One of the most popular destinations in the world, Italy’s Amalfi Coast inspires dreams of sun-filled days on boats and pasta-based dinners in glittering postcard villages at night. While the Positano region’s social media star remains, insiders know that the best views of the fishing village-cum-hunting center come from quieter Praiano. To enjoy the view coupled with some of the coast’s best wines and food, I booked into Casa Angelina last summer in June.
Coming from Naples, I reserved a ride through MyDayTrip. The site chose to enjoy the view and avoid navigating the notoriously narrow busy road.
Along the way, our driver shared his passion for pizza, described the differences in “milk mountain” cheeses and took us for our first lemon granita overlooking the Sorrentine coast. We bowed past Positano, stopped for a snapshot and continued on our way to Praiano.
Casa Angelina attracts clients who appreciate clean, contemporary design, including myself. With its all-white decor, I found the modern difference to a sea of traditional hotels. The property has 42 rooms and suites spread over two different wings. The towers are connected by a communal lounge and bar and a serene swimming pool bordered by a pergola with lemon trees. All rooms, regardless of category, from classic, romantic to junior suites and the fantastic Eaudesea residences in former fishermen’s houses, have sea views and most have a terrace or balcony.
The furniture comes from local artisans. The headboards, bedside tables and desks, designed by architect Marco De Luca, are made by artisans in Sorrento. The ceramic floor tiles were designed by Daria Scuotto in Vietri Sul Mare, the last ceramic artist in the area.
While I chose the property for its art and design, I also wanted to experience the hotel’s highly regarded food and drink, from limoncello mojitos at the Seascape Cocktail Bar to a multi-course meal at Un Piano Nel Cielo, the property’s fine dining venue .
I had a sunset reservation to taste Leopoldo Elefante’s food. As chef of Casa Angelina, Elefante has been leading the culinary direction of the kitchen since 2017. A food writer and colleague recommended the experience, especially with wine pairings from the famously extensive list of Amalfi and Campanian labels.
“The wine of the Amalfi Coast is very clear,” said the sommelier, after taking our water order from the “water book”. We chose a bottle of sparkling from the Dolomites for its clean taste and low salt content, as described in the description.
For wine I asked to taste only local specialties like in 100 miles local. He only had the producer. “Our wines taste like nothing else in the world because we use grapes that come from the terrain and are kissed by the salty sea breeze, thrive on our volcanic soil and enjoy the heat of the sun,” he continued in romantic prose.
He came back with a bottle of Marisa Cuomo. I wanted to visit this estate, located 15 minutes away in a vertical slot above the sea in Furore, but lacked a car and the will (or wallet) to pay a taxi 80 euros for the privilege.
We sampled a few more Amalfi wines, including a blend of Falanghina and Biancolella, both notable for their acidity and mineral structure.
In fact, hardly any international grapes have infiltrated the region; vineyard plots, considered small from antiquity even for a staggeringly poor region, are planted almost exclusively with native varieties.
As we walked through the menu, we sampled local produce and freshly caught fish still glistening from the ocean dew. A stunning display of crudo spanned a briny oyster, succulent sweet langoustine and buttery white fish carpaccio, paired perfectly with the electric zip of the Bianco blend.
A silky, rich tagliolini of 36 egg yolks, mixed with a dash of Amalfi lemon and rolled up in a nest studded with shrimp and dill, made me question every pasta dish I’d ever eaten in America.
We finished on a high note of limoncello and went to our soft bed to sleep and digest, knowing that breakfast the next morning would bring another exercise in eating excellent.
Casa Angelina’s breakfast is known among its loyal customers. Tables deep in sweet treats, from lemon ricotta cakes, donuts and muffins, cheese and cold cuts, fruit and jam and yogurt, complement a menu of eggs cooked to order and other house specialties.
I expected to eat at Casa Angelina, and we did. Fortunately, the 250 stone steps to the private beach club on the water helped me cut the calories or at least break even.
Casa AngelinaVia Gennaro Capriglione, 147, 84010 Praiano SA, Italy