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Capri like a local

It’s not every day that I find myself shopping in the same store as Luca di Montezemolo, the former chairman of FIAT and Ferrari, and his wife, but that’s Capri for you. Beyond stylish, the island, and especially its main square, the Piazzetta, was described as “the living room of the world,” by Italian Vogue. Despite the huge number of tour groups, it continues to be a Mecca for the A-list. I was browsing in Blu, which, according to my friend, the Trusted Tastemaker (TT), is arguably the best concept store in Italy.

We were on a long overdue girl’s trip — Effervescent Entrepreneur and Art Aficionado rounded out our group of four. In spite of various commitments, we had all finally made it, notwithstanding the horrendous flight connections out of India and into Naples, the closest big city to Capri. People don’t realise that the pursuit of pleasure is really hard work.

I hadn’t been back to the island in 15 years, and little had changed except for the swarms of daytrippers from the cruise liners. About 2 million tourists visit each year, and in peak summer, about 15,000 per day, leading the mayor of Capri to warn that the island could “explode”.

There’s something magical about Capri — the soaring cliffs, turquoise waters, the wild flowers — it’s a picture perfect postcard come to life. It’s no wonder that Tiberius, the Roman emperor, chose to live and rule from here, indulging his hedonistic passions. Maybe that set the tone for future generations, because Capri has been drawing writers, artists, entertainers and the mega rich ever since.

Capri like a local

My friends and I were at a huge advantage since TT was practically a local — her family was originally Caprese and she had been summering here since she was a child. I felt like I had my own private concierge, such was her extraordinary command of what was cool, hip, local, and what was outré, crass and touristy.

The four of us take our resort looks seriously. Art Aficionado was having a major animal print moment and Effervescent Entrepreneur was obsessed with Italian linen so every day involved at least one major shopping excursion. Luckily, Capri is known for its excellent boutiques. Start at the divine Blu, which has an outsized reputation as the purveyor of all things chic. Owner Antonio Arcucci told me he comes to India all the time. His genius lies in carrying lesser known brands like Taka Naka, mixed in with labels like Dries Van Noten. Farella, the bespoke sweater store, is another must visit. Choose your colour and style and, in a day or so time, you will have a one-of-a-kind, made to measure sweater. La Parisienne, located in the main piazza, is where you can find those famous Capri pants worn by Jackie Kennedy Onassis. They make them in cotton and silk, and in a variety of hues. The island is also known for its custom sandals, but I feel we do those just as well in Mumbai, although our soles don’t always measure up.

Now to the food. From the time I stepped off the boat at Marina Grande, and had lunch at Lo Smeraldo, I knew the food would be superlative. Glorious TT had drawn up a superb list of places to dine. Among the highlights, Torre Saracena, which overlooks the water and is known for its spaghetti vongole (clams), Il Riccio, which is accessible by boat and has the most incredible room devoted solely to desert, Lo Scoglio da Tommaso (best zucchini pasta in the world), Da Paolino, located in a lemon grove (oh that smell!), and Fontelina (the best torta Caprese, a chocolate and almond flourless cake).

Finally, in the era of pulsating electronic beats, the Capri nightclub scene is a throwback to a more genteel mid 20th century era. We managed to stay awake and showed up at Anema e Core, a small tavern like space, which has a live band that belts out old Italian and western pop songs. The lead singer may be off key, but that didn’t stop the crowd from singing and dancing along. And the best part? We each got a tambourine with our photos pasted on it as a return gift! Now that’s what you call chic!

This fortnightly column tracks the indulgent pursuits of the one-percenters.


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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 7:19:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/capri-like-a-local/article24892900.ece

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