Franco Zeffirelli, whose sumptuous directorial aesthetic matches his sense of personal extravagance and transgression, is an icon in Positano. From the early ‘70s until 2007, the acclaimed theatre and movie director would invite the most sought after Hollywood stars, artists, ballet dancers and musicians in his former house now turned into a very exclusive home away from home, Villa Tre Ville.
When entering the VTV one can unquestionably leave all daily life pressures aside. There are many steps and, as through a catharsis, by going down each one of them, I had the clear sensation of getting nearer and nearer to a state of complete relaxation and escape from the world. Life on the Amalfi Coast is one of simple luxurious pleasures: waking up in a very large and most comfortable bed, breakfast on a sun-kissed balcony, unhurried dips in the sea (accessible from a private entrance). Villa Tre Ville has taken a leaf out of its book of Italian dolce far niente, with all the al fresco lounges, courteously mixed cocktails and Amalfi coast food delicatessen you’ll ever need. A 5 minutes drive away, the attractive village of Positano, where eccentric villas and lively shops propose loads of local allure. Villa Tre Ville’s prescription for tired feet and weary souls is smoothly effective: kick off those sandals, get your linen outfits rolling , and let those views work their soothing magic.
Rule n.1: no rules apply - there’s no check-in nor check-out time, no fixed time for breakfast, as if guests of a very accommodating, generously indulgent host. The receptionist obliges with a speedy check-in, saving the showing-around and form-filling formalities for later. Luggage dumped, just grab what you need most: your swimming kit, no shoes involved. Run down to the pool. Surrounded by a beautifully manicured, luscious horizon, this infinity beauty may not be Olympian in size, but it is ideal for a leisurely swim and a cool-down.
The 12 suites, all overlooking one of the most picturesque glimpses of the Positano bay, are called after the famous guests that occupied them over the years: Bernstein, Nijinsky, Massine, Callas. The tribute to la Divina, known for her impressive vocal range, is to be found in the titles given to the Deluxe Superior La Turandot, La Norma, L’Aida and La Carmen, other than in the opulent junior suite La Tosca.
The key word is secluded luxury, and a Martini of course. Before you know it, it's time for an aperitivo – beach attire is fine during the day, but you want to smarten up for evenings in this fashionable home. You can help yourself and your significant other with a drink in the opulent salon stunningly decorated with immaculate white ceramic from nearby Vietri sul Mare, before savouring the sun setting over Positano.
After a peek in the restaurant, a homey affair with an open kitchen resplendent in white and blue tiles, I sat outside at a table that let us watch evening descend on this slow-paced corner of the Amalfi Coast. (Top tip: in nice weather, ask for the table nearest the water’s edge.) An Italian delightful man, Ferdinando, the hotel director, fine in his beige linen suit, proposed the house ravioli. This ricotta cheese filled recommendation sounded (and proved to be) too delicious to skip.
There was a buzz of international chatter, but the tables were sufficiently spread out to not have to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations. The terraced restaurants is not open to the public, just like a very stylish summer holiday home would be. Choosing from a menu of light starters, simple seasonal pasta dishes and grilled meat and fish (with the occasional addition of lemon zest & leaves) wasn’t easy – all the dishes I spotted coming out looked mouthwatering. A crunchy calamari on vegetable tartare and mint leaves picked in the garden was too good to be true, and the delizia al limone was fresh and creamy.
Accompanied by a pale, local white wine, our dinner was well seasoned, nicely balanced and perfectly sized in portion. Frankly, the idea of a hotel being desperately romantic generally makes me cringe. But this place hands out romance with hip Italian fashionable ease. And not a tacky violin player in sight. After a moonlit stroll alongside the coast as a digestivo, I hit #foodhappiness and thanked my ever Italian serendipity.