Roman Holidays, Capri-cious CapersWords by Carolyn Gerin
All roads lead to Rome, considered by many to be the birthplace of civilized living, food to fetishize over and trendsetting design from clothing to cars. Sophia Loren opines: ‘Everything you see I owe to spaghetti’ – and we concur, but you might consider a coastal caper to counter-balance Rome’s epic antiquities and sublime style. Our suggestion? Say “I do” to both urban adventure and flirtatious fun and let Capri (the Italian word for ‘playful’) tempt you to the Amalfi Coast and beyond. A beach getaway for A-list emperors, Caesars, and their consorts, Capri is a jewel-box of delights with solid gold sunshine and cerulean skies.
Fling three coins in the Trevi Fountain…one for Capri, one for Rome and one for romance. Close your eyes and make a wish for the honeymoon of your dreams…it might just come true.
Touchdown Rome, Italy at dusk
The city is bathed in a Byzantine glow under a sheen of drizzle and amidst a rose twilight. The Coliseum’s sweeping arches are rendered in majestic ochre shadows, an awe-inspiring welcome. I toast Rome, the gladiators, and my good luck from my luxurious bathtub with a glass of Prosecco. The Hotel Palazzo Manfredi in the heart of ancient Rome, is located directly across from the Coliseum, linked by an underground tunnel, and built over Ludus Magnus, the main gymnasium used by gladiators to hone their combat skills. Nearby is the Domus Aurea, the Imperial Forum and Nero’s Gardens. This five-star, 14-room, two-suite hotel boasts 16th century antiques and artwork. Epic city views from award winning Mediterranean rooftop restaurant, Aroma, clearly inspire Chef Giuseppe di Lorio - his food is as delicious as the surroundings. Fancy being mistaken for an Italian film star? Borrow their Lamborghini Gallardo for a stylish spin around town. Ti Amo! Owned by third generation Italian counts, Leonardo and Goffredo Manfredi, count me in to return to this stunning slice of history and luxe living.
On-trend shopping starts with haute: Via dei Condotti, and ends with hip in bohemian Trastevere. People watch on the Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps) with a cold beer and chic-out: Roman office girls rock Sophia Loren-worthy sheathes and shades; dazzling dandy’s don confetti-colored ties and sleek suits.
When in Rome, dive deep into history and revel in the back stories of what really happened with a professional guide. A private Coliseum and Vatican tour is key – you’ll enjoy a more enhanced experience and appreciate the paintings, frescoes, sculptures and buildings (plus requisite myth busting!). Explore the Basilica di San Pietro and the Vatican Museums. Burn carbonara calories by climbing the 463 steps to the Basilica Cupola; behold a 360° view of the Vatican gardens and city center.
Vatican hiking is hard work, so head to Sangallo’s for respite. Located in the ‘old city center’ near the Pantheon and Navona Square, star gaze over handmade squid-ink pasta in a charming cobblestone square.
Buon Viaggio Capri!
Swap your stilettos for sandals and head to Capri via Naples Harbor and the hydrofoil ferry.
Pull into Capri Harbor and it’s circa 1966: gelato-colored row houses flank azure water, villas of ancient emperors perch on the edge of majestic cliffs which break through the clouds. You imagine Bridgette-Camille Bardot getting ready for her close-up, in white capris (invented here in 1948), sailor tee and cats-eye shades. Today, tourists and locals channel Bardot-style, which reinforces my belief: Capri is a place, but also a state of mind.
Ready for your close up? Feast your eyes on Punta Tragara, a 1920’s five-star beauty designed by Le Corbusier. This terra-cotta Mediterranean villa sculpted out of the rockface doesn’t have a bad angle with a heart-stopping view of the Faraglioni Rocks and the Bay of Marina. Enjoy relaxation and libations at La Bussola Pool Bar while perusing the vista of valleys and shrug off that 12-hour fight with a massage at the UNICA Beauty and Spa. Advance to a panoramic candlelit view and victuals at Monzù, with Chef Arcucci’s signature Neopolitan cuisine featuring freshly caught oysters, squid, lobster and pasta and excellent local wines.
Sail a schooner up the coast and swim in secret coves and caves, many of which are inaccessible by land. Drop anchor, sip bubbly, and munch on prosciutto, panino and grapes. We endeavored to look blasé as we sailed alongside the yacht, Christina O. (as in Onassis) - oh my!
Your two-story villa overlooks the Faraglioni Rocks and lapping waves. Far below, chic sunbathers lounge, but you are two happy lovebirds perched atop the world.
Shop like a local: Ana Capri has the same chic offerings of central Capri, but for much less. Cobbler to Jackie O., Sophia Loren (and me!), Antonio Viva and Sons will craft an elegant pair of bejeweled sandals in minutes.
Winding down the tiny cobbled streets, the whiff of myrtle, cypress, sea salt and Chanel scent the breeze. As we head back to Rome - all rapturous ruins, cunning style and effortless elegance - we realize that our wish has indeed, come true. Our senses have been elevated, illuminated and educated by these majestic destinations – both wildly different, but completely cohesive. Arrivederci is not in our vocabulary – we will return…Ciao for now…
Photos courtesy of Hotel Punta Tragara (1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th) & Hotel Palazzo Manfredi (2nd)
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