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When one thinks of Italy, the unforgettable fare often comes to mind. After time spent at the elegant Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria in Sorrento, the words family, tradition and quality come to mind. Owned and managed by the Fiorentino clan since 1834, the property feels more like a private estate than a hotel. And it’s the perfect home base from which to experience all that Southern Italy has to offer.

Day One: Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria

In Italy, breakfast is an occasion, with espresso and cappuccino kicking things off. Begin the day in the exquisite Vittoria breakfast room. The grand space has breathtaking ocean views, white lacquer Louis-style chairs, fresh white linens and endless baskets of delicious pastries. Nosh on farm-fresh eggs, housemade sourdough, sweet berries and the finest cheeses.

Next, visit the concierge to book an afternoon massage at Boutique Spa La Serra. Situated in a 19th century greenhouse, this five-star spa offers a wide range of treatments in individual suites. Opt for the hot-stone massage to release any lingering tension from traveling. Rinse off in the treatment room’s private shower then head to L’Orangerie for poolside lunch. If you’re feeling ambitious, take a pizza-cooking lesson in the stunning open-air kitchen, then enjoy your creation. Walk off lunch with a tour of the property’s private gardens, where lush flowers are in full bloom and the olives behind the hotel’s signature oil are grown.

Elegant eatery Terrazza Bosquet is Michelin-starred for all the right reasons. It carries the same charm that characterizes the hotel. For dinner, request a seat on the terrace overlooking the Gulf of Naples with Mount Vesuvius disappearing into the sunset. When it comes to ordering, ask your highly trained server for recommendations. The award-winning chef and his team create the freshest dishes combining regional and Mediterranean cuisine.

Day Two: Sorrento

After a full day getting your bearings on the property, it’s time to get to know Sorrento. The quiet, private Excelsior Vittoria is tucked away down a long driveway just off the upbeat, friendly town’s main square, Piazza Tasso. Sorrento is known for many things: leather goods, custom shoes, limoncello and, most notably, inlaid woodwork. Less than a minute from the hotel, you’ll find A. Gargiulo & Jannuzzi, a shop housing thousands of detailed woodwork treasures that can be shipped back to the United States. Wander down the main shopping street, Corso Italia, and visit Ballerì to treat your feet to the most stylish shoes in town. Stop in at L’Antica Trattoria for mouthwatering food and romantic beach charm.

Day Three: The Island of Capri and the Amalfi Coast

Seeing Capri and the Amalfi Coast are quintessential Italian experiences. Even better is visiting by boat. Lucky for Excelsior Vittoria guests, a stunning private yacht can be booked through the concierge, and the hotel is a quick 30-minute ride from Capri. Begin by exploring the unique sea caves, also known as grottos. From there, let your captain take you around the island so you can sip your Champagne while taking in the pinch-worthy views. 

Continue your day exploring the lemon-tree-studded coastline with a stop in the beachy village of Nerano. If you’re in the mood for melt-in-your-mouth pasta, walk down the beach to Maria Grazia; try the family secret dish of spaghetti with zucchini. Spend the rest of the day napping on the boat and enjoying the sweetness of doing nothing, dolce far niente.

Day Four: Naples

When traveling to Southern Italy, you must see the bustling city of Naples. Let the hotel concierge plan your excursion, arranging for a private tour guide who will greet you as soon as you step off the hydrofoil. High-speed boats run daily to Naples from the docks directly below Excelsior Vittoria, accessible via the private elevator on the hotel’s back terrace.

Naples has many claims to fame, including inventing the margherita pizza. Pay a visit to the famous opera house, Teatro di San Carlo. Even if you’re not an opera fan, it is one of the most magnificent sights to behold. There’s no doubt you will work up an appetite as you tour this walkable city. Although it’s up for debate as to which pizzeria is the original home of the margherita pizza, your local tour guide will no doubt point you in a delicious direction. Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba offers both classic and deep-fried. Order both and you’ll be refueled for the rest of your excursion.

When each day comes to an end, it is a true comfort returning to Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria. The elegant estate is so much more than a hotel; it offers the warm quality of a familiar home. There’s simply no better place from which to experience Southern Italy. 

Read this article as it appears in the magazine.

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