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Monday 21 July, 2014 | RSS Feed

Experience Italy's most glamorous island during the off-season

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June, July, August? No," says the concierge. "You go in May, September, October. You come now? Perfetto." We're sitting on a cushioned chaise longue at J.K. Place Capri, a boutique hotel on the island of Capri that overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea. It's a perfect sunny day, with a few clouds drifting over the summit of Mount Vesuvius, and I am receiving a crash course in Capri sightseeing from a gentleman who has worked in hotels all around the world, from Sorrento, Italy, to Sydney to San Francisco.

And he's right, of course, about June, July and August. The weather is gorgeous, yes, but the crowds! Huge flocks of people from all over the world descend on this Italian island, their cameras at the ready. Their tourism dollars keep the economy thriving, but the tourists also make it difficult to really see a place if, like me, one prefers peace, quiet and short queues. So I flew to Italy from New York in mid-October 2013, after many of the restaurants and hotels had already closed for the season and the temperature had dipped to a balmy 75 degrees Fahrenheit. I booked a guest room with a view of the Tyrrhenian at J.K. Place Capri and got busy doing nothing. My travel companions and I were not alone, though. The island is never really empty, and all manner of travelers still dotted the streets. But the vibe was that of a beach town in late fall: calm, relaxed, luxuriously under the radar and definitely worth skipping a few days of school or work to experience.

Traveling to Italy in the off-season is a funny thing. One can go for days on end without speaking to a soul (beyond the usual "Grazie mille") and then, out of the blue, make new friends and find oneself awake and full of wine late at night, playing charades by the light of a full moon. J.K. Place Capri's homey design inspired a feeling of comfort and conviviality; at every turn, a new book or flower or piece of art surprised me. Stacks of monographs, autobiographies, tarot guides and travelogues invited me to stop in my tracks, sink into an overstuffed sofa and let my mind wander. A balmy breeze blew in through French doors that never closed, beckoning me to go outside.

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