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.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Edoardo De Martino

Famous artist from Meta di Sorrento

Edoardo Federico de Martino, an artist who became famous for his paintings of warships and naval battles, was born today in 1838 in Meta, just outside Sorrento.

At the height of his success, De Martino worked in London, where his paintings of ships and famous British naval victories were held in high regard by Queen Victoria.
De Martino at his easel.

He went on to work as a painter for Queen Victoria’s son, King Edward VII, and he often accompanied the King on naval tours.

De Martino was born in the small town of Meta, to the north east of Sorrento, which had a long history of boat building.

He served as an officer in the Italian Navy but by the time he was 30 his main interest was painting.

He became associated with the School of Resina, a group of artists who painted landscapes and contemporary scenes that gathered in Resina, a seaside resort south of Naples, now incorporated into the towns of Herculaneum and Portici. 

Influenced by his fellow artists, De Martino eventually went to live and work in Naples
He found fame after moving to London, where he painted scenes from the battles of Trafalgar, the Nile and Cape San Vincenzo.

For his service as Marine painter in Ordinary to King Edward VII, De Martino was appointed an Honorary Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in the 1902 Birthday Honours. He received the decoration from King Edward VII at Sandringham House on 9 November 1902.

From 1905 onwards, De Martino travelled about, completing paintings of Italian naval ships and views of the Brazilian coast.

Edoardo De Martino died in Richmond upon Thames in London in 1912 at the age of 76.

In 2013, many of De Martino’s sketches and paintings were put on display in an exhibition organised by the Association of Commercianti del Casale di Meta.

A painting of a naval battle by De Martino.
Meta lies between Piano di Sorrento and Vico Equense on the main coastal road going from Sorrento in the direction of Naples.

 The town has a long history of boat building and by the time of De Martino’s birth its shipyards were producing hundred of boats, with the local women sewing the sails for them in the courtyards of their houses.

Although steamships eventually replaced sailing boats, the shipyards continued to produce the Sorrentine Gozzo, a small sailing and rowing boat that enables the occupant to fish and row at the same time. Meta has a magnificent church, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Lauro, in the centre of the town, just off the main road.

The church was built in medieval times on the site of an ancient temple after a local deaf and dumb woman was said to have found a statue of the Virgin Mary under a laurel tree and then miraculously had her hearing and speech restored.

It was rebuilt in the 16th century and restored and modified in the 18th and 19th centuries. The wooden door is from the 16th century building and the Chapel of the Madonna del Lauro has frescoes from the 18th century. Meta celebrates the Festa of Santa Maria del Lauro every year on 12 September.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Valley of the Mills

 Rare ferns now cover area that used to be full of life

Sorrento has many surprises and amazing sights, but the unusual Vallone dei Mulini (Valley of the Mills), only a short walk away from the main square, Piazza Tasso, has been captivating artists and photographers for more than 100 years. 

If you leave Piazza Tasso and walk up Via Fuorimura, past the bars and restaurants on either side, you will come to a deep gorge, close to the Hotel Plaza, that you can view from the road above. 
Ruins of the old mill

The Valley of the Mills is an astonishing, natural phenomenon caused by a volcanic eruption about 35,000 years ago.

The valley gets its name from an ancient wheat mill that once provided the entire area with its wheat requirements and was still working in the early 1900s. You can see the ruins of the mill, now partially covered with vegetation.

Because many artists have painted pictures of the abandoned valley and photographers have captured it from every angle it is known what it would have looked like in the last century.

The springs and stream that fed into the valley also worked a saw mill that provided artisans and carpenters with cherry, walnut and olive wood to work on.

Local woman would bring their laundry to wash in the public wash tubs there and the valley was once full of life, as can be seen in some of the old paintings.

Valley seen from the road above
When Piazza Tasso was built in 1866 the valley was cut off from Marina Piccola, which it used to join up with, and was gradually abandoned by people. The only access to the valley now is through an old gate.

Blocking the valley’s access to the sea has created a humid microclimate in which plants have thrived, in particular a rare type of fern.

The atmospheric ruins and the lush vegetation seen from above now provide unusual holiday photographs for visitors to take back with them.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020


 Popular resort just a short walk from Sorrento

The small resort of Sant’Agnello, just outside Sorrento in the direction of Naples, is very popular with visitors. Many holidaymakers like to base themselves there and visit Sorrento during the day, returning to its peaceful atmosphere in the evenings.

