Guarding the Gulf of Naples, Capri has always been strategically valuable. There are many fortresses, lookout posts and castles on the island. Three ancient lookout posts on the western coast, above the coves of Anacapri, were fortified by Hudson Lowe during the British occupation of the island between 1806 and 1808, (this was the time of the Napoleonic Wars when the British and French were battling it out for naval domination, particularly of the Mediterranean). The old trackway which linked these "fortini", the Sentiero dei Fortini' has been called the "ultimate hike" on Capri.

This path has recently been restored, so "the going" is relatively easy, but wear stout shoes. The walk can also be quite strenuous and as there are no "watering holes" en route do take water with you.

Tracing the western shore of Anacapri, from near the Punta Carena lighthouse to the Grotta Azzura, the walk begins in a wild and rocky seascape, with deep inlets, covered in the aromatic scrub of the Mediterranean. The path takes you up and down the ridges, past beautiful bays, across the rivers, diverting to visit the fortini, until you come to the more wooded areas and villas of Orrico.

Begin the hike from the road to the lighthouse, the Via Nuova del Faro. Just before the old pathway to the lighthouse, take a track leading off to the right towards the Pino Point, Punta del Pino. It is a long, graded descent down to the point. Leave the track briefly to take a diversion, passing through the pungent rosemary bushes, to a lovely little viewpoint overlooking the cove, Cala del Tombosiello - the most beautiful secluded bay. Sometimes, you may spy an exclusive yacht, anchored here whilst its passengers take a dip in the deep emerald blue water- only accessible by sea.

At the end of the track is Fortino di Pino. The little fort is circular, 60 metres in diameter but rectangular inside, standing 40 metres above sea level. There are great views from here, taking in the Punta Carena lighthouse.

From the track the path goes off to the north, along the rugged hillsides, up and down steps carved in the stone, amongst the flowers and herbs, over the La Rossola and Rio di Maresotto streams to Punta Campetiello and the Mesola fortino, guarding the coves around the point. Mesola is again circular, with provision for two cannons, positioned in its thick walls. This site has been important for thousands of years. Traces of primitive man have been found in the area. The Greeks and Romans also had a landing stage here, to which an ancient flight of steps carved in the rock face leads.

To reach the last fortino - Orrico - you cross the Rio della Cesa and climb up the old passage, Passo della Capra, towards the Miglio point and the fort, standing 30 metres above sea level. You pass now through a more wooded area, glimpsing exclusive villas amongst the trees. Orrico is semicircular in design, with a diameter of 20 metres. In the two metre thick walls two cannons were set. The cannons, together with those of the other forts, were orientated so as to create a network of fire, preventing attack.

Despite their preparations to defend against French attack, the British became complacent (perhaps seduced by the pleasures of Capri?) and in October of 1808 French forces under Lamarque surprised the British and succeeded in landing at Orrico and the Gradola port. The French remained on Capri until the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815.

Leaving the fortini behind, this path, which threads together the history and the varied seascapes of Capri, joins the Via Grotta Azurra, winding back up to Anacapri.