Capri (pronounced CAH-pree, not Cah-PREE) is an island set in the Tyrhenian Sea off the Sorrentine Peninsula, on the south side of the Gulf of Naples in the Campanis region of Italy. Its main town shares the same name and has been an attraction for the cultural elite since ancient Roman times. Greek mythology referred to Capri as the “isle of sirens” for its ability to turn visitors into permanent residents.
Despite being a draw for tourists, Capri has managed to conserve all its Mediterranean charm. It may not be a destination for people who want to see models and movie stars packed into loud nightclubs but it is the ideal setting to share a meal of authentic flavors and an Italian bottle of wine surrounded by loved ones and welcoming locals.
Augustus, the first Roman emperor, reined from 27 BC to 14 AD (40 years). The reign of Augustus was an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana (The Roman Peace). There were no large-scale conflicts other than the one that took place during expansion of the Roman Empire’s borders. The Empire grew, and it grew dramatically. The month of August is named after Augustus.
Augustus was enthralled by the natural beauty of Capri and developed it so he could enjoy it as his own private paradise. He oversaw the construction of gardens, villas, temples and aqueducts so that it had all the modern comforts of the time.
After Augustus came Tiberius. He also shared a deep love for Capri and built a series of villas all across the island. He upset a great number of people in the Roman government when he ultimately decided that he would rule the Roman Empire from Capri. But that didn’t bother him; he was known to throw those he was displeased with off of the cliffs to their death. He ruled from Capri until his own death in 37 AD.
One of Capri’s finest places to stay is a villa-turned hotel once owned by a Russian Prince in the 1900s. Emmanuel Bulhak foresaw troubled time for the nobility of his home country and moved to Ana Capri. He used the villa as his home during his exile and transformed the cliff edge property into an epicenter of art and culture.
A life-sized statue of Emperor Augustus Caesar still stands in the same place where Augustus himself had it commissioned (it is a replica of the original which can be found at Rome’s Villa Livia). The villa stands 1,000 feet above the sea, with a jaw-dropping vista over the Bay of Naples, and towards Mount Vesuvius. Everything is designed to showcase Capri’s breathtaking views. In 1949 Bulhak sold the villa to the Signorini family who transformed it into the Caesar Augustus hotel.
Paolo Signorini heard Capri’s siren calling and abandoned his successful career to devote all his time and energy to the hotel. Along with his wife he restored each and every room to give the hotel the warmth of a private home. Every single item in the hotel was hand-selected and is the result of a meticulous attention to detail. The villa has evolved into a five-star hotel and considered one of the best in the world. Pablo and his wife still supervise the running of the hotel and nothing escapes their dedicated eyes.
The First Lady
Jackie Kennedy Onassis is undoubtedly one of the most iconic trendsetters of our time. So where does one of the most iconic trendsetters of all time go to vacation when she has the freedom and wherewithal to go anywhere in the world?
Jackie O regularly vacationed in Capri to engage in the local culture, without the burden of bodyguards and paparazzi following her every step. She would stroll through the narrow streets among locals, shopping at kiosks for lemonade (Capri is famous for their lemons) and sipping cappuccinos in Capri’s world-famous square. On her visits, she always wore the classic Jackie O uniform: pants, a simple t-shirt, a scarf covering her head, Gucci bag (now named after her) and the now iconic large sunglasses. She launched a worldwide trend when she was photographed trying on Capri sandals. Determined to fit in, she was always at ease in Capri and treated the locals with the same gracious elegance she had used with world leaders when she was doing her duty as first lady.
As a subtle ode to the famous first lady there is a picturesque white estate overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea called J.K. Place Capri. It is a hotel that if should you be fortunate enough to stay at, you will never want to leave. The prices may be steep but its quality will be remembered long after the price is forgotten.
In 1948 European fashion designer Sonja de Lennart invented the famous Capri pants. Capris are known for being a shortened
European Designer Sonja de Lennart studied tailoring after attending a business school in Breslau. Despite going to school for business, it was her dream to become a famous fashion designer. After World War II in 1945 de Lennart began to working on her dream and opened her first boutique, Salon Sonja in Munich, Germany. For her first collection she designed a wide-swinging skirt with a wide belt, a blouse with three-quarter arms, and hat. Taking her inspiration from the Italian isle, the collection became known as the “Capri” Collection.
In 1948 the wide pants women were wearing looked too masculine for de Lennart’s taste. Inspired, she created tight, three-quarter length pants with a stylish short slit on the outer-side of the pant leg. In the late 50’s and early 60’s the pants rose to popularity in Capri and became a worldwide phenomenon. At the time there were virtually no fashion designers in the world who did not add a version of Capri pants to their collection. Movie stars and regular people alike all incorporated Capris into their wardrobes.