Capri Tiberio Palace

Capri Tiberio Palace pool and sundeck
Hotel pool and sundeck

Sophia Loren watched me step into and out of the shower. Grace Kelly waited for me in the bedroom.

It was the first time I had spent the night with a tiger-eyed Italian temptress and a beautiful American-Monagesque Princess.

Writers like Mark Twain, Somerset Maugham, Sir Compton Mackenzie and especially Norman Douglas, have all written about the “favoured land of Capri”, “the purity of its mysterious divinity”, its “genuine precipices”, “Spires of teetering stone”, the Grotto Azzura (Blue Grotto), Mount Solero with its views of distant Calabria, the sirocco wind, the island’s “gozzo” boats, indifferent macaroni and sublime “ravioli caprese” and “its noisome vinegar wine which would scorch off the bottom of a copper cauldron.”

As well as its “fragrant multi-sensorial emanations”, “bombs of pumice”, sea arches and grottoes (“the palaces of fairies… rank and murky with the odours of a thousand generations of goats”) and the views over the Sorrentine Peninsula and the Gulf of Naples, “its contours framed in a luminous aureole.”

Free thinkers go on about what a great place Capri used to be for indulging in immoralities and unlawful pleasures, recommending it as the best place to transgress.

But my wife didn’t object to us sharing a bedroom with two beauty icons. They came with the room.

The Capri Tiberio Palace is full of bibelots and curios. And many beautiful, head-turning things. Marble staircases with carved ironwork share the same space as floppy sunhats, hanging jellyfish and models of speedboats. Two giant saliere (salt containers) greet you on arrival. Throwing salt is meant to be lucky.

Bellevue Suite terrace
Bellevue Suite terrace

There is a room dedicated to Chantecler, the Capri-based fine jewellery brand. The Wellness Suite has its own Zen Garden as well as a fully equipped en suite exercise mirror.

Gampiero Panepinto is an interior designer based in Milan. He also “reimagined” the Shedir Collection’s Palazzo Vilon in Rome. Capri’s historic Tiberio Palace is one of the few hotels in the world where you want an orientation/familiarisation tour or get to know your fellow guests very well to appreciate what all its uniquely decorated rooms have to offer. All are different with 55 types of tiling used throughout. As Panepinto explains:

“The traveller’s house’ is the key idea behind my project in Capri.”

“Modern and vintage pieces, coming from different parts of the world, tell the history and culture of one travel-loving family by personalizing each individual environment.”

The large terraces with white curtains are made up of fabrics and natural materials visible thanks to the white and sand-coloured wooden floors which play an optical effect in contrast with the priceless view of the blue Mediterranean Sea.

Even in the interiors, the common thread remains the materiality together with graphic patterns inspired by nature. Natural stones, bamboo tables and chairs, different shades between neutral and light blue, turquoise, saffron yellow characterize fine Contract Couture fabrics.

PAN AM Suite at Capri Tiberio Palace
The PAN AM Suite

“My favourite is the PAN AM or ANACAPRI Suite which evokes an atmosphere of times gone by. An environment that hosts vintage elements such as prestigious lamps and ceiling fans, alternating with installations that, in an innovative way, refer to the past such as the one that tells the story of a famous airline.

“I love the Japanese approach, which entails order and symmetry, but at the same time it is based very much on contrasts. I do the same when decorating a room, by trying to create a perfect balance in terms of the harmony and contrasts of the colours, materials and surfaces. I will often enliven a space by providing my own playful installation art.”

A walk around the hotel is a reminder that sooner or later the whole world comes to Capri. On the second floor, a wall cinema screen plays extracts from a docu-series called “Capri,Capri”, broadcast on Italy’s RAI Arte during the 1960’s.

The best walks on Capri begin and end outside the Tiberio Palace. One of flattest passetiello paved paths is the Via Miglairi (Millet Road) to the Philosophical Park, with its 60 tablets bearing miscellaneous nuggets of wisdom from western philosophers. Behind the park is a wonderful view of the “Monster’s Teeth” or Faraglioni sea stacks Stella, Messo and Scopolo.

