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, 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