Palazzo Avino (formerly Palazzo Sasso) is a restored 12th century architectural marvel. Once built to be a palace it still serves its name well, the darling of the romantic village of Ravello, I’d call it the Narnia of the Amalfi Coast. Just as the Chronicles of Narnia are set in a fictional realm, a fantasy world of magic and myth; so in many ways, is Palazzo Avino and Ravello.
The spaghetti-like roads from Amalfi to Ravello retreat from the bubblegum coloured villages and hustle of the coast to the serenity of the mountains in such an easy fashion that you wonder how you ended up in paradise. A little like in the famous movie Lady and the Tramp, they get to the end of the shared spaghetti and get a wonderful surprise, in my case Palazzo Avino, in theirs a coy smooch.
The hotel is completely unassuming from the cobbled streets outside. In fact, if you weren’t keeping an eye out for an entrance you would very easily pass it by. No five star fanfare here. It doesn’t need it.
In the immortal words of Dean Martin, ‘When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie that’s amore…’ – this is exactly what you’ll feel star gazing from the manicured terrace of Palazzo Avino. This place induces seduces. The word ‘love’ is shaped into an anchor smelted from iron. It’s perched on the roof of the hotel, with a bird’s eye view over the mesmerising coast below. It’s in the suites; it’s on the walls, best to surrender to the Italian seduction now. Something exceptional must wait behind its dusky pink walls.
The logo of the hotel, a lion’s head in gold and white, holds court in the marble enhanced front entrance. It flows throughout the hotel; even the toilet paper is embossed. The lion denotes power and greatness; statues are scattered throughout, homage to this great virile beast that in comparison is surrounded by the pure cool virginal whites of the walls and orchids. It’s like a passionate play on colour and this is exactly what is captured in the foyer.
The works of Marco Nereo Rotelli depict a different angle of the hotel through his eyes, electric blues, ravishing reds and regal golds are vibrant and intense, evoking a kaleidoscope of emotions. No wonder weddings are becoming the norm here.
On the subject of weddings, in the lounge you will find different flavours of the Italian originated wedding favours -sugared almonds. Try the ricotta and pear. Another seemingly opposing match that is a marriage made in heaven.
When Mariella Avino took up the reins from her father Giuseppe in 1997 she was continuing her father’s love affair. Many moons ago, Giuseppe had a dream of opening an opulent hotel, and finally he did. The hotel opened for the second time in 1997and continues to attract lovestruck guests year after year. They have fallen hard just as Giuseppe did all those years ago.
It’s not just the owners who have fallen, the dedicated staff has also. The hotel has 32 rooms and 11 suites and has a staff to guest ratio of two employees per room. Intimate would be the operative word. The rooms are decked with Vietri tiles, antique carpets and modern nouveau riche furniture. Every morning you can chose between different scents of toiletries; from pomegranate to lemon and mandarin. The rooms are bright and airy thanks to the Gothic-eqsue arched windows.
Palazzo Avino is the only hotel in Ravello with a beach club. The Clubhouse by the Sea opened in 2009; located on the coast a 15 minute drive from the hotel. It has a restaurant – complete with an authentic pizza wood burner, changing rooms, a pool and direct access to the sea.
If you yearn for a refined culinary experience, try Rossellini’s, the two star Michelin restaurant with Michele Deleo at the helm. Michele motto is ‘cooking is love and passion’. Every dish is lovingly prepared, the ingredients chosen with care. The sommeliers know that the taste bud inducing aphrodisiac flavours must be accompanied by a suitable companion and like a chaperone they wait with bated breath to see the wine and food dance together before parting with a chaste agreement to meet again.
Further down the palm tree lined terraces; there is an outdoor heated pool, sundeck, plunge pools and a spa. For the more adventurous, try the Lobster and Martini bar. It has over 65 different martinis, the mixologist would gladly make it 66.
Allegedly, Humphrey Bogart and Gina Lollobrigida got close while staying here during filming ‘Beat the Devil’ a romantic gangster movie. Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini conducted their affair here. And DH Lawrence wasn’t far away when he wrote much of Lady Chatterley’s lover.
Love is everywhere. Surrender. Retreat with your bottle of prosecco to the rooftop Jacuzzi. Gaze up, and ’let the world seem to shine like you had too much wine’.
That’s amore. It certainly is Dean, it certainly is.
Via San Giovanni Del Toro, 2884010 Ravello
Italy Tel +39 089 818181
Fax +39 089 858900