28.08.2020. Le Sirenuse
Le Sirenuse is many things: hotel, meeting place, family business, generator of ideas, incubator of artistic and artisanal projects, champion of southern Italian food, style and service culture. It’s also become, over the years, an informal club of sorts, frequented by like-minded people from all over the world who feel at home here.
We’re well aware that this has created a resource as precious as any goldmine. In the Internet age, this would probably be called “social capital”, but we like to think of it in more old-fashioned terms as a seedbed, one that derives nourishment from a network of relationships as complex as the organic exchanges of nutrients that take place in the Amalfi Coast’s fertile, thriving citrus groves and kitchen gardens.
In this seedbed, many things can grow – friendships, work relationships, experiences that enrich us, discussions that stimulate us, and advice from people we know we can trust, whether that’s the hotel concierge or a fellow guest who has just come across an incredible trattoria, read a life-changing book, discovered a hot new artistic talent.
We love the spontaneity and the amorphous, shape-shifting nature of this incredible resource, but sometimes it’s worth writing things down so they can be easily shared and passed on to posterity. As we approach the hotel’s 70th birthday in 2021, we decided it’s time to commit to digital print one area in particular of the ‘neural network’ that Le Sirenuse and its guests have created together over the years: our collective inside knowledge of the best, the most rewarding, the most offbeat, the most individual people, places and experiences in our part of the world.
We’re calling it the Le Sirenuse Guide to Positano, the Amalfi Coast, Naples & the Islands, and it’s very much what Umberto Eco called an ‘open work’, a work in progress that will be written over time with your contributions. So feel free to comment, to embroider, to disagree, to suggest places we’ve scandalously left out that you feel deserve inclusion. You can do this by dropping us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or by engaging on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
The Guide will be published in the Sirenuse Journal periodically over the next year or so, in themed installments, with up to five recommendations in each category (and plenty of room to expand). We’re going to start by listing five of our absolute favourites from across the board.
Amalfi Coast & Campania Discoveries
Overshadowed by its far more famous neighbour Pompeii, this lesser-known victim of Vesuvius’ devastating AD 79 eruption is well worth a visit, as the mural paintings that have been preserved here are quite simply breathtaking (many share Le Sirenuse’s love of wine-red walls). An upscale thermal resort, Oplontis was noted for its sumptuous villas – particularly that of Poppaea, Nero’s second wife, a party palace that was the Roman equivalent of Jay Gatsby’s Long Island mansion. Open daily.
Amalfi Coast & Islands Seaside Bars and Restaurants
Lido Azzurro, Amalfi
This lively seafood restaurant with its cute outside terrace on Amalfi’s fishing port wharf gets big kudos from other chefs like our very own Gennaro Russo, who is a regular on his days off. There’s assured technique behind the simple touch of chef-owner Antonio Pisani, a.k.a. ‘Bijoux’, who uses straight-off-the-boat fish in a range of delicious dishes like shrimps and rocket, or spaghetti with clams. Closed Monday.
+39 089 871384
Amalfi Coast & Islands Beach Clubs
La Fontelina, Capri
You know that thing about simplicity being the ultimate luxury? This unpretentious beach club nails it. Spectacularly located in a cove overlooking Capri’s famous Faraglioni islets, La Fontellina is all about sun worship, the lapping of the waves, and fresh salads, mozzarella, pasta and seafood, cooked with the minimum of fuss. For us, it’s the last word in relaxed barefoot chic. A boat’s the only way to arrive – something Le Sirenuse would be happy to arrange.
+39 081 8370845
Amalfi Coast & Campania Wineries
Tenuta San Francesco, Tramonti
One of the Amalfi Coast’s great small wineries, veterinarian Gaetano Bove’s passion project nestles among the scatter of upland villages collectively known as Tramonti, not far from Ravello. Native grape varieties and vines that date back over a century make for a fascinating range of reds and whites, which can be explored by booking a visit and tasting session (if you opt to combine this with lunch at the Tenuta, you’re in for a treat). Our favourite among the six wines currently produced is floral, apple-scented white Per Eva, a blend of Falanghina, Pepella and Ginestra from the estate’s highest vineyards.
+39 089 876434
Concettina ai Tre Santi
Talented young pizzaiolo Ciro Oliva is the culinary king of Rione Sanità, a dense warren of crumbling Baroque palazzos and poor tenements that was once a no-go area for tourists (and not a few Neapolitans). Don’t miss the frezzella – a pizza volcano studded with mozzarella, tuna, Cilento, olives, San Marzano tomatoes and basil. Book at the bistrot-like corner annexe for the mindblowing tasting menu that takes the local tradition to gourmet heights (caviar, anyone?) Scoring a table here can be tougher than getting into a first night at La Scala. Come armed with patience, even if you have a reservation. Closed Sunday evening.
+39 081 290 037
Photos © Roberto Salomone