10 August, 2019
Have you seen the Virginia suite?
How do you reinvent the San Pietro’s most iconic room, whilst ensuring the allure that struck Tina Turner, Julia Roberts and Barbra Streisand remains unchanged? How do you guard the past, while looking to the future? The easy answer is, there is no easy answer.
One of the most famous and published rooms on the Amalfi coast, Suite 59 has been emblematic of the old world charm and opulence which its spacious design conveyed. It was a symbol of the San Pietro, perfect for the era in which it was conceived. But as times change, so do the needs and expectations of modern day clientele. The suite needed refreshing and updating. Its renovation offered a unique and fascinating challenge.
Collaborating with architects Fausta Gaetani, Vivia Benini, Gaia Meriggioli and Ornella Ornaghi, San Pietro’s third generation of hotel owners, brothers Vito and Carlo Cinque, discussed how to transform the spacious 125-sqm room and still preserve elements of continuity with the original.
‘The room has to be fresh, unique and modern.’
‘Yes but it should remain iconic.’
‘It needs to be comfortable and cosy. A place that two people can share while giving them total privacy.’
‘How do we combine all the elements: the terracotta tiles , the marble, the symbolism of the suite and the coast?’
‘It should be a tribute to what came before and to our Uncle Carlino who designed it. If he was still here, at the same age we are, with the budget we have, what would he have liked to create?’
They thought carefully about which aspects made the suite original. The giant marble bathtub installed by Carlino. The coffee table with fish swimming inside its surface. The fact that the hotel, while on a cliff, is also on the sea.
This is how the idea of a sea theme was conceived and came to be realised.
Starfish float on the walls, are inlaid in the mirrors, or hand cut with colourful sea urchins, into the glazed terracotta floor tiles that stylize gentle waves rolling in from the sea outside. Water green and aquamarine fabrics, blue blown glass and giant seashell chandeliers, all conjure images of the hotel’s coastal geography. A playful three-piece aquarium panel decorates the wall behind the king-sized bed, hand painted by a well-known craftsman from Raito.
‘Pretend you are Chagall.’ Vito told the artisan, Lucio. ‘Drink five litres of wine, smoke a joint and start painting a representation of the sea.’ Which is exactly what Lucio did. He also exclusively designed and produced a series of unique ceramics for the suite in keeping with the theme.
The open shower, with an arched window overlooking the sea, enhances the natural brightness of the white marble, while real candles create a soft light effect. In the centre of the second bathroom set against exposed rock, sits an elegant bathtub with rounded white corners, inspired by traditional Japanese models.
The suite occupies an entire floor, with a privileged entrance to the panoramic swimming pool and direct access by lift. Keeping a careful balance between aesthetics and functionality, the renovation of the iconic Suite 59 was a true labour of love. It is little wonder that Vito and Carlo decided to rename it “the Virginia Suite”, in honour of their mother who loved and laboured in the San Pietro from its inception.
‘We always pay tribute to the family members who gave us the possibility of doing what we do now and making the San Pietro what it is today.’ Carlo said. ‘The restaurants Carlino and ‘Zass were named after our uncles. This time it’s our mother’s turn.’
The Virginia Suite is a synthesis of the San Pietro Hotel’s dedication to beauty, comfort and excellence and a tangible acknowledgement of the woman who has contributed to its myth.