Capri is one of the great gems of Italy’s emerald watered Mediterranean sea. It can also become a clichéd car-crash during the summer high season when too many tourists and women in short, tight skirts and high heels create an unwelcome traffic jam in its tiny cobblestoned streets. Here to give us the inside scoop on making the most of this paradise is Austrian born, Milan-based style avatar Susanne Thun.
Thun and her architect husband Matteo spend several weeks each year on the island in their magical home which hangs off a steep cliff overlooking Capri’s famous Faraglioni rocks. Far away from the noisy social scene, the rosé-swirling partying places, the Thun’s home is a silent oasis covered in purple bougainvillea, patterned tiles, waterfalls of rosemary and a garden bursting with olive trees and white roses. It can only be reached by foot on a narrow uphill path, 10 minutes from the main road.
Given the sublime surroundings, it’s a miracle that Susanne ever leaves her modern day Eden. When she does, she heads for local places that give an authentic, low-on-the-jazz-hands experience. “More and more, I want everything simple in my life,” says Thun, who has been a city-hopping fashion editor, art director and creative director over the last 30 years. “I hate chi-chi people in Capri and I don’t want a fancy dinner on a square plate. I want a perfect, simple plate of pasta al pomodoro with friends. People have to start to get normal again.”
The same back-to-basics attitude is applied to shopping, a realm in which her impeccable taste flows freely and where her creativity is showered on many of the small shop owners, many of whom are friends. “It’s harder and harder to find authentic places because they flatten everything here for the common tourist,” she says of her narrowly-edited list of best local shops (which is listed below). Thun never frequents the big fashion brand shops in Capri’s main drag—with one exception. “It’s true I do shop at Prada,” she says with a laugh. “It’s so much more pleasurable shopping at Prada by the seaside than in hot, sweaty Milan, no?”
THE INSIDE SCOOP: WHAT TO PACK, WHEN TO COME, WHAT NOT TO DO
Do not show off and whatever you do, do not wear high heels,” Thun advises to new island visitors, and we could not agree with her more. Susanne herself jingles along the island’s cobblestones or its brilliant waters in flat custom-made sandals, oversized Celine cotton shirts, sailor-striped one-piece bathing suits and her favorite LaDoubleJ Editions dress in the 1940s Aperol print. “If you study just a tiny bit of the history of Capri then you will not make any mistakes when packing your suitcase,” advises Susanne. “Just take a look at how Jackie Kennedy Onassis moved on the Island – in her flat Capri sandals, crisp shirt and Capri pants by Emilio Pucci.” Regarding when to come: “It’s always beautiful here: the locals even swim on Christmas,” she says. “The only months to really avoid on the island are January, February and March because it is humid, cold and there are no flowers!”
THE CHICEST HOTELS IN AND AROUND CAPRI
Hotel Luna – Before we moved to our hillside house we always stayed here. It is really “Caprese” and only a few minutes from the Piazzetta with the most incredible view on the faraglioni rocks.
Address: Viale Matteotti, 3 – Capri (Napoli)
Caesar-Augustus in Anacapri – I would stay here. They have a fantastic view on the bay of Napoli and Ischia. Plus, they have an amazing vegetable garden.
Address: Via G.Orlandi, 4 – Anacapri (Napoli)
The Sirenuse – Positano is only a short boat trip away from Capri on the Costa Amalfitana so it’s very practical to go back and forth. This is one of the most legendary Italian hotels. The owners Antonio and Carla Sersale are an amazing couple and Carla has the best fashion shop with her own collection. It is so chic.
Address: Via Cristoforo Colombo, 30 – Positano (SA)
Hotel Villa Tre Ville – For more privacy in Positano, you should stay here. It is simply the BEST place to go.
Address: Via Arienzo, 30 – Positano (SA)
Albeli.it – The most wonderful thing is to stay in a real home in Capri. This website is run by Kristine Standnes del Genio. She is an amazing girl from Norway who lives in Napoli and has the most beautiful houses to rent on the Costiera, Capri and even in Puglia.
MY FAVORITE RESTAURANTS
Beach Club Fontelina – There are two nice beach-side clubs with restaurants: Da Luigi and Fontelina. This is the nicer one. You have fabulous food. You have more sun. And the kitchen is perfect.
Address: Località Faraglioni – Capri (Napoli)
Aurora – This is our favorite restaurant in town. It’s right in the center and is good people watching, even if I’m not so interested in that anymore. You need a table outside in the summer but winter is nice inside. I always order my spaghetti al pomodoro here.
Address: Fuorlovado, 18 – Capri (Napoli)
Le Grottelle – This is a lovely restaurant. It’s a long walk but then you sit outside with a fantastic view of the Arco Naturale. It’s great in early Spring, with a full moon, you look over to Positano.
Address:Via Arco Naturale, 3 – Capri (Napoli)
Lo Zodiaco – When we don’t feel like walking and want something easy, we go for a pizza here in the Marina Grande harbor. It very easy and has fantastic pizza and seafood.
Address: Piazzetta Ferraro, 2/3 – Capri (Napoli)
Bar Tiberio – Capri’s piazzetta has four bars but this is Susanne’s favorite where she occasionally stops by for a Monkey gin and tonic to say hello to her favorite waiter Costantino. “We call him the ski instructor. He’s a really good skier. He used to be a waiter in Switzerland and he always asks how my sons are doing.”
