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.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sorrento set to celebrate the start of Christmas

Spectacular Christmas trees are a
feature in southern Italy
There will be special masses taking place in churches in Sorrento over the weekend as residents and visitors join together to celebrate the official beginning of the Christmas season.
Il giorno dell’immacolata concezione (the day of the immaculate conception) has been celebrated for centuries in Italy on 8 December.
It is an official festa (feast day) when the immaculate conception of Jesus is celebrated in the Christian calendar. It also marks the start of the Christmas season when the lights and trimmings go up.
Most of the shops in Sorrento will be open as usual and doing a brisk trade as many people will be out doing their Christmas shopping.
As in many other countries across the world, Christmas shopping actually begins earlier than 8 December in Italy, with Christmas trees, lights and decorations starting to go up during November.
But Sorrento’s Corso Italia and the popular shopping street Via San Cesareo will be thronged with activity from now until Christmas Eve.

Buona Festa!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Enjoy Italy's new wine while in Sorrento

Light, fruity Vino Novello
During November you will see Vino Novello, Italy's new wine, on sale in the shops and being served in bars and restaurants in Sorrento.
The light, fruity, new red wine is enjoyable to drink and a bargain buy to take home with you.
Vino Novello is similar in taste, body and colour to the French Beaujolais Nouveau, which is exported to other countries after its release.
Like Beaujolais Nouveau, Italy's new wine should be drunk quickly after the bottle is opened. Unopened bottles should be keep for only a few months.
Italy's Vino Novello 2012 was launched on 6 November, ten days ahead of Beaujolais Nouveau and has gone on sale in many supermarkets, wine shops and bars.
A major area for production is the Veneto, with the merlot grape being the one most used by wine makers.
Make the most of the opportunity to taste an Italian Vino Novello while in Sorrento. Salute! 


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Take a trip to Pompeii

Vesuvius looms over Pompeii
The ancient city of Pompeii lies within easy reach of Sorrento, taking about 30 minutes by train.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy, gli scavi, the excavated ruins of Pompeii, show us what daily life was like in a Roman city, even down to what was sold in the shops and how people decorated their homes.
A vast number of important artefacts have been dug up on the site over the last 250 years since excavations began in earnest.
There is so much to see that many people find it difficult to get round the entire site in a day.
On your first visit you could either walk round gathering general impressions or choose some of the famous sights to look at in more detail.
It can be hot during the summer months so take adequate sun protection and plenty of water. Many people pack a picnic and take a break to stop and eat it while they are going round.
But there is a self service bar and restaurant on the site near the Tempio di Giove.
There are plenty of excellent bars and restaurants in the modern town of Pompei (spelt with only one i), but these are some distance from the excavations.
How to get to Pompeii
There are trains to Naples from the Circumvesuviana railway station in Sorrento every half an hour that stop at Pompei Scavi station. The journey takes about 30 minutes.
From the station it is a short walk to the main entrance to the archaeological site in Piazza Porta Marina.
The ruins are open daily from 8.30 to 19.30 during the summer and 8.30 to 17.00 between November and April.
The last days of Pompeii
The ancient city of Pompeii dates back to at least the seventh century BC and came under Roman rule around 200 BC.
An earthquake damaged Pompeii a few years before the fatal eruption of Mount Vesuvius but it is believed that the final disaster happened in the August of AD 79.
When Vesuvius started rumbling and a sinister cloud began to form many people left the area immediately and it is estimated that only ten per cent of the 20,000 population stayed behind and perished.
It is believed many of them died from the effects of the heat and their bodies were buried under the stones and ash for hundreds of years.
The city was almost completely covered, but the upper floors of some of the buildings stuck out from the rubble. These were looted by local people over the centuries but eventually the city was forgotten.
Engineers rediscovered it while digging an acqueduct in the 17th century. The first organised excavations began in 1748 and the site soon became an attraction for wealthy Europeans on the Grand Tour.

Highlights among the excavations
House of the Faun
From the main entrance at Porta Marina walk along Via Marina to il Foro Civile (the forum) where you can see the place where orators addressed public meetings and the law courts.
If you go along Via del Mercurio you will see some interesting houses, including Casa dei Vettii where there are well preserved wall paintings and Casa del Fauno with its famous statue.
If you go from il Foro along Via dell’Abbondanza you will see the remains of shops, a tavern and a brothel. At the end of the street on the right you will find the main anfiteatro (ampitheatre).
If you have time, try to visit Villa dei Misteri outside the walls of the city, which has some colourful wall paintings depicting the myth of Dionysis and the initiation ritual into a cult that was forbidden at the time.

