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THE FAMOUS CAPRI

Capri Island

Hotel Continental, Hotel Metropole, Hotel Palatium , now JK Capri.... Almost opposite the former Hotel Grotte Bleue, is located the JK Capri, once called Hotel Continental, managed by Giuseppe Maldacena 13th, who had established a company with the brother-in-law Antonio Cimino, seaman married with Maria Maldacena. The first plant of the Hotel Continental was a private house named Villa Bovaro, which was built before 1878 and turned into a hotel before 1885, as also witnessed by a C.W. Allers's picture dated 1891, where the only legible word on the front of the building is "Hotel ..."; at that time it belonged to Mario Canale, owner of several real estates all over the island.

The hotel address at the time was "via Bevaro 1" and the building consisted of two floors with 10 rooms on the ground floor and 8 rooms on the first floor. Since its opening under the Maldacena management before 1897 the hotel had accommodated in particular Anglo-Saxon guests. Giuseppe Maldacena, manager of the hotel, had lived in England for many years and spoke English very well: that's why the hotel worked also as a sort of tourist information point of the island.

In the 1899 guide the Hotel Continental was exalted as the only first-class hotel with a private path taking to the beach below which, according to the toponymy research carried out in the nineteenth century by Attilio Lembo, was called "Sotto 'a lucanda".

During the first period of their stay in Capri the "sisters" Kate (Kathrine) and Saidee Wolcott-Perry, protagonists of the novel Vestal Fire by Compton Mackenzie, lodged in this hotel, which was called "Odyssey" in the same novel. The rich American girls arrived to Capri in 1897 and later on they had to find a house to settle here; at a very short distance from the hotel there was a small unfinished house and the girls immediately liked it. Then they purchased this house and turned it into one of the most beautiful neo-Moresque villas of the island, called Villa Torricella. But, when the Wolcott-Perries wanted to move to their new house and take with them the furniture of their rooms at the Continental purchased at their expense, the hotel manager Giuseppe Maldacena didn't agree with them and so a legal action was taken. But why did the Wolcott-Perries furnish the rooms of the Hotel Continental? According to an advertising postcard of the time, "since February 1st 1897" the Continental, which was the only first-class hotel in Marina Grande, had been authorized to accept the first-class hotel coupons distributed by the Cook agency. And this is a quite strange advertisement, which openly contradicts what you can deduce from the content of the documents regarding the legal action between the Wolcott-Perries, who arrived to Capri just in 1897, and the hotel manager Maldacena.

According to the 1902-1907 guide the Hotel Continental had two managers: Giordini and Maldacena. The good reputation of the hotel was still unchanged according to the 1910 guide as well, in which the Continental was defined as the most elegant hotel of Marina Grande, and this was also true thanks to the contributions given by the Wolcott-Perries! After the First World War the Hotel Continental was renamed Hotel Métropole. The building was inherited by Florindo Canale and by his wife Luisa Viva and afterwards it passed to Maria Canale, who had managed the hotel with her husband Antonio Vaccaro since the '30s.

As far as the accommodation facility of the Continental is concerned, in the period between 1903 and 1906 it consisted of 20 beds, while the Métropole, according to a guide dated 1929, had only 10 rooms. In the years between 1932 and 1937 there were 10 rooms with 18-20 beds and one common bathroom only, between 1939 and 1940 the hotel had 15 beds, while in 1960 it consisted of 20 rooms.

In the late '80s, Mr. Salvatore De Angelis, well known hotelier of the Island, during the renovation works carried out at the Hotel Métropole, which has been renamed Hotel Palatium since that period, found some important fragments and archaeological finds dating back to the Roman time. In fact the building is located on some Roman cisterns and on the first stretch of a road taking to the harbour, always dating back to the Roman period, which lies just below the hotel.

Courtesy of:

Ewa Kawamura Alberghi Storici dell'isola di Capri Una storia dell'ospitalità tra Ottocento e Novecento, Capri, Edizioni La Conchiglia, 2005, pp. 232-235

La Conchiglia
www.laconchigliacapri.it
info@laconchigliacapri.it

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