Sorrento is actually not on the Amalfi coast, although so often people think it is.
However, as it is an excellent point to explore this wonderful, magical and chaotic region of Italy, and is my second base during my travels there, it is part of my Amalfi Coast post series (check this one also https://heelsandspices.com/2020/02/positano-amalfi-coast-series/ ).
I believe I told you before that I do not rely much on crowd sourced reviews. I use it as a very broad and initial assessment, but then do a lot of research, on official sites, sites from locals, local bloggers, and reliable travel sites.
Why? Sorrento is a perfect example (as Salerno will also be). If I had relied totally on reviews, I would never had visited Sorrento. “Touristy” “Bland” “not authentic”, “Tourist Trap”, were some of the many opinions I came across.
Do you know a land where the lemons are considered flowers? In the green leaves golden oranges shine, a quiet wind blows from the blue sky, quiet is the myrtle, serene the laurel. Do you know it well? There, there, I would like with you, my love to go!”Goethe
And what can I say? Go, just go. As soon as I looked at those waters for the first time, with the majestic Vesuvius in the background, I fell in love.
And the more I visit Sorrento, the more I fall in love.
There is something about this modern and yet traditional city, with blue waters, and fantastic storms that carry you away by its terrifying beauty, that is fascinating.
And when you look at the majesty of the Vesuvius, and remember the historical and emotional weight to which it is linked, you get a lump in your throat, with so much emotion.
The Sorrento vibe, the friendliness of the people, the charming restaurants with delicious food, the shops, churches, the valley of the Mills, the delicious corners that the mere tourist does not know, all make Sorrento an option to put on your list.
The first time I arrived in Sorrento was almost sunset. I only had time to leave my bags at the B&B and rush to the city, to walk around, have a good meal and prepare for next day. And it was love at first sight. That sunset, the Vesuvius, took my breath away.
Why did Sorrento capture my heart and soul?
Well, check all you can see in Sorrento, a small town, that you can explore easily on foot, and I am sure you will understand. And you will want to go there, and once there, it will capture your heart!
Piazza Tasso is the perfect place to start your morning, with an Italian breakfast and then start exploring the city. Traditional Italian breakfast is sweet, and is simple – a cornetto (or other pastry) and a capuccino.
Piazza Tasso was named after the poet Torquato Tasso, born in Sorrento. There is a statue of him in one corner of the piazza and in the center of it there is a statue dedicated to Santo Antonio, the patron of the city.
One interesting fact about Piazza Tasso, is that it was built above a valley that was formed by two rivers and that housed saw and flour mills (dating from the 10th Century).
Down from the Piazza, on Via Fuorimura, walking towards the Antiche Mura Hotel, you can see the Valley of the Mills, or in Italian, Valle dei Mulini.
Via della Pietà
Via della Pietá is part of Sorrento old tow, and walking along it, you will see several examples of Medieval architecture, such as the Church of Santa Maria della Pietá, Palazzo Correale and Palazzo Veniero.
It is a charming and lovely wide street, with restaurants, bars, boutiques and shops. It is worth walking along it, stopping to admire the hand made sandals, the restaurants and bars, listening to the artists playing, and stopping for a coffee (again) or a gelato, while doing some people watching.
Cathedral of San Filippo and San Giacomo, or simply the Duomo, dates back from the 15th century and is located at Corso Itália. It has a beautiful tower that dominates the horizon. The exterior is humble but the interior is rich in frescoes.
Hidden gem: Venerabile Congregazione dei Servi di Maria
On Via Antonino Sersale, a side street (on the left as you walk from Piazza Tasso) off Corso Itália, you will find a beautiful church. From the outside nothing prepares you for such a beautiful church. The church dates back from 1778, is rich in Baroque reliefs from Cesare Starace.
The double staircase have works of art by De Sanctis that represent Saint Mark the Evangelist and Saint Carlo Borromeo, the Assumption by Malinconico and a sculpture from the famous Sammartino, representing the crucified Christ.
Along the walls of the church there are several paintings by Carlo Amalfi depicting the Madonna.
Inside the Church there is a wooden statue of the dead Christ, from the 16th century. This statue is carried every year on Good friday (Easter) through the streets of Sorrento, representing a funeral procession of Jesus Christ.
See the city walls
Detour from Corso Italia, and turn left on Via Serale till you reach Bastione di Parsano – the entrance to the walls. These walls date back from the 16th century and were built to defend the city from the attacks of the Saracen.
Walk along the small streets of the Historic Center
Once you have walked of Corso Italia and had a coffee (or a glass of wine, or a gelato), walk the small and narrow roads of the historical center (Via San Cesareo is charming and filled with artisan workshops, sovenier shops, etc).
This piazza is located in the heart of the historic center, on the way to Villa Comunale. In the center there is a statue of Saint Anthony, in the middle of a cute garden, and in front of Conservatorio Santa Maria delle Grazie on one side, and Basilica di Sant’Antonino on the other side. Along the piazza you will also find restaurants and shops.
Piazza della Vittoria
It is located in between the Marina Grande and Marina Piccola, and it is a peaceful and relaxing piazza, with a garden where you can rest and enjoy the shade. There is a fabulous view of the sea and Vesuvius that lies between two stunning hotels, Bellevue Syrene and Tramontano.
And now it will be almost certainly close to sunset. Head to Hotel Syrene, on the left side of Piazza Vittoria facing the sea, and have the most stunning moment of your trip.
Ask for a Spritz, Moscatto, glass of Wine, what suits you better, and enjoy one of the most serene and beautiful sunsets of your life.
The Hotel is a luxury hotel, and quite expensive, but non guests can sit on the terrace and have a drink, and later a fantastic dinner.
Cloister of San Francesco
The cloister is on the monastery dedicated to St. Francis. The monastery dates back to the early 8th century and the cloister from the 13th century. Three of the corner columns of the cloister were once part of pagan temples.
Parco Villa Comunale
The Villa Comunale Park is located in the center of Sorrento and has a fantastic view from the Gulf of Naples, Ischia, Procida and the magnificent Vesuvius.
The park is located directly above Marina Grande, and if you look in a west direction the view takes you as far as the rocky point of Capo di Sorrento.
Inside the park there is a lift that is quite handy to go down to Marina Piccola, and save you quite a climb on the way back.
A single trip costs 1 euro, and a return ticket 1.80 (for more info check their official website – www.sorrentolift.it.)
Marina Grande and Marina Piccola
Sorrento has two harbors, Marina Grande and Marina Piccola. Paradoxically, Marina Grande is the smallest.
Marina Grande is more authentic, picturesque, and you can feel the local way of life very present. It is charming, lined with houses in pastel colors, bars and restaurants.
There you will find the Church of Sant’Anna, from the 17th century. Sant’ Anna is the patron saint of the village.
On the Sunday that follows the day dedicated to Sant’Anna – 26th of July, the village is decorated, the bay fills with boats and the sea is illuminated by fireworks.
After visiting Marina Grande, go back to town, enjoying the little and charming details on the walls, the old buildings, and then head to the other marina – Marina Piccola, to stroll around, have a gelato, enjoy a beach bar, in the company of those amazing waters and the sight of the Vesuvius at the back.
Note: Marina Piccola is actually the port of Sorrento, from where the ferries and hydrofoils leave for other locations such as Naples, Ischia and Capri Islands.
And after that, just walk around Sorrento again, saying good bye. Ooh wait, not good bye, just a see you later, because you will be back for sure
You will surely be back