Jun 5th, 2019
‘I’m not working! I’m on vacation.’ Pasquale laughs, clearing cocktail glasses from the poolside lounge tables. Following closely on his heels is his faithful assistant, Mela, the hotel Jack Russell.
Pasquale has been working at the San Pietro since 1980, ten years after it first opened. He was just 15 when he started out as a waiter at the beach club.
‘Back then, there were no steps leading to the sea and no garden terraces.’ He recalls. ‘There was only the elevator.’ An elevator that took two years of drilling through the rock to install. ‘If you were claustrophobic, there was no other way to get to the sea. So Carlino built a pool.’
After 20 years of working at the beach, Pasquale was asked to manage the pool. He was hesitant at first. ‘In the beginning, I missed the sea, but then I saw the pool as a new challenge to embrace, to make the guests so happy they wouldn’t want to leave. Now it has become a very popular place to hang out.’
In fact, the pool terrace is full. He knows each of the guests by name and makes sure they want for nothing as long as they are in his domain. In return, Pasquale and his sidekick, Mela, have built up a loyal following of poolside loungers who come for the company as much as the sun.
The way his face lights up as he wistfully recalls memories of the San Pietro over the years, you can tell that for him, it is more than just a hotel. ‘This is the place where I feel most at home.’ He says affectionately. On his day off, he still checks in on his “home” from his house on the opposite cliff, where he can see the pool from his terrace with binoculars. Pasquale grew up together with the hotel and with brothers Vito and Carlo, the third generation of family managing it.
‘Vito is more than a brother to me.’ Pasquale smiles, stroking Mela’s brown and white fur. ‘The worst thing for me is when we disagree. If I come home nervous at the end of the day, my wife always knows I’ve argued with Vito. I would do anything for him and Carlo, as I know they would do for me. They are like family. Their uncle, Salvatore, was a father to me.’
The worst moment of his life was the day Salvatore died. ‘I was at home in Praiano when I got a call that he didn’t feel well.’ It was the Christmas holidays and the hotel was closed, so the medic couldn’t get inside. Pasquale jumped on his scooter and rode as fast as he could with the keys, but by the time they reached Salvatore, it was too late. He was just 60 years old when he passed. Perhaps it was the shock of his untimely death that spurred Pasquale to volunteer with the Red Cross ambulance. ‘I drive the ambulance and work as a general runner for the medics a couple of nights a week.’ He says proudly.
Pasquale is usually one of the first on the scene to help whenever there is a medical emergency at the hotel. And he is just as ready to assist his guests relaxing on the pool terrace.
‘I love being with clients and making them happy. I’ve gotten to know so many great people over the years. Here at the San Pietro, we work in the spirit of being part of a big family. The San Pietro is my home.’
He turns as a young couple exit the elevator and step onto the terrace. ‘Buongiorno! Is it your first time here? You are very welcome. I’m Pasquale.’ He says, escorting them to an empty set of sunbeds.