Santa Margarita Stole My Heart

Tony Bennett sang that he left his heart in San Francisco. Sorry Tony, I have a crush on San Francisco but Santa Margarita stole my heart.

There are only so many times you can fall in love for the first time, or that is what we’ve been told. But I beg to differ. Across time I have come to learn that every time we fall in love, it is like the first time. If it isn’t, it isn’t love.

So let me just say I have lost my heart, and lost my heart again, and again in Santa Margarita. Yes, Santa Margarita is on the Italian Riviera, and just down the block from Portofino going one way and Cinque Terra going the other. And with these credentials you might just shrug your shoulders and say, “Of course.” But there is nothing “of course” about this part of the world because it is, how should I say it, out of this world. And this is coming from a guy who has lived in Santa Barbara/Montecito, California for almost 40 years and is no stranger to heaven on earth.

About a year ago I wrote a blog entitled, Take Someone You Love to the Hotel Continental. Well, following on my own good advice, my wife and I stayed again at the Hotel Continental in Santa Margarita recently and recently is not recent enough. What was good about this place has only gotten better. And with apologies to Elvis, the experience continues to twang my heart’s guitar.

Across time Stefano, and John, and Danielle continue to transform our arrival into a homecoming. After 12 years of arriving The Hotel Continental e mia casa, and will make you feel like you are also coming home from your first visit.

Of course there is the whistling waiter who brings breakfast on the to die for patio on the Mediterranean. And thanks to Stefano or John, there is the dinner suggestion at Capo Nord, right on the Mediterranean and is without doubt the most beautiful place I have eaten. Or, alternatively Altro Eden where you can eat like a Admiral and dine next to yachts that God would build if He had the money.

One of the great truths of any trip to Italy is that the little things in life are where greatness is often masked. Per esempio, sipping an espresso in the cool shadows of a church spire in the late afternoon is a reminder of how much a pause is overlooked in the rush to have a great life. If we come to realize that the big problems in life aren’t really that big, we’ve made progress. But if we come to realize that the little things in life are often where greatness resides, then we have arrived., even if we arrive unannounced.

Arriving in Santa Margarita and showing up at The Hotel Continental reminds me I have arrived in life. Leaving reminds me that memory is the secret garden where I can give my soul a secret smile from the fast lane on the Santa Monica Freeway on the way to a “big” meeting. Santa Margarita stole my heart but truth be known, I gladly handed it over and will be back to retrieve it.

Count on it.

Noah benShea

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