Ouverture To Another Era
Entering the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria overlooking the port of Sorrento—the gateway to Italy’s glorious Amalfi Coast—feels a bit like stepping back in time to the early 20th century, when opera singers were world-wide celebrities and ladies donned gloves for dinner. A long path lined with lemon trees and flowers leads up to the entrance, where a uniformed porter greets you. The lobby lounge has the air of a greenhouse, with potted plants, white paneled walls, glass doors, and antique chairs arranged in little nooks perfect for chatting about the day’s events or sipping an aperitivo. Black-and-white photographs of illustrious guests, including the hotel’s namesake Queen Victoria of Sweden, hang in the halls. Elaborate ceiling frescoes crown the Vittoria Restaurant, where breakfast is served. In the evenings, a pianist regales guests with music.
Music has been a cornerstone of the hotel’s identity for at least a century. Opened in 1834 and continually operated by the Fiorentino family, the property has hosted musicians including Richard Wagner, Enrico Caruso, Luciano Pavarotti, and Lucio Dalla. The Fiorentino family dedicated three of the hotel’s six one-of-a-kind suites to these musical masters, and today they’re the hotel's most requested rooms.
Music has been a cornerstone of the hotel’s identity for at least a century.
Check into the Caruso Suite and you’ll be transported to 1921, when the famed tenor stayed there. Born in Naples to a poor family, he was recognized early on as a talented singer in his church choir and eventually became a world-famous tenor who traveled the globe and performed at opera houses like La Scala in Milan, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Caruso’s piano sits in the corner, surrounded by black-and-white photographs and caricatures of him. High ceilings, patterned wallpaper, an ornate fireplace, and chandeliers make the suite feel frozen in time. A pair of Louis XVI chairs upholstered in silk, an ornate clock, an original porcelain sink, and other antiques add to the air of original authenticity. Guests can enjoy the same views of the Bay of Sorrento that Caruso would have seen and imagine what this idyllic corner of Italy would have been like in his time.
Born into a humble family in Northern Italy, Luciano Pavarotti admired Caruso from a young age and eventually followed a similar career path, touring the world performing in operas like La Bohème, Tosca, and Madame Butterfly. He too, stayed at the hotel. Dedicated to the younger tenor, the Pavarotti Suite is bright and airy, with hand-painted tiles made on the Amalfi Coast, precious antiques, heavy drapes, paintings, and crystal glassware.
Lucio Dalla likewise looked to Caruso for inspiration, writing and dedicating the song Caruso to him in 1986 and filming scenes for its music video in the hotel’s Caruso Suite. Though he was born after Caruso died, he did have a chance to sing for Pavarotti. The Dalla Suite has a more contemporary ambiance, fusing modern furniture with antiques, parquet floors, memorabilia, and a baby grand piano.