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.

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.