Capri: The epitome of la dolce vita

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The Capri Palace offers a magnificent getaway in one of the most exclusive and unspoiled parts of the island. (Supplied)
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The most visited attraction in Capri is the Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto). (Wikimedia Commons)
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Updated 23 July 2020
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Capri: The epitome of la dolce vita

  • All manner of VIPs and celebrities, from Sophia Loren to George Clooney, have holidayed in Capri, drawn by its tiny streets full of luxury shops and its natural beauty
  • The Piazzetta, the iconic square in the center overlooking the port, which is normally packed with enormous luxury boats, is where everyone wants to be seen

ROME: Capri was Roman emperors’ favorite destination for a spiritual holiday retreat. Since the 1950s, this dream island with turquoise waters only 10 km away from Naples, in southern Italy, has been the epitome of la dolce vita (a life of pleasure and luxury). From aristocrats and intellectuals to artists such as Pablo Picasso and actors such as Audrey Hepburn, all manner of VIPs and celebrities have holidayed in Capri, with its tiny streets full of luxury shops, and its natural beauty.

Capri was the favorite getaway of former US First Lady Jackie Kennedy and actors Grace Kelly and Sophia Loren, as it is now for Tom Cruise, Leo Di Caprio, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Rod Stewart, Bono and George Clooney. The Piazzetta, the iconic tiny square in the center overlooking the port, which is normally packed with enormous luxury boats, is where everyone wants to be seen.


But if one wants to enjoy a luxury holiday with family or friends here and escape the paparazzi, one needs to go uphill to Anacapri. In this cozy city on the highest part of the island, you will find the Capri Palace Jumeirah.

The only Jumeirah hotel in Italy, the Capri Palace offers a magnificent getaway in one of the most exclusive and unspoiled parts of the island. The hotel, overlooking the Gulf of Naples with breath-taking views and sunsets, fully embodies la dolce vita in authentic Capri style, featuring a precious contemporary art collection and classic Mediterranean design.

The 68 guestrooms offer a unique blend of understated luxury and contemporary style. Walking between Giorgio De Chirico paintings and Arnaldo Pomodoro sculptures displayed all around the neoclassical white palazzo is like being in a contemporary art museum.

The suites and rooms feature exquisite materials, from midnight black marble to bright handcrafted ceramic tiles made by artisans from the Amalfi Coast. The Capritouch rooms evoke the spirit of the Mediterranean, with interiors in sparkling white and bright blue colors, grand columns and superfine fabrics and linens.

Some rooms have private swimming pools; the bottom of one of them is decorated with a replica of a famous Andy Warhol painting. The Paltrow, the hotel’s presidential suite, is the pinnacle of luxury. Taste and luxury are the signature of this hotel, which this year will be open to guests until the end of September.

The main swimming pool is an artwork too, with exquisite stylish figures melting with the blue of the water and of the sky. VIP guests enjoy being pampered by an attentive staff led by General Manager Ermanno Zanini.

Barman Antonio Chirico, who like most of the hotel staff is a local, told Arab News: “In the 32 years I’ve been working here, the guest I was proudest to serve a drink to was Dr. Albert Sabin, the American medical researcher who developed the oral polio vaccine. That man really did something for the world.”

When Chirico is off work, he cultivates his own vineyard and makes his wine in a little property he owns not far from the hotel, on the slopes of the Solaro Mountain, which one can easily ascend on a chairlift. The view of the gulfs of Naples and Salerno is spectacular and unique. The ride is fun, it takes only 13 minutes, and the chairlift terminal is literally in front of the Capri Palace entrance.

In Italy, food matters a lot. The signature in-house two-Michelin-star restaurant L’Olivo serves Mediterranean classics in style and taste. The design is alluring: L’Olivo was conceived as a cozy but elegant living room with sofas, armchairs and a selection of fine fabrics, from cashmere to linen.

At sunset, its terrace is colored by the fiery hues of the Mediterranean. L’Olivo Undiscovered has just been launched: An intimate space in a lovely ancient cellar transformed into a unique private club atmosphere.

Il Riccio Restaurant & Beach Club, one of the most beautiful terraces in Capri — immersed in the beauty of the island’s white rocks and overlooking the sea — is the only one-Michelin-star beach club in the world. It serves exquisite seafood and dessert just a few meters away from the Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto), one of the most iconic places on the island. Here you cannot miss the spaghetti alla chitarra with sea urchins.

