Sorrento is a beautiful town perched on a cliff high above the sea with views of Vesuvius and the islands in the Bay of Naples . Use this website to help you plan a visit to this elegant southern Italian resort and find your way to the best beaches and some lovely villages and towns along the Sorrentine peninsula that are perhaps less well known to tourists.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

The aromatic lemons of Sorrento

 Visit a genuine 'agruminato' in centre of resort


Lemon products are everywhere to be seen in Sorrento, from perfumes, soaps and candles to sweets, biscuits and the resort’s famous lemon liqueur, Limoncello.

Sorrento is famous throughout the world for the quality of the lemons produced in the town and along its peninsula, which are large, oval in shape and have a distinctive perfume. They are known to have been cultivated in the area since Roman times.
Lemons growing in Sorrento

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Sorrento for a while, you can visit a genuine agruminato, lemon grove, near the centre of the resort and enjoy some quiet time.

I giardini di Cataldo in Via Correale is a citrus garden typical of the Sorrento peninsula. Once part of a much bigger agricultural estate, the 11000 square metre lemon grove was rescued by the municipality of Sorrento at the beginning of the 21st century. The land was saved from development and it remains a working citrus garden, while being open to the public to visit.

Staff from I giardini di Cataldo look after the land, pick the fruits from the citrus tees and produce liqueurs, marmalades and sweets from them.

You can stroll under the pergolas of chestnut wood poles, enjoy the smell of the lemons and see how they are cultivated.

Limoncello on sale in a Sorrento shop
Limoncello, which is made from an infusion of lemon peel and alcohol, is now produced in other parts of Italy as well, but connoisseurs consider the best limoncello to be made from lemons grown in Sorrento and out along the peninsula. Capri’s lemon groves are well regarded too.

Limoncello should be served very cold and is usually enjoyed after a good meal. Salute!


I Giardini di Cataldo are at Via Correale, 27 in Sorrento. For more information, visit www.igiardinidicataldo.it.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Il Pozzo Ristorante Sorrento

 Restaurant has served Sorrentine specialities since 1967


In the heart of the historic centre of Sorrento, this excellent restaurant, Il Pozzo, has been serving typical Sorrento dishes to locals and visitors for more than 50 years.
Il Pozzo is on the corner of Via Tasso

Il Pozzo is in Via Tasso, which is a turning off Corso Italia opposite the Duomo. The restaurant at number 32 serves all the popular, local specialities, using the freshest possible ingredients, such as fish caught from the bay earlier that day.

Pizze are cooked in the restaurant’s wood fired oven and many of the pasta dishes use fresh pasta made by hand. For example, there is the scialatielli ai frutti di mare, which is a dish made from hand cut strips of pasta served with a sauce of seafood and tomatoes.

The restaurant is particularly renowned for its gnocchi alla sorrentina, small potato dumplings served with a rich tomato sauce with mozzarella and basil, finished off in the oven.

Il Pozzo, which means ‘the well’, has tables outside under an awning and a spacious room for dining inside with air conditioning.

Delicious gnocchi alla sorrentina
During the winter Il Pozzo is open from 12.00 to 15.00 and from 18:00 to 24:00. During the summer the restaurant is open from 12:00 to 24:00. Its closing day is Wednesday.

To book telephone +39 081 8774876 or email info@ilpozzoristorante.it 

To look at the menu visit www.ilpozzoristorante.it


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Chiesa dell’Annunziata Sorrento


Art treasures lie behind simple facade 


The imposing Chiesa dell’Annunziata is up a short flight of steps from Piazza Veniero, off Via Fuoro in the centre of Sorrento.

The stone-fronted church has ancient origins but the exact date it was founded is not known. It is thought to have been built at some time during the 12th century on the site of an ancient temple, which had been dedicated to the goddess Cybele. A first century altar once discovered in the church is now in the Museo Correale in Sorrento.

The facade of the Chiesa dell'Annunziata in Piazza Veniero, just off Via Fuoro in the centre of Sorrento
The facade of the Chiesa dell'Annunziata in Piazza Veniero,
just off Via Fuoro in the centre of Sorrento
Highlights of the many works of art inside the church include a 17th century wooden crucifix and an 18th century painting of the Madonna and Child by Filippo Andreoli, which is in the centre of the ceiling.

Above the decorative main altar in a niche is a 17th century statue of the Madonna della Consolazione.

A canvas by Paolo De Maio, signed and dated 1741, depicts the Annunciation, the event in the Bible after which the church is named, when the angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit to be called Jesus.

The church also has many beautiful works by artists from the 18th century Neapolitan school of painting.