Modern Pompei
Pompei is a smart town with plenty of shops, bars and restaurants. It is also home to a magnificent church that has become a centre for pilgrims who come to pray to the Madonna.
Il Santuario della Beata Vergine del Rosario is in the centre of the town in Piazza Bartolo Longo.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

La Fenice serves up Sorrento dishes with style

La Fenice's cool interior

Fresh fish is brought in by boat to Sorrento every day for the dishes offered on the menu at La Fenice ristorante and pizzeria.
Diners can see the impressive variety of seafood available on display by the doorway of the restaurant before they are shown to a table in either the garden or air conditioned interior.
La Fenice has been offering an extensive repertoire of fish dishes and other Sorrentine specialities under the direction of Giuseppe Maresca and Nello Castellano since 1986.
The smart restaurant in Via degli Aranci in the centre of Sorrento is open every day during the summer season, consistently serving high quality food at reasonable prices both at lunch and dinner time.
Scaloppina alla Fenice
Among the primi piatti (first courses) are gnocchi alla sorrentina (potato dumplings with cheese and tomato), linguine alla bella napoli (with seafood) and risotto alla pescatora (risotto with seafood and tomato).
The local, fresh fish is served either cooked in lemon, white wine or fresh tomato sauce.
Other speciality dishes include scaloppina alla Fenice (veal escalope with ham and peas) and involtini alla sorrentina (veal rolls with ham and cheese.) The extensive pizza list includes calzone alla sorrentina (a folded pizza filled with tomato, mozzarella cheese and ham.)
La Fenice is closed on Mondays from the beginning of September each year until the start of the next holiday season.
For more information visit


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Step back in time along Via Pieta in Sorrento

Via Pietà in Sorrento
While in Sorrento take a stroll along Via Pietà, a quiet street that runs parallel with Corso Italia.
Away from the heat of the sun, you will be able to imagine what life was like in Sorrento as far back as the 14th century when some of the palaces in the narrow street were built
Via Pietà runs along the line of a decumanus (part of the Roman town plan) that appears on ancient maps. It is perhaps one of the most impressive of Sorrento’s historic streets, connecting Piazza Tasso with the bell tower of Sorrento’s Duomo.
Via Pietà used to be an important street in Sorrento before the construction of Corso Italia. It runs alongside the left side of the Corso as you walk in the direction of Via del Capo.
One of the most important buildings is Palazzo Veniero, which is an example of the late Byzantine and Arab architecture popular in southern Italy in the 13th and 14th centuries. You can still make out the decorative patterns made of contrasting stone beneath the arch shaped windows of the palace.
Arched window of old palace
Nearby, Palazzo Correale, with its beautiful mullioned windows, was built at about the same time as a residence for the locally important Correale family. It was converted into the orphanage of Santa Maria della Pietà in the 17th century.
Down a side turning to the left, in Vico Galantario, look out for a Loggia that is a rare example of Aragonese architecture showing he influence of Tuscan artisans working in Naples at the time.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

See Naples and die!

Bay of Naples with Vesuvius in background
It was on 17 July, 1823 that Marguerite, Lady Blessington began her Neapolitan Journals with an account of her first glimpse of the city that was to become her home for the next two and a half years.
She wrote: “ Naples burst upon us from the steep hill above the Campo Santo, and never did aught so bright and dazzling meet my gaze. Innumerable towers, domes and steeples, rose above palaces, intermingled with terraces and verdant foliage. The bay, with its placid waters, lay stretched before us, bounded on the left by a chain of mountains, with Vesuvius, sending up its blue incense to the Cloudless sky.”
Lady Blessington was to fall in love with Naples and embrace the culture, attending local events, making what at the time were adventurous excursions and entertaining Neapolitan aristocrats and intellectuals at the former royal palace that became her home.
Castel dell'Ovo - little changed since
 Lady Blessington's time
Those who know Naples will recognise in her vivid descriptions places that have remained unchanged for the last 200 years. She also provides a valuable insight into what life was like at the time for ordinary people as well as the rich and privileged.
A society beauty, she came to Naples after her marriage to Lord Blessington while making a long European tour and immediately became fascinated by the local customs, food and traditions. She also visited Ercolano, Paestum, Capri, Ischia and Sorrento and made an ascent of Vesuvius on an ass.
After her arrival she recalled: “We ordered our postilions to pause on the brow of the hill, that we might gaze on the beautiful panorama before us; and as our eyes dwelt on it, we were ready to acknowledge that the old Neapolitan phrase of ‘Vedi Napoli e poi mori’, had a meaning, for they who die without having seen Naples, have missed one of the most enchanting views in the world.”
People who already love Naples will find her journals witty and endearing and those who have never visited the city will be inspired to go there as soon as possible.
You can read an abridged version of Lady Blessington’s Neapolitan Journals in Edith Clay’s book Lady Blessington at Naples published by Hamish Hamilton. There are second hand copies currently available on Amazon.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Live like an emperor at Sorrento’s stunning Bellevue Syrene

