If you’ve ever considered chucking it all and moving to a far off island in the Caribbean, Anguilla is as good as it gets. The island is but 16 miles long and three miles wide. This could very well be where the saying “good things come in small packages” originated.
If your dream of getting away from it all includes basking on some of the most beautiful white sand beaches in the world, then Anguilla is like a dream come true. If that same dream includes the Caribbean Sea in shades of turquoise that have yet to be created in your box of crayons, then Anguilla is utopia.
There is no such thing as a bad beach in Anguilla. To the northeast there is famed Shoal Bay East and to the southeast there is Meads Bay and its world-class restaurants. A couple miles east of Meads Bay, there is the very private, and very spectacular, Long Bay Beach. Pick a beach and imagine a postcard.
Now when reality kicks in, and one grasps that earning a living is necessary to pay the down payment on your thatched hut, don’t despair. Read on to learn how others have proceeded in their quest for the island life. Discover how a restaurateur, an owner of a rental car agency and a hotel manager made their dreams come true on this little slice of paradise.
A Taste of Italy in Anguilla
Alan Piazzi – Trattoria Tramonto Restaurant
Italian-born Alan Piazzi remembers the first time he dreamed of working at a bar and restaurant in the Caribbean. “I watched the move “Cocktail” starring Tom Cruise and I thought, ‘that’s what I want to do.'”
Today, Piazzi’s life as a restaurant owner on the shores of Anguilla’s West Shoal Bay Beach is like a real-life movie in which he plays a starring role. “I never get tired of this,” Piazzi reflected while gazing from his restaurant’s perch facing the turquoise Caribbean Sea.
Piazzi’s Trattoria Tramonto restaurant serves up mouth watering northern Italian cuisine amidst a setting that would make Tom Cruise proud. The ironic thing is that Cruise is one of the few movie stars who hasn’t stopped to sample from Trattoria Tramonto’s lunch and dinner menu.
Fresh out of college from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in 1986, Piazzi visited Anguilla, along with his father, for the very first time. For Piazzi, the tiny island and its miles of white sand beaches stirred a case of love at first sight.
It would take awhile before Piazzi would actually plant roots on the island, located 30 minutes north of St. Maarten. At the time of his initial visit, he was working in the Milan area, where he was born and raised. Piazzi lived the fast life for several years as an agent for an international modeling firm. All the while, his heart yearned for the relaxed lifestyle of Anguilla.
During his time working in Milan, Piazzi made annual August trips to Anguilla. On one of those trips, he met his future bride, Chantal. Piazzi and Chantal would live, work and start a family in Bologna, Italy. The idea of making Anguilla home became reality in 1997. That’s the year Piazzi’s Trattoria Tramonto began to take shape.
Trattoria Tramonto means “restaurant sunset” in Italian. To this day, almost 13 years after its opening, the restaurant name is still hard for both customers and natives to pronounce. “Hardly anyone is able to pronounce the name,” Piazzi said. “Most people refer to the restaurant as TT. Maybe I should have named it Spaggia, which is the Italian word for beach.”
A mesmerizing beach setting and the pulsating sound of ocean waves are key elements of Piazzi’s grand plan for making his restaurant special. During the course of one’s meal at Trattoria Tramonto, soft music, ranging from opera to Sarah McLachlan, adds to one’s total sensory experience. “Dining is so much more than food,” Piazzi said. “Here at Trattoria, every sense is stimulated. I’ve watched customers sit motionless as they really get into the feeling of this place.”
The restaurant’s feeling is what makes customers come back again and again. A business recipe of casual dining, tranquil mood, delicious food and a view that is to die for, is a lure that is simply irresistible. “I’ve watched a generation grow up at this place,” the 47-yearold Piazzi reflected. “Everyone tells me, don’t change a thing.”
The comfort of knowing what to expect from Trattoria Tramonto’s menu and its nohassle environment seem to work especially well for some of the world’s rich and famous. Among the recognizable names found on TT’s reservation list have been DeNiro, Washington, O’Brien, Neeson, Hilton, Plant, Thurman, Pitt and Aniston.
Over the years, a camaraderie has developed between the restaurant and its loyal followers. Piazzi confesses that he hasn’t advertised Trattoria Tramonto for years. His business has flourished through referrals and word-of-mouth. One tradition that has solidified this perpetual bond has been Trattoria Tramonto’s passing of the friendship cup.
“The friendship cup is listed at the bottom of our menu. A minimum of four people must drink from this cup. The ritual can be traced to the Italian Alps region. The cup is made from a piece of turned wood, having anywhere from four to 12 spouts. Here in the Caribbean, the cup’s contents include rum, vodka, gin, and maybe tequila. We also add sugar, lemon, and orange peels. Then we set it on fire and the potion caramelizes. It really picks you up,” Piazzi said with a devilish grin.
Anguilla is a place where an easygoing pace is a way of life. Piazzi has never owned a watch since living on this island of 12,000 people. He begins each morning sipping an espresso while sitting under the roof of a hut he built himself. The hut is positioned on the beach between his restaurant and the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. It’s a great way to decompress from the previous night’s activities and plan the menu for the day.
Living the dream of building a restaurant on the beach in the Caribbean has been very fulfilling for this father of three boys. “It’s like I’m living in a movie,” Piazzi said. “There is no place I’d rather be.”