My boyfriend and I had reached October 2009 and were in desperate need of a holiday. After some research and conversations with friends – we agreed upon Amalfi in Italy for our autumn adventure. Leaving a cold and grey London in the distance, we arrived in sunny, vibrant Naples and took the short hydrofoil journey from the mainland over to the beautiful island of Ischia.
Mezzatorre Resort & Spa was our first port of call. The approach to the property was long and winding, through the woods, with the Mediterranean Sea to our right. We checked in and were shown straight to our room – a Classic Suite in the tower. We entered with a large old style key into an entrance hall with the bedroom straight opposite through sliding doors. To the left, the bathroom had a bath with views out over the pool and then the sea. To the right of the entrance was a very comfortable lounge/dressing room with a plush sofa, desk unit and TV. The bed was extremely comfortable and there were some fabulously oversized chairs around the table in a bay window. All of the interior was tastefully decorated in neutral colours and fabrics. The next morning – we received a call from the wonderful General Manager, Giovanni Sirabella, to invite us to their famous thermal spa. After an hour or so doing the circuit in the pool, including Kneipp therapy, I was led off for a delightful full body massage that literally sent me to sleep.
We were sad to leave Ischia, but we had a boat to catch that would take us to Capri – I had never been before and it is a place I had always dreamed of visiting. I wasn’t to be disappointed! We arrived at Marina Grande and picked up one of the famous Capri taxis – an elongated, open top Fiat.
Not even three minutes later, we reached Villa Marina Capri Hotel & Spa – a very discreet property, hidden off the road behind slate walls. We were taken to the Kate Perry Suite – there are twenty one individually designed rooms, themed around writers and personalities who were famous in Capri in a bygone era. We walked into a hallway with a rich purple chaise longue, writing desk and flat screen TV; patio windows led out out on to a very large terrace with views over Marina Grande and the sea beyond. On the right, our bedroom was regal gold and purple, with a mini library and more doors onto the terrace with table, chairs and sun loungers. This hotel has a very homely feel, as it is compact, although the layout really works – they have a great outdoor winding footpath that leads from the lobby to the pool and terrace area and then to the extremely cute spa area and bar. And throughout the resort, there are great chill out areas – outdoors sofas with comfy cushions or the dreamy hammocks that were dotted about the gardens. The trendy General Manager, Gaetano, has certainly injected the cool factor into the hotel with funky music and décor throughout.
Approximately 30 seconds around the corner, lay the next stop on our journey – the amazing J.K. Place, Capri. I had heard good things about this hotel, so my expectations were high and I was not let down. What makes this property so special? It is literally a home from home (although I could only wish that my home was as stylish!) – all of the team here from Samuel the GM to the two Lorenzos – in the restaurant and the concierge – are so friendly, always calling us by our first names and one of the things I loved was that you never sign for anything – they remember you and add your gin and tonic, for example, to your final bill. Room 9 was downstairs and the balcony was set into the cliff side, meaning we had uninterrupted views over the marina and the bay of Capri. The room was stunning; nautically themed with navy and crème stripes and a huge bed that was so inviting. The pièce de résistance, though was the bathroom – not only were the views also great – the room had the largest bath tub I have ever seen! It took an hour to fill and when I added the beautiful J.K. bubble bath, I was in heaven – glass of Prosecco in hand, from the welcome bottle that we were gifted upon arrival, reading a book – I could have spent all night there. The food is also wonderful at J.K. Place, Capri – from breakfast on the terrace to lunch by the pool and romantic dinners in the dining room – if you are a foodie – this place is for you. The sense of generosity was everywhere here from complimentary wi-fi to soft drinks in the mini bar.
After leaving J.K. Place, we took the long and breathtaking road, high around the mountain from Capri to AnaCapri to stay at Capri Palace Hotel & Spa; one of the most established hotels on the island. This place is super cool inside with a fabulous bar, housing intriguing art – definitely not to be missed if you are in the area. L’Olivo is their 2 Michelin starred restaurant which has rave reviews, but we fancied being beach side and so took advantage of the complimentary shuttle bus down to their new beach club; Il Riccio. This was heaven, next to the sea, drinking great wine and eating fresh fish and seafood. Above the restaurant is an über cool bathing deck – all white with double day beds, it is the perfect way to spend the afternoon in the sunshine. Whilst you are down here, I would definitely recommend a visit to the famous Grotto Azzura. These are the spectacular blue caves in the cliff side, where you take a little boat, rowed by a local guy down into the grotto – once inside this magical lair, you are serenaded by the rowers, whilst marveling at the impossibly blue water.
Our final home in Capri would be Punta Tragara; we were met in the main square of Capri by a member of their team who guided us past all of the designer boutiques off the Piazza Grande and down the walkways that led to the hotel. The first thing that hits you when you arrive is The Faraglioni, an amazing block of three rocks, rising up out of the sea and are the main landmark of Capri. These are on the doorstep of Punta Tragara – not a bad start. We were then shown to the Penthouse Suite and the views from here were even better than from down below – it was jaw dropping! And from the huge terrace, we just lay mesmerized by possibly one of the most beautiful views that I have seen. The great thing about this hotel is the location; not only is it overlooking the famous landmark of Capri but also it is walking distance to world class designer shops that Capri has become so renowned for.
When the time arrived to leave Capri, I was depressed to say the least – although we had not seen it in the height of the season, I couldn’t help but feel we had been lucky to be able to explore the island without navigating crowds and jostling for position in some of the loveliest restaurants. The last place we were visiting was Ravello; on the Amalfi Coast – just another short ferry trip from Capri. We stopped off along the way in picturesque Positano to offload some passengers and then continued on our way, only to be entertained by a family of dolphins!
Last stop Palazzo Sasso; a beautiful little gem, hidden down the winding streets of Ravello. Our room had phenomenal views over the bay of Ravello and although it rained during our time here, the relaxing bar area made up for this and we idled away the afternoon reading and sampling cocktails. Upon recommendation, we sampled their Michelin starred restaurant Rosselinni’s – the food was to die for and the sommelier was so knowledgeable it was a delight to learn from him.
When we woke up on the final morning, I had a heavy heart as we packed up to leave and take the flight back to normality from the paradise that we had found.
It’s official – I had fallen in love with Amalfi.