A Simple Task

Lighting the 450 candles in the dining room of Le Sirenuse every night might seem a rather simple and menial task. Yet it is one that entails patience, a firm hand and equilibrium.

This delicate task has been assigned to Raffaele, a charming waiter from the nearby village of Praiano who has been with Le Sirenuse for over 40 years.  Raffaele was the favorite waiter of my late uncle Aldo Sersale who started the hotel 1951.

Raffaele arrives at the Hotel around 5 in the afternoon and starts by  lighting the candles on the chandeliers which have a longer burning time (approximately 6 hours)..  Now to light these candles Raffaele has to climb on a tall ladder and reach each individual candle from above, as they are in a transparent hand made glass container to protect them from sudden  gust of wind…

Once this is completed the next task is lighting the candles on the tables which have a shorter burning life of (approximately 4 hours).  At this point most people would abandon their task and happily walk away,  and yet it is now that the most delicate moment approaches.  Raffaele inspects each individual candle to ensure it is burning correctly.  Should this not be the case a candle could overheat the glass container making it crack and break up. Once again the ladder is called for and the undisciplined candles quickly extinguished and changed.

Thus a magical atmosphere is created, an atmosphere in which each and every sign of age vanishes leaving us enveloped in a soft, kind and ever changing light.

After dinner as our guests happily wonder towards their respective rooms Raffaele appears once again and takes each and every glass container gently extracting from it the remain of the candles so that they can be washed in a special washing machine and a new candle inserted ready for lighting the next day…

And so an other day passes in the life of Raffaele, showing us that no task is to small or menial if carried out with passion and love, as I am sure Raffaele does when he lights each and every candle in our dining room.



Filed under Le Sirenuse

15 responses to “A Simple Task

  1. Antonio, your description of the delicate, deliberate and loving care that Raffaele takes in performing this task is a beautiful tribute to a man who lives and works with a sense of passion that we should all hope to emulate. And having stayed at Le Sirenuse, I can attest that all who work there must share his pride and commitment to making it a place that is almost ethereal in its beauty. Every moment that we were there, I thought, “This is what you do in paradise. This is what you see in paradise, what you eat, who you meet, what you drink how you dream in paradise.”
    Congratulations on the new blog. Would love to see more beautiful photos by you and Carla.

  2. Cynthia D

    What a beautifully written description of the first step, in turning a lovely room into a magically romantic dinner. I would live out my life by candle light if possible.

    How fortunate you are, to have staff such as Raffaele.

    The author Ann Leary has written about your lovely place, and I am beginning to believe I must see it for myself.

  3. KC

    I think this is one of the most beautiful dining rooms I have ever seen. I’ve not been to Italy yet, although my husband and I hope to go next year – perhaps we’ll be able to visit your beautiful hotel. Perhaps my friend Cynthia (who already commented) will be along with us!

    I am also here on Ann Leary’s recommendation, and I will certainly be back. What a wonderful blog!

    And by the way…sono nueva al di lingua italiana, mi piace imparare l’italiana. Adoro questo posto!

  4. Mary Lynn


    Your writing and your photographs are wonderful, and transporting. Such a treat for us to be invited into your world. And my Russian word for the day –


  5. Tracy

    Your description of Raffaele’s loving ritual is just beautiful. Your dining room looks like a dining room in heaven. I’m one of Ann’s readers who ‘shared’ her stay there last year via her blog. Absolutely gorgeous.

  6. Jodel V. Donato de Oliveira

    I can feel the gentle warmth of all those candles lit with his subtle grace.

    Thank you for sharing your world with us.

    Muito saudade,


  7. Catherine

    Dear Antonio,

    Your lovely blog is a romantic oasis. A visit to it is like a mini-vacation in itself. Reading about Raffaele and his skill and pride in the lighting of the candles was really beautiful. It makes me realize (yet again) that life shouldn’t be as hectic as we make it. There is something very serene and joyful in your description of Raffaele’s care and detail with the candles. He is a craftsman. I live in California, but I hope someday to travel to Italy and see your hotel. In the meantime, I’ve been able to see it through Ann Leary’s eyes, which is almost like being there.


  8. Bev

    Antonio thank you for sharing! The dining room is stunning!! I Cannot wait to see more from your blog!!

  9. Christine

    I have heard nothing but wonderful things about your amazing hotel. I hope to visit someday so that I may see for myself just how beautiful and magical your hotel really is.

    PS I am not a fan of flying so please be patient with me. 🙂

  10. was just having a conversation about this task night before last in a cozy, flickering enoteca in Rome.

    thank you for this beautiful description.

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