Before I left to visit the Island of Capri for our next meetings with Chefs Andrea Migliaccio and Salvatore Elefante I was told, “don’t go! You’ll never come back” my friend who knows Italy very well likes to offer advice when it comes to discovering new places and in addition warned me about the incredible tastes of the lemons which, are like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.
The island of Capri is more famous for its list of ‘A’ list visitors than its natural beauty and variety of ingredients on offer, it has always been a playground and movie set for screen goddesses Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren; a magnet for artists and writers such as Graham Greene and W. Somerset Maugham and even the great Roman and Greek emperors of the time would vacation here.
Once you leave the port of Naples on the ferry to Capri it takes a good 30 minutes until you begin to see the island appearing on the horizon as a stark mass of limestone rising out of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Villas perched precariously on hillsides and fishing boats bobbing on the waves. You can even see the island's iconic towering rocks, called faraglioni, which inspired Chef Francesco Sposito’s dish.
Once I arrived and took the taxi up high on the zig zag roads into Anacapri I was captivated by the colours and smells of the island. It is believed that citrus fruits arrived in Capri in the tenth century, and have lent their famous colours and perfume to the island ever since. It is not surprising that lemons and herbs have characterised the island, it is the habit of every housewife to cram her windowsills with terracotta pots filled with herbs. The typical herbs of Capri are basil, with medium sized green leaves, marjoram and oregano, with small dark green leaves, parsley, and thyme. They all have an extremely intense perfume that can be enjoyed across the land.
During my visit to Capri I stayed at the Capri Palace Hotel and Spa, a luxury hotel that is a gem of personal taste looked after personally by its owner Tonino Cacace, who has a distinctly modern aesthetic, and the sleek interiors feature pieces from his personal art collection. When I met Tonino he talked to me about his hotels and restaurants with a great emphasis on showcasing a true, sophisticated and elegant Capri that paints a picture of 1960s Italy as seen in the movies. Here is a man who is so passionate about his island and with two of the best restaurants with top chefs he has a lot to be proud of.