Of the small villages on the deep blue Napolitan Bay on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, Ravello is probably the least explored. Perched at 1,150 feet above sea level with stunning views of the coast but with little exposure to the pebbly beaches of other resort destinations like Positano, Amalfi and Citara, it plays in a league of its own.
The small town, home to the Ravello Music and Cultural Festival, hides a 12th-century estate among the lush citrus and olive trees on the top of the hill. Palazzo Avino draws attention across the cobbled street that surrounds the Giardini Principessa di Piemonte public park. It houses a five-star luxury hotel, now led by sisters Mariella and Attilia Avino and first opened in 1997.
Mariella Avenue Champagne is optimistically preparing for the upcoming frenetic summer season. It has made it its goal to attract international visitors, who travel from faraway destinations and find a haven and a quiet place in the palace, with a modern twist to the local hospitality and the distinctive Neapolitan atmosphere.
“I love defining Palazzo Avino as a project, because it is constantly evolving,” says Aveno, who joined the family business in 2011 and has led its transformation since then.
She is credited with renaming the property Palazzo Avino from its previous name Palazzo Sasso and for introducing The Pink Closet, the hotel-run fashion boutique that sells pieces from young talent. With a background in Finance and a Master’s degree in Hospitality Management from the Hotel School in Lausanne, Switzerland, she returned home to take up the position of General Manager, stepping on the toes of her father Giuseppe Aveno.
“My inspiration comes from the desire to inject character and telegraph the identity of the surrounding area into the culinary and design choices, to make the hotel feel like home,” says Aveeno. The fact that her beloved Dachshund Richard is often seen roaming the estate only adds to that feeling.
Last year Palazzo Avino renovated seven rooms including the Belvedere Suite, with balcony overlooking the sea and private pool, with an interior design overseen by celebrity designer Cristina Celestino. The rooms are described by Aveno as the designed counterpart to the authentic palace ambiance. Inspired by the marine world with tones of aquamarine, coral red, and sand, the rooms feature curved beds and headboards set against slightly concave walls and surrounded by custom lamps that resemble pearls and seashells.
Aveeno’s eclectic personality is clearly reflected in her myriad emotions. Being a fashionista and avid traveller, she has been able to combine her two passions with her travels to international destinations, whether it’s New York, her city of choice, or Asia, where she often looks for the latest and emerging brands.
Before the pandemic, she had the idea to open The Pink Closet, located inside a former art gallery across from the hotel. “Over the years I’ve collected quite a few pieces from emerging designers discovered all over the world, and a couple of years ago I decided to share the fruits of my fashion research with hotel clients,” Aveeno says.
In the first year, Aveeno showcased the elements of fashion with which she had a romantic and personal connection, but soon realized that The Pink Closet could introduce a younger generation of creatives. As an ambassador for the Camera della Moda Fashion Trust, the non-profit organization founded in 2017 to support young Italian talent in developing their businesses, she had easy access to bustling but underdeveloped brands and invited a large group for the summer 2020 season.
“It is amazing to see customers being surprised by discovering new brands, and this is having a huge impact on the business of these young names, as these customers are returning to their homes and other resort destinations and publicizing them,” Aveeno says.
For the summer 2022 season, she’s chosen pieces from Gentile Cantone, AC9 and Amotea, all of which have created custom capsule collections.
“The Pink Closet is a creative lab that I am committed to nurturing. This concept also translates to product categories outside of fashion,” says Aveeno. For example, the boutique carries a selection of pottery from Vietri sul Mare, a craftsman based in Italy.
Avino offers “My goal is to move away from font papers and standardization.” “We have moved away from the concept of international hospitality to embrace and appreciate the local area.”
While welcoming international visitors, especially from the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom, it is clear that Avenue takes pride in its origins and wants its customers to experience the atmosphere that you will feel at home. She often credits her team, including staff who have been at the hotel for more than 20 years, for demonstrating the sense of authenticity that visitors are drawn to. She says her fondest memories are of joining the business and bonding with the team, receiving their support and ultimately shaping the hotel’s vision.
Several aspects prove this point.
Designed around a Moorish arched courtyard and featuring whitewashed walls, the palace, formerly a private home and now under the control of the Cultural Heritage Agency, has undergone a renovation aimed at preserving its original majestic architecture with selective appraisal. Aesthetics of the Amalfi Coast.
Each of the 33 rooms and 10 suites are meticulously decorated, with ceramics handcrafted by artisans from nearby Vietri sul Mare; Luxurious antique furniture, semi-baroque, from Italian and French masters of the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, and precious carpets. When it comes to the culinary experience, Aveeno has substituted Caesar salads and club sandwiches for local dishes, such as eggplant parmigiana, caponata ratatouille, and fish tartare.
With all the amenities it offers, Aveeno frankly admits that “you can’t even leave the house for four days,” but notes how post-pandemic tourists are eager to fill their daily schedule with activities, with the “flying wheel having an impact on the ‘local economy’,” she says.
The infinity pool overlooking the bay, the garden pool and solarium, a gym and spa offering treatments like aromatherapy, California massages, and facial and body rejuvenation procedures are just a few of the activities the palace offers. The hotel has developed a branded cosmetics line in partnership with Effegilab, distilling fresh, local fruits and plants, such as the Anorca apple, a tree native and abundantly planted in southern Italy, and the Sorrento lemon and apricot planted on the slopes of Vesuvio.
With the downsides of being relatively far from the beach, Palazzo Avino opened in 2009 a beach house located in Marmorata, a 15-minute drive from Ravello, that is filled with a restaurant serving Neapolitan pizza, a solarium, a pool and decks. to reach the sea.
According to Aveno, no visit to the Amalfi Coast would be complete without its share of mouthwatering culinary experiences. The hotel has three restaurants, including the casual Terrazza Belvedere – serving seafood pasta and signature Capresi pies; The Lobster & Martini bar with 100 different versions of the martini, and the Michelin-starred Rossellinis, with dishes like Luna Caprese dumplings made with lemon bread and filled with Corbarino tomatoes and Moscione cheese.
The culmination of Rossellini’s experience is at the Chef’s Table, which seats only four and overlooks the kitchen, and was recently renovated by Giuliano Delova. The concept is based on the traditional lottery board game Tombola, where each plate corresponds to a number and served as guests playing the game with pieces made of emerald green ceramic. Likewise, Sommelier’s Table is located inside a cave overlooking the wine library and is dedicated to cheese and wine lovers.