Italy’s Rock Star Islands

You don’t have to be a rock star to enjoy a break at one of these tantalizing Italian islands – but each has some association with celebrity. The reasons for that vary, but maybe these islands are also rock stars unto themselves.

1. Capri

Some would argue that Capri in the Gulf of Naples is the most famous island in the Mediterranean, and the very name has become synonymous with glamorous island escapism: remember those ads for Capri cigarettes in the 1980s? “She’s gone to Capri, and she’s not coming back.” Well, a few days in this stunning jewel of an island and you’ll not want to come back, either. The neon blue waters and Faraglioni (rock formations) and stunning, jagged coastline give Capri a truly ethereal aura. Capri’s got history, too: you can visit the ruins of Villa Jovis, built by the Roman Emperor Tiberius. And then there are the legendary hotels. If it’s true that the main town is often overcrowded with day-trippers, the island is four square miles and there’s actually plenty of room to roam.


Elba is big: at 86.5 square miles, it’s actually Italy’s third largest island after Sicily and Sardinia and part of the Arcipelago Toscano National Park. But it’s not its size that put Elba in the map: it was Napoleon. Following the French Emperor’s forced abdication in 1814, he was exiled to Elba for 300 days. Today Elba is as known for its wines, beaches and rugged scenery.

3. Panarea

Is it an island, or just a speck? Well, when it’s this cool, does it really matter? Tiny Panarea is a mere 1.3 square miles, but becomes a bastion for the chic set each summer. If traveling then, you’ll want to make reservations at trendy hotels like the Raya well in advance. Mycenaeans and later Romans settled Panarea, which is an inactive volcano and part of the Aeolian Island chain.

4. Pantelleria

Giorgio Armani has a dammuso on Pantelleria that’s pretty much as good as it gets. A what, you ask?  A dammuso is an ancient Mediterranean dwelling with rectangular walls made from lava stones, and a domed roof. Pantelleria, a remote island off the southwestern coast of Sicily, is one of the few places left where dammusi are still the predominant form of residential architecture. Naturally, Armani’s take on this traditional style of building is more modern and luxurious, but the designer’s choice of this volcanic island as a getaway speaks volumes about its appeal. The wind-swept landscapes are hauntingly beautiful.

5. Giudecca

You can’t talk about Italy’s rock star islands without mentioning Venice, but it’s also difficult, because actually Venice is made up of 118 little islands. But one is worth mentioning specifically in this context: the Giudecca. This slender island just south of the central portion of Venice is where rocker Elton John is said to keep his Venice home. The island is also home to the famous Hotel Cipriani and its just-as-famous swimming pool – Olympic-sized and the only one in Venice. Sources say that one evening after an event at the hotel, George Clooney was spotted in the pool with his clothes on – that qualifies as a rock star moment, does it not?




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