For the 2020 season, an exclusive Dior pop-up store has opened. Overlooking the blue waters of the Mediterranean, this magnificent terrace on a cliff is one of the few locations chosen by Dior to present its exclusive Riviera capsule. The Toile de Jouy motifs and Dior bayadere stripes cover cushions, umbrellas and personalized beach huts at the lounge area.


Natural beauty of Baha’s Raghadan Park attracts visitors

Raghadan Park in Baha boasts a forest with a lavender garden and a central area which spans over 20,000 sq. meters. (SPA)
Updated 13 July 2024
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Natural beauty of Baha’s Raghadan Park attracts visitors

  • Mayor welcomes tourists to popular location

RIYADH: With its vast green spaces, dense forest and mild climate, Raghadan Park is among Baha’s most popular destinations for tourists looking for outdoor fun.

In an interview with the Saudi Press Agency, Ali Al-Sawat, the mayor of the Baha region, spoke of the municipal projects within Raghadan Forest Park.

Raghadan Park in Baha boasts a forest with a lavender garden and a central area which spans over 20,000 sq. meters. (SPA)

He said: “These projects encompass Bahjat Raghadan Park, which spans an estimated 20,000 sq. meters, (with a) 700-meter main walkway, and 18,000 sq. meters of green spaces.

“The park also boasts a 30-meter waterfall, an interactive fountain, 156 decorative columns, three children’s areas, three photography zones, and a 25-meter decorative pedestrian bridge.”

Raghadan Park in Baha boasts a forest with a lavender garden and a central area which spans over 20,000 sq. meters. (SPA)

The site, which includes cafes and eateries, also boasts a forest with a lavender garden and a central area which spans over 20,000 sq. meters, he added.

The central square covers 8,000 sq. meters and is connected to the garden, which occupies some 5,000 sq. meters. Adjacent to it is a 500-meter walkway covered with natural stone and featuring waterfalls.

Raghadan Park in Baha boasts a forest with a lavender garden and a central area which spans over 20,000 sq. meters. (SPA)

The project is illuminated by about 270 decorative lighting poles and includes statues, flower beds, seating areas, wooden bridges, and kiosks.

The mayor welcomes tourists and visitors to the location to enjoy its atmosphere, stunning views, valleys, and lush vegetation.

 


Millstone attracts visitors during Dar Festival at Al-Mousa Heritage Village

Updated 13 July 2024
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Millstone attracts visitors during Dar Festival at Al-Mousa Heritage Village

  • Khalid Azeb Al-Zahrani: “The millstone is fundamental in old houses, and it is found in every house in the region’s villages for flour and grain milling"

AL-BAHA: A traditional tool used to crush grains attracted visitors during the second Dar Festival at Al-Mousa Heritage Village in Al-Baha.

A millstone is a household item that families in the region once used to crush grains, doing the work of present-day flour milling machines.

Khalid Azeb Al-Zahrani, supervisor of Al-Mousa Heritage Village, said: “The millstone is fundamental in old houses, and it is found in every house in the region’s villages for flour and grain milling.

“It consists of two circular stones, placed on top of each other in an almost identical manner, while the upper part is slightly larger than the lower one. In the middle (between the stones), there is a small hole for entering the grains, which includes in its middle a pillar that maintains balance when rotating. At one end of the upper stone is a wooden pillar to hold and rotate during the process of grinding the grains.”

 


Prince Majid Park blooms with entertainment, culture and fun for Jeddah Season

Characters dressed in costume greet guests with smiles and offer photo opportunities. (Supplied)
Updated 12 July 2024
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Prince Majid Park blooms with entertainment, culture and fun for Jeddah Season

  • Little friend land is a paradise for young adventurers, where children can immerse themselves in a world of Lego, unleash their imagination with whiteboards and paper, and enjoy a variety of engaging activities

JEDDAH: The highly anticipated Jeddah Season 2024 has officially launched with the opening of Prince Majid Park, the season’s first free zone. The park, the largest in Jeddah, promises a wide range of entertainment for all ages, from exhilarating shows to captivating cultural experiences.

Visitors enter a whimsical world, beginning in flower land, where flower-themed characters dressed in costume greet guests with smiles and offer photo opportunities. The centerpiece of the zone is a magnificent fountain, its cascading water dancing to music and creating a breathtaking visual spectacle.

Prince Majid Park goes beyond entertainment, providing a vibrant center for the community. (Supplied)

Next, art land offers a haven for budding artists and art enthusiasts, where children can unleash their creativity in workshops, crafting candles and engaging in various art projects. Skilled artists display their creativity and talent in dedicated booths, offering visitors the opportunity to have their portraits painted. Exhibitions by local artists provide a platform for artistic expression and cultural exchange.