The Bellevue Syrene enjoys a spectacular clifftop position
The Bellevue Syrene, in the left of the picture, enjoys
a spectacular clifftop position

You can breakfast on a terrace overlooking the bay of Naples during a stay at the five star Bellevue Syrene Hotel in Sorrento.
Many guests have praised the spectacular location of the hotel on the site of a former Roman villa built high above the sea to give wonderful views of Vesuvius from the rooms and terraces.
The villa is believed to have once provided a home for the Emperor Augustus when he was in exile for political reasons. It was rebuilt as a private home in 1750 and converted to an hotel in 1820.
The main entrance is in Piazza Vittoria, which is within walking distance of the best bars, restaurants and shops in Sorrento and handy for the port at Marina Piccola.
The Bellevue Syrene has 30 suites and rooms, some with large terraces overlooking the sea.
There is a choice of restaurants and dining terraces, including the terrace of the Villa Pompeiana, a copy of the House of the Vetti at Pompei that was constructed in the grounds at the beginning of the 20th century.
The hotel also has an extensive wine cellar housed in an original Roman grotto.
The Bellevue Syrene has recently been renovated to provide guests with up to the minute facilities such as a beauty centre, gym, pool, library and free wifi throughout the whole building.
Distinguished former guests include Vittorio Emanuele III, many members of the European aristocracy and writers such as Ivan Turgenev and the French poet De Lamartine.

Check prices at the Hotel Bellevue Syrene with and


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cornelia’s house was refuge for poet Tasso in Sorrento

Cornelia Tasso's house in Vico San Nicola

Tucked away in a narrow street in the historic heart of Sorrento is an ancient house that was once the home of Cornelia, the sister of the poet Torquato Tasso.
The building at number 11 Vico San Nicola is sometimes known as the Sersale house because Cornelia had married Marzio Sersale in 1558.
Cornelia continued to live in the house with her sons Antonino and Alessandro after she became a widow.
The house can be identified by a pretty little balcony on the front, which is supported by decorative stonework.
Cornelia was the only sister of the poet Torquato Tasso, who was born in Sorrento in 1544.
Tasso’s most famous work was his epic poem Gerusalemme Liberata (Jerusalem Delivered) in which he gives an imaginative version of the battles between Christians and Muslims at the end of the first crusade during the siege of Jerusalem. He is regarded as the greatest Italian poet of the renaissance and was the most widely read poet throughout Europe until the 19th century. His work was to prove inspirational for other writers who followed him, in particular Spencer and Byron.
Tasso travelled about in Italy constantly during his life but came back to Sorrento to visit his beloved sister Cornelia at a time when he was in deep trouble.
A plaque identifying the house can be seen
above what is now Number 5 Vico San Nicola
In the 1570s he had developed a type of persecution mania. He believed he was going to be denounced by the Inquisition and also dreaded being poisoned. While still enjoying the patronage of the Duke of Ferrara he entered a Franciscan convent for the benefit of his health but later escaped, disguised himself as a peasant and travelled to Sorrento.
It is said that Torquato arrived at Cornelia’s house in Via San Nicola and pretended to be a messenger who had come to inform her of her brother’s death.
Tasso is believed to have been trying to test Cornelia’s loyalty to him, but her shock and distress on receiving the news was enough to reassure him that she could be trusted.
Despite enjoying happy months in Sorrento he found that he missed the court at Ferrara and wrote humbly to the Duke asking if he could come back.
But he continued to be unwell on his return to Ferrara and his erratic conduct eventually led to him being confined in the madhouse of Sant’Anna.
Although he was to enjoy freedom and to travel around Italy again in the last few years of his life, his health started to decline and he died in Rome at just 51 years of age in April 1595.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Take a trip across the water to Ischia

