Hotel Mediterraneo, Sorrento, Italy – Review

Hotel Mediterraneo, Sorrento, Italy – Review (3)

By Kevin Pilley, May 2024

Father and son, Benito and Arturo Iaccarino know the ingredients of La Dolca Vita.

Arturo trusts coral waffle, seawater, chilli pepper threads and a large square block of ice. Slushy ice is taboo in a cocktail in southern Italy. It is not compatible with a life of pleasure, luxury and indulgence. He is a big fan of bourbon too.

And, of course, Champagne.

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View from the balcony

“Life of beauty”

Signor Iaccarino Senior creates his “sweet life” with yellow and red cherry tomatoes, pumpkin flowers, crispy bacon pancetta, “croccante” (crunchy) courgettes, the finest outsized Sorrento lemons, and freshly-shaven Mozzarella and Provolone del Monaco lemon cheese. Pursuing a life of beauty and the best, you must know your way around a wood oven or know someone who does. And know your toppings too.

Benito has worked for fifty years at the now 550Euro+ a night B&B Hotel Mediterraneo in the south Italian coastal city of Sorrento, 50km from Naples. Beginning as his father’s glass washer, Arturo succeeded him as bartender and mixologist at the hotel’s Ottermare and Sky Vista bars.

Benito now gives pizza-making lessons by the Acqua Pool, introducing guests and students to the secrets and pleasures of Neapolitan pizza. He also teaches you the art of the grinder, as well as the cheese shaver. No Dolce Vita is complete without plenty of black pepper and buffalo mozzarella. His speciality is his lemon-scented Mimosa. The hotel has even named a pizza after him – the Benito 50.

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Pizza making lessons are available

“One of the great sundowner venues”

The Mediterraneo’s Sky Vista, commanding views of the Bay of Naples and Capri, must be one of the great sundowner venues of the world. There, as you sip an Arturo aperitivo, you feel the high life course through you. If you order his “Vento In Poppa” you will be literally drinking with the wind at your back.

“I am like a Roman Emperor when I decide on my new cocktail list for the season, “ says Arturo. “I give an idea the thumbs-up or thumbs-down. The most successful of the previous season always stay on the card. Mocktails make up 50 percent of the list. My Acquazzurra is made with Steinbock alcohol-free sparkling, Seedlip spice 94, blue spirulina, lemon thyme and sea water.”

His Oltremare (“Under the Sea) is made with DUBL Brut, Caprisius gin, Italicus and blue spirula. His Barrier Reef with Belvedera vodka, Savoia aperitivo, elderflower syrup, cranberry juice and acqua faba (canned legume juice). “Red Sea” is made with Annurchino apple liqueur, Aglianico local red wine, cinnamon syrup and fresh lime.

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Sunset at Hotel Mediterraneo, Sorrento

“Palms rustling”

You have to have something special to toast the special sunset from such a special place. So special that, for non-residents, there is a minimum spend of 150 Euros to sit in “a front-line sofa” to watch and photograph the sun drop into the Tyrrhenian sea.

The hotel began as a two-star, but it is now very much a five-star. The staff has remained the same. It is a family hotel for the staff as well as guests. It is a happy place to be. For all. It is living proof that “a haven of tranquility” and “oasis” are not clichés. Around the pool, under the palm trees and beside the citrus grove, the only sounds are the palms rustling and the wisteria blossom gently floating down onto loungers. Even the waiter with the leaf blower disports himself elegantly and stylishly. Pan piped musak is low-key. Later, there are DJ sets on the roof terrace.

The only things that remind you where you are the sound of passing Vespas and the sight of menus.

Giuseppe Saccon, Executive Chef of the hotel’s clifftop Vesuvio Panoramic Restaurant was born in Torre del Greco . His culinary career began in Franciacorta, after an internship at the Albereta restaurant run by Maestro Gualtiero Marchesi, and then under Enrica Crippa. He arrived at the Mediterraneo in 2009.

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Inside the spa

“Respect for culture”

He delivers the good life with pasta from Gragano, Cetara anchovies, amberjack, friatelli sautéed broccoli and delicious “pienneo” and “datterni” baby tomatoes. His credo is a respect for culture, roots and simplicity, demonstrated by his reinterpretation of the recipes of the owners’ grand-mother, Antoinette Lauro (“Nonna Etta”) who turned the 1912 private residence of a shipping magnate into a hotel after the Second World War. He has reinterpreted her potato dumplings, browned sea bass and baba brioche dessert – rim or limoncello-soaked, mushroom-shaped and apparently inspired by the dome of St Sofia’s Church in Constantinople.

Knowledgeable beyond her years, Nadia Siggnano is on-hand to help with wine pairings such as Benito Ferrara Vigna Cicogna, Antonio Mazzellla Vigna del Lume Bianciociollella and Feudi di San Gregorio Priilegio Passito Fuiano. You can choose between a selection of the best Campanian wine (such as Taurasi, Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino) the Volcanoes ( including Lacryma Christi, grown with groe grown on Vesuvius) and Gli Scugnizzi (upcoming) regional wine producers and most iconic, “Mammasantissima”. Salvatore Iaccarino (no relation) is the charming restaurant manager.

Specialising in Arangara lemon and orange essence and Maria Galland rituals, Le Pietre (“Stone”) Spa offers “relaxing manouevres”, an “emotional shower” and ice waterfall. Yes, La Dolca Vita is impossible with excessive sebum build-up and bad nails.

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“Every moment”

Whether you are in the bar ordering ceviche with seared cuttlefish, the house lobster beetroot sandwich, one of Arturo’s “Pure Italian” G&Ts (Del Professore gin, J. Gasco tonic and Italian botanicals), a “Ulysses Temptation” (Malfy Gin with Aperitivo Gamondi) or an “American In Sorrento” (Bitter Campari Carpeno Antica Formula, local Nocino nut liqueur and red vermouth) at the Mediterraneo the “Good Life” is within your grasp every moment of your stay.

It is there among the parquet floors, Vietri ceramics and praline chocolate spheres. It’s in the beautiful Tyrrhenian Sea shallow blue-and-white décor. It’s at the private beach, accessible by elevator for 2,220-3,100 Euros a day (including a bottle of Moet & Chandon Brut Reserve Imperiale) with the Princess Valeri 14m private yacht at your disposal.

At Hotel Mediterraneo you cannot possibly bungle La Dolca Vita.

And the pizzas really are proper pizzas.


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