The six side altars belonged to different Sorrento families who at one time had the right to be buried in the church.

In the 14th century there was a monastery attached to the church and Augustinian friars from it would officiate at the services. The friars handed the church over to its congregation in the 19th century.

The church is a short walk from Piazza Tasso along Via San Cesareo and Via Fuoro until you reach Vico il Fuoro, after which you turn into Piazza Veniero.

It is well worth a look inside and is open to visitors from 7.30 to 11.00 and from 18.00 to 20.00.


Thursday, January 30, 2020

Grand Hotel Cocumella Sorrento


Historic hotel has been a haven for writers


The oldest hotel in Sorrento, the Grand Hotel Cocumella at Sant’Agnello, dates back to 1777.

The entrance to the Grand Hotel Cocumella in the Sant'Agnello district, which is the oldest hotel in Sorrento
The entrance to the Grand Hotel Cocumella in the Sant'Agnello
district, which is the oldest hotel in Sorrento 

Originally built as a Jesuit monastery in the 16th century, the Cocumella sits right on the edge of a cliff over- looking the bay of Naples and has a stunning view of Vesuvius from its terraces and gardens.

The interior of the five-star hotel reflects its long history, with walnut furniture, old majolica floors, frescoed ceilings and antique mirrors.

Over the centuries it has welcomed writers such as Goethe, Mary Shelley, Hans Christian Anderson and Francis Marion Crawford along with many artists, statesmen and noblemen who visited it while on the Grand Tour.

Jesuit priests lived in the building from 1637 until it became a guesthouse in 1777. It became a hotel in 1822. 

The cloister at the Cocumella, with its central well, has been turned into a dining room
The cloister at the Cocumella, with its central well, has
been turned into a dining room
In 1978, the Cocumella was refurbished by architect Nino di Papa, with the focus on restoring its elegant features and recapturing its peaceful atmosphere.

The antique cloister with a grey stone well in the centre is now a dining room and the old chapel is used for concerts.

The huge gardens have a swimming pool and tennis court and there is a lift down to a private sun deck. The hotel has three restaurants and a cocktail bar that opens on to a terrace overlooking the bay of Naples.

One of the Grand Hotel Cocumella’s unique facilities is Vera, a 30 metre sailboat built in 1880, which is available for guests to charter for excursions to Capri and the Amalfi coast.

The hotel has 48 rooms, all different, which either have a sea view or a view over the gardens or citrus groves.

The hotel has produced its own history, which includes details of Mary Shelley's stay
The hotel has produced its own history, which
includes details of Mary Shelley's stay
The novelist Mary Shelley stayed at the Cocumella in June 1843 with her son Percy Florence Shelley. It was more than 20 years after her husband, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, drowned off the coast of Tuscany.

Since the poet’s death Mary had suffered a hard life bringing up her son alone in London, depending on her writing for economic survival.

Of her stay in Sorrento she wrote: ‘The place is beautiful beyond expression –the weather exactly one’s beau ideal - warm and no heat. I go about on mules in the evening. Sometime we go on the sea.  But alas! we leave this place – too soon- & I plunge again into the shadows and worries of life!’

The Grand Hotel Cocumella is only a 15 minute walk from the centre of Sorrento but has the benefit of a peaceful location in Via Cocumella at Sant’Agnello, a small neighbouring resort.

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Saturday, October 12, 2019

Gnocchi alla Sorrentina


Enjoy the flavours of Campania back home


Named in honour of the beautiful resort of Sorrento, this tasty primo piatto (first course) on many restaurant menus is also easy to make at home.

The sauce for the gnocchi is created from a wonderful blend of three of Campania’s most celebrated ingredients, flavoursome, red tomatoes, piquant green, basil leaves and creamy mozzarella cheese. When the cheese melts into the tomato sauce covering the gnocchi, it binds everything together to create a satisfying, but simple dish.
Tasty Gnocchi served Sorrento style

The gnocchi di patate (potato dumplings) can either be home made, following the recipe given below, or bought fresh or vacuum packed from a supermarket.

Gnocchi di patate were supposedly introduced into the Italian culinary repertoire after the Treaty of Campoformio was signed by France and Austria in 1797 at Campoformido, a village to the west of Udine in Friuli.

Venice was thereafter given over to Austrian rule and, along with the gnocchi di patate, Austrian beer and sausages were also added to the Italian menu at this time.

In Sorrento, you can try Gnocchi alla Sorrentina in the heart of the historic centre at Ristorante Il Pozzo in Via Tasso, where they are finished off by being baked in a wood fired oven.

