If you could go somewhere in the world where you knew you could live out your days while having every whim and desire taken care of – beautifully – where would you go? For me, the Amalfi Coast of Italy holds such a spot: Il San Pietro di Positano.
Seemingly built right into the cliffs just south of Positano, this hotel (the name translates to St.Peter’s of Positano) seeks to welcome you as a guest in an Italian family’s home. That is how the Cinque family has treated its guests for many years. Here you are greeted by name, before being shown to a room that is like no other, not even like others in the same hotel. Each has a different mix of tile, fabric, and furniture. My brother-in-law and his wife like to select theirs in advance since they are frequent visitors. When you enter this world, it is truly as you would imagine someone like Sophia Loren living in…relaxed elegance.
The staff work hard at making it look easy. Drinks by the pool – try my favorite, a Negroni – overlooking the Mediterranean are delivered to your lounge (perhaps by our favorite host Luigi) accompanied by bowls of nuts and olives. Before dinner, you can relax on the terrace with live music. Of course, dinner is at a Michelin starred masterpiece with white glove service. It’s almost enough to keep you from venturing out to Positano itself. Almost.
The town can be accessed by the hotel’s car service, and it’s just 10 minutes on the coast-hugging road. Cobbled walkways twist and turn on the walk down to the Church, and then onto the beach. The shops feature exquisite fashions, along with world-famous ceramics: try Ceramica Assunte for pieces like the one at the top of this post. Restaurants include La Taverna Leone with its brick oven, and Ristorante Le Tre Sorrelle (The Three Sisters) right on the beach. Even the littlest cafe serve some of the best pastries and gelatos I have had anywhere in Italy.
The spectacular beauty of the Amalfi Coast is on view when traveling on the roadway through towns like Atrani, Scala, and Sorrento. Or ask your driver to venture up the mountainside to one of the restaurants perched on top, like Le Querce in Tremonte. You don’t need to ask for a menu…here they will “make up a plateful” that includes the freshest mozzarella, eggplant, cured and uncurled meats, and of course, sharp provolone, among many other treats.
Back at Il San Pietro, the hotel has its own motorboat to get you to an idyllic spot for a dip in the warm waters of the sea, or slide into an orange lounge on the waterside patio. It’s all like a beautiful dream. If you only get there once in your lifetime, and it means spending significantly to stay at this masterpiece, do it. You’ll be very tempted to answer the question of when you’re returning with a “Si”.