A beautiful, cliff-top jewel perched overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, Sorrento is an historic town to the south of Naples in sun-soaked Italy. It has been a magnet for tourism since the mid-19th century, attracting poets such as Lord Byron and Keats, as well as the writers Walter Scott and Henrik Ibsen.
Packed with little streets and teeming with restaurants, cafés and bars, Sorrento is also famed for its ice cream shops, or gelateria, the ice creams being flavoured with local ingredients.
Where to go
From many view points on the high ground visitors can look north to witness the spectacular sight of Mount Vesuvius thrusting towards the sky. It is considered to be one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. It was in 79 CE that the eruption that destroyed Pompeii happened, and a visit to the area gives a salutary lesson as to the perils of the natural world. Vesuvius last erupted in 1944, but the summit is open to the public and there are few more powerful sights than standing on the edge of the cone that has rained down so much destruction on the area.
Visits to Pompeii and the smaller Herculaneum can be combined with a trip to the volcano, and these are easy to reach using the Circumvesuviana train service, which also links to Naples.
To the south of Sorrento there is the stunning and winding road that goes to Amalfi, an area famed for its small villages set on cliffs that plunge down to the sea. A coach trip is a good way to experience this – driving a car should be done with extreme care.
Taking a ferry to the nearby island of Capri makes for a good day out, and renting a scooter opens up the whole of this beautiful gem, in particular the famous Blue Lagoon.
What to do
Sorrento itself has small beaches, both public and private, which can be reached by a long series of steps in the cliffs or by a lift. Shops are full of attractive products, leather being a main focus, and an hour or two’s gentle strolling will allow visitors to see most of the city’s compact centre.
The cathedral houses Neapolitan art, and the architecture of ancient buildings such as the Church of Carmine and the Basilica di San Antonino is breathtaking.
Sorrento is also famed for its lemon liqueur, limoncello, which is basically lemon-flavoured neat alcohol and is delicious. Many limoncello shops offer free tastings, and these should be undertaken with a certain amount of caution.
Where to stay
There is an excellent choice of hotels in Sorrento. After all, it has welcomed the likes of world-famous opera singers Caruso and Pavarotti, so tourists can live in the lap of luxury or choose more modest but still comfortable places, such as small hotels, B&Bs or guesthouses.
When to go
With its Mediterranean climate Sorrento is quite hot in the summer months, perfect for those who like their sun uninterrupted. Spring is a good time to visit, as it is cooler but still warm, and makes it a more pleasant climate for going on day trips.
Photos source: Paradise in the World