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The hotel ‘Il San Pietro di Positano’: the stuff of dreams

The San Pietro in Positano, a place where Made in Italy hospitality has been tangible for fifty years and where you can breathe passion and homely warmth.

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The summer season in Italy has recently ended on an entirely positive note for the tourism sector, with numbers fortunately returning to pre-pandemic levels in many cases. Hotels from north to south of the country have welcomed millions of international tourists, particularly American tourists. Thanks to the favourable exchange rate, they have resumed visiting their favourite destinations, including the Amalfi Coast.

The ‘Best Small Hotel in the World

And it is right here, in the picturesque village of Positano, that you will find ‘Il San Pietro di Positano‘, a five-star hotel considered the ‘Best Small Hotel in the World‘. This place is where Made in Italy hospitality has been tangible for fifty years, and you can breathe passion and home warmth.

This is all to the credit of Carlo Cinque (nicknamed the dreamer), a visionary man born in 1911. At 22, he convinced his father Alfonso to sell him the family home on the road between Praiano and Positano and turned it into a hotel. First came the Miramare in the heart of the village, the first hotel in Positano, which in 1934 was an unknown ‘vertical’ village on the coast inhabited by families of fishermen and peasants who laboriously cultivated the land. The town was connected by dirt roads and was known for guarding the Byzantine icon of the Black Madonna.

A retreat for officers on leave during World War II

When the American troops landed in Salerno in 1943, at the height of World War II, Carlo Cinque and the mayor of Positano, proud and aware of the place’s beauty, went in person to meet US General Mark Clark and invite him to spend a few days on the Coast and use the Miramare as a base for officers on leave.

In 1962, Carlo Cinque bought the promontory between Positano and Praiano. At that time, the land only housed a small 15th-century chapel dedicated to San Pietro, and it would take eight years of work to open the hotel ‘Il San Pietro’. On 29 June 1970, the hotel debuted with thirty-three rooms embodying the founder’s very special vision: first and foremost, to be invisible. Carlo wants the structure to fit as harmoniously as possible into its surroundings. He designs terraced gardens and paths, plants trees from all over the world and then decides that the building must not have sharp edges and right angles. The keyword is sinuosity, like that of waves or clouds.

A place loved by celebrities, actors and writers

This is the beginning of the myth of a place where everything is storytelling, a refuge of the heart, loved over the years by celebrities, actors and writers like John Steinbeck, who have made it world famous.

One of the most famous episodes was Marcello Mastroianni’s phone call on a day when the hotel was theoretically fully booked. Carlo did not want to give up hosting the great actor, so within a few hours, he managed to carve out a new room from the large terrace. Mastroianni, who was filming with Catherine Deneuve, stayed there for three months. Later, the initially improvised room was rebuilt and named ‘Otto e mezzo’ as a tribute to the famous Fellini film starring Mastroianni.

Only a visionary genius like Carlino could give the world Il San Pietro, a hotel inextricably linked to the present ‘and constantly projected into the future’.

Today, San Pietro is run by Carlo’s grandchildren and is the flagship of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux chain. Andrea Zana, from Brescia, has been the director for ten years and manages dozens of employees who tell the best stories of the place!

Congratulations to the Made in Italy hotels that focus on quality and bring the beauty of Italy to the world!

Learn about other successful Italian companies in the world of hospitality and tourism.