Castello Arogonese guards over Ischia
A view of the island of Ischia suddenly appears out in the bay as you travel out of Sorrento along the peninsula in the direction of Massa Lubrense, following the curve of the coastline.
On a clear day, you will be able to see this large, volcanic island from various panoramic points around Capo di Sorrento. Ischia appears triangular in shape, topped by Monte Epomeo, along whose slopes the grapes for the island’s excellent wines are grown.
At night if you look out to sea from the area around Capo you will be able to make out the shape of the island picked out by the lights glittering on it.
There is a daily aliscafo (hydrofoil) service to the island from Marina Piccola in Sorrento . It departs at 9.30 in the morning and leaves Ischia to return to Sorrento at 17.20.
It is well worth a trip out to the island to see the Castello Arogonese, which was built on a rock just off the island, the gardens of La Mortella, where English composer William Walton used to live, and the pretty beach resorts of Casamicciola Terme, Lacco Ameno and Forio.
You will land at Ischia Porto where you will see buses waiting to take you to different parts of the island. The Castello is within walking distance of the port but you will need transport to take you any further afield.
There are some lovely beaches and you will find plenty of good quality restaurants where you can enjoy the local specialties and wines produced on the island.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Enjoy Mediterranean flavours at family run Zi’ntonio

Zi'intonio in Via Luigi de Maio
One of my favourite restaurants in Sorrento that I return to year after year is Ristorante Pizzeria Zi’ntonio just off Piazza Tasso.
I love to relax in the air conditioned interior over lunch while the sun is at its hottest outside. The walls are covered with hand painted ceramic tiles from Vietri sul Mare on the Amalfi coast, which contributes to the cool atmosphere.
On the ground floor the tiles create the setting of a pergola in a vineyard while upstairs they represent the coastline of Sorrento, as seen from out in the Bay of Naples.
While you wait for your meal the waiters will bring you savoury snacks and freshly baked strips of pizza dough to nibble.
There is a comprehensive menu of antipasti, pasta and risotto and fish and meat dishes as well as an extensive pizza list. These are cooked to order in a traditional wood oven.
There are plenty of wines from Campania and further afield and if you choose a white wine it is always served beautifully chilled.
Hand-painted ceramic tiles adorn the walls of Zi'intonio
Zi’ntonio (Uncle Tony) is run by Mariano and Michela and members of their family. Many of the waiters have been on the staff for years, which helps to provide a homely and welcoming atmosphere.
The restaurant opened in 1960 in Via Sant’Antonino and moved to its present home in Via Luigi De Maio in 1975. Over the years it has been recommended by the Michelin Guide, the Veronelli Guide and the Rick Steves guide.
As you would expect, there is an abundance of Mediterranean dishes on the menu. My personal favourite is Risotto alla Pescatora (seafood risotto) which I think is complemented perfectly by a crisp, white Falanghina wine from Campania. Salute e Buon Appetito!

How to find Ristorante Pizzeria Zi’ntonio

Leave Piazza Tasso at the corner with Via San Cesareo and walk down Via Luigi De Maio in the direction of Piazza Sant’Antonino. You will find the restaurant about half way down on the right.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Enjoy a perfect day out in Positano

Positano: the classic view from
Via Cristoforo Colombo
You can visit one of the most glamorous towns of the Amalfi coast, Positano, in an easy day trip from Sorrento.

Positano’s villas, shops and hotels spill down the hillside to the beach, so that seen from further round the bay, the resort resembles a cascade of pink, cream and yellow houses.

The town became fashionable with artists and writers after the Second World War and tourists soon flocked to follow in their footsteps.

Although the stylish clothes in the boutiques are expensive and the town can be crowded in high summer, nothing can spoil the magnificent views or the quaint architecture, which will never change.

How to get to Positano

You can choose to arrive by sea, sailing round Punta della Campanella at the tip of the Sorrentine peninsula, or travel to Positano by road, negotiating the twists and turns of the famous Amalfi drive.
If you choose the sea route, there are hydrofoils to Positano every couple of hours leaving from Marina Piccola, Sorrento’s port.
The journey will give you a good view of Punta della Campanella, with its Saracen look out tower perched on the end, and you will sail close to the three small islands known as Li Galli that lie just off the coast of Positano in the gulf of Salerno.
You will also have the advantage of arriving right on the sea front and have easy access to the beach and some of the best restaurants in the resort.
If you decide to travel by road, the easiest way is to catch a SITA bus, an air conditioned coach, from outside the railway station in Sorrento. The driver will be used to negotiating the hair pin bends and you can just sit back and enjoy the views of the sea far below.
The bus will descend a little way into the town and drop you on Via Guglielmo Marconi -- there are stops at the top of Viale Pasitea and Via Cristoforo Colombo -- before carrying on in the direction of Amalfi.
Positano from the sea with the church of
Santa Maria Assunta in the foreground
You can make the rest of the descent on foot. Both the Viale Pasitea and the much shorter Via Cristoforo Colombo lead eventually to the pedestrian-only Via dei Mulini, along which you pass bars, fascinating shops and the gardens of private villas before you reach the church of Santa Maria Assunta, with its decorative green, yellow and blue cupola. From there it is a short walk to the beach and the bars and restaurants.
Walking back up to the road to catch the bus back to Sorrento takes longer as it is a steep climb, although there is also a small orange-coloured local bus that stops near the top of Via dei Mulini and can take you back to Via Guglielmo Marconi and the SITA bus stop.
If you decide to take your own car and attempt the Amalfi drive, be prepared to have to park some way out of the town.

