Le Corbusier described the Hotel Punta Tragara Capri as “a kind of architectural bloom, an extension of the rock, an offspring of the island, a plant-like phenomenon”
The blue-tinted lizard of Capri lives on the Fuori and Mezzo Faraglioni– Capri-born botanist and writer Edwin Cerio described it as a zoological rarity. He spoke of its coloration in an article published in Tempo on 17 March 1954, re-printed for the twentieth anniversary of Edizioni La Conchiglia, the small publishing house in Via Le Botteghe 12.
The lizard is greenish-blue on its throat, belly, sides, and underside of its tail. On its back, the blue turns into black. Its head stands out from the rest of its body, slender, while its tongue is flat and forked, and its eyes have round pupils and mobile lids. In order to survive in a place with minimal vegetation and food, its color has transformed — dark reptiles absorb more heat, become faster hunters, and more resistant to bad weather.
To see it, you need to climb the Faraglioni, or you can simply imagine it from the terrace of Punta Tragara — a curved, reddish villa that stands like a beacon, perched on the monoliths that guard the island. The building was erected in 1920 by the Lombardy-born engineer Emilio Errico Vismara — the same who built the thermo-electrical power station, the funicular, and Hotel Quisisana. He initially called it ‘Stracasa’ since it was so much more than just a normal house.
Le Corbusier, who followed Vismara in drafting the design, described the building in Domus Magazine as “a kind of architectural bloom, an extension of the rock, an offspring of the island, a plant-like phenomenon”. During the Second World War, Tragara was appropriated and used as a rest-camp for US air force officials. Generals Dwight Eisenhower, Mark Clark and Sir Winston Churchill would meet here. After its purchase in 1968 by Count Goffredo Manfredi, who made it his buenretiro, the residence was transformed into a hotel in 1973.
Today, it forms part of the Manfredi Fine Hotel Collection, belonging to Goffredo Manfredi and his brother Leonardo Ceglia, the count’s grandchildren. All of the rooms and suites of the Tragara face the Faraglioni — and one of them, the main suite of the Tragara, is called ‘il Monacone’, after the Mediterranean Monk seal that has populated the island’s waters since 1904.
For dinner, guests can go to Monzù — a name based on the French word monsieur, as head chefs were once called in the aristocratic residences of Campania — the hotel’s restaurant which overlooks the Marina Piccola, for a pizza that is thin and made with natural yeast and truffles according to a sixty-year-old recipe. Then there is Mammà, a restaurant owned by the Manfredi family in a hidden alley just above the Piazzetta run by Salvatore La Ragione, a Michelin-starred chef.
Set in a garden on the terrace overlooking the bay are two freshwater swimming pools, and at the Monzù Gin Club bar, barman Daniele Chirico can prepare seventy gin-based cocktails. Barefoot and wearing a pair of white pants and a headscarf, it’s La Dolce Vita. A Caprese salad, white, red and green; that is a slice of Caprese cake.
The air is still heavy with the scent of all the flowers of Capri, which according to legend, were selected in 1380 by the prior of the Certosa di San Giacomo to make a bouquet for the arrival on the island of the queen Joanna I of Naples. The flowers stayed in the same water for three days, which absorbed their fragrance. They then went to an alchemist who identified the origin of that fragrance in ‘Garofilium silvestre caprese’.
In 1948, the then prior of the chapterhouse, having found the old formulas of the perfumes, revealed them, by license of the Pope, to a Piedmontese chemist who thus created world’s smallest perfume laboratory, Carthusia ‘Certosa’, which still produces perfumes today.
Via Tragara, 57