Go to Sorrento to discover the sweetness of Italian life

Piazza Tasso in Sorrento is a gathering place for locals and tourists. (Alison Bath / Stars and Stripes)

If you’re looking for a getaway full of high-energy activities or a long list of sightseeing, Sorrento probably isn’t for you.

Yes, you can easily sunbathe on the beaches of Capri or Positano, take a day trip to Pompeii, or hike along the Amalfi Coast, all passing through Sorrento.

But that’s not what the quaint Italian town of about 16,000 people does best on the craggy cliffs of the Sorrento Peninsula. Sorrento is the opportunity to breathe.

It is in Sorrento that you can admire a spectacular sunset over the Gulf of Naples while sipping a limoncello, dipping into some of the best seafood in Italy and spending an afternoon shopping or strolling. in the charming streets of its historic district or its seaside village.

This view of the Gulf of Naples and Mount Vesuvius from Villa di Comunale in Sorrento, Italy, makes the park popular with tourists.
This view of the Gulf of Naples and Mount Vesuvius from Villa di Comunale in Sorrento, Italy, makes the park popular with tourists. (Alison Bath / Stars and Stripes)

About 30 miles from Naples, Sorrento is easily accessible by car, ferry, or train.

If you’re arriving by train, it’s a short walk from Piazza Tasso, named after the 16th-century Italian poet Torquato Tasso, who was born in Sorrento. In this bustling central square you will find lively cafes and, in December, the city’s Christmas tree.

The Y-shaped intersection also offers two lanes to explore.

On the left, Corso Italia offers a selection of bars, cafes and chain stores along the historic Sorrento district. It is also in this street that the Parco di Villa Fiorentino is located, with its gardens and its playground for children.

Once you’ve taken in the crowds and possibly the holiday decorations, do yourself a favor and walk down Main Street into one of the side streets to explore the narrow passages where many residents have made their home.

Sorrento's historic district is home not only to residents but also to many restaurants and shops.
Sorrento’s historic district is home not only to residents but also to many restaurants and shops. (Alison Bath / Stars and Stripes)

You’ll find shops offering typical tourist trophies of fridge magnets, lemon candy, and limoncello, but there are also restaurants, clothing boutiques, art galleries, and shops featuring ceramics and ceramics. other artisanal products made locally.

If you want a traditional Italian lunch in the garden, try O’Parrucchiano La Favorita, where attentive English-speaking waiters expertly cater to your needs while serving regional dishes such as gnocchi alla Sorrentina.

One of Sorrento's most famous dishes is the gnocchi alla Sorrentina, which consists of potato dumplings with tomato sauce and provolone cheese.
One of Sorrento’s most famous dishes is the gnocchi alla Sorrentina, which consists of potato dumplings with tomato sauce and provolone cheese. (Alison Bath / Stars and Stripes)

It can get expensive. Lunch for one with half a bottle of wine and dessert costs around $ 45, but it’s worth it.

Walkers near Piazza Tasso in Sorrento can glimpse the Gulf of Naples from this nearby vantage point.
Walkers near Piazza Tasso in Sorrento can glimpse the Gulf of Naples from this nearby vantage point. (Alison Bath / Stars and Stripes)

Returning to Piazza Tasso, head to the right on Via Luigi de Maio. You will pass in front of Piazza Sant’Antonino. Take a minute and enter the Basilica of Sant’Antonino to admire its frescoes before finding the Villa Comunale di Sorrento.

It is the famous gardens that offer these spectacular views over the Gulf of Naples and Mount Vesuvius. During the crowded summer season, getting the perfect sunset selfie can be a challenge, so continue down the street to Piazza della Vittoria, where the view is just as beautiful but not as crowded.

Chiostro di San Francesco in Sorrento is open to the public, and there is no cost to enjoy this tranquil urban oasis.
Chiostro di San Francesco in Sorrento is open to the public, and there is no cost to enjoy this tranquil urban oasis. (Alison Bath / Stars and Stripes)

Before leaving, visit Chiostro di San Francesco. The peaceful 14th century monastery just before Villa Comunale is free and open to the public.

The Chiostro di San Francesco is a 14th-century monastery in Sorrento.
The Chiostro di San Francesco is a 14th-century monastery in Sorrento. (Alison Bath / Stars and Stripes)

Other places to visit include Sorrento’s Marina Grande and Marina Piccola, which feature pastel-colored buildings, shops, restaurants, and a sandy beach.

Sorrento is not a place to get the adrenaline pumping, but it is the perfect place to experience la bella vita (the good life).

IF YOU ARE GOING TO

How to get there: From Naples, take the Circumvesuviana train departing from Naples Central Station in Piazza Garibaldi. Tickets (around $ 9 round trip for a 75-minute ride) must be purchased at the station, but you can check the timetables online at sorrentoinsider.com/en/naples-to-sorrento-train-schedule. Ferries are also available for around $ 15 one way (45 minute trip) on alilauro.it/en or navlib.it/en.

What to wear: Sunscreen, comfortable shoes and sunglasses. If you are visiting during the winter, a warm coat and possibly a hat and scarf are needed.

Food: Seafood is the way to go, with talented chefs offering fresh versions of traditional offerings such as octopus, sardines and shellfish. The limoncello is a must for sunset or after dinner.

Pro tip: Make reservations for cocktails at one of the many hotels with outdoor terraces that offer lovely sea views. An Italian aperitif is well worth it.

In line: comune.sorrento.na.it

portrait of the author

alison bath

Alison Bath reports on the U.S. Navy, including the U.S. 6th Fleet, in Europe and Africa. She has reported for various publications in Montana, Nevada and Louisiana, and has served as editor of newspapers in Louisiana, Oregon and Washington.



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