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Sorrento, Italy

Posted: Monday, December 17, 2012
Sorrento, Italy
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  • Sorrento, Italy
  • Sorrento, Italy
  • Sorrento, Italy
  • Sorrento, Italy
  • Ruins in Sorrento, Italy
  • Market in Sorrento, Italy
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The Keystone of the Sorrentine Peninsula, Sorrento overlooks the Bay of Naples and out beyond to Mt. Vesuvius from high along whitewashed cliffs in southern Italy's Campania region. The city dates back to ancient Greek and Roman times, with abundant architecture, ruins, and art on display along its easily navigated streets and countryside hiking trails. Sorrento lies on Italy's Circumvesuviana rail system, making it easily accessible from Naples, and a prime base for visits to the famed archeological sites of Pompeii and Ercolano.

Sorrento's vibe is laid back and hospitable, and the city has yet to succumb to the ever-growing amoeba of chintzy souvenir shops and brash tourist developments. That's not to say it isn't chock full of tourists--and English-style watering holes to placate them--but that the charm of its markets and central Piazza Tasso, and incomparable views of southern Italy's finest geographical offerings more than compensate for its conspicuous popularity.

Go to Sorrento if You're Looking for...

Dreamy, picturesque history, ancient architecture, relaxed Italian culture, and limoncello. Lots of limoncello. The dangerously delicious digestif made from lemon rinds, alcohol, water and sugar is a famed commodity of Sorrento, which abounds with lemon groves, along with major agricultural productions of olives, wine, and nuts. As with most Italian vacation destinations, both your heart and your belly will leave Sorrento full.

However, if you're to laze on the beach, continue beyond Sorrento to, say, the Isle of Capri. Due to its cliffside location, the town is bereft of sandy respites and nooks for lazing with feet in the surf.

Sorrento Highlights

  • The Towns of the Sorrentine Peninsula. Sant'Agnello, Piano di Sorrento, Meta, and Massa Lubrense. Sant'Agnello invites long, peaceful holidays, offering any comforts with its vast range of accommodations.
  • Museums. Correale di Terranova Museum has amassed a precious collection of fine arts from the many Correale houses in Naples and Sorrento, including paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries attributed to Artemisia Gentileschi, Battistello, Caracciolo, Solimena, Van Dyck, Kassel, and Belvedere, as well as a panoply of porcelain, furniture, rare consoles, and glass from Murano and Bohemia. Other nearby museums include The Wooden Marquetry Shop and Georges Vallet Archaeological Museum.
  • Art, History & Cultural Trails. Walk along Sorrento's old world streets, exploring the insides and outs of basilicas, churches, palaces, and ancient homes. The Church and the Cloister of “San Franceso” originally dates back to the early part of the 8th century, though its architecture shows the changes it has undergone over the years. Two sides of the portico display crossed arches in tuff (late 13th century style), while the other two gave round arches on octagonal columns. At the back of the city's Tasso square await overgrown ruins, including those of the Old Mill, a deep gorge filled with the former workings of the industry, and the Old walls, the only part of the Greek defensive wall still remaining.
  • Hiking Trails. Trek along 150 miles of coastal paths zigzagging the Sorrentine peninsula to discover the majestic marvels of its cliffside towns and natural balconies over the bays of Naples and Salerno. Trails highlight the Lattari Mountains along the Sorrentine and Amalfi coasts, and wind and ascend through lemon groves, olive groves, and ancient farmhouses at varying lengths lengths and levels of difficulty. Professionally guided tours are also available.
  • Shopping. Sorrento's historical centre proffers handcrafted marquetry, hand-stitched tablecloths, colored handmade sandals, distilleries, and local gastronomic products. Think limoncello liqueurs in painted bottles, almond and lemon cakes, orange pastries, biscuits, jams, and local handmade ice cream.
  • Cooking Classes. If you don't want to buy it, head to Sant’Agnello and learn to make it yourself. Housed in the Esperidi Resort, the Sorrento Cooking School offers daily, 3-hour cooking classes taught in English by Italian chefs from April to October. Learn to prepare a typical, 4-course Italian-Mediterranean meal including appetizer, first course, second course, and dessert. Then savor the results during the ensuing tasting!

Best Time to Go to Sorrento

The hottest months are June through September, with average highs in the upper 70s to mid-80s. Which means many locals are fleeing Naples and bigger surrounding cities and seeking out the breezes of the coasts. For less congestion, and better deals, the general recommendation is to hit Sorrento at the beginning or the end of the "the season"--meaning March/April and October. Temperatures will be milder, but not unpleasant, and the less chaotic attributes of the spring and fall will likely produce a higher quality experience overall.

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