Address: Piazza Umberto I, 18 – Capri (Napoli)
BEST LOCAL FASHION SHOPS & WHAT TO BUY
Delfina – “This is my favorite beachwear shop. They have these great retro one-piece striped suits that you can wear as body suits too. Ludovico, the owner’s handsome son is the prince of the street. With his big smile, you want to buy everything”.
Address: Via Fuorlovado 1/A – Capri (Napoli)
Da Costanzo – There are so many places to buy custom-made Capri sandals but this is Thun’s favorite. “I’ve made many pairs over the years, but lately I like very simple ones. I just made a pair with long brown leather laces with metal coins that strap up the leg in Greek gladiator style.”
Address: Via Roma, 49 Capri (Napoli)
Cathaleia – “This is a little shop right in the piazzetta that is run by Carolina Rodriguez d’Acri. She has a very nice mix of fashion labels. It’s tiny but I love it.”
Address: Piazzetta – Piazza Umberto 1 n.10 Capri (Napoli)
Il Laboratorio- “This is the place to come for custom-made Capri pants,” says Thun. “They’ve been making them since the 1950s. I had a pair made for Matteo from a striped shawl.”
Address: Via Ignazio Cerio, 6 – Capri (Napoli)
Sud Gallery – Thun’s tanned summer arms are always stacked in beautiful gold bracelets that jingle with gold coins. She buys them here, along with Laura Urbinati bathing suits.
Address: Via Camerelle, 61 and Via le Botteghe, 4-6 – Capri (Napoli)
Blu – Capri’s best multi-brand shop is run by Thun’s good friend Antonio Arcucci “It was the first thing of its kind when it opened 20 years ago,” says Thun. “And it’s still great.” Arcuci sells fashion labels such as Dries Van Noten, Lisa Corti and Stella Jean, as well as locally produced pants and skirts.
Address: Via le Botteghe, 57 – Capri (Napoli)
Farella – “This is where they make the best knitwear. You can personalize or custom make any style,” says Thun who favors the pompom shawls, square shaped sweaters with a hood and slim ribbed sleeves.
Address: Via Fuorlovado, 21c – Capri (Napoli)
BEST LOCAL DESIGN/ TABLE TOP SHOPS & WHAT TO BUY
Cabana – This new design and table top shop features bamboo handled cutlery, glass vases in the shape of colorful fish, blown glass oil holders and Ikat table cloths. “It’s the perfect place to pick up a hostess gift,” says Thun.
Address: Via Fuorlovado, 1 – Capri (Napoli)
Eureka Ceramics – “You can buy ceramics everywhere in Capri,” says Thun, “but beware because many are over priced and not well designed.” Eureka is the best. A giant pinecone sculpture will set you back several thousand euro, but you can easily snap up (and pack home) colorful lizards for 30 euro.
Address: Via Roma 61 or Via G. Orlandi 55/57 – Capri (Napoli)
Eco Capri – Everything in Federico Alvarez de Toledo shop is inspired by his grandmother Laetitia Cerio, an artist and illustrator who worked on the island in the 1950s. “I love the needlepoint pillow cases and eyeglass covers with colored velvet backs, plastic printed trays and linen mini totes embroidered with animals which are great for sunscreen and beach supplies.”
Address: Via le Botteghe 50 – Capri (Napoli)
Ditta Boccanfuso – “This is my favorite shop on the whole island,” says Thun of Capri’s only hardware store. Here she picks up sturdy, well-designed, well-priced essentials including glass limoncello jars, white thick candles, woven door mats, and gingham fabric for her tablecloths in the mountains.
Address: Via le Botteghe 55 – Capri (Napoli)
DON’T LEAVE WITHOUT DOING OR SEEING THE FOLLOWING:
Book a small boat to go around the island – “The best rental company, Capri Boats, is run by my friend Julia. She makes all your dreams come true with her big smile and she speaks perfect English and German. I like to rent retro, wooden boats but she has everything and can also organize airport pick ups.”
Address: Via Largo Fontana, 53 – Capri (Napoli)
Swim in the Grotta dello Champagne – The Grotta Azzurra is Capri’s most famous cave swimming spot, but Susanne prefers this one. “You have to dive under the rocks and you come out on the other side in the cave. It is so beautiful. The pressure of the water looks like champagne.
Hike Monte Solaro – One of the best ways to explore Capri is by walking on trails that lead you to remote, beautiful landscapes. “This is the mountain above our home. You don’t even feel like you’re in Capri. You can also go with the chair lift from Ana Capri.
Boat over to Positano – Susanne’s favorite day at sea starts by renting a boat from Julia then heading to Li Galli, a small charming island once owned by Nureyev. “We take a swim, then we head over to Da Adolfo restaurant. I love the lunch there. It’s so so simple. The glasses, the tables, it’s a simple attitude. Toilet. The singer. This is the way Capri should be.
Address: Via Laurito, 40 – Positano
Visit Napoli! – Everyone assumes it is dangerous, but it is not! No one goes anymore. But it is the most amazing city with so many incredible hidden churches, museums, people and of course food! Go with flat shoes and no jewelry! We saw a matrimonio in Naples. You wouldn’t believe it!
Find a farmer and try his fresh eggs and vegetables! – My neighbor is a farmer and he always brings me eggs and vegetables. We make wonderful meals at home.
– J.J Martin