03.01.2020. Le Sirenuse
Oh what a high time we had in 2019 – literally. It was the year we launched Dolce Vitality, a week-long fitness, yoga and healthy eating retreat inspired by the intuition that the footpaths above Positano are the best kind of gym – a natural one, where the physical challenge of all those steps is balanced by fresh air, woods alive with flowers, herbs and wild mushrooms, verdant meadows, dramatic rocky escarpments and spectacular views. These ancient trails also offer a glimpse of an older, calmer Amalfi Coast lifestyle from before the roads and tourists arrived, one that was intimately connected with the earth and its rhythms.
During the March and November retreats something took place that we hadn’t anticipated. We’d been thinking about what Dolce Vitality could do for you and me (a lot, as it turned out, not just in terms of weight loss). But we’d underestimated what it could do for us. That little pronoun was the big takeaway of our pre-season and post-season fitness weeks. The group bonding, as we conquered mountains together before returning to devour light, flavoursome vegan meals prepared by Le Sirenuse’s executive chef Gennaro Russo, was strong and lasting. Months later, we’re still talking, reminiscing, exchanging recipes and stories. Elena Brower’s mindful yoga and meditation classes were another revelation, and again, as we were gently coaxed and coached through a set of asanas as the waves broke on the beach below, the shared nature of the experience somehow amplified the positive energy.
In the year that our fragrance line Eau d'Italie celebrated its fifteenth anniversary with a subtle, intriguing fig and flower scent called Easy to Love (because it is), three other pre and post season pieces of news brought a warm glow of pride. Our assistant concierge Mauro Contino was awarded the Carlino Prize for best Italian concierge under 35 by his colleagues in the national chapter of UICH, the Les Clefs d’Or organization, joining young colleagues from around the world at the 66th UICH International Congress in Cannes in March. Then, in November, executive chef Gennaro Russo was recognised as one of six emerging young culinary talents from around the world at the La Liste Awards in Paris. A year of accolades culminated in December, when Le Sirenuse’s co-owner and general manager Antonio Sersale was declared this year’s ‘Leading Legend’ at the Leading Hotels of the World awards in Marrakech.
In September, the latest site-specific work in the ongoing Sirenuse Art Projects series of commissions was unveiled. Hungarian-American artist Rita Ackermann realised that in such a busy, historically layered ambience, it was impossible to add without removing. Not without a little resistance, she convinced Antonio and Carla Sersale to move a pair of 18th-century paintings, one of a cardinal, the other of a naked goddess, that seemed locked in a strange and rather kinky face-off in one of the hotel’s fourth-floor lounge areas, the main living space of the family home that the Sersale family transformed into guest accommodation in the 1950s.
Resettled elsewhere in the hotel, these canvases were replaced by a pair of paintings by Ackermann that represent a single work, one that feeds productively on the tension of that older artistic dialogue. Called simply Le Sirenuse, it consists of two apparently similar but subtly different paintings of naked young women, each one wrestling with or perhaps caressing a serpent. It’s a powerful, intriguing installation, one that brings a new edge and vibrancy to one of the hotel’s oldest corners.
So what does 2020 hold in store? Apart, that is, from a new Ice Room in the spa, the return of our vintage Riva Acquarama speedboat from a painstaking restoration, and a brand new fishing tour addition to our expanding list of weekly activities?
Well, there’s the official launch of Aldo’s Cocktail Bar & Seafood Grill, a younger, fresher reboot of our famous panoramic bar and casual dining space, where craft Negronis, caviar, champagne, light Mediterranean platters and upbeat ambient music merge in a heady summer mix. Dress code? Light, free and cool as a breeze on a warm Positano night.
Rather like Le Sirenuse Positano’s new spring-summer 2020 collection, dedicated to the remarkable Vali Myers and the other bohemian free spirits who, in the sixties and seventies, made the Amalfi Coast a place of creative self-expression and unconventional spirituality. Released worldwide and online at Emporio Sirenuse in February/March, the new collection features a collaboration with chic handmade footwear brand Ancient Greek Sandals, who have re-imagined two of their most iconic models in carefree Le Sirenuse Positano style. In the men’s and homeware department, a capsule collection by sisters Claire and Jeanne Detallante will feature, on a postcard and t-shirt, a whole new alphabet font conceived for the brand by the design duo, who have worked for Prada among others. Meanwhile, collaborations with two of the Emporio’s favourite people, ceramicist Lucio Liguori and decorative artist Luke Edward Hall, continue apace.
Finally, expect to see a small book about the humble tomato, or pomodoro, emerging as the first of a new series to be published by Le Sirenuse in celebration of the history, culture and cuisine of the Amalfi Coast’s most iconic ingredients.
We like to keep busy. But most of all, we love to host old friends and make new ones. Le Sirenuse opens for the 2020 season on April 4 and closes on October 31, while our two Dolce Vitality retreats run from March 15-21 and November 1-7. See you in Positano!
Photos © Roberto Salomone