Arriving by car from Positano, Santa Caterina appears to be little more than a gleaming white façade at a curve in the road to Amalfi. From the Amalfi side, it looks more like a hotel. A lovely hotel, to be sure, but not nearly as majestic as it is in reality.
It was at the Santa Caterina in the 1960s that Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton began their tumultuous relationship while filming Cleopatra. Several decades later, Brad and Angelina experienced similar emotions, and they’ve been together ever since.
Kim Kardashian was probably at Santa Caterina on her honeymoon longer than she was married to Kris Humphries. On a tamer note, Hilary and Chelsea Clinton have even spent some time there.
So what is it about the Santa Caterina that makes it so infectious and charming?
Like most places along the
In 1904, Giuseppe’s son, Crescenzo, redesigned the property with six guestrooms. Today, the resort features 66 rooms and suites, most with southern exposure that reveal views that combine mountains, gardens and the sea.
Day-to-day operations have since yielded to Cescenzo’s daughters, Giusi and Ninni Gambardella, along with other family members, who delight in taking personal interest in the comfort and enjoyment of their guests.
Visitors come, and visitors go, yearning to return, but the staff remains to preserve the hotel’s trademark style and service. When you live in paradise why go anywhere else? The result? No matter when guests come back, familiar smiles greet them, and that continuity has major appeal.
Resting at the summit of an expansive stretch of land along the Amalfi road, Santa Caterina is deceptive in its spaciousness.
Once inside the white tiled lobby, a short walk past the restaurant to a lovely balcony that overlooks the sea, reveals a series of landscaped terraces, a serpentine citrus grove and jagged rock-bound cliffs that plunge into the water a thousand feet below.
With its southern exposure, Santa Caterina points a perpetual face to the sun, taking advantage of every ounce of daylight from sunrise to sunset. So familiar do guests become with the peaceful stream of liquid stars that dance across the water during the day or the night, that the hotel has adopted the phenomenon as a symbol of the property.
Just down the hill, Amalfi buzzes with the same daily routines that have endured for centuries. The hotel offers regular drop-off and pick-up van service to and from the village, on the half-hour, for guests who choose to ride rather than walk to town.
Less commercial than Positano, its sister city down the coast, Amalfi offers superb restaurants, lively ambience, plenty of shopping and easy access to Capri, Ravello, Positano, Maori, Minori, Atrani and Vietri. Not quite as accessible, but easily arranged for day trips, visitors can also do tours of
Passageways to Santa Caterina’s rooms are a miniature labyrinth leading to accommodations that offer individuality in each chamber.
Most bedrooms feature balconies with a sea view and brightly colored tiles from nearby Vietri. Many travelers enjoy an excursion to Vietri’s shops where they can purchase unique souvenir tiles as mementos of their trip.
Santa Caterina’s kitchen is arguably the best in the area, which makes dining a delight for guests.
The menu features a wide range of classic
Dual elevators burrow through sheer rock before opening into a small grotto that leads to the exercise room and pool area. Many female guests enjoy the freedom of topless sunbathing, while the poolside bar is well positioned for male American visitors to gawk in relative anonymity.
Santa Caterina is open year-round with rates for a Double Superior room with a sea view ranging from 340 euros to 850 euros. Suites go for 550 euros to 2,000 euros. Breakfast and service are included, but there is a 10% VAT.
One cautionary note when traveling along the
The staff and hospitality at this little gem of a hotel nestled atop the craggy hills of Amalfi are a sure-fire guarantee that one day you’ll be back. It works even better than throwing a coin over your shoulder at Trevi Fountain in
Best of all, no matter how long you stay away, when you do return, those same newfound friends on the staff will be right there waiting to greet you again.
Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in Charlotte, NC, founder of The Magellan Travel Club which creates and escorts customized tours to Switzerland, France and Italy for groups of 12 or more. Inquiries for groups can be made at Peabod@aol.com Taylored media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others. As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 69 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries.
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