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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Come back to Sorrento (Torna a Surriento)

The De Curtis statue
If the main square in Sorrento belongs to the poet Torquato Tasso, then the square outside the Circumvesuviana railway station is definitely the territory of Neapolitan poet and artist Giambattista de Curtis.
He is believed to have written the words for the song Torna a Surriento while on the terrace of the Imperial Hotel Tramontano in 1902 gazing out at the sea whose beauty he was praising.
Giambattista lived for weeks at a time in the hotel and painted frescoes and canvases for the owner, Guglielmo Tramontano, who was also Mayor of Sorrento.
One theory is that he was asked to write the song to mark the stay at the hotel of Italian prime minister Guiseppe Zanardelli. But another school of thought is that he had already written the words to accompany his brother Ernesto’s beautiful music a few years earlier.
There is a bust of Giambattista in front of the station with the inscription: To G Battista de Curtis author of the song Torna a Surriento. Placed by the commune 15 September 1982.
Giambattista wrote the verses in Neapolitan dialect and the English version that is sometimes performed is not an accurate translation.
One of Italy ’s most famous songs, Torna a Surriento has been performed and recorded in the original by such greats as Di Stefano and Pavarotti.
The opening lines are: Vide’o mare quant’e bello. Spira tanta sentimento Comme tu, a chi tiene mente Ca, scetato,’ o faje sunna.
My literal translation of this is: See how beautiful the sea is. It inspires so many feelings. Like you, and to he who thinks of you, makes dreams while awake.
But to many people the song has come to mean simply: Come back to Sorrento because of its beauty. And no one could argue with that.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Visit vibrant Via San Cesareo

Colourful stalls line
Via San Cesareo 
One of the most fascinating streets in Sorrento is Via San Cesareo, which is right in the centre just off Piazza Tasso.
Running parallel with the much wider Corso Italia, the street follows one of the lines of the ancient Greek and Roman town plan. It is narrow because it was designed to be shaded by the buildings along both sides to keep it as cool as possible during the height of the summer.

Crammed with shops, bars and restaurants, the ancient cobbled street leads to Via Tasso, providing an experience for all your senses with its exciting colours, aromas and sounds along the way.
As soon as you enter it from Piazza Tasso, you are met with bright colours, snatches of mandolin music, excited voices and frantic activity.
Luxury leather goods and jewellery shops display their stock along with the stalls of fresh fruit and vegetables close to the outside eating areas of bars and restaurants.
You will be dazzled by the strings of bright red chillis, colourful hand painted ceramics and fresh green vegetables and herbs on sale.
From one doorway you might experience the smell of new leather handbags, from another a whiff of Sorrento’s lemon perfumes and products and, from a restaurant, the occasional enticing aroma of tomato and garlic.
You’ll be able to taste ice cold limoncello in the liqueur shops, watch craftsmen making decorations in inlaid wood and be invited into the air conditioned bars and restaurants by waiters standing in the doorways calling out the names of the day’s special dishes.
You’ll hear snatches of Torna a Surriento as people open the musical boxes outside the inlaid wood shops, competing against the background hum of shoppers discussing their purchases, with the occasional melodic tone of an Italian shopkeeper soaring above, like a snatch of opera.
Card games and frescoes
in Sedile Dominova
Before you reach Via Tasso, look out for Sedile Dominova on the left hand side. The elegant 15th century open loggia on the corner of Via Giuliani was originally built as a meeting place for the nobility and is beautifully decorated with frescoes.
Watch the local men of today enjoying a quiet game of cards under the ornate cupola, seemingly oblivious to what is going on around them.   

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fly to Naples -- then onwards by road, rail or sea to Sorrento

Curreri Viaggi's Sorrento bus service
The nearest airport to Sorrento is the Aeroporto Internazionale di Napoli, which is about 50 km to the north.
You can fly to Naples International Airport from Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester .
There are internal flights to Naples from Genova, Catania, Torino, Roma, Milano, Venice, Verona, Palermo and Trieste as well as flights from other European cities and further afield.
The airport has recently been refurbished and has smart shops, bars and restaurants spread over three floors.
You can travel from the airport to Sorrento by road, rail or sea.
A regular bus service is operated by Curreri Viaggi from outside Arrivals to the centre of Sorrento for €10 per person, the journey taking about an hour and a half. A pre-booked taxi for a small group will cost approximately €120.
Or you could take a taxi into the centre of Naples to the Circumvesuviana railway station at Porta Nolana or Piazza Garibaldi and board a local train, which will reach Sorrento in just over an hour.
If you would like to arrive by sea take a taxi to Molo Beverello in Naples from where there are regular ferries across the bay to Sorrento . The voyage will take about 45 minutes and you will arrive at Marina Piccola, from where you can either walk up into the centre of Sorrento or take a bus or taxi.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Eat well in Sorrento

