The Amalfi Coast hadn’t been seen like this for years. Even at the Santa Caterina hotel you hear more Italian than English, and no spoon is made available to eat spaghetti as it was done up until two years ago, assuming I was a foreigner. We know that without Americans, above all, the Coast of today is not a sustainable tourism system, but even returning to tourism as before is no longer sustainable for the planet, as also recently demonstrated by an article in the New York Times.
It is necessary to think about new models and listen to what travel designers who are used to organizing travels say ultra rich Americans: «It is true that they all want to come to Italy, but there are still too many logistical difficulties for us to return to normalcy as before. We will have to wait until at least 2022, ”says David Prior, a former Condé Nast Traveler journalist and now a travel operator. The new normal requires hoteliers to take a closer look at the European markets and also the Italian one. The new normality, in fact, contemplates that even Italians do not seek only exotic islands, but return to enjoy the nearby places, so famous in the world for their beauty, elegance and luxury.
The mood of the new generation of Santa Caterina
At Santa Caterina you quickly enter the Amalfi mood. The hand-painted tiles, the airy living rooms, the French windows open to the sea. The Gambardellas, owners since the hotel opened with six rooms in 1904, are always around, easily confused with guests. Crescenzo, who represents the new generation, is immediately recognizable: linen shirt, Bermuda shorts, Birkenstock sandals and the terrier Cecilia always close by, ready to party to the guests, conquering them inexorably. He spends lunch with friends and guests on the terrace, and recommends dishes you won’t regret, such as calzone with ricotta and salami cooked in a wood oven.
He is an example of the local-international style of the area: Campania accent, fluid English, easy elegance. On that terrace overlooking the sea you could spend an entire holiday, going down a few steps for a dip in the sea or going up some for a walk in the gardens of sfusato amalfitano, the IGP lemon with which the chef prepares desserts and flavor dishes. The starred restaurant is a few flights up, on a veranda overlooking the gulf, under a wisteria pergola that also gives the place its name. Giuseppe Stanzione is the cook of the past, a lot of backstage and few words. Which on the other hand do not serve much: to remember his cuisine just taste the shellfish cocktail with yellow tomatoes from Vesuvius, the spicy semolina rice with king crab and crunchy bread crumbs and the turbot with sea urchin ice cream. Not to mention the pasta with potatoes and scamorza cheese of the typical restaurant: very simple and unforgettable in front of a sunset over the sea.
Gourmet paths scented with sfusato lemon
But the Amalfi Coast is not just sea, summer and high-end hotels. Just look at it with different eyes, as explained by Peter Hoogstaden, a Dutch operator specializing in responsible tourism who has mapped 200 km of trails for each level of mountaineer: a heritage that of the trails, which Slow Food, in collaboration with the local Tourist District, has transformed. in gourmet itineraries between Positano, Amalfi, Ravello, Tramonti, Maiori, Cetara and Vietri sul Mare, with stops in restaurants, in the workshops of small food artisans, farms. With Salvatore Aceto, the appointment is at the foot of the steps of the Duomo, in Amalfi: at 10 he loads the tourists and takes them to the family lemon grove, 13 hectares and six varieties, vertically on the mountain. By now the cultivation has been accompanied by tours to tell about this heroic activity, so hard that many have already abandoned it. The Aceto family, on the other hand, resists even with the seventh generation, all working on the terraces or in the kitchen, up to their son in his early twenties who has just graduated in agriculture. Halfway through the journey, fresh lemonade or limoncello break, lemon cake or pasta, depending on the time.