Boat trips

While in Positano you can hire a boat to explore the caves along the coast or to go out to Li Galli, the legendary home of the Sirens. The largest of the three islands, Gallo Lungo, was once the summer home of ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, but it is now owned by a local business consortium. The other two islands have never been inhabited.

You can also admire the islands from a distance, while sitting at a table enjoying a meal at one of the excellent restaurants on Positano’s sea front.


Monday, April 30, 2012

Wonderful views draw you back to the Hotel Dania

The Hotel Dania
A really good Italian hotel will make you feel comfortable and at home as quickly as possible.
It is nearly 20 years since I stayed at the Hotel Dania in Sorrento for the first time, arriving late at night with my husband and two young children, but I can still remember how we were instantly made to feel welcome and put at our ease by the Acampora family, who own the hotel.
When we woke up the following morning to see the fabulous views from the hotel of the Bay of Naples, our love affair with the Dania began and we have returned to stay there nearly every summer since. 
I have often tried to pinpoint what it is that makes a stay at the Dania so special and I have come to the conclusion it is down to a combination of wonderful features.
The hotel, which is on the Via del Capo at Capo di Sorrento, has a large terrace overlooking the sea with panoramic views that I could never tire of looking at, particularly in the evening, which generally ends with a beautiful sunset over the island of Ischia.
We have a favourite room that has its own terrace, from which you can see the point of land known as Capo di Massa, which has the remains of a Saracen stone tower where the land meets the sea.
View towards Capo di Massa
From the dining room, or our own terrace, we like to see cruise ships going past at night, lit up so they look like glittering diamond necklaces strung out over the sea.
In the morning when we wake up we enjoy watching the ferries and hydrofoils crossing from Sorrento to the islands of Capri and Ischia, or sailing past Capo di Massa to round Punta Campanella and reach the resorts along the Amalfi coast. 

The Hotel Dania is beautifully furnished with traditional antique furniture and local ceramics that have been in the Acampora family for generations. The hotel is very well run by the friendly staff, many of who have remained unchanged over the years and have watched our children grow up, while continually providing us with excellent service.
Although the hotel is not far from for the centre of Sorrento, with two different bus services passing the entrance, you have the feeling that you are out in the countryside as it is surrounded by gardens and there is a path through olive groves overhung by grape vines leading down to the sea.
Sunset over Ischia
There is a long history of a hotel on the spot where the Dania now stands. The 1904 edition of Baedeker’s ‘Italy from the Alps to Naples’ mentions the ‘Pensione Paradis with restaurant’ at Capo di Sorrento.
Villa Paradiso, which contains private apartments, is at the front of the building housing the Hotel Dania looking out on to Via del Capo and was probably the original Pensione Paradis referred to by Karl Baedeker.
Capo di Sorrento is the first of a series of lovely villages and beaches that lie along this side of the Sorrentine peninsula overlooking the Bay of Naples. It is a wonderful base for exploring the Roman ruins and old pathways of this beautiful area, which is not nearly as well known to tourists as the resort of Sorrento itself.
We are not the only family who have fallen in love with the Hotel Dania. Many other guests, of a variety of nationalities, have enjoyed their stay so much they return year after year. Encountering old friends and familiar faces when we arrive each summer contributes to the feeling that we are coming home.
There is a tile on the wall near the entrance to the hotel bearing some Italian words, which roughly translated mean: “In my house, courtesy to the guest is guaranteed.” I can vouch for the fact that the Hotel Dania continues to live up to this promise year after year.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tourist office with a view of Vesuvius

