A southern Italy home away from home

Sorrento was our home for five nights while we toured around Campania.  We chose here for the ease of bus, ferry and train connections to Capri, the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii, but also because Sorrento is a lovely little town in its own right.  After the big city experiences of Rome and Naples, we knew that this vacation needed something a little quieter and relaxing for a few days.  If life ever takes you to Sorrento and you don’t have a money tree in your front yard back home, stay at the Villa Elisa just off Piazza Sant’Antonino.  It was the perfect home away from home and came at a very reasonable rate for this part of Italy.

We gave ourselves a full uninterrupted day to explore Sorrento as well as seeing bits and pieces of it as we came and went from our day trips.  Throughout our stay, we passed through the main square in town, Piazza Tasso, many times.  While bustling at night, during the day, it was quite peaceful as most of the town’s visitors were off exploring other locales.  It had everything a proper European square should have – ample bars, attractive architecture and a lot of people watching possibilities.

On our dedicated day in Sorrento, we visited the “Agruminato”, a working citrus grove in the middle of town operated by Giardini di Cataldo.  They use this garden to produce lemons for their collection of liquers, which they happily provide samples for.  We brought home a small bottle of their limoncello that’s awaiting just the right occasion.

Lemon grove in Sorrento

On the western end of the main street through town, the Corso Italia, we popped into the Cattedrale di Sorrento.   The church dates to the 11th century, and was rebuilt in the 15th century.   One of the striking features inside the church was the suspended cross over the main altar.

Also inside the church, there is a lighthearted nativity scene on display.   It’s a riff on what the scene might have looked like if it played out around Naples.  I loved that the meals on the table were pasta, that cheeses and meats are hung from the walls, and that there are Roman ruins throughout.

Cattedrale di Sorrento nativity scene

Sorrento doesn’t have the prominent sandy beaches of some of its peninsular neighbours, but that suited me just fine.  This is a bit of a working town, and much of its waterfront it dedicated to transportation and fishing.  Away from the main port, the Marina Grande provides a lens back on an older Sorrento with its fleet of fishing boats and groups of men casting their lines out in hopes of bringing in a catch for supper.  Not many visitors wandered down this far, and that’s their loss.  On the afternoon we visited, this part of town had a sleepy air to it.  Like so much of southern Italy, I felt I could pull up a chair and stare out to the water for hours on end.

As our time in Sorrento was nearer the end of our trip, we were really starting to miss our dog back home.  There were a number of stray dogs wandering around the town, but this guy captured our hearts.  Whether down here near the ferry docks, or further in the town up above, we found him a few times over our five days taking a nap in front of a line of taxis.

Sleeping dog in Sorrento

Much of our time spent in Sorrento was during the evenings after we returned from trips out to Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius, Capri and the Amalfi coast.   Sorrento showed an alluring side after dark.  This is the Piazza Sant’Antonino, a secondary town square just outside our apartment.  We opened the garden gates from our apartment onto this scene every night on our way out for dinner or for some gelato.

Piazza Sant'Antonino in Sorrento

The waterfront provided some exceptionally beautiful sights at night.  First, this is a look to the west and the cliffs of the Sorrentine Peninsula.

Sorrento at night

On a clear night, Sorrento gives you a view right across the Bay of Naples toward Mount Vesuvius and the string of towns along the water leading to Naples.

Looking toward Naples from Sorrento

From the ferry docks, the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria hovers above the lower water front area.  Unfortunately, that hotel wasn’t in our price range.    The views from those rooms come at a pretty steep cost, but the view of them only cost me some tired legs from the walk back up the hill.

Looking up to Sorrento

And no evening in Sorrento would be complete without partaking in a passeggiata, a post-dinner stroll.  The town shuts down the main street to traffic each night and it seems like everyone joins in.  I liked my passeggiata with some gelato from Gelateria David near the train station.

Corso Italia in Sorrento

There’s plenty to see and do in this quaint small town.  In fact, the five days really didn’t feel like enough.  Something I definitely didn’t get enough of was the food in Sorrento.  More on that coming up next…

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2 thoughts on “A southern Italy home away from home

  1. Pingback: Delicious (and gluten free) Sorrento | Bluenose Traveler

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