It was 1940 and I was 20 years old. It was a beautiful evening in autumn and I was walking along the road that from Praiano leads to Positano, with my brother in law Andrea, when I stopped at the point where the Tritone Hotel would eventually rise. We both looked down the mountain out to sea and all we could observe were bushes and trees, but lit by the evening sun looked mesmerizing. The view was delightfully comforting and whilst we looked out in silence I said to Andrea: “It would be a dream come true to build something right here, in this very spot”. My brother in law just nodded his head not saying a single word.
I went to see the owner of the mountain, Lady Raffaella De Luise to enquire if she would be interested in selling a part of it. The lovely lady who had always liked me didn’t hesitate for a second and we bought a strip of the mountain for 1 million Lire. The thing that shocked yet motivated me the most was how encouraging and positive Lady Raffaella was towards me. We bought the land from the lovely lady (where the swimming pool now is), the following year.
It was August 1958. It was a fantastic month with lots of people. The Hotel still needed a few finishing touches but my wife Anna and I couldn’t wait to open, even if we still had people working in a few of the rooms, we needed to start making some money. We started with an outside and an inside dining room, the kitchens and 27 rooms, we knew we were only at the beginning as our dream was to have a much bigger hotel.
The staircase was made without any planning because what we had in mind was hard to put into writing. To be honest, it was considered impossible. I knew that to make it happen I would have to direct the builders myself and in that way, we started building, one step at a time. When we finally arrived at sea level the satisfaction was so overwhelming that I built the last step myself.
The big swimming pool was 15 metres long and more than 7 metres deep. In those days the depuration systems we have today didn’t exist, and to change the water and clean the pool would take more than 36 hours, a real task. Around the pool area we managed to build another 11 rooms all with one thing in common, they were dug into the mountain.