AMALFI COAST: Antonio Sersale on Le Sirenuse and that Positano charm
“Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone”. The words of John Steinbeck that took a small Italian coastal village from a hidden gem to one of the world’s most coveted travel destinations ring as true today as they did in 1953.
The charming Italian village terraced beautifully into the hillside along the majestic Amalfi coastline remains one of the most visited travel destinations in the world and while its sleepy town status has changed, one thing has remained the same. Le Sirenuse, a family run hotel, has remained the destination’s most renowned spot since it opened its doors to the public in 1951.
Situated perfectly amongst Positano’s charming pastel-hued homes and pristine gardens, Le Sirenuse stands on its own. The grand property, which was transformed from a family home to a hotel by the Sersale family in 1951 has since taken on the title as one of the most alluring properties in the world. The hotel is adorned with meticulously hand-picked antiques and furniture to created an ambiance and visit that is nothing short of unforgettable. The heart of the resort remains the famous Le Sirenuse pool and terrace, overlooking the coastline with a view that will leave you breathless.
Ahead of TWAIN’s very own Italian adventures, we spoke with the equally charming and welcoming Antonio Sersale to find out more about this majestic Le Sirenuse experience and other must visit Positano hot-spots.
Tell us about your role at Le Sirenuse…
I am the General Manager of the Hotel, overseeing all the day to day activities.
Tell us about 1951 and the decision to turn the property into a hotel…
The hotel used to be my family’s summer house. My family lived in Naples which is one hour away by car but in the 40’ would take much longer. During the war, my family moved to Positano to escape the heavy bombings in Naples. After the war as Positano began to be visited by tourists and thus my family decided to turn the house into a 12 room Hotel. Over the years it has grown into a 58 room Hotel.
How has the location and hotel changed since then?
Positano has changed dramatically and so has the Hotel. Positano from being a sleepy fishing village has been projected to the forefront of the International tourist scene. It has none the less maintained a feeling of authenticity. The same can be said for the Hotel that although frequented by an international clientele has maintained the feeling of a private house.
Tell us about the inspiration behind the décor:
The décor is centred around colourful tiles, contrasted by white-washed walls and a collection of family antiques and paintings. We have also started a contemporary art program with a curator and will be commissioning one site specific installation a year.
What is your favourite part of the property and why?
I love the newest bar we have opened called Franco’s in memory of my late father. It is a collaboration of Italian artists and artisans, a very special place.
Le Sirenuse is still run as a family business, tell us about what difference this makes to the overall experience
The experience at a family run Hotel is totally different, it is more real authentic and leaves you with a feeling of having seen something unique
What do you believe has made the Le Sirenuse visit so unforgettable?
The staff, first of all, the warm welcoming atmosphere as well as the view.
Your hotel has been host to some renowned individuals and events. What has been your most memorable moment to date?
Last night as I was dining in the Restaurant with my wife at a table just next to ours a young man suddenly stood up and got on his knees next to his girlfriend asking her to marry him. The whole dining room stood waiting in silence expectation as she said yes only to embrace them with a tender applause… what more memorable movement than this can one imagine. So many of our guests come here to experience a romantic setting allow it to fill their lives with love and a joy to be remembered in time.
What is the best time of year to visit Positano?
During the months of May, when the flowers are in full bloom.
Top three things everyone should do while in Positano that tourists do not know about:
Walk up a beautiful stairway of 2000 steps to the Village of Nocelle. Rent a boat for the day and visit the many fiords of the coast eating in one of the charming restaurants found by the water.
The best way to get around:
By car avoiding weekend traffic.
For authentic food you should visit:
Lo Scoglio di Nerano, Da Vincenzo.
For an unforgettable cultural experience, you should visit:
Your parting thought:
As John Steinbeck wrote in 1953: Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.