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“The fortunes of Marina del Cantone are in large part due to the Caputo family, in my admittedly partisan opinion,”,
wrote the great Italian gastronome Luigi Veronelli, to our genuine pride.
Everything began with Alfonso Caputo, in the early 20th century he was the owner of the only cured meats shop in the village, who, as a result of the extremely difficult conditions there, decided to set off for the New World, emigrating to Argentina in the attempt to make his fortune.
And that’s more or less what happened: Alfonso managed to return to Marina del Cantone and decided to invest all his savings in activities to help the development of the village: a new olive oil press, a wood-fired oven and an electricity supply.
He believed strongly in the tourist potential of the bay and its splendid beach, at that time frequented only by fishermen, and he bought an old building with an adjoining monastery dating from 1200 and transformed it into a guesthouse with a restaurant which would provide work for his ten children.
This intuition also proved to be well timed: with the coming of the 1960s and the economic boom, the first tourists began to arrive.
It was Alfonso’s son Salvatore who took his work forward. Having graduated from the Piano di Sorrento Naval College and having served as an officer on Italian Navy ships for several years – hence his nickname “the Captain” – he decided around the mid Sixties to return home and start a new hotel on his own. Created from an old, restored fisherman’s house, the hotel had 15 rooms and a large restaurant with a view over the beach, which it still has today.
In 1967, on 1 February to be precise, their first child, Mariella, was born. It was by no means written in the stars that she would continue the family business.
But the lure of haute cuisine and fine wines managed to win her over during the course of the years. She followed in her father’s footsteps and started attending the Italian sommelier association (AIS) courses, going on to become the first sommelier in Campania and a finalist in the Top Sommelier in Italy contest in 1994..
On 28 April 1966, Salvatore married a young woman from Massa Lubrense, Grazia Casa. Right from when she was a young girl, Grazia had shown a great love of cooking, inherited from her mother Jolanda, so naturally she took over the kitchen of the restaurant.
Her desire to improve herself took her all round Italy and the world, gaining work experience in the kitchens of great chefs, including Gualtiero Marchesi, Angelo Paracucchi, Georges Blanc and Roger Vergé.
Three years after the birth of Mariella, their second child was born, named Alfonso, after his grandfather. Grazia likes to tell the story of how Alfonso was “practically born in the kitchen”!
Although he graduated in Accountancy, Alfonso also decided to go in for a career as a chef, but not at his mother’s side, surprisingly.
Well, not immediately: in fact, Alfonso gained his first experience working in the kitchen in 1989, in that temple of fine Italian dining run by Gualtiero Marchesi.
He went on to travel the world over the following years, from France to Japan, learning the deepest secrets of the trade and the different international culinary traditions.
In 1993 he became a member of the Association of Jeunes Restaurateurs d’Europe.
That was the same year that Mariella married Claudio Di Mauro, a young man who had grown up in Sorrento but had continued his education at the Higher Technical Institute of Tourism in Assisi. It was a course that inspired Claudio’s enthusiasm so much that he decided to work for a time as a tourist operator for the Region of Tuscany.
Having started on a career as a tourism manager, he ended up following his heart and coming to Marina del Cantone, to the Taverna del Capitano. He furthered his education attending ONAO courses to become a
Maestro Oleario e A.I.S. (a master of olive oil production), as well as the A.I.S. courses so as to be able to join Mariella in her role of Sommelier in the restaurant.