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.


Gnocchi alla Sorrentina

Enjoy the flavours of Campania back home

Named in honour of the beautiful resort of Sorrento, this tasty primo piatto (first course) on many restaurant menus is also easy to make at home.

The sauce for the gnocchi is created from a wonderful blend of three of Campania’s most celebrated ingredients, flavoursome, red tomatoes, piquant green, basil leaves and creamy mozzarella cheese. When the cheese melts into the tomato sauce covering the gnocchi, it binds everything together to create a satisfying, but simple dish.
Tasty Gnocchi served Sorrento style

The gnocchi di patate (potato dumplings) can either be home made, following the recipe given below, or bought fresh or vacuum packed from a supermarket.

Gnocchi di patate were supposedly introduced into the Italian culinary repertoire after the Treaty of Campoformio was signed by France and Austria in 1797 at Campoformido, a village to the west of Udine in Friuli.

Venice was thereafter given over to Austrian rule and, along with the gnocchi di patate, Austrian beer and sausages were also added to the Italian menu at this time.

In Sorrento, you can try Gnocchi alla Sorrentina in the heart of the historic centre at Ristorante Il Pozzo in Via Tasso, where they are finished off by being baked in a wood fired oven.

Or, you can enjoy a sea view while you sample them down at Marina Grande at Trattoria da Emilia, a restaurant that was established by Donna Emilia in 1954. They are on the menu as Gnocchi della Mamma and are cooked to Donna Emilia’s original, traditional Sorrento recipe. They taste delicious when enjoyed while sitting at a table on Da Emilia’s wooden deck, suspended over the sea with the waves lapping against it.

But when you return from Sorrento to colder weather back home, piping hot Gnocchi alla Sorrentina are wholesome, comforting and a wonderful reminder of your holiday.

Recipe for two people:

To make the sauce, fry two chopped cloves of garlic in olive oil and add 500g of peeled, deseeded and chopped tomatoes, or the contents of a 400g can of tomatoes put through a sieve. (If using fresh tomatoes, sieve the mixture after cooking.} Add a pinch of dried oregano, a few fresh basil leaves torn into shreds and season to taste. When the sauce is smooth and reduced, set aside.

To cook the gnocchi, add as many as you require, (about a dozen per person for a first course) to boiling salted water and they will be cooked when they rise to the surface. 

Divide the cooked gnocchi between two, warmed oven proof dishes. Reheat the tomato sauce, adding a drop of olive oil or water if required, and pour over the gnocchi. Cut a mozzarella cheese into cubes and share the cubes between the two dishes and add a good grating of Parmesan cheese to each dish. Finish off in a hot oven for 10 – 15 minutes until the cheese forms a golden crust. Serve immediately, garnished with fresh basil.

To make your own gnocchi, boil 500g of white potatoes in their skins, then peel and mash them. Mix in 200g flour and one egg yolk into the mash. Knead together to make a ball of dough. Take small balls, one at a time and work them with your hands into sausage shapes and cut into two cm pieces. Roll them in flour and press against a fork to give them grooves, which will help the sauce to cling to them.

Buon appetito!


Sorrento Cathedral bell tower - Il Campanile

Ancient columns still support old Sorrento meeting place

Standing three storeys higher than the other building nearby, the Cathedral’s Bell Tower is a landmark in Sorrento.

The red and yellow stone of the tower can be seen from many street corners in the historic centre of the town and also from points along the Via del Capo and the Via Nastro Verde out along the Sorrentine peninsula.
Cathedral's bell tower

The two lower storeys of the tower probably date back to the 11th century when the Duomo was originally built. But the three upper storeys were added in the 15th century, when the Duomo, which is dedicated to San Filippo and San Giacomo, was rebuilt in Romanesque style.

The bell tower was later given a decorative, blue majolica clock.

From very early in Sorrento’s history, the bell tower has played an important part. The ground floor space under the archway from Via Pietà was used as a meeting place by the people of Sorrento in medieval times. Later, a castle was built in the open space that we now see in Piazza Tasso, and the people used to congregate there for meetings.

Although the castle was demolished a long time ago, the columns that still hold up the bell tower at ground floor level are believed to be a collection of old Roman columns or early Byzantine columns.
Ancient columns support campanile

Therefore, the base of the bell tower existed very early on in Sorrento’s history, long before the Duomo was built and the popular seaside resort that we know today, grew up around it.