At a Glance
With a secluded cliffside perch in eastern Salina, what makes the boutique Capofaro Locanda & Malvasia luxurious is its surrounding natural beauty, including its working vineyard.
- The large pool (a rarity in the Aeolian Islands) with expansive views, including of Stromboli
- The sense of space that comes from being based in a vineyard
An island unknown to most U.S. travelers, Salina is a destination that Italians fawn over—rich with beauty, charm and opportunities for adventure, the island is best known as the setting for the famous Italian movie Il Postino.
The hint is in the hotel's full name: "Capofaro Locanda & Malvasia." Malvasia is a grape varietal that's indigenous to this region of Italy, particularly the lush island of Salina. The boutique property, with just eighteen rooms tucked up on a cliff in Salina’s northeastern corner, encompasses 14 acres of hillside vineyards whose neat rows of green vines look out towards the sea. Capofaro (which means literally "head of the lighthouse:) belongs to the Tascas, one of Sicily’s premier wine-making families who also have vineyards south of Palermo and in the Mount Etna region. Here, on Salina at Capofaro, they produce an excellent sweet Malvasia wine, which can be tried at dinnertime.
With just eighteen rooms, the resort feels calm and private, even in the high season when popular Salina can get crowded (it’s not as much of a party island as neighboring Panarea but it does get busy, especially with day trippers). Rooms and suites are housed in low-slung, white-washed bungalows, all of which have shaded terraces and blend seamlessly into the agricultural landscapes. Built in typical Aeolian style, interiors are stripped and minimal, with stone floors, crisp whites and shades of blue consistent throughout the property. Décor is limited to a splash of color in shape of a comforter or a strategically placed vase. Windows are traditionally small (don't expect floor-to-ceiling sea views), in part due to the soaring summer temperatures. The best rooms are the corner suites, which feel very private, but there are no real differences in the rooms or bathrooms: all are created equal. Sustainability is a key feature here, hinted at through small details like the bathroom amenities in recyclable glass bottles—the entire hotel is virtually plastic-free.
The definitive hang-out spot here is the multi-level restaurant terrace, which offers stunning views of the sparkling Tyrrhenian Sea in the distance—and it is perfectly positioned for viewing the neighboring island Stromboli’s nightly lava firework display from the volcano. A Relais & Chateaux property, the restaurant is a highlight, run by Michelin-starred chef Gabriele Camiolo. The Mediterranean menu consists of freshly caught seafood and vegetables grown right on property, with the seafood menu even being crafted with the help of marine biologists—yet another nod to the hotel’s dedication to sustainability. The wine list is, of course, strong in Sicilian vintages, particularly from the owning Tascas. One only wishes that the menu would change more often during the week, since many guests opt to stay on property for dinner, due to the Capofaro's somewhat removed location.
This special property is best for those seeking more barefoot luxury. The large pool is a nice touch—especially considering that like the other Aeolian Islands, Salina doesn't have much of a beach—as are the paddle tennis court and massage room, though there is no gym or spa on property. Time here is best spent exploring the island using the hotel’s scooters or e-bikes, attending a wine tasting or cooking class and seeking out the best pebble peaches and crystal blue waters. But this is also the kind of place where you want to settle in with a good book, making your way from meal to meal with pool dips and short walks around the property. Boating excursions to the other Aeolian Islands can also be arranged, albeit it at a lofty price tag. At the end of the day, it's a great pleasure to return to the terrace of the Capofaro for an Aperol Spritz and view the sunset. It's a truly beautiful, serene setting, making this place a good addition/conclusion to a busy Sicily itinerary.
Who Should Stay
Couples or friends looking for some relaxation at the end of a busy trip and those who want to explore the Aeolian Islands but don't want to spring for a yacht. Know that the staff at the Capofaro is quite young and even though they are very eager and sweet, there are real inconsistencies.
Good To Know
Taxis are expensive (expect €15 for a seven-minute ride to the next town). If you want to explore Salina, it's best to rent a scooter, which are quite reasonably priced. If driving hairpin turns around highly elevated mountain roads sounds daunting, rest assured that the speeds are relaxed and the locals are quite used to visitors still finding their scooter legs.
Written by Simone Girner