Capri is a very well known island situated in the southern part of the Gulf of Naples, five kilometres from the furthest point of the Sorrentina Peninsula. It rises up out of a deep sea, its coastline almost all high-lying and in many stretches, with sheer, inaccessible cliffs, cut into by numerous caves which are notable for their beauty: for example the Grotta Azzurra (Blue Cave), the Grotta Bianca (White Cave) and the Grotta Verde (Green Cave), with rocks (faraglioni) of every shape and size. It is made out of dolomitic limestone which, in some places, is covered by volcanic material which – transported by the wind – originates from the ancient surrounding volcanoes. The island of Capri is composed of two plateaux between which there is a central hollow.
The western plateau, or Anacapri, is quadrangle in shape and, with mount Solaro, rises to a height of 589 m above sea level; the eastern plateau, whose highest peak is mount Tiberio (334 m above s.l.), rises up with sheer cliffs which, on three sides precipitate down to the sea, although this plateau is more accessible. The saddle between the two plateaux is fertile, populated and with easy access from the landing places of Marina Grande to the North and Marina Piccola to the South. The climate is known for its mildness and for the serenity of the sky. The flora, one of the most interesting in Italy, is rich with species and varieties, especially with regard to the Mediterranean maquis.
As far as the cultivations are concerned, the vines are especially notable. They produce a famous dry white wine, most of which is, however, exported. The sea is full of fish and so, consequently, is the local cuisine.
The island of Capri has been inhabited since ancient times. The Emperor Augustus built a villa there at the foot of mount Solaro. Tiberius made it his favourite place of residence and built twelve villas there, one of which was dedicated to Jupiter.
In the Middle Ages, from the X century, it was in the possession of the Arcucci, lords of Altamura who, in the XV century, were permitted the privilege of forging their own currency by Giovanna I of Naples.
During the Napoleonic wars, occupied in 1806 by the English Admiral Sidney Smith, on account of the Bourbons, it was reconquered in 1808 by the Franco-Neapolitan fleet sent by Murat.
The cuisine of Capri is characterised by the abundance of fish in the sea which surrounds the island: crustaceans of all types cooked on the barbecue, preserving the intense flavour of the sea and offering the possibility of preparing triumphant serving trays reminiscent of the best still-life pictures of the Sixteen hundreds: spiny lobsters and scampi dominate these real showcases, symbols of abundance.
But the tradition of the working class cuisine also survives; a cuisine which requires much time in its preparation, which costs little but is nevertheless not less tasty. An example of this is the dish of stuffed squids which, on this island, are particular for their tenderness and their flavour which manages to be both sweet and spicy at the same time. And so also the salads of a thousand different flavours, because made up of many types of different greens, from the cultivated radicchio, the wild radicchio and the watercress to all the edible herbs which grow in the meadows of the eternal spring of Capri.
A food which has ancient origins, but can still be found in Capri – although, to some extent, modified –as, in fact, in other parts of Campania is «O' sanguinaccio». This is a cake which has the following ingredients: cocoa, sugar, flour, starch, milk, vanilla essence, cinnamon, butter and candied citron. In the old times, the original recipe required the use of pigs’ blood – ‘sangue’ - (from whence the name) which was cooked together with the milk, sugar, flour, cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla and candied fruit.
And, lastly, we call to mind the torta caprese (also widespread in Ischia), which is a chocolate and almond cake made without the addition of flour. It should be crunchy on the outside and soft inside.