For me, the ultimate Capri hike is the Sentiero dei Fortini, the Trail of the Forts, on the forgotten west coast of the island. It starts amongst garden terraces but soon leads to a series of wild headlands crowned by a string of medieval towers. On this remote, cactus-strewn shoreline, the sea is a dazzling shade of green. Lizards are poised motionlessly along the trail like nature’s gargoyles. At irregular intervals, carved stone steps lead down to the water. There are no sand beaches on the route, just dark rocks from which you can leap into the crystalline water. Gazing up at the brooding cliff faces, you can imagine history’s many visitors to Capri—the parade of ancient aristocrats, rebellious Victorians and troubled writers—swimming in the same spot. As the Roman poet Statius wrote of Capri in the second century A.D., “Peace untroubled reigns there, and life is leisurely and calm, with quiet undisturbed and sleep unbroken.”
Tony Perrottet’s forthcoming book, The Sinner’s Grand Tour: A Journey Through the Historical Underbelly of Europe, recounts a trip from London to Capri.