I have never had a trip to Capri without a ‘visit’ to Anema e Core, the island’s only nightclub. As the name says (Soul and Heart) this small venue is strategically located in the heart of the island, right in the middle of Capri town. And it has been its dancing soul for the past 30 years.
Anema e Core has its own ‘cult’ status now. It opened its doors in 1994, thanks to the genius of Guido Lembo, the local chansonnier who then became one of the most prominent island's ambassadors. Nothing much has changed there, from the taverna style decor, simple with white walls, tiled floors and wooden tables, to the songs played by the animated band, every night from April until September. For three decades, the nightclub has become a to-go place in Capri for a good night out, a destination as much as the faraglioni rocks for a swim and the piazzetta (the small square) for an aperitif at sunset.
Capri is an island of habits. I have been going there since my childhood. My mother’s aunt owned a house there and I have always loved visiting. I still love it the same. The excitement starts approaching the island by speedboat from Naples, seeing it from afar in all its beauty and glory: the white cliffs covered by Mediterranean pines diving into the bluest sea (differently from the other Neapolitan islands, Capri is not volcanic) and the smiley houses of Marina Grande. The buzz at the port with locals, tourists and taxis in motion, and the dozens of boats, small and large, operating in and out, add a wonderful and unique charm. They are on-repeat every time I arrive, like a movie seen many times. This gives me joy each time.
When in Capri, I do the same things. As most habitués and newcomers. You get on the cable car (funicolare) from the port to go up, you take a panoramic walk on the scenic Via Krupp, swim at La Fontelina, visit the Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto), take a shopping stroll through the narrow streets of centre town after a day at sea, get a drink at Bar Tiberio in the piazzetta, followed by a dinner under lemon trees at Paolino’s. And then you end up at Anema e Core for a dance until the wee hours.
From the moment you go through the small doors of Anema e Core and walk down the stairs, you cannot but get entirely involved in the vibrant atmosphere: the music is a mix of traditional Neapolitan songs and old disco classics (from YMCA, to Volare and Mamma Mia!) all played by the live band, headed by Guido’s son Gianlugi, sung along by all of the guests. Everyone is there just to have fun, no dress code required, only a lot of energy. The audience becomes part of the show. Drinks on trays and champagne bottles are swiftly moved around the crowds by the friendly and smiley staff, who have as much fun as the guests. The central arena gets hotter and louder as the night goes on. The craziest dance moves are accompanied by clapping hands and the noise of tamburelli (traditional Neapolitan musical instruments) which are always passed around. And for the most audacious dancers, there are the tables!
Only a year ago I was dancing with rapper Gunna — wearing a colourful Emilio Pucci outfit, who too got the nightclub’s vibes, to my jolly surprise. I would have never dreamed of it, but it happened at Anema e Core! And who knows who is going to be the next celebrity I’ll be dancing with in the coming Summers? Maybe Giorgio Armani or Jennifer Lopez (both Capri lovers), or Beyoncé? Or Leonardo di Caprio, Ronaldo, Penelope Cruz…, they all love it there. Like me, they all share a passionate love for the real Italian lifestyle, where simplicity and fun come before anything else.
Some of my best memories of a night out are at Anema e Core. After losing my voice on the dance-floor, it’s about leaving the club at dawn, when the island is so quiet. Before everything and everyone wakes up. This is a different Capri, probably the most authentic in its pure essence, with hardly any people around. A few times, I was brave enough to walk down to Marina Piccola’s pebbled beach and have a swim (I can still taste that invigorating fresh water!). I didn’t care about sleeping then. I often follow my mother’s odd recommendation, to have fun first of all, and sleep during the day at the beach. Probably the best holiday tip I remember.