The sparkling isle off the Amalfi Coast has been famed for elegance and indulgence since Roman times
A bikini-clad Brigitte Bardot made Saint-Tropez famous back in the Fifties, but the chic Italian island of Capri makes the celebmagnet French Riviera look positively arriviste in the glamorous Mediterranean hangout stakes. Capri, you see, had a 2,000-year head start after toga-clad Caesar Augustus holidayed here in 29BC. One successor, Emperor Tiberius, took it a stage further and ran the Roman Empire (via a prefect in Rome) from the island. Sitting extremely pretty in the Bay of Naples, Capri has continued to attract the great and the good in more recent times, from Jackie Onassis to Leo DiCaprio.
A Caprese institution, Fontelina restaurant sits at the bottom of a sinuous trail down a cliﬀ face and on the water’s edge overlooking the iconic limestone Faraglioni rocks that rise vertiginously from the sea just oﬀshore. Despite its charmingly low-key vibe (thatched roof, open sides, sun umbrellas), it is so popular it does two lunchtime sittings. Order spaghetti vongole and a jug of the delicious house sangria and, when you’ve ﬁnished, go for a swim around the rocks. fontelina-capri.com
Head to La Piazzetta, the ﬁnish line for Capri town’s traditional passeggiata, the evening stroll/ people-watching promenade. The tiny square is home to four fun bars, the best of which is the original, Al Piccolo. Try to grab a (gold dust) table on the ﬁrst ﬂoor terrace and watch the square ﬁll while nursing a bellini made with fresh, island-grown peaches (they’re only available from June to September).
Possibly the poshest pizzeria in all Italy, Aurora is home to the pizza all’aqua (a lighter take on the traditional Neapolitan dough base) and every visiting A-lister. Blag yourself a table (again, gold dust) outside on buzzing Via Fuorlovado for prime people gazing and choose an oversize bottle from the peerless Italian wine list.
Taverna Anema e Core is nominally a restaurant — until midnight when owner/local legend Guido Lembo takes to the stage with his band and serenades diners with pop hits and improv skits, corralling the inevitable stars (Beyoncé and Gisele of late) in the house into crooning along. Great fun. anemaecore.com
Daytime crowds in Capri town by visiting the isle’s second largest village Anacapri which, built at a higher elevation, has even more breathtaking views. The island is crisscrossed with well-marked walking trails to many dramatic viewing points, some of which are steep enough to really work oﬀ all your excess holiday dining.
If you’re going to open doors here you need to look the part. Capri pants (women’s cropped-leg trousers) may be the island’s key contribution to fashion, but never, ever, think you can pull oﬀ the calf-length look. So instead, seek out family-owned Laboratorio to get measured up for a dapper pair of trousers that fall all the way to the ankles.
Capri’s large Blue Grotto sea cave that glows a mysterious piercing azure as if a light is shining up from its ﬂoor. In the day, it’s crowded with day-trippers rowed out in tiny boats from the Amalﬁ Coast. Come early evening, your skipper can draw up outside the cave (only rowing boats can ﬁt through the entrance) and you can swim in to the eerie interior.
One of the easier choices I’ve had to make because JK Place Capri is probably my favourite hotel in Europe thanks to its superb setting overlooking Capri’s main harbour and the Amalﬁ Coast; the deeply stylish interior design; the excellent JKitchen restaurant overlooking the sea and the Negroni di Sera (Hendrick’s gin, Carpano Antica Formula, Campari and orange bitters) cocktails in the JK Lounge Bar. Impeccable. jkcapri.com
As part of the model day on Capri, after lunching well at Fontelina and a revitalising swim, arrange for a boat to pick you up (ideally, a vintage wooden Riva) from the jetty and then take an afternoon cruise around the coast. Your skipper will keep you stocked up with iced Peronis as you pass between the majestic Faraglioni rocks (location for the near X-rated David Gandy and Bianca Balti ad for Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue scent). Next stop, the Blue Grotto.
I’m not necessarily suggesting going in April, but if you want to stand even a slim chance of bagging a room at JK Place in the 2017 high season, you need to be organising it right now!
Wear white. And sunglasses. At all times.