VILEBREQUIN ON TOUR | SUMMER TOUR : CAPRI
Discover which artist gave a poignant rendition of Ave Maria in a thousand-year-old chapel. Hint: It’s time to say goodbye...
Capri, the Italian Dream
In order to reach Capri, one must first leave behind the heady perfume of Neapolitan women. Board a sail- or steamboat, breathe in the Mediterranean spray and allow oneself to be dazzled by the Prussian blue of the sea and the sky. Indeed, only by sea does the beautiful “isle of sirens” slowly reveal itself. Sea leads to land. And the 40-minute journey is nothing short of an odyssey, albeit one less eternal than Homer’s. A symbol of ’50s and ’60s glamour, Capri evokes Clark Gable and Sophia Loren’s nonchalant strolls on the set of It Started in Naples, or Brigitte Bardot showing off her itsy-bitsy, teenie-weenie Pucci bikini. Yet Capri hasn’t faded. The magic remains. As does the scent of the lemon trees.
Its lexicon resembles an intoxicating waltz: dolce vita, Vespa, Alberto Moravia, pizza, Gatsby, Contempt, antipasti, limoncello, bel canto, Brigitte Bardot. How can a 10-square-kilometre island be so fascinating? The answer may be found in its breathtaking landscapes and steep, little streets. The gardens of the Villa San Michele, a neoclassical masterpiece built in the late 19th century by Swedish doctor Axel Munthe, also offer dazzling views across the bay. At the turn of the 20th century, this freethinking practitioner believed in healing through music. Indeed, “God gave us music to calm our passions” Plato is claimed to have said, in the 4th century BC. Last year, during a tour of the villa, one of the visitors sat at the piano in the chapel and gave a poignant rendition of Ave Maria that still resonates in the hearts of the lucky witnesses. This talented tourist turned out to be none other than Andrea Bocelli.
The Story of San Michele by Axel Munthe (1929): a memoir turned best-seller, now translated into 50 languages.
Capri 1950, Vita Dolce Vita by Marcella Leone De Andreis, published by La Conchiglia: archives, testimonials, documents and photos of Capri in the ’50s.
Malaparte: A House Like Me by Michael McDonough, foreword by Tom Wolfe, published by Flammarion: the most famous architect house in the world thanks to Jean-Luc Godard’s film, Contempt.
In the Spirit of Capri by Pamela Fiori, published by Assouline: a beautiful book on Capri’s charm and famous admirers.