“In the fair land o’er watched by Ischia’s mountains, Across the charmed bay whose blue waves keep with Capri’s silver fountains, perpetual holiday.”
This is what poet John Greenleaf Whittier conjured about this verdant island. Capri has been popular since ancient times, The Emperor Augustus had a villa here which you can still visit today. More recently, the island has been synonymous with visitors like Sophia Loren, Jackie O, all the glam set, even the Kardashians. And this summer , myself.
I hadn’t visited Capri since my student days in Bologna, and my memories of it were having had one of the best culinary experiences of my life. Bearing in mind back then I was on a budget, I returned with exceedingly high expectations.
So I grabbed two girlfriends and off we went. If you are looking for somewhere beautiful, chic, culturally rich and relaxing to go to (with a spot of people watching) then Capri is just the place.
Our destination was the luxury boutique Excelsior Parco Hotel between Marina Grande and Capri town. The Excelsior Parco is a stunning art nouveau villa which was built in 1906, it has since been converted into a hotel with 11 suites. The hotel has an old school glamour and splendour to it that is just right for somewhere like Capri.
We were given a garden suite, which was perfect for the three of us with a tiny garden and unbeatable views. The room, in my opinion, was on the small side for what they called a “suite”, one double bed with a single one tucked up in the corner. The rooms maintain the traditional style of the villa but with all desired mod cons and the Hotel is extremely generous with the toiletries. You will find in each bathroom a box full of generously sized goodies, which makes for a very happy girl. God knows why hotels create those miniscule sized toiletries, if you have long hair (like me) then you can easily get through a bottle of shampoo in one wash.
The hotel is also mainly full of honeymooners and couples, being so small and intimate, it’s the perfect place if you want a romantic trip.
If you are planning on spending most of your time out of the hotel then this is the right one for you. If you are after lounging by the pool, cocktail in hand then, I would recommend somewhere else as the hotel is not ideal with no pool and not a huge garden.
For me the highlight of staying in any hotel is the breakfast, and breakfast at the Execelsior Parco definitely met my expectations. You can have it in your garden (or terrace) or in the Hotel’s garden, which is what we opted for. The guaranteed thing about Italy is the good strong Italian coffee which you just don’t find in London. What better way to start the day than with a great breakfast and a stunning view.
Getting around can be tricky. Tourists and visitors to the island are not allowed cars, so everyone is reduced to the same mode of transport, buses, taxis or if you in the habit of owning a super yacht then lucky you. The steep hills are a work out that one would definitely associate with the island as what you go down you must come back up. Luckily the hotel runs a shuttle service to Capri town where you can hop on a bus or taxi to any of the lidos or to Anacapri or Marina Piccola. For those of us who have brought unpractical aquazzura sandals, as far as I was concerned the shuttle driver was a Roman God.
The staff at the hotel are all incredibly helpful in advising you on how to get around, booking restaurants and recommending places to visit. We had been recommended a number of lidos (beach clubs) and restaurants for the evening. The beach clubs in Capri are limited and can get busy very quickly so get there early. The beach club that stood out for us was La Canzone Del Mare, which translates into the song of the sea, located in Anacapri, in a beautiful location not to mention on the quiet side and serves a divine spaghetti alle vongole.
The restaurant that stood out in our minds was Le Grotelle. Situated on the other side of Capri town, you will wonder through the town wondering where you are going, you pass the most beautiful villas and then just when you think there is a point of no return, you stumble across Le Grotelle. It’s rustic and beautiful, overlooking the Arco Naturale, you will dine under a canopy of bougainvillea and the stars, catching glimpses through the trees of the super yachts moored underneath.
After dinner we wandered through Capri town, which is filled with beautiful boutiques. At this point I need to mention that no trip to Capri is complete without a trip to gelateria Buonocore. Before we clocked the place we could smell some delicious concoction of what smelt like waffle and ice cream cone being cooked. So we followed our noses and found people religiously queuing for the ice cream experience of their lives. They have delicioius flavours like nocciola, pistachio, fiori di latte, and a selection of mouthwatering cakes.
I returned to London with Capri having exceeded all my expectations in terms of beauty, gastronomy and sight seeing, and will return very soon.