You can reach Sant’Agnello from Sorrento by walking along Corso Italia, passing Piazza Lauro and Viale Nizza, until you reach Piazza Sant’Agnello. You will see the yellow-painted façade of the Chiesa Santi Prisco ed Agnello, dedicated to San Prisco, a fifth century bishop from Nocera in Campania, and Sant’Agnello, a sixth century monk from Naples, who is now the patron saint of the town.
Church dedicated to Sant'Agnello's patron saint

You can also reach Sant’Agnello by leaving Sorrento along Via Correale, passing the Museo Correale di Terranova, and turning right along Via Aniello Califano. You pass the Church of Santa Maria della Rotonda and then join Via Bernardino Rota. After you pass the Grand Hotel Cocumella you can descend to the beach of Marinella, where you can hire sun loungers and enjoy the beautiful view over the bay of Naples.

Sant’Agnello was made famous by the American novelist, Francis Marion Crawford, who was born in 1854 in Bagni di Lucca in Tuscany.

A prolific novelist, Crawford became known for the vividness of his characterisations and the realism of his settings, many of which were places he had visited in Italy.

He chose to settle in later life in Sant’Agnello, where he even had a street named after him, Corso Marion Crawford, which is another way to get down to the sea from Corso Italia.

In 1883 Crawford lived at the Hotel Cocumella in Sant’Agnello, the oldest hotel in the Sorrento area. He then bought a farmhouse nearby, from which he developed the Villa Crawford, an impressive clifftop residence that is easily identifiable from the sea.

Crawford died at the Villa Crawford after suffering a heart attack in 1909. The villa, which was donated to a religious order by his descendants, has since been refurbished as a guesthouse.

The Hotel Cocumella, where Crawford stayed during the 1880s, is in Via Cocumella, just off Corso Marion Crawford. Over the centuries it has welcomed writers such as Goethe, Mary Shelley and Hans Christian Anderson, along with many artists, statesmen and noblemen who visited it while they were on the Grand Tour.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

The aromatic lemons of Sorrento

 Visit a genuine 'agruminato' in centre of resort

Lemon products are everywhere to be seen in Sorrento, from perfumes, soaps and candles to sweets, biscuits and the resort’s famous lemon liqueur, Limoncello.

Sorrento is famous throughout the world for the quality of the lemons produced in the town and along its peninsula, which are large, oval in shape and have a distinctive perfume. They are known to have been cultivated in the area since Roman times.
Lemons growing in Sorrento

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Sorrento for a while, you can visit a genuine agruminato, lemon grove, near the centre of the resort and enjoy some quiet time.

I giardini di Cataldo in Via Correale is a citrus garden typical of the Sorrento peninsula. Once part of a much bigger agricultural estate, the 11000 square metre lemon grove was rescued by the municipality of Sorrento at the beginning of the 21st century. The land was saved from development and it remains a working citrus garden, while being open to the public to visit.

Staff from I giardini di Cataldo look after the land, pick the fruits from the citrus tees and produce liqueurs, marmalades and sweets from them.

You can stroll under the pergolas of chestnut wood poles, enjoy the smell of the lemons and see how they are cultivated.

Limoncello on sale in a Sorrento shop
Limoncello, which is made from an infusion of lemon peel and alcohol, is now produced in other parts of Italy as well, but connoisseurs consider the best limoncello to be made from lemons grown in Sorrento and out along the peninsula. Capri’s lemon groves are well regarded too.

Limoncello should be served very cold and is usually enjoyed after a good meal. Salute!

I Giardini di Cataldo are at Via Correale, 27 in Sorrento. For more information, visit

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Il Pozzo Ristorante Sorrento

 Restaurant has served Sorrentine specialities since 1967

In the heart of the historic centre of Sorrento, this excellent restaurant, Il Pozzo, has been serving typical Sorrento dishes to locals and visitors for more than 50 years.
Il Pozzo is on the corner of Via Tasso

Il Pozzo is in Via Tasso, which is a turning off Corso Italia opposite the Duomo. The restaurant at number 32 serves all the popular, local specialities, using the freshest possible ingredients, such as fish caught from the bay earlier that day.

Pizze are cooked in the restaurant’s wood fired oven and many of the pasta dishes use fresh pasta made by hand. For example, there is the scialatielli ai frutti di mare, which is a dish made from hand cut strips of pasta served with a sauce of seafood and tomatoes.

The restaurant is particularly renowned for its gnocchi alla sorrentina, small potato dumplings served with a rich tomato sauce with mozzarella and basil, finished off in the oven.

Il Pozzo, which means ‘the well’, has tables outside under an awning and a spacious room for dining inside with air conditioning.

Delicious gnocchi alla sorrentina
During the winter Il Pozzo is open from 12.00 to 15.00 and from 18:00 to 24:00. During the summer the restaurant is open from 12:00 to 24:00. Its closing day is Wednesday.

