James Lawrence experiences the splendour of a luxury break in the Aeolian islands
“Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” John Steinbeck’s eulogy to the most enchanting part of the Amalfi Coast could just as easily apply to Salina, the second largest of the Aeolian islands after Lipari. Home to fewer than 4,000 inhabitants year round, Salina boasts one of Italy’s most enchanting wine resorts – Capofaro. Owned by Tasca d’Almerita, a leading producer from Sicily, Capofaro is all about stress detox in blissful serenity – hard work is forbidden in this idyllic part of the world.
You will be staying in Salina’s foremost luxury resort, spectacularly located on a former Greek settlement once known as Didyme. Today, the rich mineral legacy of its six (now inactive) volcanoes supports an astonishing diversity of plant and animal life, including capers, which are reputedly the best in the world. Malvasia vineyards carpet the lower slopes and the whole place has the feel of a Mediterranean island paradise.
There are 18 simple, yet stylish, whitewashed apartments to cater to your accommodation needs, with higher categories offering more space and privacy. The Junior Suites get our vote; a separate sleeping and living area is complemented by a sea-facing terrace – perfect for that all important pre-dinner aperitif. Best of all is the Exclusive Suite, featuring masses of space and an indoor hot tub. The only problem is you will be tempted to never leave!
“Just strolling around the expansive resort is enough to fill a few hours”
Set amongst thousands of vines, just strolling around the expansive resort is enough to fill a few hours, before heading back to your room for a well-earned glass of something chilled. Golf carts cater to the less physically inclined and will ferry you to-and-from your room to the reception and relaxation area. Here a gorgeous infinity pool, bar and restaurant awaits and on some evenings staff organise DJ sets, with chill out obligatory and poolside cocktails a necessity.
Gastronomic duties are handled by Ludovico de Vivo, a stalwart of Noma in Copenhagen and Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck in Bray. Utilising local produce from the island’s extensive bounty, the cooking at Capofaro is all heart and soul, playful, yet intensely nourishing and homely. Local Malvasia, naturally, is available on tap in addition to a delectable range of wines from the Tasca group. The cocktails are excellent too.
Service with an unfailing smile? Almost. The staff are uniformly friendly, however, the resort was full the weekend we stayed, meaning that service suffered as a result, with occasional lengthy waiting times for food and drink orders. “Don’t take it personally,” my companion from Milan replied. “This is the style in Sicily – no one’s ever in a rush.”
Salina lends itself to easy exploration, and the other six Aeolian Islands can be explored via the daily ferry (summer season) service that leaves Salina’s small dock.
Capofaro hosts a Malvasia festival in July, well worth a special trip as you can try a range of wines from across the Aeolian Island vineyards.
In addition, Capofaro is understandably largely dominated by couples, however, be aware that it does allow families and small children as well. So those searching for a totally peaceful vacation in the school holidays are likely to be disappointed.
Transfers to London Gatwick were supported by GWR
Singles are available for under £30 each way.
Capofaro Malvasia and Resort
Via Faro 3,