Accompanied by skittering lizards and the occasional whiney one-man, narrow mini-truck, the paths take you down and up flowering alleys, a flower-filled graveyard past chestnut pole trellised vineyards, yellow lantern trumpet flowers, rock roses, broom (known locally as the flower of St Costanzo), white marguerita hedges, a flower-filled cemetery, cactii , asphodel lilies and scarlet geraniums, under cypress, mastic and giant femminiello lemon trees, through wistaria bloom and equally fragrant jasmine and wild myrtle shrubs.

A Caprinese villa crawl today is less exhausting than participating in Priapic rites. Unlike mainland walking, you don’t need a ballast of “graffa” fried dough balls, Neopolitan “pasteria” or a stomach full of bulbous “bocconcino” buffalo mozzarella bites to weigh you down and cut down the odds of plunging 500m in a high-velocity belly flop into the Mediterranean maquis.

A villa crawl will take you to the 1905 Villa Lysis (Fersen), dedicated to the love of youth and the extensively plundered ruins of Tiberius’s Villa Jovis, a vast Roman pleasure complex and alleged scene of appalling debauchery 250m above sea level. Six Euros will get you in to see the rubble, if you’re keen on ancient cisterns and the remains of a specularium – the greenhouse where Tiberius grew his cucumbers.

Jacky Bar at Tiberio Palace
The Jacky Bar

Also worth seeing are Vila Damante, the Belvedere of Tragana lookout, the modernistic red masonry box Villa Malaparte overlooking the Gulf of Salerno not far from the collapsed Paleolithic grotto-turned Arco Naturule and Eye of the Needle rock formations. Near the Giardini Augusto, there’s the house where Maxim Gorky welcomed Lenin in 1908.

You quickly build up an appetite and could kill for chef Nello Siano’s tuna tartare or some gnocchi. The hotel has also just opened a kosher restaurant around the corner in Piazzetta Cerio.

The signature cocktail at the hotel’s breezy Jacky Bar is the gold flake “Great Gatsby” (F. Scott allegedly finished the novel there), dispensed by Serena Fontanella and Vincenzo Gambuzza who also age their own Negroni. Surrounded by white Borsalino Panama hats hanging over a white piano, try “The Sea In Your Hands” made with Blue Curacao, white rum agricole, lime juice and tonic, and “Welcome to Italy” cocktail made with white vermouth, grappa, limoncello, lemon juice and sugar syrup. If you have not already developed an addiction to chilled limoncello spritzes.

Capri’s first tourists were libertines. Somerset Maugham thought Capri the perfect place to practice and preach indolence.

After your physical exercise needs have been satisfied for the day by walking up and down and across four mile long Capri, you can reward yourself by collapsing into a “Basil Smash” in the Cuban inspired Jacky’s to toast your cardio-vascular good health and marvel at how Sophia Loren managed to look so ever-smilingly beautiful, composed and collected when her feet were killing her so much.

The hotel is perfect base camp. Turn right and you get the walk back into history and scenery. Turn right and within five minutes you are into chi-chi land, the designer shops of Via Camarella and the so called “drawing room/theatre of the world” – the “chiazza”, Piazze Umberto 1 or “La Piazzetta”.

Stay put and you are in the lap of retro-contemporary luxury. With unexpected trimmings. But there is no surprise about the privileged elegance. Capri will always be the epitome of upscale living.

The Details

Capri Tiberio Palace, Via Croce 11-15, 80073, Capri, Italy.

Tel: +39 081 97 87 111



The hotel is centrally located and short walk from the famous Piazzetta. Connections to the mainland via Naples take 30 minutes by hydrofoil or 50 minutes by ferry and cost approximately £20 each way, bookable in advance online. You will be met at the harbour by a hotel representative. There are also connections to Sorrento. easyJet has daily flights from the UK to Naples. offers walking holidays to Capri and the Amalfi Coast.

Type of Hotel: 5-Star Luxury Hotel

Number of Rooms: 54 rooms and suites of which 40 are suites

Price Band: High

Insider Tip: Early May is best time to avoid crowds and high prices.

Reviewer’s Rating: 7/10

Author Bio:

Kevin Pilley is a former professional cricketer and chief staff writer of PUNCH magazine. His humour, travel, food and drink work appear worldwide, and he has been published in over 800 titles.

Photographs courtesy of Capri Tiberio Palace, part of the Shedir Collection

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.