'The whole town is Dr. Seussian—houses stacked on top of one another. I have a nine-year-old, so right now that's my frame of reference.'
HOME BASE Los Angeles
SPEAKING IN TONGUES Lane has been to Italy often since her childhood (once performing at the Spoleto Festival "when I had no front teeth") and was in Positano recently filming scenes for the movie adaptation of Frances Mayes's Under the Tuscan Sun, opening this month.
IN THE BAG "I always travel with flip-flops, moisturizer, my new digital cell phone (during long flights, I shut off the phone and scroll through the images of my daughter), and my passport (I scored on my picture—I look strangely healthy and rested). I'm a heavy packer, but I'm getting better about needing less—except when it comes to toiletries."
THAT'S ITALIAN "At Donna Rosa [97-99 Via Montepertuso; 39-089/811-806; dinner for two $100], Mom's in the kitchen and the daughter waits on the tables. I loved their hospitality, that abbondanza—that feeling of everyone getting together."
SIREN SONG "I stayed at Le Sirenuse [30 Via Cristoforo Colombo; 39-089/875-066; www.sirenuse.it; doubles from $414], which is done to the nines. Hand-painted Italian tiles and mermaids were all over—that's where the hotel gets its name—from the keys to the plates and silverware. I'm a little girl at heart. I still believe in mermaids."
—David A. Keeps
Ristorante Donna Rosa
After a day sizzling in the Positano sun, there’s nothing better than taking a 20-minute ride up to the mountain hamlet of Montepertuso for the cool breezes and the refined, inventive cooking of the Villani sisters. This is everybody’s favorite secret countryside trattoria, removed from the hustle and crowds of the resort towns. Rosida presides over the dining room, a small, elegantly homey room with a piano in the corner. In the open kitchen to one side, her sister Erika holds court, assisted by the best secret weapon available to an Italian cook: her own mother, Mamma Raffaella. Mother and daughter whip up homemade-pasta dishes like caramelle di aragosta, tiny tortellini stuffed with lobster, using the freshest of ingredients. In nice weather, if you book ahead, you might snag one of the two tables on the small terrace to dine alfresco.
Nothing beats Le Sirenuse for traditional, dignified luxury. In 1953, two years after it opened, John Steinbeck described it as “an old family house converted into a first-class hotel.” More than half a century of overexposure later, that impression remains at this storied hotel, now in its second generation of Sersale family management. Nearly all the rooms in the poppy-red, 18th-century villa, with museum-quality antiques and hand-painted ceramic-tile floors, have a private balcony or patio overlooking the bay. Diversions include an alfresco champagne-and-oyster bar, a pool and Aveda spa, and a vintage wooden boat for tooling up and down the coast in 1960s-starlet style. The Neapolitan menu at the restaurant, La Sponda, was devised by chef Matteo Temperini.