Just off the coast of Sorrento, Italy, the little island of Capri resides under a radiant sun, a medley of undulating rocky cliffs robed in vibrant verdure. On its west side, atop a dramatic cliff, Hotel Caesar Augustus sits, regal and awaiting audience.
Italy is an experience akin to a sensory symphony. Vespas pootle down uneven streets; limoncello sticks sweetly to the tongue; espresso bitterly clings to the roof of the mouth; and the sea continues its gentle swell and fall in an endless glittering motion. It’s not just the rich, yellow ribbons of pasta, or the dry, warm heat alone – but what it conveys all at once, which becomes the Italy I yearn for.
On the island of Capri, off the southern coast of the mainland, Hotel Caesar Augustus harbours a quintessential Italian feel. Nested on the edge of Mount Solaro, it was originally the opulent villa of a Russian prince, before it was acquired in 1930 by the Signorini family and fashioned into a luxury hotel. Gesturing over the Bay of Naples and Amalfi Coast, a statue of Caesar Augustus provides its namesake.
The white gated entrance gleams in the afternoon sun, unveiling a canary yellow building behind. White and yellow striped awnings yawn from windows, bestowing shade over the hot tiled floors. A profusion of bougainvillea and swirled floribunda roses emanate a soft floral fragrance which marries with the salt of the sea.
The front door to the property is ajar, through which the view already arrests, and beckons attendance, allowing the check-in desk and smiling fellow guests to fall by the wayside in pursuit of this great expanse of blue. Sky and ocean meet in a seamless merging, the horizon almost imperceptible, save from the wakes of the yachts which graze the water’s surface like shimmering fish. Eyes ache in the harsh sun utterly captivated. From the cliff-side terrace, which wraps the length of the building, this view stays at nearly every angle, no matter where you are.
The classic, Italianate décor within is strewn with the colour of crocus sativus – saffron crocus – throughout, conveying a sense of nobility and rarity as if taken from Ancient Rome itself. Terracotta signs guide towards the infinity pool, the vegetable garden, the spa, and everything is so sun-drenched the very flora has been imbued with a golden-hued ambrosia. It tans the rough façade of the hotel, dapples the draping trees, and every living thing, including the guests; each one extends upwards to soaking in its ochre glow.
Dinner can be spent gazing into the lavender dusk, with bowls of linguine and plump focaccia. As night descends, it comes as blissful realisation to know we are far from home, where the stars are more plentiful and beguiling. A few glasses of Barolo perhaps enhanced their beauty, too.