The Monastero Santa Rosa is one of the best hotels in Europe. This is a remarkable fact, for the establishment – after a painstaking restoration lasting eleven years – opened its doors only in 2012. Yet already it has the feeling of one of those lovely hostelries which has been growing better and better over many decades. This I attribute to the outstanding dedication and flair of its owner and restorer, an American lady called Bianca Sharma. I had the privilege of meeting her very shortly after my arrival, when she came upon me in her office (I was there by invitation, you understand), using the internet. Her passionate commitment and attention to detail is evident in every word she says about her creation, and she is to be congratulated on a remarkable achievement. Now, with its gorgeous buildings, magnificent location, charming and sumptuous décor, plush spa, brilliant chef and outstanding staff, the Santa Rosa is a gem.
I like the idea of eating on the sea, but I am such a land-lubber that I fear that the reality of comestibles when I am not on terra firma always proves a little too much for me. Still, I do sometimes get quite close. On Capri I dined at a charming restaurant which really did make me feel that I was on a (very, very stable) boat – and it was a delight. The Ristrante Il Riccio is next to the island’s famous Blue Grotto, and an indication of the establishment’s closeness to the swirling waters is the fact that guests can arrive not only by land but also by sea – at the restaurant’s own jetty. I, ever cautious, chose the former, having taken the shuttle ‘bus from the Capri Palace Hotel, the luxurious hostelry of which the Beach Club Il Riccio forms a separate part.
I love old-fashioned Italian restaurants – with good traditional food, lovely wine, happy waiters and the owner on hand to make sure all is well. I also love the island of Capri. I even like the bustle and the noise of the day-trippers who travel from Sorrento and pack the Marina Grande and Capri town until the last ferry leaves in the early evening. But, of course, I like it even better when the crowds have gone and the elegant little streets are left to the residents and to those of us who are staying in the hotels. Then there is the particular pleasure of walking past the jewellers’ shops and the clothing boutiques on the way to a really good dinner. And I know how to make sure that is what awaits me. Indeed, anyone who knows Capri well will direct you to a particular dining room near the town’s main square. It is not exactly an unknown destination, because the likes of Jacqueline Onassis, Dustin Hoffman and Jose Carreras have been seen at its tables. But it has the appearance of being a hidden gem. It is the Ristorante La Capannina.
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