“It’s incredibly enjoyable to share my art with the visitors,” said Mohammed Salim, an Egyptian artist, as he sketched a visitor’s portrait. “There are so many of us here, creating live drawings and paintings, either capturing the faces of the people who come by or working from images they bring us. It’s a wonderful way to showcase our talents and connect with people on a very personal level.”

Prince Majid Park goes beyond entertainment, providing a vibrant center for the community. (Supplied)

Little friend land is a paradise for young adventurers, where children can immerse themselves in a world of Lego, unleash their imagination with whiteboards and paper, and enjoy a variety of engaging activities.

Likewise, festival land is a vibrant hub for shopping, dining and games, where visitors can browse through a selection of shops, indulge in culinary delights at the food court, and enjoy live musical performances at the mini-stage.

Prince Majid Park goes beyond entertainment, providing a vibrant center for the community. (Supplied)

The main stage at Prince Majid Park transforms into a hub of entertainment, hosting four shows daily, with performances ranging from dazzling circus acts with breathtaking acrobatics to electrifying DJ sets that will leave audiences in wonder. For those seeking a tranquil escape, wood land offers a labyrinth game and a lush green area.  

Adding to the festive atmosphere, parade shows burst on to the scene every half hour, creating a whirlwind of energy and excitement. Each show lasts 30 minutes, adding a vibrant layer to the park’s atmosphere. A show by stilt walkers, with participants dressed in colorful costumes, adds a touch of eccentricity with three daily shows.

Prince Majid Park goes beyond entertainment, providing a vibrant center for the community. (Supplied)

For those seeking a break from the festivities, the park offers a spacious play area with swings and slides, ensuring fun for children of all ages.

“I’ve never seen a park quite like Prince Majid Park,” said Najm Fatima, a local resident. “It’s a vibrant explosion of colors, laughter and entertainment. It’s a place where everyone can find something to enjoy, whether you’re an art enthusiast, a thrill-seeker, or just looking for a relaxing day out.”

Prince Majid Park goes beyond entertainment, providing a vibrant center for the community. (Supplied)

Her friend, Sarah, said: “The kids are having a blast, especially with the stilt walkers and the Lego building area. It’s truly a place for families to make memories together.”

Mohammed Ali said that he had never seen children so enthralled by art as he watched a group of children excitedly sketching alongside him. “Their energy at Prince Majid Park is infectious, reminding us that art and performance can bring joy and wonder to people of all ages,” he said.

Prince Majid Park goes beyond entertainment, providing a vibrant center for the community. This grand celebration of Jeddah Season 2024 promises a memorable experience, offering attractions that cater to all tastes and interests.

While entry to the park is free, visitors still need to book ticket online through the Saudi Events app.

 


Bonjour Saudi presents fresh travel and culture experiences for tourists

Updated 11 July 2024
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Bonjour Saudi presents fresh travel and culture experiences for tourists

RIYADH: In the heart of Diriyah’s Samhan district is an old Najdi-style house that’s been given a new lease of life as Bonjour Saudi — a ‘travel and experience design house’ and a local offshoot of UAE-based Bonjour Middle East.

“At Bonjour Saudi we focus on being a bridge between foreigners, expats, tourists and Saudi culture by creating experiences that showcase different parts of that culture — like cuisine, art, and tradition,” French co-founder Cecilia Pueyo told Arab News. “It’s very important for me to work routinely with Saudis to make this happen.

Whether guests are signing up for a multi-day journey around historical sites or for a two-hour cooking or art workshop, though, the aim is the same: to leave them with a better understanding of Saudi culture and history. (AN Photo/ Abdulrhman Bin Shalhuob)

Pueyo is a crafting enthusiast herself, and noticed a gap in the market when she visited the Kingdom and found it hard to access workshops on traditional Saudi crafts such as Sadu weaving, palm weaving, or Kabsa cooking. So, she wanted to create a space for such workshops. It also includes House of Artisans — a store showcasing local handicrafts like candles, abayas, handbags, jewelry, and more, giving guests an opportunity to take a piece of Saudi home with them. 

And Bonjour Saudi also provides guided tours across the country to popular spots including Jeddah, Abha, and AlUla.

Whether guests are signing up for a multi-day journey around historical sites or for a two-hour cooking or art workshop, though, the aim is the same: to leave them with a better understanding of Saudi culture and history. 

