This is Italy like out of a storybook.
In the Bay of Naples, three islands put a spell on you with their romantic atmosphere.
Capri is the most famous of those three.
Ischia and Procida are less well-known, but they also symbolise the legendary ´dolce vita´ [sweet life].
Away from mass tourism, these three Mediterranean islands lure with fairytale-like impressions.
Former fishing villages have turned into world-famous travel destinations in unique natural surroundings.
Dream destinations Capri can also be discovered by a cable car that leads upon Monte Solaro, the highest island peak at 589 m.
In a position 20 m above the ground, in a light ocean breeze, this gentle trip offers stunning views.
This is easily one of the most romantic places in the world.
Capri town lies directly at the coastal cliff.
The town´s narrow but always lively streets all lead to the Piazzetta, a small charming square in front of St.
This church was built in the 17th century to honour a nun called sister Serafina.
Until today, her remains are kept inside the church.
The town centre´s streets and alleys make up a picturesque labyrinth where you can get lost for hours.
This main island town spreads until the mountain foothills.
From the town on the hill, a small tramway [the famous ´funicolare´, opened in 1905] commutes slowly through the cypress groves.
The bay of Marina Grande is its final stop.
Capri´s crystal clear turquoise waters give the beaches a Caribbean atmosphere.
This is a place for sun worshippers, swimmers and lovers.
The port surrounded by colourful houses is landing stage for hobby sailors and for the ferries coming from Naples.
Until today, vine stocks are being cultivated and planted on the terraces of the hill slopes.
Capri´s wine has a good reputation among connoisseurs.
Amidst the lush vegetation of another mountain, luxury hotels and dream villas are situated.
Many of them belong to billionaires and to stars of the show business.
Below these noble housings, the Marina Piccola can be found, a secluded private beach, the island´s most exclusive one.
This is the first address for international jet set, whose yachts anchor right in front of the house door.
The most spectacular villas were constructed near the famous Faraglioni [rocks] around the island.
The Faraglioni [pharaohs] are typical rocks in Capri.
Along the high coast, a winded road leads to Monte Solaro.
At the same time, this road offers some of the best views on the Faraglioni rocks.
Capri´s world-famous classical postcard motifs were shot here.
This is a statue of emperor Tiberius on Monte Solaro.
He looks far away to the other end of the island, to his villa, the villa Jovis.
Since ancient times, Capri has been a popular refuge for the rich and powerful.
2,000 years ago, Tiberius ruled over a gigantic empire, with its seat in Rome.
On Capri he set up one of his most beautiful residences.
The publicity-shy dictator had fallen in love with this island, and later chose it as his main residence.
Near the church of Santa Maria del Soccorso, a bronze Madonna guards the former imperial residence.
The building is regarded as an outstanding example for Roman architecture: a gigantic palace of 4,000 square metres, including various thermal baths and kitchens.
From several terraces the view into vast gardens could be enjoyed.
A high castle towering above Capri, and with a unique view on Monte Solaro.
From the back side, the emperor enjoyed the view on Naples and mount Vesuvius.
Apart from his strong sense for luxury, Tiberius was also said to have a dark side.
Many chronicles talk about his cruelties.
Allegedly each person the emperor intended to kill was first lured to Capri.
In his palace, the Roman high society came together to celebrate excessive feasts.
After the feasts however, numerous guests are said to have disappeared in mysterious ways.
Did Tiberius seduce them to go for a walk in his gardens, and lure them into a deadly trap? Historians report that the emperor pushed them from a rock into the abyss.
Until today this place is also called ´leap of Tiberius´.
Capri is still the epitome of a sweet carefree life, the ´dolce vita´.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, the money aristocracy from all over the world keeps flocking onto the magic island in the Mediterranean.
The German industrial magnate Ferdinand Krupp also built a mundane refuge here.
Even Lenin once chose this upper class island to prepare his Bolshevistic revolution.
The ´via Krupp´ is a masterpiece of road construction.
This marble-paved alley runs along the coastal cliff [from Krupp´s former villa] down to the Marina Piccola.
Built in 1902, workers who have no head for heights today still regularly climb the rocks to protect the road from rock fall.
Unique villas like this one make up Capri´s reputation as a luxury island: noble holiday palaces with private beaches, protected from the curious eyes of strangers.
A paradise life, out of reach for persons on average wage.
In Capri´s centre, the Carthusian monastery of San Giacomo from the 14th century is situated, as well as emperor Augustus´ gardens, combined with some statues in Art Nouveau style.
Hidden away between the coastal rocks, treasures like this splendid villa can be found.
Its high time were the 1920s.
Today the building is uninhabited.
Villa Fersen once witnessed glamorous parties.
When Capri was still a sleepy fisherman´s island, artists, writers and colourful celebrities came together here.
The hall-like rooms lead to the first floor and onto a large terrace paved with floral motifs.
The Bay of Naples lies directly in front.
This villa was built by Jacques Fersen in 1905.
