Capitolare Tower: Star in Your Own Retrofuturist Fantasy by the Sea

Eric Millman | Mon, 09/18/2023 - 14:25
The rooftop terrace at Capitolare Tower
Rooftop terrace at Capitolare Tower

Ed.: The Inspired Stays series highlights hotels we love around Italy. Each property is independently reviewed by an Italy Magazine writer, who is generally hosted on a complimentary basis. Our contributors do not accept compensation or gifts in exchange for specific types of coverage. We only showcase properties we would genuinely recommend overall.

Why we love it

If your ideal evening is spent in a skyscraper, overlooking the cityscape below, imagine turning the calendar back to medieval times, then situating your vantage from one of the most magical port towns in Europe. At the center of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Porto Venere’s Capitolare Tower offers guests the singular opportunity to sleep in a freestanding, fully modernized 12th-century structure, complete with smart technology, sustainable furnishings, doting service, and a discreet terrace offering some of the best views on earth.

What to expect

Much of Porto Venere’s “action” is concentrated on a small alley within its fortified walls, protected by a medieval lookout at the city gate — this is Capitolare Tower, your fairytale home (and yours alone). Some creativity was required in furnishing the narrow, vertical space, with custom, recessed furniture recalling that of a ship. Maritime aesthetics and locally-sourced materials complete the vibe.

(Note: The very features that make the stay here so memorable may unfortunately present challenges to visitors with limited mobility, and potentially to families traveling with children.) 

Background

View of Porto Venere
Porto Venere, with Capitolare Tower at far right

Originally built in 1161 to serve as the first line of defense for the town, the Capitolare stood in ruin for as long as any locals can remember. Determined to change that, a young entrepreneur named Andrea Borlenghi secured a 30-year lease from the state, opening the property to guests in April 2022.

Location, location, location

At the southern extreme of the Cinque Terre, Porto Venere may take time to reach, but staying in this tower justifies a trip of any length. Steps from the sea and a short walk to Byron’s Grotto — where you can swim in the waters which inspired the famed poet — the tower is at the absolute center of the village.

Where you’ll sleep

Room with a view
THE room with THE view at Capitolare Tower

At the entry, a banquet topped in black-and-gold marble, with 3D-printed chairs made from sea-salvaged plastic; above, the bathroom, a jacuzzi, and a lounge; on the third floor, your bed, with immersive views and automated blinds; and on the terrace, a firepit, two chaises, and a shower like no other. The sea motif is consistent throughout the spaces — even the printed furniture feels wave-like. You’re in for a steep slog if you forget your keys upstairs, but otherwise this is peak, playful comfort.

Dining & drinks

Dining room at Capitolare Tower
The dining room at Capitolare Tower

Breakfast is simple but generous, with fresh-baked sweet and savory pastries and fruit, plus coffee and tea. There’s little need for anything else, with multiple bars and restaurants at your front door, but the Capitolare does offer cooking classes, plus the option of a personal chef on call, 24/7.

Service notes

Andrea welcomed me personally with a coffee and a warm chat, offering personally-catered tips with marked enthusiasm without being overly invasive. While he and his colleague were on hand and quick to respond to any request, they also prioritized discretion and respected personal space.

You should know...

capitolare tower with shopfront below
Area around Capitolare Tower

This is not your usual five-star experience; it’s more like staying in an Airbnb plucked from an alternate universe. The space, though immaculately clean, well-insulated, and laced with smart tech, is defined by odd angles and steep climbs, meaning that it isn’t for everyone. For the right person or two, however, it may be ideal.

Accessibility

  • The hotel has no elevator.

Features & amenities

  • Seaside setting
  • Free WiFi
  • Rooftop terrace

Contacts

Capitolare Tower
Via Giovanni Capellini, Porto Venere
Tel. +39 3896879797
Website

Location