In the heart of Diriyah’s Samhan district is an old Najdi-style house that’s been given a new lease of life as Bonjour Saudi. (AN Photo/ Abdulrhman Bin Shalhuob)

“Even though it’s relatively new for the Kingdom to welcome foreigners and expats, (it’s clear that) people want to showcase their culture and share it with you, as well as their hospitality and generosity,” Pueyo said.

“Now, we are in a very important moment and shift in Saudi,” she continued. “This is what I think Bonjour Saudi is about; how we want to make an impact on people. Even if they only have one hour, we can connect them with the right person to deliver a message about the country, about the culture — about their passion — and I hope the guests will understand his or her vision of the Kingdom.”


Summer escapes: Our favorite travel destinations

Updated 13 July 2024
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Summer escapes: Our favorite travel destinations

Arab News writers share their favorite destinations to spark your wanderlust. 

ICELAND 

I had an inexplicable affinity to Iceland before I’d ever visited (how is there not a word for that?). And when I did visit, it exceeded all my expectations. Despite its harsh terrain, it’s the most picturesque country I’ve ever seen, and unlike any other I’ve experienced. And despite the geographic isolation and extreme winters, Icelanders are among the friendliest, warmest and most progressive people I have met. Iceland’s size means one can stay in the capital and easily visit the country’s many attractions. Despite all the odds, this land of volcanoes and glaciers has spawned one of the most egalitarian, eco-friendly and happy societies in the world. And if all that was not enough, its people and government are supporters of the Palestinian cause! It’s odd that I, as a foreigner, would feel pride in Iceland’s achievements, but such is my love for this country, which I plan to visit for the third time this year. 

Sharif Nashashibi 

The Godafoss waterfall in Iceland. (Shutterstock)

FLORENCE 

It sounds cartoonish, but I stopped dead in my tracks the first time I saw Florence’s Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Seeing the glittering marble façade of what was the largest church in the world when it was consecrated in 1436 remains one of my all-time travel highlights. Florence, home to Michaelangelo’s “David” and Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus,” is a maze of Renaissance ingenuity and perfect for anyone who fancies fueling their cultural awakening with mounds of gelato. The city is so full of art history that I stumbled across Botticelli’s grave by accident in the quiet Franciscan church Chiesa di San Salvatore di Ognissanti. I’m not even sure I was supposed to be in there — I was the only visitor. That experience is emblematic of Florence, a city where you’ll discover masters and masterpieces in the most unexpected of places.   

Saffiya Ansari 

Florence is the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region. (Shutterstock)

MARBELLA 

Marbella, on Spain’s stunning Costa del Sol, is known for its upscale resorts, elite social scene, and gorgeous Mediterranean beaches. Stroll through the charming Old Town, with its narrow cobblestone streets, whitewashed buildings, and delightful plazas. Be sure to visit the iconic Orange Square, with its stunning Baroque architecture and lovely central fountain. Stop for tapas at one of the many lively restaurants and bars. Browse the high-end boutiques and galleries that line the Golden Mile, Marbella’s ritzy commercial district. For outdoor adventures, head to Río Verde, a scenic nature reserve perfect for hiking, birdwatching, and exploring. Or spend a day relaxing on the soft sandy beaches, taking a dip in the azure waters, and soaking up the Andalusian sun. In the evenings, Marbella truly comes alive. You can dance the night away at one of its renowned nightlife spots, or eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant. Or both. Marbella is the chic Spanish escape. 

Rahaf Jambi 

The resort area lies on southern Spain’s Costa del Sol, part of the Andalusia region. (Shutterstock)

EDINBURGH 

Scotland’s capital is a memorable mix of history, stunning architecture, rich culture, breathtaking natural scenery, and warm people. The Old Town boasts an array of medieval castles and Victorian tenements, and houses the famous Royal Mile leading to the majestic Edinburgh Castle, perched high on its rocky crag and framed by the serene Princes Street Gardens. Don’t miss curved Victoria Street with its colorful, multi-story buildings — home to cozy cafés and quirky stores, including a beloved Harry Potter shop. Just minutes away is Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano with 360-degree city views. Nearby, discover Dr. Neil’s Garden, a hidden gem with diverse herbs and plants by a serene river. Edinburgh truly feels like a place out of a fantasy book — fitting for a country whose national animal is the unicorn. 

