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.

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!


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Sorrento beaches


Sorrento has a reputation for being a seaside resort without any good beaches, but there are some great places for swimming and sunbathing just out of town if you know where to look.

Many of the hotels in the centre of the resort have their own stretches of beach for the use of guests. But if your hotel doesn’t have its own beach there are small strips of beach accessible from the centre of town for people who don’t have time to explore further afield.

Take the lift from Villa Communale to Marina Piccolo, at a cost of one euro, to access the beach next to the harbour and other areas of pebbly sand set out for sun bathing and swimming, such as Leonelli’s Beach, Peter’s Beach, Marameo Beach and Bagni Salvatore. But they can be crowded during the summer and the hire charge for sun beds and beach umbrellas is likely to be higher than the cost at beaches outside the centre.
Bathing platforms in the cenntre of Sorrento.

You could also walk down Via Marina Grande to Sorrento’s other port, where there is a stretch of public beach as well as a wooden bathing platform with sun beds and umbrellas for hire. Down at Marina Grande you are handy for some good bars and fish restaurants.

If you head south west out along the Sorrento peninsula you will come to several good beaches.

To see stunning views in different directions across the bay of Naples, visit the point of land protruding from the Sorrento peninsula known as Punta del Capo. To get there leave Sorrento along Via del Capo in the direction of Massa Lubrense. You could walk, taking in the view over Marina Grande along the way, but it is uphill and can be hard work in hot weather. Or, you could take the Linea A (Line A) orange bus to Capo di Sorrento from Piazza Tasso, which takes about ten minutes.

Get off at Capo di Sorrento, where there are a few shops and a bar, and you will see a signpost pointing to i ruderi romani (Roman ruins). It is a pleasant walk down to the sea along Via Punta Capo past the church of San Rosario.
The beach at Marina Grande

You will come first to a natural triangular pool with an archway of rock over it, which is known as il Bagno della Regina Giovanna (Queen Joan’s bath). The clear shimmering water of the pool is popular for swimming and snorkelling. On the tip of Punta del Capo are the ruins of a large Roman villa which would once have had grand rooms with panoramic views of the bay and access from the sea for visitors arriving by boat. You can sunbathe and swim in the sea off a narrow strip of rock nearby where there is a bar and access to toilets.

A lovely stretch of public beach can be found at the old fishing village of Marina di Puolo further out along the peninsula.

To get there, take the Linea A (Line A) bus to Capo di Sorrento and get off at the stop for the Hotel Dania, from where you can make your way down to the beach along an old path.

Turn off Via Capo down Calata Puolo and then turn left again to go down some gradual steps and along a narrow path past olive groves and a vineyard until you reach the intersection with Via Marina di Puolo. You will pass a car park (the nearest point to the beach that you can drive to if you come from the main road) before going down a steeply descending, winding path to reach Marina di Puolo.

You will find a shop, a few restaurants and a hotel with its own private area of the beach when you get down there. There is a good stretch of grey, volcanic sand open to the public. You can hire sunbeds, deckchairs and umbrellas from the resident bagnino, who can usually be found near the restaurant Da Raffaele. Along with his helpful staff, he provides good customer service and keeps the beach in good order.
A lone swimmer at the beach at Marina di Puolo

When you enter the sea, it is shallow for the first few metres. Once you have crossed a pebbly area, you will find it is soft under foot and the water is pleasant for bathing. 

After your swim you will enjoy having lunch outside one of the restaurants along the sea front enjoying the view while you sample the fresh fish and local wine. You can see Vesuvius and the coastline across the bay. To the right is the rocky end of Punta del Capo and to the left there is a promontory of land known as Capo di Massa, which is surmounted by the remains of a 16th century look out tower.

Marina di Puolo can be crowded on Saturdays and Sundays during the summer when many Italian families head for the beach. But on weekdays it is a pleasant place to escape to.

Further along the peninsula you will come to the pretty, seaside village of Marina della Lobra, with its sandy beach that is rare for the area.From the town of Massa Lubrense, you can walk down to the seafront along a winding road. When you reach Marina della Lobra, there are restaurants and bars, a beach that is free to the public and places where you can hire boats.

During the summer, you can take a boat trip from the harbour to explore the coastline and get a closer view of Capri and the Amalfi coast. A few buses run between Marina della Lobra and Massa Lubrense, so check the timetable if you would prefer to ride back up the hill rather than walk. 

The local Linea A (Line A) buses operated by EAVBUS run all the way out to Massa Lubrense from Sorrento during the summer. The SITA coaches that connect Sorrento with resorts such as Positano and Amalfi further along the coast call at Massa Lubrense all the year round. The journey from Sorrento to Massa Lubrense’s main square takes about 15 minutes.

Further out along the peninsula, accessible by car or bus, is Nerano, which has a lovely beach down at Marina del Cantone, near the tip of the Sorrentine peninsula.

Marina del Cantone looks out over the gulf of Salerno and is situated between the bay of Ieranto and Recommone. Its pebbly beach is ideal for sunbathing and you can hire sunbeds and beach parasols. The clear water of the sea in this part of the bay makes it perfect for swimming and snorkelling.

You can walk from Marina del Cantone along a panoramic path to the beach at Recommone, which takes about ten minutes. You will pass a 15th century watch tower which was built to look out for pirates and invaders.

Down at Marina del Cantone you will be able to book boat trips to the other coves along the coast, to the three islands out in the bay known as Li Galli, or, to visit the Grotta Azzurra, (blue grotto) on the isle of Capri. If you arrive at Marina del Cantone by car you will find a parking area near the hotels, shops, bars and restaurants just above the beach.

