I live in New York City, where everything is always changing – the shops, the people, and now, particularly, the skyline. It is fun, exciting, and I would not trade my life and experience here for anything. However stimulating, there is nonetheless something also wonderful about a place which is beautiful and changes very little over time.
That place, for me and my family, is Capri. Just about every summer for the past twenty years Capri is on our summer itinerary. For many reasons, it is our happiest place in the world.
From the moment we land on the island, smell the air, see the gorgeous blue water, and drive to our hotel in an open air taxi, all the stressors of life fall away and a sense of happy calm takes over.
The calm comes from, in part, the feeling that one has come back home, to a place where you get exactly what you expect and love, time after time. In a world that thrives on change, Capri remains timelessly beautiful, but never dated. Year in, year out, the same shops and restaurants are there, run and staffed by the same families. We are all old friends, and each year when we meet it is like we never left.
This gives Capri a feeling of solidity and permanence unlike more trendy spots, which I love, too, for their charms. Capri is authentic and beautiful to hold onto.
Located in the Tyrrhenian Sea of the east coast of Italy near Naples, Capri has been a resort city since the time of the Roman Republic. Always popular with Italians, it has been internationally popular since the 1960’s. It is a tiny place, roughly the size of New York’s Central Park, with a year-round population of 12,000 who all know each other.
Back in the 1960s, my parents went to Capri every summer. Because my family loved Capri so much, I made it a destination of my own once I had a family. Here is a photo of my parents strolling down the Via Roma, as well as a photo of Jonathan and me taking the same stroll last week.
A wonderful fact about Capri is that there are no cars allowed once you pass the Piazetta. This makes it a perfect place to bring small children – day and night, they can run and play and explore, and be safe.
When my sons were young, I never had the hassle of arranging transportation for them to or from dinner or activities and never worried that they would be okay. I first brought them to Capri where they were three years old; this year Nicholas came for a week with his father; Jonathan, his twin, had the trip with me. They are both wonderful young men now, embarking on their adult lives.
We stayed where we always do, the Grand Hotel Quisisana, the island’s legendary five star hotel, a favorite of royalty and rockstars since it opened in 1845. The Quisisana’s terrace is one of the island’s prime spots for people watching, and any memorable evening usually begins with cocktails at twilight there and ends at 3am, scanning the late night crowd.
The terrace at the Grand Hotel Quisisana.
After cocktails the question is: Where do we go for dinner? Many of Capri’s restaurants are world class, and all over the island you can find great cuisine, which always includes local favorites. One of my favorite restaurants is Aurora, which has just expanded. Any visitor to the island must eat there at least once. Mia and Franco’s food is always delicious, and the outdoor ambiance is so charming.
When my boys were seven the owners and chef of Aurora, Franco and Mia (below), pulled them into the kitchen for cooking lessons. The boys were so excited as they learned over a series of days how to prepare pizza and gnocchi. They will never forget those times, and here they all are:
Another favorite is the Villa Verde, just a short walk from the Piazetta. Its patio garden is comfortable, cozy, and another spot for people watching. I remember when it first opened, people took their time to come. Franco, the owner, is such a great host and made people feel so happy when they were there, and served such good food, that it became a big favorite.
People come in here at all hours to eat; a party breezing in for dinner at midnight is a common site. The music they play is so funny, very old Italian/American songs like That’s Amore and O Sole Mio. I do not think anyone else could get away with it. The food is excellent. Jonathan swore that his Veal Milanese was the best he ever had.
If making the night complete means after dinner drinks and a club, the place for you is the Taverna Anema e Core. Located on Via Sella Orta, it is the #1 nightlife hotspot on the island. Every night there is live music, singing, and dancing on the tables, all overseen by the local celebrity, Guido Lembo. It becomes quite a party, often with famous revelers, such as Beyonce and Jay-Z, seen below at Taverna.
The days in Capri are beautiful, spent on a boat or at one of the beach clubs. Our favorite beach club is Da Luigi, which has the best chairs and views. It is the workout of the day to walk down well over 125 steps to the beach; the more sedentary visitors come by boat.
For lunch, we take a walk to La Fontelina, which is nearby. Fontelina is definitely one of the top lunch spots to see and be seen, and the food is great. The views are gorgeous and it is just so lovely. This part of the island is such a beautiful spot that two thousand years ago Roman emperors Tiberius and Augustus chose this spot to build several palatial villas here.
Here is your view:
Another fabulous way to spend the day is taking a boat to go for lunch to La Conca del Sogno, in the area called Raccamone. You can only reach it by boat from Capri, and it is packed every day.
They are known for their zucchini pasta, which is fantastic, and their amazing raw bar and fresh fish. Right out of the water to your plate, you cannot imagine fresher and more delicious food. Long tables of families and friends gather here to dine, drink white sangria, and enjoy one of the best views in the world.
Another beach club is the Addio Riccio, whose anchovies with couscous is out of this world.
Finally, when you are ready for desert, head to Gelateria R. Buonocore. An institution in Capri, it serves the best gelato in the world. I have tried zillions but Gelateria wins out every time. I swear by their gelato, and also their pistachio paste cookies. It is one of my favorite places — a magical place.
In past years, my boys got up to sometimes three cones a day and finished them all. I think a couple of times this year Nicholas had three a day, too. We try to be reasonable and have fewer per day, but it is so perfectly located – on a hill you must walk down to get anywhere — it is impossible to avoid.
The best thing about Gelateria is its owner, Giovanna (below, with Jonathan). We love Giovanna and her family, and the moment we see each other it is like old home week. They are among the hardest working people we know, and are also smart and kind. I consider it an honor to know them!
When we left this time, Giovanna prepared a beautiful box of cookies for us as a gift. So wonderful.
Meanwhile, just because I say Capri is timeless does not mean it has become stodgy or out-of-date. Quite the contrary, fashion is up to the minute here, as you should expect of an island that is part of Italy. And the shopping is superb; every global brand has a store here. Combine that with the chic local Italian brands and you have a shopper’s paradise! No matter what, I go shopping every day – it is part of the fun. This time I discovered really cool scarves at Russo Uomo, very Keith Richards.
Also humming is the local luxury property market. I spent some time with my friend Raffaele Porta, CEO of Porta Immobiliare Capri, the largest and most prestigious real estate firm on the island. Below is the view from one of Raffaele’s properties.
Raffaele had some very interesting things to tell me about the Capri market, and I plan to share my exclusive interview with you in my next update to The Pinkwater Report.
Anyway, that is all for now. Stay tuned to The Pinkwater Report, your best source for luxury property and lifestyle news.