Or, you can enjoy a sea view while you sample them down at Marina Grande at Trattoria da Emilia, a restaurant that was established by Donna Emilia in 1954. They are on the menu as Gnocchi della Mamma and are cooked to Donna Emilia’s original, traditional Sorrento recipe. They taste delicious when enjoyed while sitting at a table on Da Emilia’s wooden deck, suspended over the sea with the waves lapping against it.

But when you return from Sorrento to colder weather back home, piping hot Gnocchi alla Sorrentina are wholesome, comforting and a wonderful reminder of your holiday.

Recipe for two people:

To make the sauce, fry two chopped cloves of garlic in olive oil and add 500g of peeled, deseeded and chopped tomatoes, or the contents of a 400g can of tomatoes put through a sieve. (If using fresh tomatoes, sieve the mixture after cooking.} Add a pinch of dried oregano, a few fresh basil leaves torn into shreds and season to taste. When the sauce is smooth and reduced, set aside.

To cook the gnocchi, add as many as you require, (about a dozen per person for a first course) to boiling salted water and they will be cooked when they rise to the surface. 

Divide the cooked gnocchi between two, warmed oven proof dishes. Reheat the tomato sauce, adding a drop of olive oil or water if required, and pour over the gnocchi. Cut a mozzarella cheese into cubes and share the cubes between the two dishes and add a good grating of Parmesan cheese to each dish. Finish off in a hot oven for 10 – 15 minutes until the cheese forms a golden crust. Serve immediately, garnished with fresh basil.

To make your own gnocchi, boil 500g of white potatoes in their skins, then peel and mash them. Mix in 200g flour and one egg yolk into the mash. Knead together to make a ball of dough. Take small balls, one at a time and work them with your hands into sausage shapes and cut into two cm pieces. Roll them in flour and press against a fork to give them grooves, which will help the sauce to cling to them.


Buon appetito!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Sorrento Cathedral bell tower - Il Campanile


Ancient columns still support old Sorrento meeting place


Standing three storeys higher than the other building nearby, the Cathedral’s Bell Tower is a landmark in Sorrento.

The red and yellow stone of the tower can be seen from many street corners in the historic centre of the town and also from points along the Via del Capo and the Via Nastro Verde out along the Sorrentine peninsula.
Cathedral's bell tower

The two lower storeys of the tower probably date back to the 11th century when the Duomo was originally built. But the three upper storeys were added in the 15th century, when the Duomo, which is dedicated to San Filippo and San Giacomo, was rebuilt in Romanesque style.

The bell tower was later given a decorative, blue majolica clock.

From very early in Sorrento’s history, the bell tower has played an important part. The ground floor space under the archway from Via Pietà was used as a meeting place by the people of Sorrento in medieval times. Later, a castle was built in the open space that we now see in Piazza Tasso, and the people used to congregate there for meetings.

Although the castle was demolished a long time ago, the columns that still hold up the bell tower at ground floor level are believed to be a collection of old Roman columns or early Byzantine columns.
Ancient columns support campanile

Therefore, the base of the bell tower existed very early on in Sorrento’s history, long before the Duomo was built and the popular seaside resort that we know today, grew up around it.


Thursday, September 19, 2019

Ristorante Pizzeria Da Gigino

Traditional family-run Sorrento restaurant


In the historic centre of Sorrento, Ristorante Pizzeria da Gigino has been serving up Sorrento’s speciality dishes to locals and visitors alike since 1965.

The restaurant is now run by Ciro and Nino Esposito, but the food they serve has been cooked by generations of their family before them.
Inside Ristorante Da Gigino

If you enter Via San Cesareo from Piazza Tasso, turn into Via degli Archi, the first street off to the right, and at number 15 you will see diners sitting at tables outside the restaurant enjoying the traditional dishes on offer.

You can also choose to eat inside the spacious restaurant where you will be able to choose from an extensive menu.

Da Gigino specials include insalata di mare con bruschetta (seafood salad served with bruschetta), scialatielli alla pescatora (home made pasta with sea food), gnocchi verdi con gamberi, (green gnocchi with shrimps) or grigliata di pesce con insalata (mixed grilled fish with salad).

There is a good selection of antipasti featuring locally caught fish, home made pasta dishes with a variety of sauces using fresh San Marzano tomatoes and a good choice of pizze made in a wood fired oven.

There are plenty of main courses also featuring the local fish, but the restaurant also offers beef, veal and chicken dishes, with a good choice of contorni, (vegetable dishes) to accompany them.

They serve a range of local wines and wines from other parts of Italy as well.

The restaurant takes its name from the original owner, Luigi Esposito, who was always known as Gigi, and Gigino in Italian means ‘little Gigi’.

Try Da Gigino for yourselves and Buon Appetito!