For tourist information about Sorrento or Sant’Agnello, visit the entertainingly named Foreigners’ Club in Via Luigi De Maio.
Sorrento's tourist office
Within this building, which has its own restaurant and gardens, the official Azienda Soggiorno e Turismo for Sorrento is based.
You can pick up free maps and leaflets with information about things to see and day trips, or ask the staff on duty for help and advice.
Make a point of asking for a copy of Surrentum, the monthly magazine for visitors, which is packed with useful information.
As well as interesting features, some of which have English translations alongside, there is information about concerts, exhibitions and events taking place in the area.
At the back of the magazine you will find timetables for the hydrofoils and ferries, all the local bus services and the Circumvesuviana railway.
Italian tourist information offices usually have information only about their own specific areas. You will also find tourist information offices at Meta, Massa Lubrense and Sant’Agata sui Due Golfi if you would like details about other places to visit along the Sorrento peninsula.
Entrance to the tourist office
The Foreigners’ Club restaurant, Circolo dei Forestieri, serves drinks, snacks, lunch and dinner and puts on entertainment and dancing in the evenings.
You can eat outside on a terrace overlooking the bay of Naples with a view of Vesuvius across the sea.

How to reach the Foreigners’ Club in Sorrento

From Piazza Tasso, looking in the direction of the sea, the end of Via Luigi De Maio is in the left hand corner of the square at right angles to the Corso Italia. Follow the road round to the right in the direction of the sea and you will f ind the Foreigners’ Club on the right hand side. Walk through the garden and go in the front entrance of the building. You will find the tourist information office immediately inside the entrance hall.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

See Capri from Massa Lubrense

View of Capri from Massa Lubrense
Only a few kilometres outside Sorrento, travelling south along the peninsula, you will come to the unspoilt little town of Massa Lubrense.
With stunning views of Capri across the bay, Massa Lubrense is a good starting point for some wonderful scenic walks along ancient footpaths where you will see Mediterranean plants such as myrtle, juniper and yellow broom growing.
As the town is still not well known to tourists, the hotels and restaurants in Massa Lubrense tend to be less busy and less expensive than those in the centre of Sorrento.

How to get to Massa Lubrense

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 company, whose coaches connect Sorrento with resorts such as Positano and Amalfi further along the coast, have services that call at Massa Lubrense all the year round.
The journey from Sorrento to Massa Lubrense’s main square takes about 15 minutes.

What to see in Massa Lubrense

Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie
If you get off the bus in Largo Vescovado you will see a terrace at one end of the square from where you can look out over the sea and have a wonderful view of Capri.
There are bars, restaurants and shops on three sides of the square. Massa Lubrense’s Ufficio Informazioni (Tourist Information Office) is on the same side as the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
It is worth having a look inside this lovely old church, which was once the cathedral for the whole area.
Building work began on the church in 1512. Although it was refurbished in the 18th century it has retained parts of its beautiful, original 16th century majolica floor.
You can walk down to the sea along a winding road that will bring you out at the little fishing village of Marina della Lobra, where there are restaurants and bars, a stretch of beach and places where you can hire boats.
A few buses run between Marina della Lobra and Massa Lubrense, but they are not frequent so check the timetable if you would prefer to ride back rather than walk.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Swim and sunbathe at Marina del Cantone

The beach at Marina del Cantone
One of the best beaches in the area around Sorrento can be found at Marina del Cantone, just below Nerano 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 ombrelloni (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 built to look out for pirates and invaders - a regular hazard faced by local people at the time.
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.

How to get to Marina del Cantone

Marina del Cantone
There are regular buses from Sorrento to Nerano out on the peninsula and some go all the way down to Marina del Cantone just below. The journey takes about an hour.
If you have to get off in Nerano it is an easy walk from the centre of the village down to Marina del Cantone.
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.

Dine at the captain’s table

One of the most prestigious restaurants in the Sorrento area, Taverna del Capitano, is right next to the beach in Piazza delle Sirene at Marina del Cantone.
Taverna del Capitano
Run by the Caputo family for generations, the restaurant is in a converted fisherman’s cottage and offers an extensive menu featuring fresh fish, local produce and wine.
Above the restaurant the Locanda del Capitano has a number of guest rooms each with a private balcony overlooking the beach.
The rooms still have their original vaulted ceilings but are decorated with Vietri ceramics and have the modern comforts of air conditioning, minibar and satellite television.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sombre processions mark Good Friday in Sorrento

Model figures depicting the black procession
on display in a shop window
Two historic processions take place through the streets of Sorrento on Good Friday, which is known as Venerdi Santo in Italy.
A white procession is held in the early hours of the morning and a black procession is held in the evening to mark the sorrow of the church for the passion and death of Jesus.
The white procession represents Mary going out to search for her son. The black procession, in which a 16th century statue of the dead Christ is carried, represents Mary finding her crucified son.
The people taking part wear hoods that completely cover their faces with just eye holes for them to see through, and carry crosses and torches to light their way.
Thousands of onlookers line the route to watch the processions pass by, which are led by bands playing solemn music.
The processions are believed to date back as far as the 13th century when it was recorded that local friars went out on the night before Venerdi Santo dressed in sackcloth and bearing lighted torches to visit tombs in churches.
In the 16th century the procession began to take place on Venerdi Santo and involved the statue of the dead Christ being carried through the streets.
The picture shows a shop window on Corso Italia in Sorrento which has a detailed model of the Good Friday processions on display.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Dine at Da Emilia and watch the waves roll in

