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28.12.2018. Le Sirenuse
“If we want everything to stay as it is, everything needs to change”. So, famously, says headstrong young Prince Tancredi in Giuseppe Tomasi de Lamepdusa’s 1958 novel Il Gattopardo (The Leopard), set in Sicily during the tumultuous Risorgimento period.
There’s a lot to be said for Tancredi’s astute motto. On a planet that is rotating at roughly 460 meters per second, standing still, if such a thing were possible, would mean going rapidly backwards (but let’s not get into Einstein’s theory of relativity, that could take all day…)
Le Sirenuse tries always to bear the young prince’s words in mind. It’s a subtle art: change too much, and you disappoint those who love everything that is reassuringly old-school about our little Amalfi Coast haven. Change too little, and you lose touch with the energies that keep things fresh and vital.
This year saw Sirenuse Art Projects grow with the addition of a site-specific work by US artist Matt Connors. There are few more eloquent demonstrations of what we might call the Tancredi Rule than the attempt to insert a contemporary work into the fabric of a historic family hotel. But with the help of the artist and our contemporary art programme’s curator, Silka Rittson-Thomas, we settled on two columns, one in the lobby and the other downstairs in the restaurant, to host Connors’ work Continuous Color Circuit (Columns) for Positano. Clothed in polychrome laminate panels, these plain white supports for the cross-vaulted ceilings that are such an important feature of traditional Amalfi Coast architecture have become vibrant colour-fields that play a game of planes and hues, and blur the line between art and design, between paintings and painted objects. Connors' Sirenuse installation has conceptual depth and a gritty taste for geometric abstraction, but it's also what Italians call solare – sunny, full of summery joy, life-affirming.
Another artistic collaboration that bore fruit in 2018 grew from the meeting between young British designer Luke Edward Hall and Carla Sersale. For Carla’s Emporio Sirenuse resortwear and lifestyle brand, Hall designed a series of light-hearted motifs that channel the carefree spirit of summer in Positano. Reproduced on plates, mugs, men’s shirts and swimming trunks, they joined Roman artist Giuseppe Ducrot’s striking yellow refractory clay vases and cake stands in the expanding range of a brand that aims to reinterpret the nonchalant beachside chic of 1960s Positano for today..
In other news, Le Sirenuse’s Spa became the first Italian outpost of the total-fitness workout system known as the Megaformer, La Sponda’s talented chef Gennaro Russo saw his Michelin star confirmed for the third year running, and we began working in earnest on Dolce Vitality, a weeklong fitness, detox and weight-loss retreat that celebrates Positano’s rugged but fertile back-country and the opportunities it offers for scenic workouts and holistic reboots of our approach to health, exercise and nutrition. 2019 dates – when Dolce Vitality guests will have the whole hotel to themselves – are 24-30 March and 3-9 November.
Oh, and Positano made headlines in August when the Villa Romana opened to the public. One of the most significant Italian excavations of an Ancient Roman site in recent years, this delightful villa with its playful marine frescoes lies underneath the town’s mother church, Santa Maria Assunta. Abandoned after the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, it is a major new landmark on the Amalfi Coast visitor map. And proof that Positano has always been a dolce vita magnet, changing its leopard spots with each new generation in order to stay true to itself.