There are many delicious local specialities to try in Sorrento, which has a culinary tradition closely linked with cucina Napolitana (Neapolitan cooking).
gnocchi alla sorrentina
A typical local dish you will find among the pasta dishes served as a primo piatto (first course) is gnocchi alla sorrentina, little dumplings made from potato, egg and flour cooked in a rich tomato sauce with mozzarella and basil.
You will also see spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with small clams) and scialatielli ai frutti di mare (fresh pasta strips with shellfish).
Most restaurants serve freshly caught, local fish for the secondo piatto (main course). A typical dish from this coast is pezzogna all’acqua pazza, a delicious white fish cooked with tomato, garlic and parsley.
scialatielli ai frutti di mare
Among other fish dishes you will see are spigola (sea bass) cooked with lemon, marinated or fried anchovies and zuppa di cozze (fresh mussels cooked with tomato).
Of course, Sorrento is a good place to try an authentic pizza, a dish which was born in nearby Naples. The best known is Pizza Margherita (with tomato, mozzarella and basil) invented by a Neapolitan pizza cook, Raffaele Esposito, in honour of Queen Margherita, wife of Umberto 1, King of Italy.
A popular dessert is la delizia al limone (lemon cake covered in cream). Finish off with a small, ice cold glass of limoncello, the popular Sorrento liqueur, thought by Italians to be a good digestivo, aiding digestion.

Salute e Buon Appetito!


Friday, September 9, 2011

Sample Sorrentine specialities at VerdeMare restaurant

VerdeMare Ristorante
Just outside the centre of Sorrento, VerdeMare Ristorante Pizzeria serves authentic Sorrentine dishes for less than you might pay in the middle of town.
The restaurant is only five minutes by bus, car or taxi from the centre of Sorrento. Or you could walk to it in about half an hour along Corso Italia and Via del Capo in the direction of  Punta del Capo enjoying the view over Marina Grande and the sea along the way as you climb the hill.
You will find the VerdeMare on the left hand side at the junction of Via del Capo and Via Nastro Verde.
You can either dine on the terrace and watch motorists negotiate the tricky junction with a serene sea view in the distance, or inside the large, airy restaurant decorated with framed newspaper front pages commemorating famous events, such as landing on the moon and Italy winning the world cup.
The quality of the food more than makes up for the restaurant’s proximity to the main road and there is an extensive menu to choose from.
Among the antipasti, I would recommend gamberi e rucola (fresh prawns on a bed of rocket in a delicious lemon dressing) or alici marinati (marinated anchovies).
Among the pasta dishes look out for scialatielli (short, home made strips) with frutti di mare (seafood) or alla siciliana (with tomatoes, aubergines and cheese).
The restaurant’s speciality is spaghetti alla VerdeMare, with a rich tomato, vegetable and seafood sauce.
For main courses there is an good choice of fish, veal and steak dishes and an extensive pizze list.
A  two course meal for four, with vegetables, two bottles of wine and water came to €100.
Verdemare Ristorante Pizzeria is closed on Wednesdays. Tel: +39 081 8782589.
Salute e Buon Appetito!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Visit Marina Grande to eat freshly caught fish

Marina Grande is one of Sorrento’s two harbours but is not the main port for Sorrento.
Marina Grande

Confusingly, it is Marina Piccola -- literally, small marina -- where the big boats dock and hydrofoils from Naples, Ischia, Capri, Positano and Amalfi arrive and depart.
Marina Grande has the feel of a small fishing village that has remained unspoilt over the years and is well worth a visit as there are plenty of restaurants that serve fresh fish.
Walk down along Via Marina Grande, which starts from Piazza della Vittoria and winds down to the shore past some traditional, old Sorrento houses.
When you reach the beach you will be greeted by the sight of brightly painted bathing huts along a platform over the sea and lines of small fishing boats and pleasure boats on the beach.
You may even see fishermen among them mending their nets as fishing by traditional methods is still an important part of Sorrento’s economy.
There are also a few shops and bars at Marina Grande but, despite receiving many visitors, there is a homely atmosphere where everyone knows everyone else because the same families have lived there for generations.
If you are replete with good food and wine you might prefer to take the bus back up the steep road to Sorrento afterwards. It leaves from a stop on the road by the beach in the middle of the sea front every half an hour.