Toward the middle of the 19th century a Scottish doctor came to Capri. His name was Sidney Clark and he was convinced that the mild Mediterranean climate of the island was rich in health-giving properties. So he decided to settle on Capri and to open a clinic in one of the more sheltered and sunny areas of the island. The new nursing home was given the auspicious name of "Quisisana". At that time, tourists were just beginning to arrive on the island in large. numbers and Clark's sanatorium gradually started to be used as a pensione. The tourist trade grew until, in 1868, Clark took off his white coat and donned the frockcoat of the hotelier. In those days it cost about seven or eight lire per day. On Clark's death the Quisisana was inherited by Anna, his wife, and his children who did not, however, make a great success of managing the business. They therefore decided to sell it to a young ambitious butler called Federico Serena who was later to become the mayor of Capri. Serena enlarged the hotel and had a new wing built on the west side. In the course of digging the foundations for the extension, elephant bones from the Quaternary period were discovered (they are still kept in the Cerio Foundation), evidence that animals came from the mainland to Capri, and that the island must therefore at one time have been attached to the Sorrento peninsula. During the early 1900s Capri became one of the most popular tourist destinations and the hotel enjoyed one of its earliest moments of splendor. All the nobility of the time came to the Quisisana. One of the most illustrious guests was Friedrich Alfred Krupp, the German steel magnate. He built the famous Via Krupp so that he could go directly from the Quisisana to the yachts anchored in Marina Piccola. Serena died in 1913 after a long illness, leaving the hotel to his children and widow. Only a few years after his death, however, the hotel ran into difficulties and the Serena family were forced to sell it.
In 1918, it was bought by SIA, a real estate company dealing in hotels, which did not have a single inhabitant of Capri among its shareholders. SIA ran it until the end of 1950 when it was bought by Felix Mechoulam, a Mexican financier who renovated and redecorated it until it was once more a place fit for royalty. In the midseventies it became the property of Max Grundig, the German electrical goods magnate. Grundig too made improvements, focusing much attention on doing up the service areas (laundry and kitchen) and he also transformed the theater. You can still see the remnants today of the wonderfully ornate decoration on the ceiling of the laundry, although it would be impossible now to restore it to its original state. Grundig decided to sell in 1981 and the following year a Capri family by the name of Morgano finally took over the Quisisana. The Morgano family has always had a bee in its bonnet about this hotel. At the beginning of the century, my grandfather, Giuseppe Morgano, built the Tiberio Palace to rival the Quisisana. He insisted on building it higher up than the Quisisana so that it overlooked its rival. An English writer commented that if Serena knew that the Quisisana was now a scion of Don Giuseppe Morgano he would turn in his grave. It is said that every day Dan Giuseppe, with a great lack of urbanity, used to spit in the direction of the Quisisana. But there were also political reasons for the rivalry between the two families. Today the Quisisana, one of the symbols of Capri, is world famous. Sovereigns, actors, writers, industrialists, and singers have stayed here: everyone from Ernest Hemingway to Tom Cruise, from Sidney Sheldon to Gianni Agnelli, and from the Savoy to the Hohenzollern. Claudette Colbert, Jean Paul Sartre, Gerald Ford and Sting are just a few of the endless list of celebrities who have stayed at the Quisisana. It can accommodate up to 300 people and it employs up to 140 people quite a crowd for a small place like Capri! It has two restaurants, the Quisi and the Colombaia, which is by the swimming pool. The Quisi Club with an indoor swimming pool, gymnasium, sauna, Turkish bath, a beauty salon, and two tennis courts, is there for guests to use and relax in. The theater, a truly festive place, is also the setting for many prestigious conventions. Since 1986, the hotel has been on the list of The Leading Hotels of the World It is very difficult to get onto it and if you want to stay on it you have to maintain very high standards. In the hotel business you must never let the quality slip because it is easy to rise to the top, difficult to maintain your position, and all too easy to topple. It is, however, impossible to rise again once you have been toppled.