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Capri shines as Italy's chic playground

Capri became the heart of la dolce vita more than a half-century ago when the likes of Clark Gable, Sophia Loren and Jackie Kennedy Onassis began showing up on its cobblestone streets. The small Italian island, which juts dramatically out of the Mediterranean, still serves as a chic playground for the rich and famous. Seal Beach resident Wendi DeBie, owner of the Original Fish Co. in Los Alamitos, likes it so well she has visited every year since 2008, when her husband, Jeremy, proposed there. “Capri is part of a wonderful triangle – Positano, Sorrento and Capri – and as wonderful as the other two are, Capri trumps it for me.” 

Why Capri?

Spectacular scenery, picturesque trails, impossibly blue water, great shopping and amazing food are among the reasons to visit. It’s a romantic place that has drawn millionaires, celebrities and intellectuals – as well as Roman emperors – during its history. When you’re here, it’s easy to understand why so many of the rich and famous visit. It feels like it hasn’t changed much since the days when the Onassis family strolled its cobblestone byways. 

Time is Right

I’ve visited as early as May and as late as October, and my favorite month is September, followed by July. Avoid August, when the Europeans visit; it’s much too crowded then. For the most part, the island shuts down during the offseason, when a lot of the workers migrate to the Alps for winter employment.  

Must Do

Rent a private boat with a driver to take you around the island to explore its coves and to swim in the brilliantly blue water. Boats will take you to places like the white, blue and green grottoes, and to the iconic Faraglioni rock formation, a really magical thing to see from the water. Take an open-air convertible ride up the winding mountain road to Anacapri, the quiet village at the top of the island. And spend a day at Fontelina Beach Club, sunbathing on the rocks, having lunch and staying to watch sunset. (Book this elite beach club far in advance of your trip.):: fontelina-capri.com

Secret Tip

Don’t come just for a day. The bulk of the people who visit get off a cruise ship and are there for only a few hours. The city is miserable when it is that crowded. By 4 p.m. all the day trippers are gone and the city is wonderful again. 

Buy In

For shoppers, Capri offers an embarrassment of riches. Most of the island’s boutiques and designer shops are concentrated in central Capri town near the luxe Grand Hotel Quisisana, quisisana.com, my favorite place to stay.  But if you stroll the side streets, you’ll find local designers that offer true gems, such as 100% Capri (100capri.com/en) which specializes in linens and home goods. Another famous shop is da Costanzo, Via Roma 49, which has provided celebs with custom-made sandals since the 1960s.

Best Bite

Tucked away on a side street, Da Paolino Lemon Trees Restaurant (paolinocapri.com) has a beautiful setting in a grove of lemon trees, with an amazing antipasto bar. Very celebratory. You’ll find a spectacular view – of the Bay of Naples, Mount Vesuvius and the Sorrentine Peninsula – at  the excellent Restaurant La Terrazza di Lucullo in the Anacapri showplace Hotel Caesar Augustus, caesar-augustus.com/en/restaurant. Also try Ristorante Il Riccio, a Michelin-starred restaurant overlooking the Blue Grotto that Zagat rates as one of the hottest dining venues in Europe. Don’t miss the chilled dessert room.
:: capripalace.com/en/restaurants/restaurant-riccio

After Dark

Start your evening with drinks at the main square, La Piazzetta, a great place for people watching that draws both islanders and visitors. The club scene doesn’t really get rolling until after midnight, so unless you’re a night owl, it might not be for you. But Capri has plenty of taverns, clubs and wine bars, many located between La Piazzetta and Grand Hotel Quisisana.  

About the writer:

Rosemary McClure likes to say she was born with a suitcase in her hand. A longtime travel
writer for the Los Angeles Times, she loves globetrotting as much as she loves sharing her worldwide finds with others. Her monthly Coast column, Wish You Were Here, shares the finds of others. “I learn so much from the Orange County movers and shakers I interview for the column,” she says. “They take me – and readers – to wonderful places around the globe.” This month’s column, which focuses on Nancy Guerra, dean of UC Irvine’s School of Social Ecology, visits Louisville, Ky., one of McClure’s favorite places. “Smooth bourbon, fast horses and scenic country lanes through the rolling hills of the Bluegrass State. Who could ask
for more?”

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