Our Italian hiking trip to Capri found us staying on the southern side of the Island at Marina Piccola. Although there are many fine hotels in the town of Capri, which sits astride the middle of the Isle de Capri, we chose to stay at the Hotel Ambassador Weber, mainly because it was right on the sea, which I prefer and because it was reasonably priced. Our window did indeed look over the sea, the beach below, to our left the Faraglioni and to our right the cliffs rising up to Mt. Solora.
The staff at the hotel were very friendly and always tried to help, even pointing out trails along the map of Capri that they provided, however, when we told them that we wanted to walk up La Scala Fenicia, the concierge looked at us with dismay and exclaimed, “Oh no, it is very tiresome. You do not wish to do this!” We persuaded him that we did indeed want to go see the staircase, but we did not tell him that we intended to go all the way to the top of Mt. Solora, so he directed us to the other side of the Isle de Capri to Marina Grande, where the staircase begins a few feet above sea level.
To get to Marina Grande from Marina Piccola, we walked up a brick pathway to Capri and then took the funicular railway, an inclined railway running between Capri ad Marina Grande. If you go to the Isle de Capri, your trip is not complete without riding it. From the Funicular we walked past the beach and docks up the road to the west of
the fishing boats, then turned south with the street until we came to a small sign near the Church of St. Constanza marking the bottom of La Scala Fenicia. The staircase has approxiamtely 900 steps cut into the granite from the port to the town of Anacapri. For centuries, this staircase was the only way to get from the port to Anacapri. Although the name implies that the steps were cut by the Phonecians, they are likely to have been hewn by the Greek settlers of the island instead.
The climb takes you past the residences, school, and olive gardens and fields.
As you look back down the steps, the fishing boats in the marina grow increasingly smaller and the climb becomes steeper and steeper. You look up to see where the staircase may come out and wonder if you can get there. Eventually the trail crosses the modern road to AnaCapri, and as you walk from beneath the roadway people look at you as though you were insane. It is probably the fact that your mouth is hanging open gasping for air. Above the road the steps continue, and the panorama
below you grows ever larger, until you come to Villa San Michelebuilt by Axel Munthe and now a museum. There, you find your self on a street passing little shops and leading into Anacapri.
We walked through the town and found our way to the Church of St. Michele. The floor of the church is a hand painted tile depicting the explusion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Walkways around the floor preserve its beauty and allow you to see it up close, but you won’t appreciate it until you climb the staircase and look down from the galleries above. We returned to the center of town and debated taking the chair lift to the top of Mt. Solora. However, we decided to walk instead, so we cut across the village to the east of the cable line and soon picked up the trail. It was a moderate hike through a pine thicket so that you only saw the cable cars passing overhead occassionally.
After about an hour, we had passed the spur leading down to the Hermitage of Cetrella and were making our way to the summit of Mt. Solora. As with most of the island, here you find the ruins of by gone battlements and outbuildings, in a setting so picturesque as to defy imagination. Looking down to the east we can see the Faraglioni east and south
of Marina Picolla. Jutting out at the far eastern point of the island is Villa Jovis, with Capri and Anacapri on either side of the mountain. The sea below is a mutlicolor pallete
of colors and you wish not to leave, but the small cafe is closing and it is clear that they want everyone to leave. The few tourists besides ourselves and the cafe staff board the cable cars and head down as we return to the path and hike our way down to AnaCapri, where we catch the bus back to Marina Picolla. It was a great day.