The son of a wealthy French manufacturing family was a poet and dandy who regarded his entire life as a great work of art.
For ´normal people´, Capri can offer a different but also intriguing experience: a miracle of nature that can only be reached by boat and meanwhile has become world-famous.
It´s the ´Blue Grotto´.
Starting from a small bay, the trip continues until right in front of the high rocks, where the visitors must change into smaller boats.
This already can be an adventure sometimes.
The next obligatory stop is at the ticket office.
During holiday season, the boats carry thousands of visitors each day, and many locals get some extra income as ´gondoliere´ [boatman].
The grottos have already been mentioned in classical writings for the first time.
But only in 1826 they got famous and became a tourist magnet through the German poet August Kopisch, the creator of the famous ´Heinzelmännchen´.
Defying death, he swam into the eerie opening, and discovered a blue miracle.
The daylight gets into the grottos as a reflexion under sea level, and so the water displays an amazingly blue colour.
This effect gets reinforced by white stones covering the ground.
This cave is almost 60 m long, and almost 20 m high in some places.
It therefore has an acoustic that has beautiful side effects for many visitors.
At the hillsides of Monte Solaro, Capri´s wild side invites visitors to enter a dream-like world.
Through the forest, a small path leads to Citrella, to the church of Santa Maria which was built directly into the rocks.
This is Capri´s contemplative side.
This part of the island has remained almost unspoilt by tourism.
Many locals of this mountainous region are happy to open their doors to visitors.
The owner of this property is known to be an excellent cook.
Milena´s family has always lived on Capri.
The patron lady is happy to show the island´s art of cooking.
“many people use ricotta cheese.
That´s not good.
For our ravioli [pasta], we only use this cheese; and we also use it for cooking fish or vegetables.
Now we will cook this small cheese for the calamari [squid], ok? This is the typical Capri cheese, called ´sorrento´.
Now we put marjoram inside.
I put cheese, eggs, parmigiano [cheese] and marjoram inside the squid.
” These recipes go back to a time when fishing families were poor and could only use products from the ocean or from the farms for their cooking.
“you know, in old times each family had a cow that lived in the garden near the house.
So they only used products from their own farms.
” From chocolate, almonds, walnuts, butter and eggs, Milena now makes a cake.
Many traditional Capri recipes are no diet food.
And Milena is used to handle large quantities! Since her childhood, she works daily in the kitchen, and sometimes for many hours.
Local cuisine is Milena´s passion.
This is how ravioli are made here on this island.
Next, the kitchen boss focuses on a gilthead ragout.
Today, it takes eight hours until her work of day is done.
On the other side of the Monte Solaro, the twin town of Capri town is situated: Anacapri.
For a long time, it´s been spared mass tourism, and has kept its original look for many centuries.
A remarkable red house stands in the village centre.
It was built at the end of the 19th century after the Civil War by an American officer, colonel MacKowen.
The style of this building is a mixture of Spanish, Latin American and North African influences.
This former residence is a museum today, displaying a unique collection of Roman statues which were found in the blue grotto.
To escape from the turmoil of Capri town, many artists were seeking a refuge in the town of Anacapri.
Their art work decorates the streets of this town.
At the square of San Nicola, the church of archangel Michael is situated.
It displays a precious object from the 18th century: a floor paved with ceramics, designed by Neapolitan artist Leonardo Chiaiese.
It´s a unique work of art.
The fresco displays scenes of the lost paradise: Adam and Eve surrounded by mystical animals.
All along the coast, Capri´s colourful past is revealed in many locations.
At the northern end of the island, another building was once laid out by Roman emperor Augustus.
Villa Damecuta was once the emperor´s summer residence.
Not far away stands a medieval watchtower built to prevent inventions of the Saracens.
Despite all the tourism and luxury, in these places it seems as if time in Capri stands still.
The neighbouring island is 30 km away: mysterious Ischia.
In its small harbour, fishermen are selling their haul directly out of their boats.
On the opposite lies the Castello Aragonese.
It seems to be a small town drifting on an island in the sea.
This rock carries a monumental fortress, a stronghold against the attacks of barbarians or pirates.
During the 15th century, Ischia was under Spanish reign.
The king of Aragon ordered the construction of the castle on the ruins of a Roman town.
Up to 10,000 people could live in this fortress.
In case of emergency, the people living around the harbour could find protection here.
This is the monastery of Santa Maria della Consolazione.
The nuns once exerted a macabre ritual in its crypt.
They had to guard over the deceased until the bodies were decayed.
In doing so, many of the living found their own deaths.
The 16th century was the golden age of this town.
Almost 2,000 families lived on this rock at this time.
Apart from an abbey, the fortress also had 13 churches.
Inside the fortress, the prince of Aragon received monarchs from courts all over the world.
From the terraces they enjoyed a breathtaking panoramic view of Ischia.
Soldiers, cooks or farmers, all inhabitants of the fortress dedicated their lives to the prince, and to the church.
