THE PALAZZO SASSO: Heaven on Earth…Living the Divine Life on the Amalfi Coast.

(photos by Genivs Loci)

Ravello, Amalfi Coast –. The radiant sun is shining brightly above this towering jewel known as Ravello, a village that has long inspired and captured the hearts of artists, musicians, and writers including Gore Vidal, who was instantly awestruck by its beauty, and so charmed by the local villagers that he decided to make Ravello his home–and oh what a glorious home that turned out to be.


For the last seven days, I, too, have discovered what it is like to reside in a glorious home in Ravello, as I have been made to feel like family while being a guest at the luxurious Palazzo Sasso. The stunning five-star hotel is a historic 12th century Italian villa tucked away in this terraced hill top village, and perched high on the cliffs, 350 meters (1,000 ft.) above the deep emerald green Mediterranean. Yes, along the Amalfi Coast, the sea is surprising shades of verdant green, depending on the time of day. By the way, Palazzo Sasso may have been erected in the 12th century, but her beautiful, immaculate interiors definitely defy her age.

As I gazed out each morning from my wide arched glass doors of suite 307 of Palazzo Sasso, it gave whole new meaning to the term, “A room with a view”, as I would feel the sudden, overwhelming desire to smile and just sing my heart out. But I managed to practice some self control so as not to wake the lovely honeymooners next door. But why in the world would anyone want to sleep in when right beneath your gaze an expanse of heaven awaits!

The Palazzo Sasso overlooks some of the Amalfi Coast’s most picturesque fishing villages. Since its opening as a brand new hotel in 1997, Palazzo Sasso has been rated as one of the world’s finest hotels and boasts its own two-star Michelin dining at Rossellinis. The cuisine is one of the very best with which I’ve treated my now seasoned and discerning palate. But there’s no doubt in my mind that the highly coveted second star was awarded in great part because of its impeccable service. Eager to sample the cuisine I had read so much about, I decided I would try it out, even if it meant dining alone on my first night. But the staff made me feel totally at ease as I savored bite after bite. There were moments however, that I hesitated to take that initial bite because each dish was so beautifully presented—I didn’t want to ruin it!

Ok, confession time. If I showed signs of being madly in-love with Italy before, well, any trace of doubt can now be totally erased. I can’t even begin to truly explain when or how my love of Italy took root. But I suspect it is for the same reason others have succumb. It is that inexplicable feeling, the tugging of the heart, that have caused many to return to this beautiful village time and time again…and for some, those fortunate enough to do so like Mr. Gore Vidal, who decide to make it a permanent love affair, by making Italy their home.


The Palazzo Sasso was named after the prosperous Sasso family from Scala, who were descended from San Romoaldo, founder of the Cistercian order, and San Dominico Sasso, the successor to Saint Dominico who created the Dominican order. Another ancestor was the legendary Gerardo, founder of the Knights of Malta. The “Ravello” branch of the family was linked to Cardinal Ottavio, Governor of the Emilia Romagna region during the reign of Pope Pius the III.

Palazzo Sasso, like many other buildings along San Giovanni del Toro, was part of the aristocratic quarter of Ravello during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

The Sasso family settled in Ravello around 1710 when Domenico Diego purchased the Palazzo Sasso from the noble Bonito family and subsequently restored it. In 1756, his son, Andrea, built the chapel, dedicated to Maria Maddalena Penitente, which is now the lobby of the hotel. Andrea died in 1758 without an heir.

The Palazzo Sasso was then abandoned until the beginning of the 19th Century when it was purchased by the wealthy Camera family. In the mid-19th Century, the first foreign visitors began to arrive, such as Francis Nevil Reid in 1851 and Richard Wagner. When James Becket bought and rebuilt Villa Cimbrone in 1904, Ravello attracted many prominent people, including Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, Maynard Keynes, D.H. Lawrence and Andre Gide. Following the example of other local families, The Camera family converted the Palazzo into a Hotel. In 1928 the Viullmieur family assumed the management of the hotel.

During the next half-century, Palazzo Sasso was known as Hotel Palumbo and its guests numbered kings, queens, aristocrats, poets and writers. On the declaration of war against France (in 1939), the French-born Duchess Anna of Aosta (wife of the Viceroy of Ethiopia) was applauded by the people of Ravello when she appeared on a terrace above The Principessa di Piemonte Gardens.

