Capri – Campania, Italy
Glamorous Outpost of Roman Emperors and Modern-Day Sybarites
This floating rough-cut gem of an island has been a favored summer playground since the Roman emperor Tiberius made it his ruling seat in A.D. 26. Almost every artist, designer, movie star, diva, politician, writer, royal, and financier of consequence since then has made an appearance in the island’s stage-set Piazzetta, described by Noel Coward as “the most beautiful operetta stage in the world.”
An aphrodisiacal climate, lush Mediterranean gardens, and dramatic views from the car-free towns of Capri and Anacapri sustain the reputation of this 5-square-mile island Eden surrounded by emerald waters.
The sun, the sea, good wine, and great food come together gloriously on a sun-dappled terrace beneath the bamboo roof of La Fontelina. The view of Capri’s signature faraglioni, three needlelike rocks—the tallest is almost 400 feet high—towering just minutes off this casual restaurant’s coveted position on the rugged coast is unparalleled
La Fontelina also serves as Capri’s most popular bathing spot, where diners can sunbathe and swim, before and after a lunch likely to include many rounds of the restaurant’s signature fruit-filled sangria. Lunch may be a simple insalata caprese, the island specialty of superfresh mozzarella and sweet sliced tomatoes; it won’t resemble anything you have ever tasted before.
Despite the endless roll call of glitterati, this is not a fancy island, and simplicity is valued. Pretensions are kept in check at the Hotel La Sealinatella, Capri’s hideaway in excelsis. Demure sister of the far more extravagant Hotel Quisisana (and owned by the same family), La Sealinatella is intentionally understated but in many ways more stylish. It has the feel of relaxed luxury of a privately owned villa.
Dine at Da Paolino, one of Capri’s most delightful restaurants: It’s set in a lush lemon grove, where lantern-size fruits drip from the branches above your table. Those lemons have been adopted as a leitmotif; stylized versions appear on the plates, on the waiters’ vests—and the real things garnish the fresh fish that swam in the local waters just hours before.
Simple, good cucina caprese is served here in an ambience of festa and the celebration of the departure of the day’s last boat back to Naples. Don’t head back to town for the obligatory late-night dalliance in the Piazzetta without sampling Paolino’s signature dessert—you guessed it, a scoop of homemade lemon sorbet.