - Sightseeing

Sorrento, Italy

Excursion to Isle of Capri and San Michele Villa and Gardens

  • By SilverTraveller Hardyplant

    54 reviews

    Ribbon Ribbon Ribbon

  • September 2011
  • Your husband, wife or partner
  • Culture / Sightseeing

207 people found this review helpful

One of the day excursions during our HF Sorrento Discovery Tour was to Capri. It wasn’t somewhere I’d particularly wanted to visit as I had pre-conceived ideas about it – flash, expensive, over-the-top luxury, a bit too much `bling` for me – but once there I was pleasantly surprised. Having arrived on the ferry from Sorrento at the Marina Grande we all took the funicular railway up to Capri Town where we had a short walk around the streets lined with cafes and, yes, plenty of exclusive fashion and jewellery shops and expensive hotels, stopping for drinks along the way. We then took a bus to the village of Anacapri: the road has been cut into the hillside and the views out to sea were wonderful. On arrival, we split up – some of us visited the villa of San Michele while the others opted to take the chair lift to the highest point of Mount Solaro. This is what I like about HF Discovery tours – you do not have to stay with the leader unless you wish to, but are treated like an adult, free to explore independently so long as you meet up at a pre-arranged location and time. My husband and I had already decided we wanted to see San Michele as we’d read about it and knew it had been created by Axel Munthe, a Swedish physician and writer, who first visited Capri in 1885 and lived there on and off until his death in 1949. It’s a beautiful villa, built on different levels on the side of a cliff, with outstanding views across the Bay of Naples. The garden is well worth a visit with its wisteria clad pergola, tubs of flowers, shrubs and trees galore; Roman statues and columns, Egyptian artefacts including a sphinx, all artistically brought together and making this a delight for photographers. Inside the villa is a museum full of Munthe’s collection of ancient artefacts and art. There’s a lovely cafe which you can visit just to get lunch, wine or coffee (except on Mondays) – but to see the villa there is an entrance fee, which is well worth paying if you have time. There is also a bird sanctuary created by Munthe on Barbarossa Mountain nearby. The group met up again to visit the Chiesa San Michele, a church that is plain on the outside but which is famous for its exquisite 18th century tiled floor showing Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden; the animals depicted are wonderful, if a little strange.

Some of the group then went for a walk with the leader while we went off on our own to explore a different area on the outskirts of Anacapri in the hope of seeing some wild flowers and butterflies, and we all met later in Giardini di Augusto (small entrance fee) with its beautiful flowers, cacti, welcome shade from its trees, statues, ponds and breathtaking views. From a terrace at one end of the garden I looked down a sheer cliff face to see a path with really sharp hairpin bends winding down steeply to the sea: later I discovered it was the Via Krupp, constructed in the early 20th century to enable Freidrich Krupp, the German industrialist, to get to and from his hotel suite and his yacht anchored offshore. I was rather relieved that we didn’t have time to walk down it while we were there, but I gather it has since been closed due to rock falls.

We then returned on the ferry to Sorrento and The Caravel Hotel for our evening meal. Capri was an unexpected delight, and I’m glad we had a full day to explore some, if not all of it.

See website for San Michele Villa for updated information

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 4 Comment(s)

  • discerning-traveller
    8 months ago
    Thank you for a v very interesting review . I really enjoy the camaraderie and ethos of HF holidays.
  • ESW
    9 months ago
    I know, I'm the same and it does frustrate me when I read some reviews that don't tell me anything!!
  • Hardyplant
    9 months ago
    Thank you. I do try to give the sort of details I myself want to read in reviews.
  • ESW
    9 months ago
    I always enjoy reading your reviews as they are full of information and detail. I do like the idea of being able to go off and do your own thing too!