The beauty and tranquility of Palazzo Sasso has inspired many Twentieth Century personalities; the playwright Eduardo de Filippo wrote Saturday, Sunday, Monday on one of its terraces and General Eisenhower resided here while planning the attack on Monte Cassino. Former guests also recall Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini giggling over dinner in the restaurant.

This era was sadly interrupted in 1978, when the Viullmieur family gave up the Palazzo Sasso in favour of the Palazzo Confalone. The Palazzo then closed for 19 years.


Fully restored to its grandeur, it re-opened in July 1997 setting a new standard in the world of fine hotels. Unquestionably, its heavenly setting is a sight to behold. But what truly leaves an indelible mark in your heart and mind is the Palazzo Sasso’s superb staff. As the GM, Aaron Kaupp explains when asked how did he assemble such a fine team, he responded, “I purposely seek after those individuals who are blessed with the genuine gift of ‘people skills’…those who possess a natural love of people…something you can’t teach”–in which he also added, “their experience in the hospitality industry may sometimes be secondary because that is something that can be taught and perfected with time…but the ability to genuinely make each guest feel welcome and special is a definite gift.”

Aaron’s formula is undoubtedly working. One staff member who definitely possesses the ‘people skills’ of which Aaron speaks is the Front Office Manager, Antonio Ferrara, who played a vital role in ensuring that my days were filled with superb activities, that exemplified the tremendous variety that one can experience all along the Amalfi Coast. Whether you want to explore by land, or by sea, or even on foot; whether its new Italian culinary skills you desire, (I highly recommend Mamma Agata’s Cooking School–indescribable), or an evening of classical music, or just hanging out with the locals at the village restaurant, Antonio knows everybody–and I mean everybody on the Amalfi coast. The one activity he recommended, but I was unable to fit in–a scooter ride in Capri. He said, “Mel, it is a great way to get up close and personal, as it can get you to places not reached by the regular tourists.” So, there you go, I now have one more superb reason to come back to the Amalfi Coast. After all, this ESCAPESEEKER is all about doing the non-ordinary. And, there is absolutely nothing ordinary about the Palazzo Sasso!


The Palazzo Sasso is a wonderful place to gather with friends and family, after all, heaven is only “heaven” if you’re there with people you love right? My ESCAPESEEKER advance research team quickly discovered that the Palazzo Sasso is a perfect place to also make new friends. There’s something that happens when guests—some total strangers–begin their Amalfi day with Palazzo Sasso’s signature buffet breakfast…complete with omelets made to your exact specifications…served outdoors on the fragrant flower-scented terrace, surrounded by Spring’s bloom, while gazing out into that breathtaking Amalfi Coast that just seem to bring people together. My team and I ended up ‘adopting’ Evelyn and Rick from Canada, who just happen to be walking by the Palazzo Sasso one afternoon and loved it so much that they walked to the reception desk and asked if by chance they had any availability? Well, it was their lucky day. Evelyn and Rick ended up staying three days, and explored the entire Amalfi Coast with us. My advance team liked our newfound friends so much that they ended up leaving together. It seemed we had known them forever. And, as I stayed behind, savoring my last few days I had left at Palazzo Sasso, I couldn’t help but wonder. Is it the contagiously warm and friendly, familial spirit of Palazzo Sasso that makes it so easy to make new friends here? Or perhaps, when you’re in heaven, it is easy to recognize the angels who surround you?

I cannot wait to bring my talented film team to Palazzo Sasso. I know Jackson, Jason, Mike, and Christina will definitely feel as though they’ve died and gone to heaven…cinematographer’s heaven!

A sincere thank you to the Palazzo Sasso staff for making this ESCAPESEEKER research visit one we shall never forget. We definitely long to return, and this time, it will be our turn to immortalize (on film) the shining star of Ravello–THE PALAZZO SASSO!

Here’s to Blissful Escapes,


Leaving our ESCAPESEEKER trail…What a glorious day!

2 Responses to “THE PALAZZO SASSO: Heaven on Earth…Living the Divine Life on the Amalfi Coast.”

  1. geecru says:

    wowowowow… someday, maybe, we’ll check it out for ourselves. when i make it big.

  2. Christina says:

    I wish I was the “Christina” on all these fabulous adventures! These truly are AMAZING destinations!!!!

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