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.

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.