To book telephone +39 081 8774876 or email 

To look at the menu visit

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Chiesa dell’Annunziata Sorrento

Art treasures lie behind simple facade 

The imposing Chiesa dell’Annunziata is up a short flight of steps from Piazza Veniero, off Via Fuoro in the centre of Sorrento.

The stone-fronted church has ancient origins but the exact date it was founded is not known. It is thought to have been built at some time during the 12th century on the site of an ancient temple, which had been dedicated to the goddess Cybele. A first century altar once discovered in the church is now in the Museo Correale in Sorrento.

The facade of the Chiesa dell'Annunziata in Piazza Veniero, just off Via Fuoro in the centre of Sorrento
The facade of the Chiesa dell'Annunziata in Piazza Veniero,
just off Via Fuoro in the centre of Sorrento
Highlights of the many works of art inside the church include a 17th century wooden crucifix and an 18th century painting of the Madonna and Child by Filippo Andreoli, which is in the centre of the ceiling.

Above the decorative main altar in a niche is a 17th century statue of the Madonna della Consolazione.

A canvas by Paolo De Maio, signed and dated 1741, depicts the Annunciation, the event in the Bible after which the church is named, when the angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit to be called Jesus.

The church also has many beautiful works by artists from the 18th century Neapolitan school of painting.

The six side altars belonged to different Sorrento families who at one time had the right to be buried in the church.

In the 14th century there was a monastery attached to the church and Augustinian friars from it would officiate at the services. The friars handed the church over to its congregation in the 19th century.

The church is a short walk from Piazza Tasso along Via San Cesareo and Via Fuoro until you reach Vico il Fuoro, after which you turn into Piazza Veniero.

It is well worth a look inside and is open to visitors from 7.30 to 11.00 and from 18.00 to 20.00.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Grand Hotel Cocumella Sorrento

Historic hotel has been a haven for writers

The oldest hotel in Sorrento, the Grand Hotel Cocumella at Sant’Agnello, dates back to 1777.

The entrance to the Grand Hotel Cocumella in the Sant'Agnello district, which is the oldest hotel in Sorrento
The entrance to the Grand Hotel Cocumella in the Sant'Agnello
district, which is the oldest hotel in Sorrento 

Originally built as a Jesuit monastery in the 16th century, the Cocumella sits right on the edge of a cliff over- looking the bay of Naples and has a stunning view of Vesuvius from its terraces and gardens.

The interior of the five-star hotel reflects its long history, with walnut furniture, old majolica floors, frescoed ceilings and antique mirrors.

Over the centuries it has welcomed writers such as Goethe, Mary Shelley, Hans Christian Anderson and Francis Marion Crawford along with many artists, statesmen and noblemen who visited it while on the Grand Tour.

Jesuit priests lived in the building from 1637 until it became a guesthouse in 1777. It became a hotel in 1822. 

The cloister at the Cocumella, with its central well, has been turned into a dining room
The cloister at the Cocumella, with its central well, has
been turned into a dining room
In 1978, the Cocumella was refurbished by architect Nino di Papa, with the focus on restoring its elegant features and recapturing its peaceful atmosphere.

The antique cloister with a grey stone well in the centre is now a dining room and the old chapel is used for concerts.

The huge gardens have a swimming pool and tennis court and there is a lift down to a private sun deck. The hotel has three restaurants and a cocktail bar that opens on to a terrace overlooking the bay of Naples.

One of the Grand Hotel Cocumella’s unique facilities is Vera, a 30 metre sailboat built in 1880, which is available for guests to charter for excursions to Capri and the Amalfi coast.

The hotel has 48 rooms, all different, which either have a sea view or a view over the gardens or citrus groves.

The hotel has produced its own history, which includes details of Mary Shelley's stay
The hotel has produced its own history, which
includes details of Mary Shelley's stay
The novelist Mary Shelley stayed at the Cocumella in June 1843 with her son Percy Florence Shelley. It was more than 20 years after her husband, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, drowned off the coast of Tuscany.

Since the poet’s death Mary had suffered a hard life bringing up her son alone in London, depending on her writing for economic survival.

Of her stay in Sorrento she wrote: ‘The place is beautiful beyond expression –the weather exactly one’s beau ideal - warm and no heat. I go about on mules in the evening. Sometime we go on the sea.  But alas! we leave this place – too soon- & I plunge again into the shadows and worries of life!’

The Grand Hotel Cocumella is only a 15 minute walk from the centre of Sorrento but has the benefit of a peaceful location in Via Cocumella at Sant’Agnello, a small neighbouring resort.