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, February 20, 2022

Chiesa di Sant’Anna at Marina Grande

Pretty church at the heart of an annual celebration

The church, with its pink and green façade, is set in its own square
The church, with its pink and green
façade, is set in its own square
Right in the middle of Marina Grande, set back from the beach in its own little square, is a pretty 17th century church dedicated to Saint Anne (Sant’Anna), the mother of the Virgin Mary.

The Baroque church, with its pink and cream façade, was built on the site of a much earlier church and paid for by the local fishermen. Originally, the church was dedicated to souls in purgatory, but it was later rededicated to Saint Anne, the grandmother of Jesus.

It is about a ten-minute walk from Piazza Tasso to visit the church. You go through Piazza Vittoria and along Via Marina Grande and as you descend to the seafront, you will catch a glimpse of the green and yellow patterned cupola and the campanile of the parish church.

Walk along the seafront past the Da Emilia restaurant and you will find the church on your left. The entrance door, flanked by two marble columns, leads into the simple interior, which has a single nave and a wooden trussed ceiling. Behind the main altar is a statue of Saint Anne and the church also has sculptures of the crucified Christ and John the Baptist.

The floor is covered in white and grey marble and on the opposite wall of the church, high above the entrance door, is a pipe organ.

The church's green cupola can be  seen in the centre of this picture
The church's green cupola can be 
seen in the centre of this picture 
The feast day of the Saints, Anne and Joachim, who were the parents of Mary and grandparents of Jesus, is celebrated on 26 July each year at Marina Grande. A few days before, lights shaped like sea shells and sweet stalls appear alongside the long-established restaurants and bars.

It is a tradition that handmade handkerchiefs are sold from one of the stalls, along with a special blessing offering protection to pregnant women, as Saint Anne is also the patron saint of pregnancy and motherhood.

The first Sunday after 26 July, trumpets sound early in the morning to herald the beginning of a large procession, when the statue of Sant’Anna is carried around Sorrento. People come by boat afterwards to join in the celebrations at Marina Grande and eat traditional Sorrento specialities at the restaurants.

The day ends with spectacular fireworks that light up the bay, accompanied by classical music, signalling the end of the festivities for another year.


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Sunday, January 16, 2022

Spigola all’acqua pazza

Try this recipe for cooking fish in a very Italian way

Spigola all'acqua pazza
Gently poach your spigola all'acqua pazza
until it flakes easily when tested with a fork
Once your holiday in Sorrento is over and you’re back at home, it is nice to try to recreate some of the meals you have enjoyed during your stay.

A southern Italian way of cooking fish that is delightfully simple to do in your own kitchen is spigola all’acqua pazza, which literally means, sea bass cooked in crazy water. Naples may lay claim to having invented this way of cooking fish, but spigola all’acqua pazza can be found on the menus of many restaurants in Sorrento and the surrounding area. And fish cooked all’acqua pazza is said to have become very popular with visitors to the island of Capri during the 1960s.

It is an easy dish to prepare at home and although you can’t beat sitting outside a restaurant overlooking beaches such as Marina di Puolo and Marina del Cantone while you eat it, just the smell and taste of the lovely poaching liquid flavoured with tomato and garlic will immediately transport you back to Italy from wherever you live .

Use fresh fillets of sea bass and place them skin side down in a frying pan. Cover them with a little cold water, a dash of olive oil, some chopped parsley and chopped garlic, then add a teaspoon of tomato puree or a few cherry tomatoes cut in half, or both together to provide the tomato flavour.

View from restaurant at Marina del Cantone
Best served at a restaurant table overlooking the
sea, such as this one at Marina del Cantone
The broth in which your seabass will be gently poached is thought to date back to when the fishermen, out of necessity, had to use seawater instead of fresh water to cook their fish, and with the additional flavourings it became known as acqua pazza - crazy water.

Thankfully you don’t have to go that far to recreate the authentic taste, the oil, garlic and tomato will do the job for you. The fish is ready when it flakes easily if you test it with a fork.

The sauce also goes well with branzino - sea bream - or you could even experiment with other types of white fish, such as halibut, cod or haddock.

Serve your fish with some fried potatoes, or crusty bread, and a side salad. Pour yourself a glass of Italian white wine and put on a CD of Neapolitan songs or mandolin music to complete the experience.

Buon appetito!


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