Meet Antonio & Giulia Sersale, the owner and the green thumb of Le Sirenuse.

On the spectacular Amalfi Coast, just outside the pedestrian-only centre of Positano, is a hotel that has been owned by the Sersale family since it opened in 1951 when siblings Aldo, Paolo, Anna and Franco Sersale turned their summer home into a resort. To this day, the hotel retains the intimate, cultured atmosphere of a private home, overlooked by Franco’s son, Antonio Sersale. And while Antonio makes sure the hotel remains an abode of warmth and intimacy for his clients, Giulia Sersale, his cousin, looks after and entertains the other “guests” of the hotel… the thousands of houseplants and trees of Le Sirenuse.

Le Sirenuse Hotel Family History and Expansion

Le Sirenuse is an exceptional hotel but it’s also the story of a family. Tell us more about it, Antonio.

Antonio: Well, this hotel was started in 1951 by my father, his two brothers and his sister. Previously, they were living in Naples, and during World War II, they moved to Positano to avoid the bombings in Naples. And after the war, they decided to turn the house where they’d spent the summer into a hotel. And it opened with around 12 rooms in 1951.

Which they then expanded after some years?

Antonio: Indeed. They bought the house next to it, so it opened with one house then they purchased this house next to it, and then they had some gardens on which they built a few things.

And to this day, Le Sirenuse is still wholly run by the family?

Antonio: Yes, I’m the second generation. My father was one of the partners, and I took over in 1992. Together with my two cousins, we run the hotel, and now we have the wonderful new generation coming in, that you met…my son Aldo, and we have another son as well who is working with my wife on the clothing line of Le Sirenuse, so this is the future.

Aldo also went to école hôtelière, and he’s had a lot of experience in the food and beverage industry, so he brings a lot of experience and a lot of new ideas, which is very exciting. The important thing is that we don’t step on each other’s toes. When my son arrived, it was nice to be able to give him the opportunity to have something that he can get involved with and feel that he can make a difference. Because, you know, very often, a new generation joins a family business and they are given no space, so they become frustrated and then they want to leave.

Le Sirenuse Decor and Atmosphere

Giulia, thank you talking to us! Just like Antonio, you are one of the current leading forces behind Le Sirenuse, however you are in charge of a very peculiar aspect of the hotel which does so much for the décor and atmosphere. Tell us all about it!

Giulia: We are all plant lovers, basically, and there are more plants than people in the hotel. So, especially in the summertime, you know, people come and they look at them, and we have a lot of ornamental plants inside, and we have a lot of Italian and, I would say, Mediterranean plants outdoors.

Indoor, we also have a lot of these plants that come from Southeast Asia, like these ornamental banana trees that are typical of that part of the world, but they’ve managed to adapt nicely here. Overall, I’d say about we have a thousand plants in the hotel.

What is incredible here is that the garden is as much inside as it is outside.

Giulia: Yes, the garden is truly everywhere. But it is a part of the Italian tradition to have indoor plants because we have a very mild climate. In Naples, especially, they don’t even have central heating indoors, because they have quite mild winters and plants dry up with central heating.

Antonio, what makes Le Sirenuse different from the other hotels of the Amalfi Coast?

Antonio: What I think makes this hotel very special is that a family house has been converted into a hotel, so it maintains very much the feeling, the atmosphere of a private house. It’s more a house than a hotel. And so the way that people behave, the way that people act, the way that people interact with the staff, is very much the feeling of a private house.

Also, this hotel is a hub from which guests love to do excursions. For example, they might go, one day, to visit Pompeii and Herculaneum, Ravello or take a private boat and go to a restaurant on the coast. They might go visit, for example, Naples. People like to think that this place is a place where you combine holiday and culture so amazing food, beautiful views, amazing sea, but also history, which is very rare. Because if you go to, for example, an island where there is nothing but a pretty hotel, after 2 days, you get bored while here, there is always something to do.

Views, Facilities and Dining at the Le Sirenuse

One of our favourite spots at the hotel –which is unlike anywhere else we’ve seen is really the restaurant and pool area. What went into the design there?

Giulia: So, in the restaurant area, we have a lot of beautiful Lunario lemon trees. The Lunario lemon is very typical of this area and it’s very decorative because the lemons stay attached quite long, even when they are very ripe. With other lemon trees, the lemons would drop a lot earlier.

The entire restaurant is also filled with bougainvillea vines climbing up the arches, and this was the idea, to cover the entire arched ceiling with bougainvillea and have them come together with the chandeliers, which were my uncle Franco’s idea. And the chandeliers have been made especially for us, and they resemble plants, of course, because coming down from the ceiling, which is covered with the beautiful bougainvillea vines, they could be nothing else but beautiful leaves.

And we have something similar on the tables, all with little cups and candles inside. They get lit every evening by one person and there are about 420 candles. This creates a magical atmosphere.

And, of course, there’s that gorgeous view of the Bay of Positano. What does this place mean to you?

Antonio Sersale: Positano is a place I love, the place I enjoy spending time and the place where my life takes place really. I mean, it’s everything to me. I’ve dedicated my life to this hotel. I live here 7-8 months a year, then I go away from time to time, to another house we have in Rome, but mostly, I spend my time here. This is our home.

For more exclusive interviews, stay tuned! Book the Le Sirenuse hotel with Lartisien.

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