Sorrento, Campania, Italy

Sorrento – a wonderful mix of historic architecture sitting comfortably alongside a modern resort. The Old Town, which still has evidence of its Roman origins, sits high on the cliffs overlooking the port and the famous Alimuri beach below. At Piazza Tasso the road heads very steeply down towards the port through the rocks. At the bottom the road opened out onto the port area, with cafes, shops, a small park and the booking offices for the ferries taking visitors across to Capri. The journey to Capri takes around 30 minutes. From here it is possible to easily visit Capri, Ischia, Vesuvius, Pompei, Mount Faito, Amalfi, Positano and Ravello. The port is a lively place to take a stroll and watch the ferry darting across the clear colt-blue waters leaving a white splash of water in its wake, or watch the fishermen along the waterfront or maybe take lunch in a seafront restaurant which juts out over the sea and enjoy the stunning beauty that is all around. Sorrento is not just beautiful to look at but also is wonderfully fragrant, everywhere you look there are huge lemons dangling from trees the famous Amalfi lemons, big as melons, from which comes the delicious Limoncello liqueur. To add to the fragrance are the masses of wisteria growing in profusion along the high stone walls leaving its sweet scent hanging in the air.

It ‘s hard to find a family that lives on the Sorrento coast that does not have some kind of involvement with the sea. In the sites of Sorrento, Piano, Meta and Vico Equense there are shipyards, and in 1838 were launched over 216 boats like the famous Sorrento boat called “gozzo” that is still built using traditional methods passed down from father to son. Marina Grande has Marina Grande has for centuries been the place where these boats are mainly used by fishermen, are built and moored in the Marina doing a thriving village where ancient traditions live side by side with the tourism.

Many painters have found subjects for their works on the Sorrento Peninsula, as well as the works of many writers and poets have been inspired by the beauty of the landscape and of course, Sorrento has also inspired many singers and songwriters .

The Sorrento Coast can be considered not only as your destination but also as your starting point. Thanks to its extraordinary geographical location, other Campania pearls such as Capri, Ravello, Amalfi and Positano can easily be reached not to mention Ischia, Naples and Caserta with its famous palace and San Leucio’s silk factory. And finally Pompei, known all over the world, unique for its ruins, as well as Oplonti, Ercolano and Paestum too. All of these towns are destinations for archeological tourism which definitely cannot be missed; well-known places, but nonetheless unique

Three hundred years of hospitality experience led to the development of a local commercial tissue composed of many shops for purchases of all kinds. Each area of the city has its own characteristics of trade: corso Italia with its quality shops, via San Cesareo is the historic market area with a profusion of fragrances and colours that are unique and incomparable. Also in the old town are small shops where they produce inlaid woodwork, made with the same techniques of the past. In addition to the stores that sell these objets d’art (don’t miss a visit) we also find limoncello factories, where this liqueur is produced according to ancient recipes.

A visit to the Correale Museum arouses great interest and attention in those who are passionate of art: the collection of paintings range from the XV to the XIX centuries, the nucleus constituted by the collection of still life from the Neapolitan school of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries and the museum documents the ancient historical roots of the city of Sorrento, the collection of pieces of furniture and caskets made from rare and exotic wood, give testimony to the typical local craftsmanship. But the Correale shines even more because it holds the precious jewels that once adorned the various abodes of noble families: cabinets veneered of ebony or turtle, valuable products of Neapolitan ebony from the seventeenth century, eighteenth century chests enriched with settings of gilded bronze and shelves of marble; precious pieces of chinoiserie furniture of English manufacture from the first quarter of the eighteenth century, and French, German and Swiss watches mounted in gilded bronze and inlaid with mother of pearl and hard stones; Murano glass, Bohemian crystal, fabrics, majolica and porcelain.

Museobottega della Tarsialignea – The building that houses the Museobottega stands on via S. Nicola, the historical part of the town, and is part of an ancient urban nucleus. Its eighteenth century structure is typical of a provincial townhouse. The Museobottega is a polyfunctional structure designed to requalify those sectors of the decorative arts which have not only a past worthy of being recorded with the work of local master craftsmen produced during the nineteenth century but also with new techniques of design which characterise the local production in inlaid wood.

Cathedral – In Romanic style it dates back to the 15th century. Amongst other things the church houses paintings by artists from the Neapolitan school of the 1700’s, and wooden marquetry work of Sorrentine craftsmen.

The Old Walls – The only part of the Greek defensive wall still remaining is under the road at the new Parsano Gate. Another ruin of the Greek wall is the Gate of Marina Grande. The Roman town was built over the Greek one following the same urban plan with walls of large isonomic blocks. These walls stood to defend Sorrento through the Middle Ages. Rebuilding began in 1551 and was only completed in 1561 after the Turkish invasion.

Church and Cloister of St. Francis – The monastery’s origin dates from the first half of the 7th century. The cloister’s architecture presents crossed arches in tufo on two sides of the portico, expressing the style of the late 1300s and substituted on the other two sides by round arches on octagonal pilasters. Next to the convent is the church of St Francis which dates to the 16th century.

Regina Giovanna Baths – is one of the places richest in magical stories and full of charm. From Capo di Sorrento there is a narrow street with walls covered in ivy. Along a path in the shade of vines and orange trees, one can reach in a slope towards the sea, Regina Giovanna baths . At the visitor presents a spectacle of rare beauty: a large natural basin connected to the sea by a narrow gap between the rocks. The space on the hill is occupied by the remains of a magnificent Roman villa, built at the time of Emperor Domitian (81-96 AD) and belonged to Pollio Felice. According to the legend it was here that frequently came away from indiscreet eyes, Giovanna II D’Angio Durazzo, one of the most scandalous sovereigns to ever sit on the throne of Naples. These ruins are one of the most fascinating of the Sorrento Peninsula was discovered in 1624 by Giovanni Vinaccia. Partially open, you can see the underground connecting the annex with the villa above. No other villa of this period has been described in detail , such as this , in the verses by Statius . Like other sea villas in the Roman era, has a harbor and an “ eel fishery“ for the breeding of fish and a nymph . From the villa there is a passage on the rocks where you can swim in crystal clear waters.

Gastronomy – The local gastronomy , in line with the mild climate, the scenic views and the hospitality is one of the most important focal points in the economy of Sorrento. Some recipes are already in use in Roman times, through the use of local products , are the traditional dishes of this land. Queen of the table is the cheese with its characteristic form of “ treccia” (braid) used in the preparation of each dish, from appetizers to the famous pizza. A typical element of the Mediterranean diet is, of course , pasta , which can be seasoned in many different ways. And here we can not help but mention the “Maccheroni alla Sorrentina“, or the gnocchi and cannelloni , always in Sorrento style , with tomato sauce , mozzarella and basil. Local chefs devote a lot of attention to the sea which offers a wide variety of fish prepared in many different ways . However, the traditional recipes are very simple when it comes to serving fried red mullet and squid, “fravagliuzzi “, “ rutunnielli “ and octopus stew. The temptations do not end there : even the sweets and desserts reflect the seasons and local produce. In addition to classic desserts , you can find a rich “ puff S. Rosa “ , donuts and delicious profiteroles or lemon . Of course at the end of a good meal you can not fail to try a “ tazzulella ‘e cafè “ ,a cup of coffee with a taste of one of the local spirits .

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