This small town was self-sufficient.
All foodstuff was produced locally.
Even wine was produced here, for church service and for festive banquets.
Behind an alley lies the casern, which later was transformed into a prison.
Until today, the southern gardens of the prince make up for a beautiful stroll.
A walk on the so-called ´sun path´ is just as appealing, winding through the rocky landscape.
It leads to the church of Madonna della Libera, built in the 12th century.
Its frescos are still amazingly well preserved.
The cathedral Dell´Assunta from the 14th century; it was destroyed in 1809 by English cannons.
Ischia is a volcanic island with numerous hot springs.
On the islands south-eastern tip, the bay of Sorgeto has many thermal baths.
The source water emerges with a temperature of 37 degrees Celsius and flows into the ocean.
Bathing in these waves is supposed to have healing effects.
A bit more to the south lie the Scoglio rock and the tranquil harbour of Sant´Angelo.
The black sandy beach and the colourful houses are typical for this village.
This is a popular holiday destination for Neapolitans.
Ischia is Capri´s big sister, but at the same time a small, remote paradise.
The smallest island in the Bay of Naples can be seen from here: Procida.
Procida is a volcanic island as well.
Over millennia, the ocean has designed a bizarre scenery at its northern coast.
The seaside resort of Ciracciolo seems far away from modern times.
20 or 50 years ago, life must have almost felt the same here.
In the fishing harbour Lido di Procida, the speed of the 21st century is not easy to find.
In Procida, there are no mass tourism, luxury hotels or billionaire´s villas.
In its past, this island has already fought off various invaders.
On Procida´s highest rock sits the castle of Terra Murata, built in the 15th century like the Castello Aragonese.
Together with the high coast, its walls formed a mighty stronghold.
But already in the Middle Age, before the construction of the walls, all houses were built like elements of a fortress.
They stand close to each other, traversed by narrow lanes.
In the village centre, this fortress-like atmosphere is eased by a little square.
Its colourful houses are an example of the architecture at the Neapolitan coast.
The bay of Chiaia got its dark sand from the island´s volcanic origin.
But the Marina Corricella is the true treasure of this island.
This is how the rest of the world imagines Italy to be.
Each of these houses seems to have its own character regarding architecture and colour.
In its unspoilt beauty, the Marina Corricella looks like a scenery out of a fairytale.
In this coffee bar, many scenes of the movie ´Il Postino´ were shot, based on a novel by Pablo Neruda.
The novel is about the friendship of the writer with a postman.
Hollywood star Matt Damon was also filming in the Marina Corricella, as ´The Talented Mr Ripley´.
Fishing boats and hobby sailors meet in the island´s big bay.
Hectic can never be felt here.
Procida seems to relax in its humble beauty, following its own rhythm.
More than 200 km to the north lies the island of Ponza near the Italian coast.
Its small villages are placed in an unspoilt landscape with deep bays and caves where blue and emerald water sparkles.
In the 15th century, the ancient fortress of Frontone was built on a cliff, a guard post above the Mediterranean.
The hills of Ponza are mainly covered with bushes and wild reed.
Two third of the island are uninhabited.
It seems forgotten, and lost in time.
The small fishing harbour with its red, blue and ochre façades lies in a crescent bay.
The first inhabitants arrived from Naples in the 18th century.
They settled here and became fishermen.
In the 1960s, the harsh living conditions made many people leave the island.
Many of them went to the u.
To seek happiness.
Meanwhile, destiny has changed: Ponza has become a popular destination for wealthy Italian families.
On the hills, they´ve bought villas or plain fishermen´s houses and renovated them.
Ponza displays influences from all over the Mediterranean region, as well as from the Roman and Greek culture.
Its streets, whitewashed houses and colourful façades are reminiscent of villages on the Cyclades islands.
This idyllic peacefulness will not persist all year.
In summertime, the 3,000 inhabitants often accommodate more than 20,000 guests.
At the end of this bay lies an almost magical place, a dream destination: Cala Feola.
It´s a small white-sanded beach, shaped like a croissant.
Boats are swaying in the rhythm of the sea in front of the fisher huts, carved into the rocks.
This place also seems lost in time.
At the harbour there is a small restaurant named La Marina.
It belongs to two brothers.
One is a cook, the other is a fisherman.
The day´s catch will land on the plates.
The terrace opens to a small natural basin with crystal clear water.
Only few travellers find their way to the small bay of Cala Feola.
Most of the time, the fishermen still have their privacy.
Cala Feola and its enchanting atmosphere is a small unknown paradise in the Mediterranean.
Ponza is one of the pearls of the romantic island world of the Bay of Naples.
Its natural beauties and its atmosphere intrigue people from all over the world in a unique way.
Some people call these islands their home; for other people they are dream destinations.
These islands can also tell numerous stories about Italy´s long history.
Each island is unique and has its own atmosphere, shaped by living at and with the sea.
It´s hard to find this atmosphere anywhere else.