The foundations of what would become Le Sirenuse were laid around the same time that Auden was working on this long philosophical poem in New York. It was then that siblings Paolo, Aldo and Anna Sersale, later joined by their then teenage brother Franco, swapped the confusion and uncertainty of wartime Naples for the relative tranquility of Positano, making the family’s seaside villa their year-round residence. In 1944, Paolo was elected mayor of Positano. That same year, his fortuitous meeting with General Mark Clark of the US Fifth Army led to the town being designated a rest resort for allied officers. The Sersales themselves personally hosted several high-ranking American and British officials, and it was this experience that planted the seed of the idea that would lead, in 1951, to the transformation of the Sersale family villa into a small hotel with personal service and a mission to broadcast to the world our love for the landscape, culture, food and traditions of Positano and the Amalfi Coast.
In the year that we celebrated our seventieth anniversary, we chose to focus not on the setbacks and challenges of this difficult time but on the gifts that, as Auden put it, have been showered on us over the past seven decades, the friendships, insights, cultural enrichment, moments of hilarity, delight, conviviality and wonder that we have been blessed with thanks to all those who have shared our home over the years.
We chose to dwell, too, on the upside of a season that took a while to lift off, but ended with near-record high summer and fall numbers. For many of those who made it, the extra effort somehow made the experience all the more joyful and intense. And we were touched by the number of messages we received from guests who couldn’t yet travel, telling us how much we were missed. To all of you, grazie davvero.
Franco’s Bar, the streetside imbibery we launched in 2015 in homage to Le Sirenuse’s late style arbiter Franco Sersale, began an engrossing new chapter this year with the arrival of mixologist consultant Mattia Pastori. Using many locally sourced ingredients and applying the concept of terroir familiar to wine lovers, Pastori created a series of signature cocktails like Franco’s Fizz that are unmistakably Positano.
This was also the year when Emporio Sirenuse launched its Home Collection. Carla Sersale’s resortwear and lifestyle brand has long offered home décor items – notably a range of cushions featuring the ancient Suzani motifs from Central Asia that were so beloved of Franco Sersale. These have now been joined by a range of plates featuring the same patterns made in the local ceramics town of Vietri sul Mare, and Aria, a range of smoky, ethereal glassware in delicate pastel shades made by historic glass foundry Nason Moretti on the Venetian island of Murano.
Looking forward, we are seriously excited about the return of Dolce Vitality in March. The forced pause of the last two years has not changed our conviction that Positano offers the ideal setting for a small-group health and wellness retreat that combines healthy mountain treks with mindful yoga sessions, meditation, body toning and healthy Mediterranean vegan meals. The response has been amazing – so much so that the March retreat is already sold out. At the time of writing there were still a few places left for Fall 2022 (30 October – 5 November). We would love it if you took a chance on Dolce Vitality. There’s something really special about sharing Le Sirenuse with just twenty people and bonding as we all help each other scale the hills and rebalance mind and body.
We are however allowing ourselves one little indulgence before the March session of Dolce Vitality. We’ll be accompanying Le Sirenuse’s talented young chef, Gennaro Russo, and his closest collaborators, to one of the Caribbean’s most coveted beach resorts, COMO Parrot Cay in the Turks & Caicos islands. From 20 January to 11 February 2022, Gennaro and his team will bring the authentic local flavors and dolce vita ambience that generations of guests associate with our fabled candlelit restaurant in Positano to COMO resort’s main Terrace restaurant. If you feel like swinging by, we’d love to raise a glass with you!
“So from the years the gifts were showered”. As we write this last Sirenuse Journal post of 2021, the world is once again in the grip of fear and uncertainty. Let’s all stick together and, with Auden’s words in mind, count our blessings. Happy New Year!
Photos © Roberto Salomone
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