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Capri dolce vita

Island's golden age peoples, scandals, pleasures and chronicles in the 'Fifties

The ‘Fifties were Capri’s golden age. One could say that this period of vitality, joie de vivre and love for excess which was to become known in Italy as “la dolce vita” and marked an unforgettable epoch in the history of our country was born much earlier in this small island – in fact during the years immediatly after the end of the Second World War. It was a world made up of élite and excellence in every field and from every country in which emerged figures such as Togliatti, the powerful secretary of the Communist party as he strolled with Nilde Jotti and his magic circle, of king Farouk of Egypt, a habitué on the island even after his abdication, of the writer Graham Greene who always sat at the same table in his favorite restaurant, of the industrialist Gazzoni who went around in a sedan while Edda Mussolini drank her cocktail in the Piazzetta a few tables away from general Pietro Badoglio and the “mafioso” Lucky Luciano, protected by his bodyguard. The mythical directressof the National Gallery of Modern Art Palma Bucarelli held court surrounded by her admirers who were the most important journalists of the period, while the actress Rita Hayworth, “the atomic girl”, walked around the narrow streets followed by an adoring crowd and Aristotele Onassis strode towards the center of town with his wife tina and Maria Callas for whom he had lost his head. And how can one forget Malaparte who had to abandon the Island escort by the Carabiniere to escape from the anger of the local people, or the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda under police surveillance because of his subversive ideas?

In the meantime people danced every evening until dawn ender the starry Capri sky swayed by Roberto Murolo‘s confidential voice, by the yearning notes of Luna Caprese, by the frenzied rhythm of Renato Carosone and his band as well as Peppino di Capri‘s hoarse voice. And aristocrats such as Dado Ruspoli and Rudy Crespi, beauties like Graziella Buontempo and Carlottina Del Pezzo, hard core young communists like Antonio Ghirelli and Maurizio Ferrara with their companions had fun! And what fun!


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Salvatore Matrone