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.