Going north east out of Sorrento in the direction of Castellamare di Stabia you will pass several towns with beaches.

The nearest is at Sant’Agnello,where you can access the sandy beach at Lido Marinella, which has good facilities and restaurants.

Further along, there is a long expanse of beach known as Meta Alimuri, which has made the town of Meta, near Sorrento, a popular seaside resort in its own right. Meta lies between Piano di Sorrento and Vico Equense on the main coastal road going in the direction of Naples.

A road leads down to the beach from the town, making it accessible by car or on foot. There is a good stretch of grey volcanic sand with free access, even though some Meta hotels have their own private sections of beach. From the beach there are lovely views across the Bay of Naples
There is a bar and restaurant down at the beach, deck chairs and sun umbrellas can be hired and there are opportunities to rent boats.

The Line A bus from Sorrento to Meta Alimuri will take you close to the beach or you can travel on the Circumvesuviana train to Meta and walk down to the beach from the station. If travelling by car, you will find parking close to the beach.


There are also beaches at Vico Marina and Marina di Equa, which can be accessed from the town of Vico Equense, further along the coast.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Casa Correale Sorrento


Grand house has stunning tiled courtyard


One of the finest collections of old majolica tiles in Sorrento can be seen in Casa Correale, an 18th century mansion in Piazza Tasso that is now being used as a shop.
The tiled wall of the inner courtyard

The friendly staff working in the sales outlet for Fattoria Terranova are happy for visitors to go inside to view the stunning wall decorated with majolica tiles in the courtyard of the house.

Although the Correale family are believed to have owned a house on this site in the 15th century, the current mansion, on the corner of Piazza Tasso and Via Pietà dates from the middle of the 18th century.

The elegant doorway is constructed of local stone and you can go through a passageway into a courtyard to see an old majolica tiled mural depicting architectural and agricultural scenes, believed to be the work of craftsmen from Chiaia in Naples.

The date of 1768 above the entrance door refers to the time the original house was transformed into the elegant residence we see today.
The entrance from Piazza Tasso

The shop sells olives, oils, herbs and liqueurs produced at Fattoria Terranova in Via Pontone in Sant’Agata su Due Golfi, a town outside Sorrento along the peninsula.

The land was given to the Correale family for them to farm by Neapolitan Queen Joanna of Anjou in the 15th century. They employed local people to do the work and a descendant of one of those families, Claudio Ruoppo, now runs the business with the support of his wife and children. For more information visit www.fattoriaterranova.it 
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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Sedile di Porta


Sorrento’s first meeting place for noble families


When you walk through the streets of Sorrento you will see reminders of the town’s history wherever you look.

In the busy main square, Piazza Tasso, there is a plaque commemorating the spot where the noble families used to meet to deal with the administrative affairs of the town in the 16th century.
The plaque commemorating the spot where
 Sorrento's noble families used to meet

Near the corner where Piazza Tasso joins Via San Cesareo there is a reminder that the old Sedile di Porta, the Porta Seat, used to be located there.

It was named Sedile di Porta because it was built close to the main gate of the town, the Porta, in what used to be Largo del Castello, Castle Square. Its emblem was a door with three keys on a gold background.

After the meeting places for nobility were abolished, the building was turned into a prison and it later became a guard house for the urban militia.

It is now the home of a private club, the Circolo Sorrentino.

Under the rule of the House of Anjou, Sorrento was administered by noble families appointed by the King of Naples.

Some noble families broke away from Sedile de Porta after disagreements about the administration of the town and founded a seat of their own, Sedile Dominova, which still stands on the corner of Via San Cesareo and Largo Padre Reginaldo Giuliani.
Porta seat is now the home of Circolo Sorrentini

This beautiful building became the headquarters of the Societa Operaia per il Mutuo Soccorso, a Mutual Aid Society for Workers, in 1877. You will see gentlemen playing cards against the backdrop of frescos in the open air loggia at the front when you go past.


Sedile Dominova in Sorrento is now considered to be the best preserved seat of the nobility still standing in southern Italy.

Chiesa dell’Addolarata

Architectural gem behind simple wooden door


The interior of the church
Just off busy Via San Cesareo in the heart of Sorrento, the beautiful Baroque Church of Our Lady of Sorrows houses many art treasures.

Built by the leading, noble families of Sorrento, the church was completed in 1739.

The pink painted internal walls are decorated with white plasterwork and the brick floor still has some of its original majolica tiles, which were decorated with floral designs.

The wooden statue of the Madonna
The most striking feature in the church is the wooden statue of the Madonna. It is displayed in a niche that is protected behind glass above the main altar. The Madonna is wearing a dark coloured, gold trimmed gown and a gold crown and she is holding a white handkerchief, as a manifestation of her grief after the crucifixion of Christ.

To the left of the ornate main altar, which is topped with gold candlesticks, is a wooden sculpture of Christ on the Cross.

Baroque detail over the door
There are paintings by the 18th century artist, Carlo Amalfi, of The Holy Family and the Holy Trinity in Glory, and also many fine examples of religious paintings in inlaid wood.

These include contemporary works by Giuseppe Rocco, completed in 2013, of the Nativity and the Crucifixion.

The Chiesa dell’Addolarata, which is at No. 47 Via San Cesareo, can be discovered  behind a simple wooden door with decorative stonework above it that is typical of the Baroque period.

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