The Blue Grotto ★★★

The glowing blue waters of the Grotta Azzurra, The Blue Grotto, Capri, Italy (Photo by Chris Bertram)
The glowing blue waters of the Grotta Azzurra

A guide to visiting the Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto) of Capri

The big boats from the main harbor only take you to the grotto entrance, where you have to switch to a smaller rowboat to go inside, The Blue Grotto, Capri, Italy. (Photo by Nikola Pu)
The glowing blue waters of the Grotta Azzurra, The Blue Grotto, Capri, Italy. (Photo by Glen Scarborough)
The usual traffic jam to get into the Grotta Azzurra, The Blue Grotto, Capri, Italy. (Photo by Robert Patton)
The glowing blue waters of the Grotta Azzurra, The Blue Grotto, Capri, Italy. (Photo by Kaz Ish)
Definitely duck as you go in and out of the grotto entrance, The Blue Grotto, Capri, Italy. (Photo by Frédéric de Goldschmidt)

Capri's biggest claim to fame is this long, low sea cavern whose water glows a brilliant, unearthly blue from the effect of light refracting through an entrance tunnel.

Be warned: the scandalous wallet-gouging admission only gets you a quick three-minute row through, the walls echoing unromantically with a half dozen boatfuls of oohing, ahhing tourists and their oarsmen spewing out facts (occasionally true ones) or, even worse, attempting to sing.

That tunnel in one of the cave's walls that they often point out, usually claiming that it is connected with a villa of Tiberius above, is actually a natural fissure that leads nowhere (though the Roman villa above did use the cave as a nymphaeum, and several statues were discovered at the bottom.)

You can save a bit of money by busing or walking to the grotto entrance from Anacapri and just forking over for the boat into the caves.

Hardy souls sometimes buddy up and swim in, but be extremely careful: there's a strong undertow and only a few feet of clearance in the entrance tunnel (actually, sometimes there's not even that), and the boatmen don't leave much room between them to slip through (plus, they'll scream at you, pretending it's illegal to swim in).

Don't even try to go until after the boatmen leave around 5:30pm, and only attempt it when the seas are extraordinarily placid. Trust me on this one; I've done it before.

Photo gallery
  • The glowing blue waters of the Grotta Azzurra, The Blue Grotto, Italy (Photo by Chris Bertram)
  • The big boats from the main harbor only take you to the grotto entrance, where you have to switch to a smaller rowboat to go inside, The Blue Grotto, Italy (Photo by Nikola Pu)
  • The glowing blue waters of the Grotta Azzurra, The Blue Grotto, Italy (Photo by Glen Scarborough)
  • The usual traffic jam to get into the Grotta Azzurra, The Blue Grotto, Italy (Photo by Robert Patton)
  • The glowing blue waters of the Grotta Azzurra, The Blue Grotto, Italy (Photo by Kaz Ish)
  • Definitely duck as you go in and out of the grotto entrance, The Blue Grotto, Italy (Photo by Frédéric de Goldschmidt)
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Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
     
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
     
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).

 

Related

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I have lost the pics I took swimming here, so these are generic shots from a rowboat (Photo by Chris Bertram)

An ill-advised swim into the famed Blue Grotto of Capri