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, August 28, 2011

What to see in Sorrento

In the historic centre of Sorrento there is a wealth of beautiful architecture illustrating the fascinating history of the town, which was inhabited by Greeks and then Romans, who called it Surrentum, a name derived from the myth of the Sirens who tried to tempt Ulysses.
There are still remnants of the Greek defensive walls to be seen at Porta Parsano Nuova and in Via Sopra Le Mura.
The Greek Gate
You will see a real gem of Greek architecture as you walk down to the fishing village of Marina Grande along Via Marina Grande. You will pass under the original fourth century BC Greek Gate, a round arched gateway built from square cut blocks of stone. It blends perfectly with the walls on either side of it and the traditional fishermen’s houses. When you emerge from the passageway into the sunshine you will have a stunning view of the sea and the beach of Marina Grande.
Marina Grande
Sedile Dominova
The Romans built over the old Greek town but followed the same plan and their solid stone walls continued to defend Sorrento for centuries. These were rebuilt in the 16th century to protect Sorrento against Turkish invasions. If you walk along Via degli Aranci you can appreciate the scale of them. Turn down Via Sersale, where you can look round, free of charge, the recently renovated bastion of Parsano, part of the ancient walls. At the end of Via Sersale cross Corso Italia and turn down Via Tasso and then into Via Fuoro. Walk along in the direction of Via Sopra Le Mura and you will come to Sedile Dominova, an elegant 15th century loggia, originally built as a meeting place for the nobility to discuss important public affairs and sumptuously decorated with frescoes. It is now a popular meeting place for local men and some serious card games take place beneath the green and yellow majolica tiled cupola.
Make your way back to Corso Italia to see Sorrento’s Duomo, which dates back to the 11th century but was rebuilt in the 15th century. The choir in the apse provides an elegant example of the decorative inlaid woodwork that is a Sorrentine tradition.
A short walk from Piazza Tasso along Via Luigi de Maio will take you to Piazza Sant’Antonino named after Sorrento ’s patron saint. The square has a statue of Sant’Antonino Abate and is home to Basilica Sant’Antonino, parts of which date back to the 11th century. In the sacristry is a beautiful example of a presepe (crib) with 17th century figures made by Neapolitan sculptors.
Piazza Tasso
You can walk from the square down to Marina Piccola, from where boats and hydrofoils depart to Naples, Ischia, Capri, Positano and Amalfi.
Or, you could walk to Via San Francesco and the Villa Communale (public gardens), where there are benches to rest on while you admire the views of the bay and the promontory you can see that is known as Punta del Capo. Before you leave the gardens, take a look inside the Chiesa di San Francesco and the pretty Chiostro (cloisters), parts of which date back to the 14th century, and which is nowadays a popular venue for weddings.

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