The Amalfi Coast is one of the most spectacular coastlines in the world, winding south along the Bay of Salerno from Sorrento. Enjoying wonderful views across the Bay of Naples to Capri and Ischia, Sorrento is a resort full of character. With good restaurants, the area is famed for its spaghetti dishes and elegant boutiques. Fifteen miles along the Amalfi Drive lies Positano, with its pink, cream and yellow coloured buildings clinging to the coast and offering stunning sea views. This is an ideal spot for romantics and honeymooners. Further along, is the charming fishing village of Amalfi, and the peaceful resort of Ravello perched high above Amalfi. Sorrento is perfect for visiting the ancient site of Pompeii by train
Sorrento – Brief History
Initially a Phoenician Colony, Sorrento became a port used by Greeks engaged in commercial activity with Naples and other Southern cities. The area then came under Roman rule and they elected it as a destination for wealthy Patricians. After the fall of the Empire the Ostrogoths ruled until the authority of the Byzantine Empire took over. Eventually Sorrento was able to release itself from outside control and became an autonomous prosperous Duchy. In 1133 it was conquered again and became a protectorate of Normandy which helped to quell attacks by pirates. Sorrento came under another savage attack in 1558 by the Turks with the population receiving severe losses.
By the start of the 18th century Sorrento emerged as a popular tourist resort. Located on top of rocky cliffs between green hills and the Gulf of Naples, Sorrento has attracted many famous artists, musicians and craftsman to the area noted for its striking beauty. Ever since Roman times magnificent villas, mansions, hotels, churches and other buildings have be built over the ages – many with magnificent views.
Places to Visit & Things to Do
Many people just visit Sorrento to admire the stunning views both from the upper and lower towns and enjoy a drink or lunch at the many cafes available.
The Piazza Tasso, the site of the Porta Castello; the summit of the old walls that once surrounded the city.
Sedile Dominova – showpiece of the Largo Dominova; the little square at the heart of the historic area. It includes expansive arches and a green and yellow tiled cupola (15th century). City coat of arms and those of other aristocracy appear as frescoes in its interior.
Enjoy a refreshing liqeur called Limoncello made from local lemons, alcohol, sugar and water.
Shopping in Sorrento
Visit Piazza Tasso for embroidered goods and intarsia woodwork (centuries old tradition in Sorrento).
Via San Cesareo for all types of Italian crafts. Ferdinando Corcione on Via San Francesco gives demonstrations on intarsia work (intricate inlaying of wood).
Other Places to Visit from Sorrento
Pompeii and Herculaneum (Ercolano) can be accessed by train on the Circumvesuviana line – see separate review on Pompeii.
The island of Capri can be reached easily by hydrofoil – journey time around 20 minutes. The island of Ischia is more difficult – maybe only one hydrofoil service direct, others via Naples.
The Cattedrale di Sant’ Andrea.
The Valle dei Mulini (Valley of the Mills) was for centuries a major centre of paper making – now The Museo della Carta records all that history with paper samples and old machinery on display.
The Amalfi Coast is very attractive. If taking a taxi agree return cost in advance as they can be expensive and the spectacular cliff top road challenging. Only the brave will hire a car. You can take a bus from Sorrento to Amalfi or Positano or vice versa, journey time around 30 minutes. There is also a ferry service to Amalfi but is not that frequent.
Contact Simon at Designer Travel Tailor-made Holidays & Cruises
Photo: Sorrento Bay (RG) – 1