I love travelling. For me travel is an experience which creates wealth in my life. I’ve brought Miss H up to understand that you can buy things, you most likely love them when you first get them, but they won’t be what you remember in years to come. I can count the childhood memories of shopping with my parents on one hand, but the fun times we experienced together on family holidays are endless and it’s these memories that make up a life in my opinion.
Good travel experiences are not necessarily about being in the swankiest hotels or eating at a Michelin starred restaurant, nice as these things are. For me good travel experiences come from the love, laughter, friendships and enjoyment of living in the moment. That’s why our summer holiday this year was so special. We had a blast: we did eat in Michelin starred restaurants and listened to famous Jazz musicians as they performed on a stage overlooking the Amalfi coast line, but we also ate fresh caught fish on the harbour front, made friends with Bistro and Interior shop owners and navigated the hairpin bends of the coastal road with trepidation!
For me the highlight of our vacation was Sorrento. After 7 days in Ravello it was time to move on and Mr H mentioned, in passing, that the next hotel was modern too. Our first hotel, Villa Piedimonte in Ravello was a minimalist haven with sleek lines and white furniture. It was lovely and I completely get the whole minimalist scene but as an ex-interior designer who specialised in what I referred to a ‘contemporary country styling’ it was a little too stark for me. Given that Mr H had said the next hotel was equally modern I was expecting much the same. We were only staying in Sorrento for 3 nights so I was looking forward to a new location whatever the décor. But imagine my face when we walked into La Minervetta.
It was a riot of colour and style which assaulted the senses and had me reaching for me camera. My jaw was quite literally on the floor. To say I was in heaven was an understatement. It’s one of the selection of boutique hotels offered by Mr and Mrs Smith.
Mr H had racked up some serious brownie points with this hotel booking I can tell you!!
Looking back at my photos it feels like living in a Picasso painting. If there was a space to be filled, then it was filled with an eclectic mix of gorgeousness. Nothing was missed and everything was as it should be – a real country house hotel perched on the cliff side overlooking the Marina Grande.
Built in the 1950s by the current owner’s grandparents, it was run as a restaurant until 2006 when it was transformed into this wonderful hotel by the grandson of the original owners, himself a renowned architect. It is run like a family home with breakfast laid out in the house and on the terrace and a buffet at 5pm-ish to tide you over until supper. Every room is unique and has a fantastic sea view and view of the Marina Grande, a unique working fishing village filled with locals and tourists going about their day. Every morning a group of what we called ‘the retired oldies’ would congregate on the beach for an early morning swim and gossip before the tourists were even at their breakfast tables and every evening it turned into a bustling port filled with diners.
On our first evening we descended the private staircase leading to the Marina Grande – some 300 steps have been cut into the cliff face to reach the hotel’s private lap pool, half way down, and the Marina at the very bottom.
We ate fresh fish with the waves lapping underneath the pier at Delfino. This family run restaurant catered for all tastes from pastas to vegetarian but the fresh fish was particularly good - as you’d expect from a restaurant so near the sea. Our second dining experience was rather less formal and involved haggling for a table at Porta Marina Seafood, the family run restaurant on the far side of the Marina Grande. Here the days catch was brought into the restaurant by one of the family fishermen who, having set sail at 4am was ready with a catch by lunchtime. Fishermen Gabriele, Michele, Gaetano, Antonino or Amedeo were in charge of supplies while their catch was and served by yet more of the family. Gabriele’s daughter was front of house and ensured orders were taken, beers were offered to those standing and waiting for a table (get there before 7.30pm for any chance of a table without a wait) and local specialities explained. Fine dining it was not, but it was great fun and offered a real chance to watch the sun set and eaves drop on the conversations of holiday makers from across the globe!
Sorrento itself was a beautiful mix of classical architecture and modern culture. The historic part of the city is beautiful and dates back to the Romans being a favourite of Emperor Augustus. Today it is a mix of culture, maritime history and art. Walking through the centre we happened across the Piazza Sant’Antonino and a delightful store and bistro D’Anton.
I couldn’t quite decide if it was a bar or store but it had a beautiful collection of interior items which reminded me of La Minervetta so we went in for a chat and a rummage. Run by a brother and sister team, it turned out La Minervetta was a client of the young owners’ mother, a local interior designer whose eclectic taste graces many a local hotel as well as those further afield. What a small world! The Bistro is delightful and offers fresh local produce prepared and cooked with love and served as you would at home. It embodies everything that the young owners were brought up with, family, food and friendship. From a Bruschetta with fresh local tomatoes and basil to the Board D’Anton a collection of fresh local cheeses, hams and salami, served with honey, marmalade and nuts. These specialities of the region are of a quality you don’t see served in tourist bistros these days!
Three days simply wasn’t long enough to do Sorrento justice so another visit is definitely on the cards and this time we‘ll stay longer and take a boat trip to Capri and Amalfi too. See you there!