Sylvain Deleuze, Founder of Les Belles Heures, ends the three-part imaginary journey from Ischia to Roma, and in between.
For the last leg of our journey, we go from the luxurious hills of Ischia to Napoli, Capri, and the golden lights of Roma.
Opening your eyes to the liquid sound of the waves kissing the rocks just beneath your windows. Getting out of your room, one step after the other, while trying to adjust your vision to the already vivid light passing through the half-opened persiane of the dining room. Walking down the rocky stairs on the right, just after the pool. Getting your shoes, and shirt off. You obviously already wear your swimming suit. Diving into the fresh waters of Ischia for some of the most delightful feeling ever, that is taking your first sea bath within the next 5 minutes of waking up in the morning. If you know, you know. If you don’t, we strongly suggest you try, as you might add this to your next holiday check list.
Mezzatorre terra cotta watchtower as a witness, we get out of the water ready for anything, and most notably a quick stop in Naples for some urban extravaganza. Wearing our Mezzatorre, 14h12 with a denim shirt on a white tee, we first stop at the fish market in Porta Nolana. Tattooed fishermen are chopping thick slices of red tuna and swordfish on wooden tables while acciughe, sarde and sgombri lay still in white plastic cases, fresh from the morning.
On our way back to the port we stop for the second dive of the day on an improvised, paved platform just beneath via Nazario Sauroto. Water’s a delight, and the lively crowd gathered here even more so. Conversations start. Calcio is on the menu, as always in Naples. Fishes also, as all our new friends go on with their childhood stories about early morning trips chasing the blue fishes of the bay. Translating words into action Mauro comes to us with the catch of the day.
Shirts back on, we head to the very close Borgo Marinari on the porticciolo di Santa Lucia to pay our tribute to the Vesuvio right across the bay. Early lunches already have started on the colored, wooden boats. Adjusting our Mezzatorre, 14h12 in anticipation of the next boat ride to Capri, we step on the deck with a light move to be in time for lunch.
Arriving in Capri is always special. Marina Grande. The small port, colorful wooden boats overlooked by the steep hills populated by low, squared white houses make us feel arrived. Arrived in a place where the atmosphere is unique enough to feel remote and connected at the same time. Connected to that land, Campania, materialised by the nearby Vesuvio fading away in the distance, and remote because somewhat out of reach, quiet and protected on this rocky island full of myths and legends.
Cabbing our way south to lunch on the scogliera, we head to Marina Piccola and the picturesque Bagni Internazionali. A landmark of the island hosting guests since 1937, the place offers unique views on the most iconic Faraglioni, and a very smooth beach vibe. Lunch is light, although delicious and made from acciughe, mozzarella di bufala campana, spaghetti allo scoglio, fresh fish and homemade limoncello. The rest of the day runs smoothly between dives in the pristine waters, naps under the colorful ombrelloni, and frappé at the bar.
Capri, 20h08, a red printed silk jacket on a white tee and we’re ready to go for quick, early drinks on the Piazzetta and a look at the sunset from the nearby Belvedere. We wake up the next morning to the most dazzling light on the bay. Via Krupp is on the menu this morning. Built at the very beginning of the XXth century and commissioned by German industrialist and oceanographer Friedrich Krupp, this serpentine paved footpath was initially, and publicly designed to connect Krupp’s luxury suite at the Grand Hotel Quisisana, and Marina Piccola, where he conducted his marine biology research on a dedicated vessel anchored in the bay. The other, and most secretive function of the Via Krupp was to connect with the Grotta di Fra Felice, a grotto where sex orgies with local youths took place. Although closed for years, we still observe the via Krupp from a distance with some kind of fascination. It still is one of the most visible symbols of an era, at the end of the 19th century, when a crowd of poets, aristocrats, and dandies from all over Europe elected the island as their playful backyard.
Free spirits such as Lord Alfred Douglas, English poet and Oscar Wilde’s lover, or Jacques d’Adelswärd-Fersen, writer and founder of the very first French gay newspaper Akademos in 1909 in exile in Capri after being involved in a sex scandal in Paris, populated the island with their absolute hedonism. Their villas still proudly reign on the island’s rocky hills, and their souls still fuel the myth of Capri.
Stepping on a wooden boat in Marina Piccola wearing our Mezzatorre, 18h12 with a blue workwear jacket on a white tee, we head for a tour of the island from its southern coast to its eastern part up to Marina Grande. Passed the Faraglioni, this very iconic coastal rock formation characteristic of Capri and composed of 3 sections, namely Stella, Mezzo and Scopolo, the latter being home to the lucertola azzurra, an endemic type of blue lizard that can only be find on this very faraglione and the nearby Scoglio del Monacone, we arrive to Capo Massullo where another Capri’s architectural landmark is serenely waiting for us.
Casa Malaparte, built between 1938 and 1943, was commissioned by Italian writer Curzio Malaparte to Italian architect Adalberto Libera. A laid back 54m long, 10m high bloc of red concrete with 80cm thick walls, large windows opened to the absolute beauty of the Mediterranean, and one-of-a-kind sur-mesure furnitures, the house is overly famous for its reverse pyramidal stairs leading to a uniquely scenic flat roof terrace. Architectural master work from the XXth century, the house is considered as a symbol of modern architecture and the perfect synthesis between rationalism and natural habitat. The spirit of the house though, most notably captured by Jean-Luc Godard in Le Mépris, reveals all its magic in François Halard Malaparte series. The details of the glass vertical pivot windows, old powdery couches, and ceramic tiles all account for a very unique character. Pursuing our route north to Marina Grande we cross Villa Jovis, known for being the permanent residence of Roman emperor Tiberius, and Villa Lysis, built by Jacques d’Adelswärd-Fersen in 1905.
Switching boats on the port, we head back to Naples leaving enchanting Capri in our mind, and hit the road north to Roma. Arriving just in time for lunch, it is without any hesitation that we head to Roman institution Roscioli where cheeses, hams and wines from all over Italy are lavishly displayed from the floor to the ceiling. We now wear La Posta Vecchia, 16h23 on a somewhat more formal navy cashmere polo sweater on a white tee to blend in the subtle elegance of Roma. It all starts with a glass of iced acqua frizzante to reset our palate for the soon-to-come craze. A small plate of mortadella fatta a mano and an insalata di carciofi make for the prime debut, then followed by the tonnarelli cacio e pepe, an absolute must. Because it is not to be missed either, we wrap this up with a plate of puntarelle, and sorbetto al limone.
Leaving Rome after this heavenly experience, we head west for a walk in Ostia Antica. Once the harbour of ancient Rome, the archeological site extends its superbly preserved, ancient buildings right in the middle of the cypresses and pines trees. Terracotta, green and blue make for a very inspiring tableau. Frescoes and mosaics still visible, it is with dreamy eyes that we imagine this lively port village populated by Roman merchants importing grains, olive oil and local wine to the marbled palaces of the capital’s Empire.
Those images are the ones filling our minds as we enter the wooden doors of La Posta Vecchia. The last stop of our delightful trip along the coasts of Italy from Il Pellicano to the Mezzatorre, we offer ourselves a few days of relax amongst the lush gardens of this Renaissance palazzo, once home of the noble Orsini family and American billionaire J. P. Getty, to feel the very essence of the rich, lush and voluptuous Italian experience.
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and then catch up Les Belles Heures in Capri.