You would immediately sense a fragrance of lemons as the ferry boat drops anchor in the island of Capri. But that is just a hint, a prologue to all feelings of reflection and deep restoration to be experienced once you step on top of Marina Piccola and into one of the few bars displaying all kind of tartines, a sort of eternal aperitivo time only to be distracted by a dive into the sea or a stroll through those glorious shops selling coral jewellery and handmade sandals.
I stayed at a small and gloriously charming house - the casetta, as everyone calls it there - that was once inhabited by Marguerite Yourcenar. Rumour has it that she conceived the first manuscript for "Memoirs of Hadrian" during her time in the casetta. And no wonder: this captivating island has been for centuries a favourite shelter for an intellectual and cosmopolitan, extremely over the top community. I found a telephone bill to her name, which makes me wonder about her, possibly long conversations linking a mature Marguerite to the real world from her buen retiro in the Neapolitan island. In this house, I also conceived part of my debut cookbook, As The Romans Do - going from high prose to food writing I do hope Marguerite will forgive me. But, oh, If I enjoyed this place's voluptuous embrace.
Giovanna Rispoli is the charming lady behind the good keeping of this typical house - with colorful ceramic tiles (pictured alongside octopus and clams in the photo above) and a blue theme finding its echo in the wild sea approached from the balcony - where al fresco dining is the epytome of a perfect day spent walking and cooking.
She is also the owner of a masseria, a typical fortified farmhouse (I've already talked about one here) which is located in the Amalfi Coast - on the hill of the delightful Vico Equense town.
At Astapiana Villa Giusso , a former monastery, guests can enjoy a medieval privacy surrounded by 13 hectars of land overlooking the bay of Naples and the Sorrento peninsula.
There's nothing more energysing than an excellent night sleep at Annunciata Flat, followed by some initiation to harvesting in the park. You can smart up your breakfast cappuccino with the introduction of some fresh milk , just squeezed. Elevenses couldn't get any better while tasting handpicked fruits and vegetables.
Then, I loved to immerse myself in the historical background of this unique place which changed so much throughout the centuries: first a monastery, then a crown place, then a factory, finally a manor house. And it's all detailed within the in-house museum where antique furniture and paintings from 17th and 18th century, a glorious majolica kitchen, the family’s chapel, a 17th century wine and olive oil cellar with original barrels and jars, a luxuriously decorated early 18th entertainment room styled in fine gold Damascus silk fabric are all displayed.
A feast for the eyes and the stomach alike, since I could also enjoy a refined homemade extra virgin olive oil tasting. In the evening, we all made pizza together, and as the dough was rising, I curled up in the living room while reading The Story of San Michele by Axel Munthe. Not only #foodhappiness then. To get to what you're good at in the best way, there's a universe of creative inspirations out there, which the Amalfi Coast people are masters at providing. Switch off and get surprised.
Relais Astapiana Villa Giusso, Via Camaldoli, 51, Vico Equense NA, Italy
For reservations: firstname.lastname@example.org