Think of Capri -- one of the world's most glamorous destinations, beloved of literati (including George Hemingway) and glitterati (from Elizabeth Taylor to Tom Cruise) -- and you might well picture French Riviera-style winding mountain roads with dazzling sea views leading to stylish enclaves filled with gorgeous whitewashed villas, classy hotels, elegant shops and intimate restaurants.
In some respects, you'd be spot-on. But if you arrive at Marina Grande, the island's bustling main harbor, with only that picture in mind, you'll be in for a disappointment, as you need to take a bus, taxi or cable car ride up to Capri Town and Anacapri to see the island's more elegant side.
What you'll find at Marina Grande, and along its harborfront, are cheap and cheerful restaurants, a small and rather scrubby shale beach, and shops selling cheap beachwear, souvenirs and gelato.
This is not surprising, as Capri (the emphasis is on the Cap rather than the ri) lies just three miles off the Italian coast and, along with its sister island, Ischia, is served by regular ferries bearing tourists and daytrippers from Naples (the nearest big port) and Sorrento.
So your arrival might be a bit of a hassle. But look -- and go -- beyond the immediate hubbub of the harbor and this astonishingly beautiful island will soon exert its spell.
Capri is really a group of gigantic limestone cliffs surrounded by sapphire seas, and the higher up you go, the better the views you'll get. The island has three towns: Marina Grande, the gateway for all travelers by hydrofoil, motorboat or cruise ship tender; Capri Town with its upscale boutiques including Prada, Versace and Gucci; and Anacapri, near the peak of Mount Solaro.
At 1,933 feet above sea level, Anacapri is the island's highest spot. So as you might imagine, the views are amazing, and the 12-minute cable car trip up Mount Solaro is an absolute delight.
You'll look down over whitewashed villas dotted with scarlet bougainvillea; breathe in the heady fragrance of groves filled with lemon trees, and spot flower-filled gardens, many sporting colourful religious shrines made from seashells.
Capri is an island which rewards patient travelers. Waiting in line might seem like a national sport in Marina Grande during the hot summer months when daytrippers descend. But hang on in there, for this magical island -- once the private playground of Emperor Tiberius and a magnet for the bronzed and the beautiful since the '50s -- is simply spectacular.