The exquisite Casa Angelina occupies a spotless villa in one of the very best locations on the Amalfi Coast. From its elevated position, it provides the guests in its 39 rooms with a panorama which embraces Positano, Capri and a substantial stretch of the most famous coastline in the world. Reached by a vertiginous private road, it has the feeling of a luxurious retreat. In the mornings I counted just three sounds: the bell of the local church calling the faithful to prayer, the birds singing to welcome the new day and a distant cockerel proclaiming his masculinity. ‘Heavenly’ is the word which came to mind.
The hotel is in the small town of Praiano, between Amalfi and Positano. ‘Praia’ means beach, and the hotel does, indeed, have its own private beach, which can be reached by a lift. But I preferred to stay up in the main building, surrounded by a gathering of glass sculptures by Sosabravo (part of the collection of modern art of Signor Cappiello, the owner) and gaze out of the plate glass windows at the sparkling seascape. Sometimes I was tempted out of the sitting rooms and onto the terrace for my afternoon pot of Earl Grey. But, whether outside or inside, I was always conscious of what a privilege it was to be in so beautiful a spot.
My room, number 310, was a ‘Romantic Double’. (You will need to check the hotel website for the prices for specific dates.) It was, like the rest of the hotel, very white. If, like me, you do not travel light, you might wish to secure a higher category of room, for the amount of space was modest. Still, everything was impressively pristine, and the bed had been made deliciously soft for me. A hallway, with hanging space and a safe, had a sliding door to the bathroom and then led round to the bedroom, with its Bang & Olufsen television receiver. Another sliding door opened from the sleeping quarters to my balcony. And there, of course, was the lovely view. In the bathroom I found one wash basin, a bath tub of good size (with a shower over), a loo, a bidet and toiletries by L’Occitane. This apartment, like the rest of the property, was immaculately maintained.
The Managing Director of the Casa Angelina is Domenico de Simone. I present to you a picture of him with myself and the Executive Chef, Leopoldo Elefante. My photographic companions look contented – and so they should, for they head a staff which deserves high praise. Everyone with whom I had to do here was friendly, efficient and courteous.
The hotel is particularly proud of it breakfasts. Indeed, the Casa Angelina serves one of the best breakfasts in Italy. It is not the extent of the buffet which calls forth this tribute. (It is certainly extensive, but anyone can lay on an extensive buffet.) It is the exceptional quality of what is laid out. I tried the melon, the pineapple, the raspberries, the blueberries, the fruit salad, the fruit tart, the honeycomb, the gravadlax, the roast beef, the asparagus, the prosciutto (carved to order by a chef), the croissants, the crusty bread and the marmalade, and I can say without a hint of exaggeration that they were all magnificent. Indeed, they were so good that I had to make a serious effort of will not to eat far more than was good for me. And added to these delights were the hot dishes cooked to order. My mushrooms on toast were some of the best I have found in any hotel. These delights were eaten off fine white Schönwald crockery set upon a sky blue tablecloth as I sat in a white wicker armchair and contemplated the sky and the coast from the terrace of Un Piano nel Cielo, the hotel’s top-floor restaurant.
All this suggests a real talent in the kitchen. And, of course, there is one – the aforementioned Chef Leopoldo Elefante. In the evening, again on the terrace, I chose four courses from his carte (for which you should allow around 120€), and enjoyed a dinner of beautifully presented and intelligently conceived food.
I began with ‘the Chef’s Garden’, a crescent of mashed potato topped with tiny pieces of raw and cooked vegetables. This was a really lovely and precisely judged medley of tastes and textures. Next, at my special request, came yielding tagliolini with lots of black truffle (from Irpinia) – as luscious and rich as I had anticipated. Then my meat was magnificent, for it was Scottona Marchigiana beef – tender and intensely tasty fillet. The millefeuille which ended this happy meal was blessed with cherries and vanilla custard. But no, this was not the end, for with the coffee arrived a chariot bearing slabs of the most gorgeous chocolate, from which pieces were sliced to satisfy my sweet tooth. Magnifico!
In a place of such quality and sophistication, you would expect the incidentals to be just right, and they are. The glasses are by Riedel and by Zalto. Napkins are replaced when guests leave the table for a moment. The waiters and waitresses in their loose grey shirts – orchestrated by the Restaurant Manager Luigi Aprea and the Maitresse d’ Giusy Benvenuto – are discreetly efficient. And a special mention must be made of the delicious bread, which arrives at each table as a whole, warm loaf.
The wine list is a grand document, with 979 bottles and 99 magnums. Indeed, with such an extensive document, an index would be very welcome. Most of the offerings are Italian, but France is well represented and there are some well-chosen ‘others’. Prices on the list struck me as reasonable for an establishment of this quality. They run from 25€ for a Tuscan pomino bianco to 2,570€ for the 1996 vintage of Pétrus. If you like your 2001 clarets, here you can conduct the very finest horizontal tasting with your friends, with Cheval Blanc (450€), Latour (590€), Margaux (650€), Haut Brion (680€), Mouton Rothschild (650€) and Lafite (900€). If you prefer 2012 super-Tuscans, Sassicaia is 290€, Masseto is 750€ and Luce is 140€. For your bubbly, Krug Grande Cuvée is 270€ and the wine I regard as Italy’s Krug, Annamaria Clementi, Franciacorta, Cà del Bosco, is 200€ in its 2008 vintage.
Guided by the knowledgeable sommelière, Tania Solito, I found a local red which was ideal for the beef – warm and approachable and full of ripe black and red fruit (Furore Rosso, Marisa Cuomo, 2016 – 35€). This was splendid drinking in a splendid restaurant in a splendid hotel.
If, like me, you love the Amalfi Coast, you will love the Casa Angelina.
Via Capriglione 147, Praiano 84010, Amalfi Coast, Italy.
Telephone +39 089 813 1333
Fax +39 089 874 266
Double rooms from around 420€, bed and breakfast, according to season
See the hotel website for specific dates and special offers