“When you tell people you are going to Italy, their hearts melt, whether they have been there before or not.” – Sue Condon, proprietor at Podere Vigiliano in Umbria.

It is with this premise that Sue and I ventured on our girlfriend getaway to the Costiera Amalfitana, relying on a few tips from Susan Van Allens 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go and our sense of adventure.

Centuries of seasons have sifted down to create this heavenly slice of the rich Almalfi Coast layered with ravages of time, rages of passion and ravenous tongues.

Our first encounter is with the debonair General Manager Aaron Kaupp at Palazzo Sasso, a 5 STAR luxury resort built on the foundation of a 12th century castle ruin, as is much of Ravello.

The hotel, perched high on the cliffs, was purchased in 1997 with only one terrace still intact, the rest rubble to the street below. Over the past years the terraces have been carefully restored. A walk through the property reveals the attention to details and the lavish customer experience. Hand painted Vietri tiles tucked throughout throughout caught my eye. Delightful to discover and marvel. Somewhere there is a helicopter landing and far below is a private beach “Sasso by the Sea ” a15 minute shuttle or limo drive from Ravello. Speaking of limo’s, yes. For some that is the only way to brave the roads.

What’s truly different is this hotel is only open from April to October – every year! The first two weeks of April are considered Low Season and have rates to match with sea views starting at $379 Euro to $1600 Euro. Then comes Medium Season til May and then High Season is in full earnest at $530 to $2,300 Euro per night til October 20th. When we visited the hotel in late 2010 it was fully booked in high season – so keep this popular demand in mind when planning your stay.

The hotel boasts 32 deluxe rooms and 11 luxury suites, of which 70% face the breathtaking views.

Enjoy stunning views from the hotel rooms and terraces of red terracotta rooftops and neatly trimmed olive and lemon orchards, each level stacked neatly high above the sparkling Mediterranean below dotted with multi-colored bobbing boats moored along the shore.

One or two terraces down is the open air fitness area and the sparkling pool. The only thing keeping me from diving into the inviting heated pool was the storm clouds gathering on the horizon. The stunning SPA has a hydro pool, Turkish steam bath, assorted beauty treatments and a solarium with Jacuzzi pools.

There is plenty of gorgeous niches to dine al fresco at Palazzo Sasso but with the clouds hovering we opted for the warmth and style at Caffé dell’Arte for a leisurely luncheon. An intimate moorish style dining room attended by the Camenari: Daniele, Franchesco, Victorio and Giraldo. Yes ladies, we were catered to by no less than four Italian gentlemen, clearly long term loyal staff who aim to please the clientele.

We began by toasting to a unique moment in our lifetime with white peach Bellinis (better than the infamous Bellinis at Harry’s in Venice)
Our menu consisted of a salad of fresh arugula with a bitter snap to it, thinly sliced carpaccio exquisitely flavored with a tinge of balsamic on wild bitter greens and three beautifully baked and dressed cannelloni rolls stuffed with ricotta and a dash of Campagna. We ate very morsel – engaging in the studied practice of eating mindfully.

Our waiter Danielle shared with us that the wine we selected was from Costa d’Amalfi Ravello vineyard where vitnerMarisa Cuomo cultivates, collects and presses the wine herself – brava Marisa!

Ahh dessert. The raspberry sorbet sent pleasing shock waves of sweet juices throughout my lower jaw all the way to my ears. The rum soaked Baba was to die for. The lemon sorbet is light and refreshing on top of a crispy flaky pastry layered with white lemon cream and adorned with bits of fresh fruit. Finished with espresso.

Palazzo Sasso is a must stay. If its a bit a rich for your travel budget then plan on dining at this Michelin 2 Star destination and create your very own never-to-be-repeated moment in time.

Travel + Leisure – USA August 2010 – “Named Palazzo Sasso # 1 Hotel in Europe and # 8 in the World in the
2010 World’s Best Awards.

Via San Giovanni del Toro 28
84010 Ravello – Amalfi Coast, Italy
Tel + 39 089 818181
Fax + 39 089 858900