With all the big-name stores that line the streets of Capri, visitors already know the island as a shopper’s paradise. But for insiders, the real joy comes from discovering its hidden surprises: a beautiful caftan, a trove of rare books, the perfect sorbet. There are those who find it too crass, too commercial, but ah…wander through the vias and you’ll find a bevy of boutiques that makes the isle a singular shopping destination.
Begin on Via Le Botteghe, a small side street that branches off from La Piazzetta, the main square, and head for Sud Capri Gallery (Via Le Botteghe 4–6; 39-081/837-0165), a tiny boutique that owner Daniele Ruggiero opened five years ago, around the corner from his eponymous 18-year-old store on Via Camerelle. Here you can find classic sandals modernized with Plexiglas heels by L’Autre Chose and designed by Michela Casadei ($365), who descends from a long line of Italian shoemakers. Look for gold-plated rings with colorful semiprecious stones by Alessandro Balsamo (from $70); perfect no matter the season, they’re meant to be stacked together on one finger. Other unmissable items include a gilded necklace by Hervé van der Straeten ($735) and an overcoat made of leather disks mounted on tulle ($850) by a small northern Italian company called It’s All About Romance.
Farther down the same street is Blu (Via Le Botteghe 57; 39-081/837-6827), a Capri institution whose reputation reaches far beyond the island’s shores. Owner Antonio Arcucci offers an extraordinary collection of small, chic brands cleverly mixed in with established designers like Dries Van Noten and Jil Sander. Look for pieces by Daniela Gregis, one of Arcucci’s favorite designers (he even opened a second shop in Paris with her last year), whose clothes define functional style: lightweight knit tops ($590) that become shapely with the pull of a well-placed string; comfortably oversized rectangular pants ($620); thick, rigid canvas coats ($990); and sturdy hand-crocheted bags ($345). Other gems include hand-painted tablecloths ($1,480) by Paris-based Italian artist Umberto Grassi; colorful kurtas ($370) by Rajesh Pratap Singh; Lisa Corti’s traditional caftans ($185) in muslin, cotton and silk; and digitally printed silk dresses displaying flowers in a pasture by Tata Naka ($800).
Continue east on Via Le Botteghe, and the street turns into Via Fuorlovado, which houses Faraone Mennella (Via Fuorlovado 23; vivacapri.com), the newly opened jewelry boutique by Roberto Faraone Mennella and Amedeo Scognamiglio. Celebrating 11 years since they began together in New York, these two Neapolitan friends have returned home with jewelry inspired by the Mediterranean Sea and la dolce vita. Wonderful handcrafted chain necklaces made them famous a decade ago, and now their necklaces are lined with brightly colorful cabochon stones ($5,000).
Head south to Via Camerelle to find La Conchiglia (Via Camerelle 18; 39-081/837-8199), a bookstore that continues to preserve the memory of the island’s glorious past, when poets and writers mingled with artists and celebrities, feeding the legend of the jet-set scene off the coast of Naples. Here you’ll find both classic and brand-new books on Capri, like a compendium of films in which the island appears, called CapriMovies ($70), or Painters on Capri ($75), a historical look at how the island inspired art between 1850 and 1950.
Elsewhere on the street one can find Canfora (Via Camerelle 3; canfora.com), which has been selling handmade sandals (from $180) for generations. Try a pair in trendy neon green, blue or orange or, if you’re feeling less adventurous, go for options in classic colors and styles.
For a superior bottle of wine, try an enoteca called Aurora Vino (Via Longano 10; 39-081/837-4458), belonging to the owners of Aurora (Via Fuorlovado 18; 39-081/837-0181; auroracapri.com), whose watu pizzas have made it one of Capri’s most famous restaurants. The wine shop boasts a great selection of Italian labels, including Sassicaia, Tignanello and Ca’ del Bosco. Finish the day with an ice cream at Il Gelato al Limone (Piazzetta Fontana 63; ilgelatoallimone.it) before departing. Try the lemon sorbet made with organic lemons from the Amalfi Coast—the shop’s namesake (and utterly delicious) flavor.