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Time Traveler

Time Travel: Travel Back in Time on the Amalfi Coast

September 6, 2010 -

On a peaceful, picturesque corner of the Sorrento peninsula, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Naples, lies a 16th century Jesuit Monastery, now the Grand Hotel Cocumella.

Set amongst an oasis of citrus groves and beautiful gardens, the hotel's name comes from the nymph Colomelide, meaning honey pot, so called by the Jesuit fathers due to the phenomenal position and incredible fertility of the landscape.

The Grand Hotel Cocumella opened its doors in 1822, as the first hotel on the Sorrento peninsula and the Amalfi coast. Many distinguished guests have succumbed to the hotel's 16th century architecture and ancient charm - Goethe, Hans Christian Andersen, Freud and the Duke of Wellington as well as Society travelers on the 'Grand Tour'. The widow of the great poet Shelley, Mary Godwin Shelley signed the guest book on 16th May 1843 whilst visiting with her son, Percy Jr., as she traveled with him to places in Europe she had stayed at with her late husband.

An enchanting destination for the discerning traveler, this historic listed building has frescoed ceilings, original hand made antique Amalfi floor tiles and Roman artifacts. The Grand Hotel Cucomella has evolved constantly over the centuries and following recent extensive refurbishments now offers all the luxuries of a modern 5 star hotel while retaining authentic character. Whether staying in a suite with breathtaking sea views, or a room overlooking the beautiful gardens, there is no doubt, that guests will be enchanted by the antique furnishings and old world ambience that occupies every corner of this historic property.

Choosing between having dinner in the restaurant, Scintilla, or al fresco overlooking the gardens, or enjoying lunch under the shade of the orange trees by the pool, dining at Cocumella is a magical experience. Not only is the restaurant setting charming and romantic but, with the rich selection of local dishes as well as the exquisite selection of wines on offer, it is pure culinary delight.

Additionally, a Robata fusion restaurant and cocktail bar, Coku, opened this summer for evenings, 5pm - midnight. Situated on the furthest hotel terrace with views over the Bay of Naples to the island of Ischia and the distant mainland shore. Also open to non-residents.

The inspiration for Coku is Robata, an ancient Japanese 'open flame' culinary technique. When combined with flavours of the Mediterranean this open flame grill, intense heat and very slow cooking creates simple, delicate dishes. Coku's menu presents a blend of modern and traditional cuisine that is guaranteed to delight both young and more sophisticated palettes, be they gourmets, guests staying at Cocumella, visitors to the area or Italian diners wishing to experience the delicate simplicity of Robata fusion cuisine.

Chefs Carlo Matarese and Misao Ozone specially prepare dishes that capture the authentic flavours of the area along with the traditional pleasure of Oriental cuisine. The Menu Degustazione offers an inspired tasting selection for two. The main menu has a choice of skewered Kikuchi Robata Yaki dishes, Coku's signature marinated squid and breaded citrus fruits, oven-cooked poultry, meat and fish dishes such as Swordfish marinated with oil, thyme and mint. All are made with quality ingredients bought locally; vegetables from Campania, Italian meats and the daily catch from the bay. The wine list includes Saki, an excellent selection of wines from the region, Champagne and Spumante.

Coku's talented designer, Lacopo Taddeo, has combined elements of traditional Mediterranean architecture with the purity of Oriental design, thus bringing to life the vision of Lionello del Papa, the owner of the Grand Hotel Cocumello. In Lionello's words "Coku is proof that you can link the Mediterranean with the East. Our designer has created a perfect combination of modernity and tradition that will delight our young and older guests, Italians and foreign tourists. Here we always look to our history, but with new eyes."

With the mood at the hotel being one of tranquility and relaxation, guests may wish to simply spend their days enjoying the gardens and swimming pool, or sunbathing on the private sundeck by the sea or on the hotel's private beach. For the more energetic, the hotel has a generous-sized gym and there are tennis courts in the gardens. Cocumella's wellness centre offers pure indulgence with a menu of face and body treatments, massage, Turkish bath, hammam and Jacuzzi pool.

Trips can be booked through the head concierge, such as a visit to Pompeii or the island of Capri. Vera, the hotel's private Tall Ship, is available to explore the Amalfi coastline and islands, as well as for private charter.

During the summer months, concerts are held in the hotel chapel, a baroque basilica, considered one of the most beautiful in the region with three altars, paintings, frescoes, cupola, marbled interior and alter figures.

In nearby Sorrento, between the monuments and antique villas, lies Basilica di St Antonino – a XI century church - as well as the Cloister of San Francesco which dates back to the beginning of the 19th century. The Museo Correale di Terranova houses a valuable collection of paintings from the 17th and 18th century, as well as examples of antique ceramics and inlaid woodwork so typical of this area.

It has been written, that according to ancient Greek mythology, Sirens inhabited the seas around Sorrento – their role to enchant and bewitch visitors with their singing, making them fall in love with the area and enticing them to return. After having stayed at Grand Hotel Cocumella guests will feel that the Sirens efforts go wasted, as the hotel itself, with its historic ambience and tranquil aura leaves one wanting to return time and time again.


 

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