I love Italy – I’ll put that out there! Therefore, when I get the chance to visit this beautiful country I jump at the chance especially if it’s a part that I have never had the chance to explore before.
The town of Sorrento is located on the Sorrento Peninsula in Southern Italy. On the north side of the peninsula you will find the Bay of Naples and on the south side the Bay of Salerno and the Amalfi Coast. Sorrento sits within the Metropolitan City of Naples with approximately 16,500 inhabitants. The town, even when I visited in April was buzzing with people from all over the world and the number of bars and restaurants here are evidence supporting the fact that this place is a holiday destination for a number of both Italians and worldwide travellers alike. The main square in Sorrento is the picturesque, yet small compared to other Italian Squares, Piazza Tasso. The square was named after the famous Italian poet Torquato Tasso, who was born in Sorrento in 1544 and you will find a large statue of him proudly placed there. In Piazza Tasso you can grab a coffee, meal or gelato at one of the many restaurants, shop in the numerous boutiques, jump on the land train which drives around Sorrento offering you a tour of the town or even take a horse-drawn carriage ride.
Il Vallone dei Mulini (Valley of the Mills) is a sight to behold in Sorrento; it looks like a sunken village right in the town centre. Approximately 35,000 years ago a massive volcanic eruption caused the deep chasm in the limestone. Back in the day (around the 13th century) a stone flour mill built here due to the stream of water at the bottom. It wasn’t long before a sawmill was also built which supplied wood to nearby cabinet makers and also a public wash-house for women in the area. The flour mill was used right up until the 1940’s but since then the valley has been abandoned and is now overgrown with Phillitis Vulgaris which belongs to the fern family. You can, if you wish access the valley using the original ramps or simply view it from Via Fuorimura, the street above.
Sorrento smells – this is a fact! Especially the narrow side streets lined with gift shops. Now before you assume it’s a bad smell let me reassure you that it’s not in fact Sorrento is a very clean Italian town. The mixture of leather and lemons is very strong but in no way overpowering. Everywhere you look you will see locally handmade handbags and lemoncello – an after dinner drink which is served chilled and is made from the zest of lemons. Many lemoncello sellers will let you try before you buy, so why not ask? Salute!
If you fancy a trip down to the port or even fancy relaxing on the beach (please note this is tiny beach) then you can walk down (and/or up) the stairs built into the side of the land. We were feeling lazy so took the lift (€1 one way/€1.60 return per person) which takes around 20 seconds! Down here you will also find a couple of restaurants which enjoy a lovely view over the water. From down here you can also catch a ferry to Capri or Naples if you wish. I’ll be honest there wasn’t that much to hold our attention down there so we took a few pics and headed back up (via the lift) to the cliff top.
And here’s an interesting fact for you (possibly?) did you know that cannelloni (similar to manicotti in the US) was invented in Sorrento in 1907? Yes, that lovely filled pasta delight was created in the ‘o Parrucchiano (the priest’s place) restaurant, known locally as La Favorita which is still owned by the same family who originally opened it in 1868 and is located on Corso Italia, the main street in Sorrento. Why not visit yourself and say that you have eaten cannelloni made from the original recipe?
Sorrento is not a city with lots of attractions which you my expect from other places in Italy – Florence, Rome, Venice etc. Therefore, you may not want to spend a lot of time here, a day or two is probably sufficient. Even if you simply come here for a wander around or pass through as a passenger on one of the many cruise ships that dock here at least take in the breath-taking views. Not only can you see Mt Vesuvius but you can also see all the way to the Isle of Capri on a clear day. And look at that water……….beautiful!