Capofaro Locanda & Malvasia, Salina
12 July, 2018
Facing the Aeolian Islands of Stromboli and Panarea lies evergreen Salina. Distinctive in its shape, the island's ancient name, Didyme, means "twins" and is taken from the landscape's defining dual mountains.
Often referred to as "the green island" thanks to its luxuriant vegetation, Salina is one of seven islets that make up the Aeolians. Docking at the port of Santa Marina, a quick taxi drive will take you to Capofaro Locanda & Malvasia, which precedes itself via pulsating light beaming out from the faro (lighthouse) as it beckons you to the namesake estate.
Created by the Tasca d'Almerita family out of a love for the sea (and wine), today the family manages five estates in nearby Regaleali, Etna, Mozia and Camporeale. Synonymous with bespoke and sophisticated Mediterranean hospitality, Capofaro engulfs its guests with a feeling of serenity upon arrival. Its cliffside positioning and Aeolian Sea view creates a sense of seclusion and true escapism in the shadow of the northernmost lighthouse in Sicily.
With just 27 rooms across the estate, Capofaro never feels crowded. Dislodged from other guests (unless you choose otherwise) rooms feel remote and restful. Minimalist in design, the style is a reflection of the naturalism of the Aeolian Islands; think muted tones and organic materials. Influenced by traditional local architecture, distinctive colonnades mark each of the guesthouses' private entrances and gardens. The most prized rooms are in the faro, where guests can sleep in luxuriating tranquility right at the water's edge.
In the evenings, turndown service bypasses the typical chocolate-on-your-pillow routine in favour of an evening elixir. Created by artisan perfumer Meo Fuscuini a valve of "essence of the night" is left to spray over your pillow for a citrus-induced sleep.
Capofaro Locanda & Malvasia, Salina
"Start the day with something sweet; and a coffee." That's how the Sicilians do it, according to Capofaro's pastry chef, Gabriele. And in Sicily, home of the cannoli, what else would you expect? A buffet consists of cakes and cold cuts, biscotti and breads. Of course, there are plenty more savoury items on offer - eggs made-to-order, and so on - for those still adapting to the salty-meets-sweet Sicilian palette.
How about lunch and dinner?
All meals are served in the main restaurant; an airy, open-plan space that combines wicker chairs, white-lacquered tables and plant pot partitions, for easy day-to-night transitional dining. "Slowly slowly" is the mantra of the kitchen - and one that thankfully does not extend to the service.
Southern Italian chef Ludovico De Vivo places a real focus on produce, with approximately 70% of produce sourced from the Capofaro vegetable gardens. A slow-food presidium, the Salina caper is the prodigal son of the island and an integral part of the landscape. Making its way into many dishes - from the fish of the day to the bar nibbles - prepare to leave with a predilection for pickling. Produce is transformed into jams and marinated vegetables for sustained use. Giving traditional recipes a revamp, pasta here is a key player. The bread has been voted the best in all of Sicily - like the pasta, it's made using ancient grains grown at Tenuta Regaleali.
If you get a taste of something you fancy, cookery lessons taught by Ludovico De Vivo are available on request. The further you go below the equator the sweeter the taste, so expect a lesson heavy in sugar - caramelising techniques are a mainstay on this menu.
Is there a bar?
There is a relaxed bar adjacent to the restaurant that spills out onto the veranda and stays open until midnight. With a resident DJ and a first-class view on the locanda's panoramic terrace, sundowners are enjoyed here with poetic license (read from 5-11PM).
The property also cultivates its own wine, Malvasia delle Lipari. Deriving from an aromatic Malavasian grape, the distinctive fruit makes not one but two types of wine - one dry (Didyme) and one sweet (Malvasia Capofaro) - both very, very drinkable.
Within a short distance you'll find…
The on-site sports area encompasses a paddle tennis court and swimming pool, while up on the clubhouse roof, yogis can enjoy morning salutations surrounded by rows of vines reaching the seas. Post yoga, walk the few minutes to the cottage in the garden and book in for an afternoon massage or facial treatment.
Also within the grounds of Capofaro you'll find The Maritime and Malvasia Micro Museum, an initiative aiming to protect and preserve Aeolian maritime culture. Head out on the hotel's sports yacht MIKY for a day trip around the seven Aeolian Islands and explore their coves, bays and grottoes.
For something a little further afield, cycling in Pollara makes for a scenic afternoon excursion. If only a beach with do, take a short taxi ride to the sands at Rinella, or pebbles at every other port.
Things you should know
In addition to readjusting your watch, it's probably a good idea to reset your sense of pace on Salina too. With whiles to go from the airport to the island - you'll endure a car and a ferry ride over a combined time of roughly three hours 30 minutes, before you reach your destination. If you're a tad impatient (and a lot loaded) there's also the option of a private helicopter to take you from Catania direct to Salina.
Before you depart from the harbour (or helipad) at Santa Marina, take some time in the quaint town and enjoy breakfast or lunch along the seafront on your final day. Try Il Gambero for some great seafood and saccharinely sweet granita, while Da Alfredo is the place for final Sicilian lemon tastings.