Capri: A Guide to Italy’s VIP Island
The island made famous decades ago by icons and celebrities like Bridget Bardot and Jackie O certainly hasn’t lost its VIP feel and style. Capri is truly the playground of Italy and the world’s rich and famous. Here, taxis take the form of luxury convertibles, days are spent aboard private boats and luxury yachts and evenings in the Piazzetta are made for people watching. As you sip on a cocktail, you see the outfits you’ve spotted in the designer store displays come to life as the elite strut their stuff.
In spite of her magical beauty and breathtaking sceneries, if you don’t do your research, Capri is sadly a little pretentious and can seem shallow. But with a little help from my friends (namely Gillian McGuire – Capri expert extraordinaire) and speaking to some locals (I’m looking at you, Holly and Gianluca) you can really and truly have the time of your life.
Here’s my guide on what to do and where to eat.
Where to eat:
For family run local specialties. My favourite meals on the island were in the company of my good friends Holly and Gianluca. Call me biased but their Ravioli Caprese are the best and the Torta Caprese is also to die for. From pizza to pasta to seafood, Michel’angelo doesn’t disappoint.
Buco di Bacco
For Neapolitan pizza. This is your typical local, family run pizza joint. The service was fun and friendly at Buca di Bacco and the pizza – Neapolitan style of course – was faultless!
For casual beach side Michelin dining. If the raw starters and spaghetti alle vongole at Il Riccio didn’t blow my mind, the all you can eat dessert room just about tipped me off the edge. This is not a lowbrow buffet I’m talking about but all you can eat refined sweets. No kidding – from chocolate treats to sfogliatella, you name it. I couldn’t fault neither the food, service or setting.
For the classics under the beautiful lemon grove. What was once a reputable name in Capri has become slightly touristic, but our meal was good and the setting is just mesmerising. I mean it’s not every day you dine under a lemon grove in Capri! All the classics are on the menu at Da Paolino and dessert is included for everyone with a self serve format.
Views and great food in Anacapri. Stunning terrace views and local food (seafood and Caprese cuisine) to match, Da Gelsomina is in Anacapri. The staff will come and pick you up from the main square in Anacapri – they will arrange that when you book.
Good food but slightly pretentious vibe (it is Capri remember!) This is one of those flashy Capri locales, where people go to be seen. The initial reception at Aurora was quite pretentious, the crowd a little on that side too (think – Mariah Carey was there last summer to name one), but our waiter was lovely and the meal (in particular the mix of raw carpaccio) was great. (Unfortunately the dim lighting means I don’t have images to share with you.)
Where to gelato:
You can’t miss this gelateria on a walk through Capri’s main town because there’s constantly a line down the street at most hours of the day in summer. If by chance you don’t stumble upon the worth-the-wait spot, just follow the intoxicating waft of freshly pressed waffle cones. Buonocore make them on site, so definitely skip the cup in favor of gelato in a cone here. Don’t leave Capri without trying the Torta Caprese gelato with moist, chunky pieces of the island’s classic chocolate / almond cake.
Where to stay:
Hotel San Felice
We couldn’t believe our luck when we found a 4 star hotel with an amazing pool, a few minutes walk from the Piazzetta that didn’t cost approx €1m. Our room had a balcony and the property has those distinct and gorgeous Capri tiles throughout. In high season, a double with a balcony at Hotel San Felice costs around €250 per night.
What to do:
As if Anacapri – the highest point of the island – wasn’t pretty enough, even the drive up has you arrive with stars in your eyes! You can arrive from Capri by bus or taxi and it certainly deserves a walk around the pretty streets filled with bars and ceramic, fashion and souvenir shops.
Check out Ristorante Michel’Angelo‘s picnic programs. They offer a variety of packages and maps where you get to enjoy their outdoor-friendly packaged food while uncovering some of the secret corners of the island. And Holly and Gianluca are a true fount of knowledge on all things Capri so chat to them about what you see as your dream Capri day out!
Beach club it in style
Il Riccio is located within the 5 star hotel Capri Palace and is one of the most luxurious (and striking!) beach clubs on the island. Featuring comfortable beach beds, white wooden decking, full bar to sun bed service and a Michelin star restaurant on site, it’s also the island’s most exclusive. If you are booked in for lunch, you gain access to the sun deck. The beach club is right by the famous blue grotto and on a good day (it was too windy when we went!) you can take a swim in there after all the tourist boats are done.
Sail the sea
A trip to Capri wouldn’t be complete without a day on the water – on your private boat no less! We booked with Ciro from Aurora Time and spent about 4 hours cruising some of the lesser known spots and got to jump off and swim in coves and grottoes that we had completely to ourselves. Hands down it’s the best way to see the island! For more information and prices, visit Aurora Time. Ciro can customise any kind of water activity for you and if you want to have lunch on board, get Ristorante Michel’angelo to cater for you! We paid around €100 per person for a 3 hour private boat ride with stops when we wanted.
Take a cooking class at Ristorante Michel’Angelo and learn how to make all the local classics from the fresh and delicious Insalata Caprese to Ravioli Caprese to the decadent chocolate and almond Torta Caprese. There are two types of cooking classes on offer and they run daily at 9.30am or 4.00pm followed by lunch/dinner between March through end December. Class sizes are small and bookings are essential. Private classes are available on request and all classes are in English and Italian. Cost: €100 per person or €125 per person for private bookings. Visit their website for updates and further information and read about my full cooking experience here.
Take a passegiata
The streets of Capri are made for people watching and shopping. It’s not all designer boutiques on the famed Via Camerelle but wander down all the side streets and away from the Piazzetta. The island is famous for its handmade sandals from the plain leather version to ones with elaborate colourful jewels and stones. One shop I loved was EcoCapri. Many of their one-of-a-kind accessories are made in fabrics inspired by artist Laetitia Cerio.
Dance the night away
Head to the local hotspot and historic Taverna Anema e Core. In English it’s Heart and Soul and nothing will give you more of an insight into the Neapolitan way of life. Young and old come together to dance, sing and stand on table tops while they do so! Drinks here are expensive, so is entry, but it’s worth it (and the wait to get in – if you don’t know anyone on the island it can be difficult to get in during peak season).
Delphina Wellness and Beauty
Located just off the main street leading off the Piazzetta and in the Hotel Gatto Bianco is the Delphina spa and hair salon. With a full range of face, body and beauty treatments, 50 minute massages start from €80 (which for Capri, I found cheap!)
So spend your days sailing and your nights away dancing. Thanks to my special island friends, I can truly say – Capri I love you and promise I will be back real soon.
Signing off from Trastevere,