Da Emilia sits literally at the water's edge
You are so close to the sea when you eat at Trattoria Da Emilia in Sorrento that the waves may occasionally splash your table.
But a sprinkling of sea water is all part of the fun when you visit this friendly, family run restaurant down on the beach at Marina Grande.
Da Emilia -- established 65 years ago in 1947 -- has an outside dining platform right at the water’s edge where you sit on wooden benches at tables covered with blue and white check table cloths.
Order a jug of the delicious house wine while you make your choice as it is very good value.
The menu is simple and, as you would expect, there is plenty of fresh fish on offer, as well as generous plates of antipasto, pasta and gnocchi.
Emilia herself, pictured on the
cover of the menu
One of the restaurant’s specialities is gnocchi alla mamma, cooked alla sorrentina (sorrentine style) with tomatoes, cheese and basil.
The mamma in this case is Emilia herself, the founder of the trattoria, who is pictured on the front of the menu.
The restaurant is now in the capable hands of Emilia’s daughters and granddaughters, who continue to provide fast, but friendly, service.
Trattoria Da Emilia in Via Marina Grande is closed on Tuesdays.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Famous Faraglioni represent beauty of Capri

I Faraglioni glimpsed from Via Tragara
The huge pointed rocks that rise up from the sea just off the coast of Capri have become an instantly recognisable image of the island.
I Faraglioni symbolise the rugged beauty of Capri and have been extensively photographed.
The three rocks are off Porta di Tragara, a panoramic point not far from Marina Piccola, Capri's main port.
They were created by the erosion of the sea, which broke down walls of rock over the centuries.
The first one is il Faraglione di terra (known as la Stella), which is 109 metres high and is still joined to the island by a narrow strip of rock.
The middle one, il Faraglione di mezzo, is 80 metres high and the furthest one, il Faraglione di fuori (known as Scopolo) is 104 metres high.
Il Faraglione di mezzo has an archway in the middle that small boats can pass through.
The rocks can be admired from several points on the island but you can get close to them by walking down from the centre of the island along Via Tragara to Porto di Tragara.

Hotel with panoramic views over the rocks

If you would like a hotel with a good view of i Faraglioni, consider a stay at Hotel Punta Tragara.
Hotel Punta Tragara
The five star hotel, located at Via Tragara 57, has a series of terraces with wonderful views and you can enjoy lunch or dinner outside overlooking i Faraglioni.
Hotel Punta Tragara offers rooms and suites that are all different because of the choice of panoramic views their occupants can enjoy.
The hotel has a spa and swimming pool and the restaurant and pool bar serve lunch, dinner and bar snacks.

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Birth of famous Sorrento poet

Piazza Tasso
Torquato Tasso, who has come to be regarded as the greatest Italian poet of the Renaissance, was born 468 years ago today in Sorrento.
Although Tasso travelled all over Italy during his life, Sorrento’s main square has been named after him. Piazza Tasso is right at the hub of Sorrento , in the middle of the main shopping street, Corso Italia, and looking over Marina Piccola, Sorrento’s port.
Surrounded by bars and restaurants, the square has stops for the local buses and a taxi rank. It is also the resting place for the horses that pull carriages that can be hired for sightseeing.
Tasso’s most famous work was his epic poem Gerusalemme Liberata (Jerusalem Delivered) in which he gives an imaginative version of the battles between Christians and Muslims at the end of the first crusade during the siege of Jerusalem. His poetry was later to prove inspirational for other writers who followed him, in particular Spencer and Byron.
The house where Tasso was born on 11 March, 1544 is a few streets away from Piazza Tasso in Via Vittorio Veneto and now forms part of the Imperial Hotel Tramontano, where the beautiful song Torna a Surriento was composed by De Curtis on the terrace.
Tasso travelled about in Italy constantly during his 51 years but came back to Sorrento towards the end of his life to visit his beloved sister Cornelia, at a time when he was in deep trouble.
Because of its location in pretty gardens and overlooking the bay of Naples, it is not surprising that the Imperial Hotel Tramontano has provided inspiration for other famous writers who have stayed there.
It is believed Milton and Goethe once visited the historic building and, more recently, the hotel has accommodated American writers James Fennimore Cooper and Harriet Beecher Stowe.
The Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen is thought to have written Ghosts while enjoying a long stay at the Imperial Hotel Tramontano in the mid 19th century.


