Gianluca D’Esposito is a native Caprese; born and raised on the island. He was the owner of renowned dining establishment, Ristorante Michel’angelo, located in the historic centre of Capri for 12 years. Serving authentic Caprese cuisine with recipes passed down his family in a relaxed yet professional atmosphere.
Holly Star, an Australian lawyer who travelled to Capri for the first time in 2013, met Gianluca while dining at Michel’angelo. It was this dinner that changed her life; a ‘destino’ like no other. They couldn’t speak the same language but they both knew there was something between them from the first smile they shared as she entered the restaurant. Now married, they live on the island year round with their two children, Valentino and Francesca.
Michel’angelo (translated to ‘Michele with the Angels’, after Gianluca’s father’s passing in 2002) was more than just a restaurant. Michel’angelo was the first restaurant in Capri to offer food experiences; to impart their knowledge of the island’s cuisine to visitors through cooking classes, cheese and wine tastings and gourmet picnics. In 2021 Gianluca & Holly continued their passion for the island’s cuisine and opened their picturesque garden villa in Anacapri to the public. However this time, their food experiences also celebrate their own homegrown produce that guests can harvest themselves.
Gianluca’s smile and warm nature and Holly’s love of her adopted home draw people to them and their offerings are just as much about enjoying the delicious fresh homegrown produce, as it is sharing their light hearted and passionate personalities. With over a decade of experience providing culinary adventures, at their private villa garden in Anacapri, guests are treated to a food revolution on the “centimetre zero” scale that will be sure to explode taste buds and take guests on their journey to return Capri to a sustainable island community.
Over the years, Gianluca and his family have witnessed first-hand their primarily agricultural island transform its traditional way of life to adapt to an ever-increasing demand of international commercial tourism. In Gianluca’s mamma’s lifetime she has seen her family’s livelihood raising livestock disappear and as her own family grew, they too adapted to the changing island landscape and into new careers as chefs to meet the island’s demand for local hospitality workers.
In 50 years, the island experienced an almost mass scale departure from agriculture, with gardens abandoned and the closure of olive oil presses, cheese facilities and other farming production facilities. When Holly moved to Capri in 2014, she quickly learnt the island had become almost solely dependent on the mainland for its food, water and goods supply.
In 2021, it was reported that there are 14,040 residents of Capri. In the peak summer months of July and August, travellers outnumber the resident population by more than 50%. Overtourism had become of increasing concern prior to the Coronavirus pandemic but even more so since the pandemic has made it starkly clear how much the island’s economy and livelihood depends upon tourism for its survival.
Our vision is to combine traditional Caprese farming techniques to cultivate fruit, vegetables and herbs and provide visitors to the island with not only a taste explosion but an insight into daily Caprese life, traditions and culture. We believe that tourism and the preservation of history, culture and the environment can co-exist so long as everyone takes responsibility for the way they travel and the impact we, as individuals, have on our surrounding environment. Supporting the local economy, whether it be through museum visits, purchasing artisan goods produced by locals (artworks, ceramics, clothing, jewelery etc) or by enjoying a local experience such as our homegrown food experiences, a boat ride on a gozzo with a local captain or a guided tour with a licensed local guide means that your money will be invested in future generations (both for our children and the future generations of travellers).
Sustainability is at the forefront of both our business activities and the way we live on our island. We aim to implement as many sustainable initiatives as possible including cleaning with eco friendly products; growing our own organic produce; storing our food wrapped in beeswax wraps; providing guests with organic hand sanitizer, sunscreen and mosquito repellent and natural soaps for use; packing takeaway food in biodegradable packaging; composting all of our organic and green waste, recycling all materials and minimising the presence of plastic as much as possible. We save our seeds each season, grow our produce using organic farming methods and using natural pest management techniques and we, of course, preserve all of our excess fruit and vegetables to be enjoyed year round.
We encourage regenerative tourism, where our guests can join us to participate in morning garden harvests, learn to preserve our food bounties and plant vegetables and trees. We also offer our guests a book deposit where they can borrow from our library of Capri historical book and fiction, non fiction Capri inspired novels. All of our food experiences celebrate our local cuisine and our unique natural environment, especially our gourmet picnics where our guests are provided maps to some of Capri’s most secluded and picturesque picnic areas, most with indescribable view points.
We have invested in a zero emission electric van to transport our guests to and from our garden villa, a filtered water system to reduce our use of bottled water and our outdoor cooking class and dining area was built using all recycled materials we repurposed from the closure of Ristorante Michel’angelo. Our furniture and other wooden items have been crafted by a Caprese carpenter using our sustainably pruned olive wood from our garden.
Sustainability is not a ‘feel good’ word for us, it is not a marketing ploy; it is simply the only way that our island will be able to continue to welcome international visitors from all corners of the globe for future generations. The carbon footprint traveling to destinations like our island is large, so we hope we can in some small way reduce that footprint while guests enjoy their stay in Capri. To do this, we must look to the past to change the future and we thank all of our guests for coming on this journey with us!
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In addition to our villa garden, we have also invested in a two-hectare garden in Anacapri, nearby the magical Blue Grotto. The Giardino di Capri boasts an olive grove, ancient vines and terraced garden platforms where we intend to grow local produce for the resident population and the hospitality industry on a much larger scale than our villa garden.
We are always seeking like-minded individuals and organisations who are committed to sustainable living and tourism to collaborate. If you are seeking a unique and satisfying work experience, an organisation with aligned interests or a travel agency who would like their guests to experience our offerings, please contact us at email@example.com.
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