RICK ARDON takes the winding road to the village of Anacapri
As you approach the Italian resort island of Capri by sea, you can understand why countries fought over it for centuries.
In summer, vineyards, ancient columns and colourful flowers come into view before you realise it’s swarming with people. Super yachts and ferries dot the bay as everyone converges for their time in the sun.
Positano, Sorrento and Naples are all within an hour’s boat ride, which creates the crowds on day trips to explore this beautiful island. But the secret to Capri is staying overnight.
Above the bustling main town with its designer shops and tourist crush is the smaller, quieter village of Anacapri, translated as “above Capri”. When the day trippers are gone, this elegant elevated village reveals its true charms.
At the end of town, the stunning Villa San Michele’s gardens look like they could have been painted by Monet. The villa is on the site of a Roman fort protecting the island, dating back to before Christ. It was bought in the 1800s by Swedish doctor Axel Munthe, who lovingly restored artefacts now on display.
Anacapri is dominated by a truly beautiful five-star hotel called Capri Palace. The 89 rooms feature 18 different architectural styles created by Italy’s leading designers. The hotel has a restaurant with two Michelin stars called L’Olivo that created the best pasta dish I’ve ever had.
To pay for your gastronomic sins there is the Capri Beauty Farm, Europe’s first medical spa designed to increase circulation by painting your legs with the famous mud from nearby Ischia, mixed with 26 secret local herbs.
While Capri down below has an alfresco atmosphere and lush gardens, Anacapri is full of surprises. Who would have thought you’d find a casual beach club that also offers a Michelin-star restaurant?
It’s a feast for the senses at Il Riccio beach club as you watch the chefs cooking in their tall white toques with the famous Blue Grotto down below them.
The queue of boats to enter Anacapri’s Blue Grotto is so long in summer that it’s easier to take it all in from above.
The Blue Grotto is crystal clear because of the limestone floor, and it’s the same for the Green Grotto around the other side belonging to the competitive Caprians.
Above it all, as the chairlift from the Capri Palace takes you towards the top of Mt Scolaro, you’ll find the family-run ristorante called Da Gelsomina.
Owner Rafaele looks out with me over the family vines and vegetable garden that produce their organic food and wine, and tells me his Mama has been cooking her traditional recipes in the same kitchen for 35 years.
As the sun sets perfectly over Capri in a blaze of orange, I know I’ll be back.
This is an edited version of the original, full-length story, which you can read here.
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DisclaimerRick Ardon was a guest of Capri Palace. They have not seen or approved this story.
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