I started as a professional tour guide in 2006 and one of my first tours was on the isle of Capri. I literally fell in love with the place and after 14 years that love has only grown deeper. I miss it and all my cherished friends there. Among the many people I’ve met, there is one in particular I’d like to introduce. He is a famous artist, painter and guitar player: Salvatore Federico.
Born in Anacapri in 1936, Salvatore started painting at the age of seven. His talent as an artist was obvious and he also enjoyed playing guitar and singing. In 1955 he opened his own gallery just as his generation witnessed the blossoming of Capri into the prime tourist destination of the Campania region. Full of beautiful paintings, watercolors, and pencil drawings, his gallery still sits along a main little lane leading out to an overlook. Anyone visiting Anacapri is likely to meet Salvatore along the way just as I did 14 years ago. We became fast friends. He often explained his art to me and my guests or sat on a chair to play guitar. He is quite charming; I’ve learned so much from his paintings and stories. These days, I know he misses the buzz from his usual crowd of visitors.
I am very grateful to him for his positive attitude and mood. He is always quick to greet everyone with a smile. The only time I’ve seen him angry was when visitors tried to take pictures of his paintings without permission. He is very conservative regarding that, patiently explaining that his paintings are pieces of his soul and that he couldn’t live without painting. When his shop is closed, Salvatore likes to paint outdoors to capture some new glint of azure ocean, or foam of winter storms, or the light on the still water at sunset. Over the years of tireless devotion to his craft, he has conveyed the beauty of Capri in large oil paintings, in watercolors, and in charcoal and white crayon sketches. Salvatore’s paintings are admired by visitors from all over the world. They are captivated equally by his depictions of the well-know symbols of Capri like stormy waves crashing against the Faraglioni rocks as by the calm atmosphere of an intimate and secret Capri that not many daily visitors usually get to know.
One of my favorite paintings is of the famous Blue grotto, a symbol of Capri visited by thousands of people every year. This masterpiece is on display prominently at the entrance of the gallery. It portrays both the shimmer of sunlight refracting on the ceiling of the grotto and an underwater perspective known only to divers. This painting is one of a kind but it’s not for sale — it holds special value for Salvatore. As a good friend, perhaps I can someday convince him to allow me to take a photo of it. In the meantime, my readers, you have another option: go to his gallery in Capri and see it for yourself!!! You will be welcomed by a true gentleman, one always keen to invite you in and to generously offer his time to discuss his life’s work. People like Salvatore make me proud of the heritage of my beautiful country — genuine, authentic, and with a charm that will immediately put you at ease. So, don’t forget to add Salvatore’s shop on your list for your next trip to Capri!