Friday, March 2, 2012

The romance of the isle of Capri

The beautiful island of Capri
The glamorous island of Capri is within easy reach of Sorrento and makes a great day out, with hydrofoils and ferries leaving from the port at Marina Piccola at regular intervals.
The island lies just off the tip of the Sorrentine peninsula and the crossing takes about half an hour.
Capri has been immortalised in books, films and songs and has been the popular haunt of writers, artists and many famous personalities over the centuries.
But as well as a jet set image, Capri has stunning natural beauty and many historic villas and churches to see.
You can easily get a flavour of the island in a day, seeing some of the main sights, browsing in the designer boutiques and sampling Caprese specialities in one of the restaurants.
You can take some memorable photographs against the magical backdrop of i Faraglioni (the distinctive rocks out in the sea) before heading back to the port to return to Sorrento in time for dinner.

How to get to Capri

Either take the orange bus or walk down to Marina Piccola from Piazza Tasso in the centre of Sorrento .
You can check the times and buy tickets for either the ferry or aliscafo (hydrofoil) to Capri at the ticket office at Marina Piccola. There are also bars, restaurants and a shop down at the port.
The hydrofoils depart at regular intervals between 07.20 and 18.20 and there are also four ferries a day.
You will see colourful houses and lines of boats as your ferry or hydrofoil approaches Marina Grande, Capri ’s port.
Either relax with a drink at the port and soak up the atmosphere or go straight to the funicular to take you up to Capri ’s main square, Piazza Umberto I. You should only attempt to walk up if you are feeling energetic as it is a steep climb.

Piazza Umberto I

Busy Piazza Umberto
The ‘piazzetta’ is also sometimes referred to as Capri ’s drawing room as it is almost completely covered with cafe tables where people enjoy meeting up for drinks and conversation.
Once you have done enough people watching in the square, take a few minutes to look inside the 17th century Church of Santo Stefano, which has an original Roman floor, thought to have come from Villa Jovis. Then leave the piazzetta through one of the old archways to explore the twisting alleyways full of shops and restaurants.

Sample some Caprese specialities

On restaurant menus look out for Insalata Caprese (a salad made with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil) or Ravioli alla Caprese (ravioli filled with cheese in a tomato and basil sauce). You could follow this with pezzogna all’aqua pazza (freshly caught fish cooked in tomatoes, parsley, garlic and wine).
To accompany your meal, try a locally produced white wine, typically made from a pleasing mixture of Biancolella, Falanghina and Greco Bianco grapes. Then, round your lunch off with a glass of Limoncello (lemon liqueur) that has been produced on the island.

Capri sights not to miss

You could walk to the Villa Jovis, a retreat on the island built by the Roman Emperor Tiberius. Excavations have unearthed baths, apartments and an area known as Tiberius’s drop, from which his victims were supposedly thrown into the sea far below.
Or, you could take a bus to the second town on the island, Anacapri, to visit Villa San Michele, the beautiful home of Swedish physician Axel Munthe, from whose romantic gardens there are wonderful views of the Sorrentine peninsula across the water.

Come back to Sorrento

Return to the funicular station near Piazza Umberto to get back down to the port. The last ferry leaves Capri at 18.15 and the last hydrofoil leaves at 19.00.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sorrento hotel was favourite of Caruso

Entrance to the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria

The brilliant tenor Enrico Caruso was born 139 years ago today in Naples.
Caruso sang to great acclaim at opera houses all over Europe and America during his sadly all too brief career. His 1904 recording of ‘Vesti la giubba’ was the first recording ever to sell a million copies.
Caruso loved Sorrento and his stay at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria is recognised by a plaque at the entrance gate to the hotel just off Piazza Tasso.
The photograph of Caruso in front of the view from the Excelsior Vittoria’s terrace in 1921 went on to become one of the most famous images that was taken of the tenor.
The hotel subsequently furnished Suite Caruso with the piano and writing desk used by the opera singer during his visit.
The plaque commemorating Caruso
The suite inspired the song ‘Caruso’ to be written by Italian pop singer Lucio Dalla in the late 1980s while he was staying at the Excelsior Vittoria.
Opera fans on holiday in Sorrento might also be interested in visiting nearby Ristorante Museo Caruso in Via Sant’Antonino, a restaurant that commemorates the life and career of Italy’s most famous opera singer.

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