Sherouk Maher 

Don’t miss curved Victoria Street with its colorful, multi-story buildings. (Shutterstock)

HONG KONG 

Going to a bucket-list country can be like meeting your idols — somewhat of a letdown as you discover their many flaws. But when I looked out of my Hong Kong hotel room window and saw the runway of the former airport that planes would thread their way through the skyscrapers to reach, it sent shivers down my spine. The city’s skyline is spectacular, whether seen looking up from the Star Ferry as it crosses the vibrant bay, or down from The Peak, the iconic towers standing tall in the foreground, nestled among the refreshing greenery of the city’s parks. There’s so much to see that it’s exhausting — but that’s OK, because this is also a foodie’s paradise. And as you sit in one of the many dumpling restaurants, or tuck into a bowl of noodles, you can be planning where next to indulge yourself as you discover just how much more the city has to offer. 

Peter Harrison 

Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated territories in the world. (Shutterstock)

 

BUDAPEST 

Sitting pretty on both banks of the majestic Danube River, Hungary’s capital (comprising Buda and Pest) showcases the best of what Central Europe can offer, whether you’re looking for history, culture, food, or nightlife. Littered with UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Buda Castle Quarter, Andrassy Avenue and Danube River Panorama) as far as the eye can see, the city provides a portal into the past with its towering castles, museums and galleries, ruin bars and healing thermal baths that date back centuries. (No trip here is complete without ‘taking the waters’ at the Szechenyi Thermal Bath, built in 1913.) 

But don’t let the gothic and Art Nouveau architecture fool you. Budapest is more than the sum of its historic parts and will surprise you with its sophisticated modern touches: from Michelin-starred restaurants and trendy cafés to sleek spas and up-and-coming design stories. 

Shyama Krishna Kumar 

Hungary’s capital (comprising Buda and Pest) showcases the best of what Central Europe can offer. (Shutterstock)

NEW YORK 

Very few cities can put all five senses into overdrive. New York tops the list. The archetypal melting pot, the city where you can find anything you need or want. Let’s start with standard New York fare: bagels. Every New Yorker swears by “their guy,” and who am I to judge? (But clearly Russ & Daughters’ Everything Bagel with Lox and Veggie Cream Cheese is the best — soft and chewy with bits of crunchy vegetables that make your tongue tingle with excitement.) Grab your bagel and make straight for the High Line, one of my favorite walks ever. It takes you through the Meatpacking district to Chelsea and on to the otherworldly Vessel in Hudson Yards. Lush with greenery and solely pedestrian, it’s a welcome oasis from the insanity of the traffic. As is Washington Square Park — featured in at least one scene of every NYC-based film. This small plot has a wildly diverse array of people. From a man with a typewriter claiming to be scripting the next “Schindler’s List” to a guy offering free hugs. It makes for ideal people watching in the original concrete jungle.  

Tarek Ali Ahmad 

The High Line takes you through the Meatpacking district to Chelsea. (Shutterstock) 

OXFORD 

From the grandeur of the historic Bodleian Library (the location of several “Harry Potter” scenes) to the architectural masterpiece that is the Radcliffe Camera, England’s famous university city is a treasure trove of ancient wonders. As you wander the cobbled streets, you’ll stumble across hidden gems such as the History of Science Museum, which houses a blackboard preserved from a lecture by Albert Einstein in 1931. You can also visit Edmond Halley’s enchanting house, where, in 1682, he made his groundbreaking discovery of the famous comet that now bears his name. With its picturesque parks and gardens, charming cafés, and bustling marketplaces, Oxford is a city that stimulates the mind and nourishes the soul.  

Ghadi Joudah 

England’s famous university city is a treasure trove of ancient wonders. (Supplied)

TOKYO

At first, Tokyo can be an overwhelming assault on all of your senses — the vivid colors, the wild mix of smells from the street food, the sheer number of people, the noise, the general speed of it all… But you soon realize that this is a benign chaos, offering you the chance to experience so much in so little time. And the shock of Tokyo’s hyper-modern environment is countered by both its rich history, and by the hospitality, grace and kindness of its people. We felt so welcomed by so many Tokyo residents, who went out of their way to help us navigate the city and make the most of our time there — whether recommending one of the many odd-but-wonderful stores, or the most fantastic noodle houses slightly off the beaten track, or some of the city’s many serene areas of greenery where it’s easy to forget you’re in one of the busiest cities on Earth. Before long, Tokyo felt like home.

Adam Grundey

Beyond its benign chaos, Tokyo offers you the chance to experience so much in so little time. (Shutterstock)