|Sorrento port and coastline|
Last summer I visited the Italian capital, Rome. In August this year I returned to Italy this time to the popular tourist resort of Sorrento. I knew very little of Sorrento before my visit but to be completely honest I wasn’t expecting it to compare to the energy and excitement of Rome. I found while in some ways it met my expectations in others it far exceeded them.
|The Fauno Bar in Sorrento's main square, The Piazza Tasso|
|Statue of St. Anthony, Patron Saint of Sorrento|
Sorrento is a small, picturesque little town covering less than three square miles. It combines classic Italian architecture and narrow cobbled streets with chic boutiques and modern apartment blocks. Although it’s right on the coast, there are no real beaches to speak of, just a very rugged coastline and a handful of man-made lidos and sun terraces. It’s surrounded on three sides by lush green hills dotted with olive groves and vineyards.
|A typical street|
|International flags welcoming visitors|
|Melon & Lemon flavoured slush|
The pace of life is much more sedate than in the capital; like in Spain people take a siesta in the afternoons so most of the shops and museums close from around 1 to 5 o’ clock in the evening. Coming from a city where you can shop every day from 9 in the morning until 8 or 9 at night this caught me off guard at first but I soon adjusted to the more relaxed way of life. I spent a lot of time simply meandering, exploring the town, discovering local shops and hidden treasures, enjoying leisurely lunches and then returning to the hotel in the afternoon to catch up on some reading by the rooftop pool.
The town really comes alive at night, there is a vibrant café culture with countless restaurants, bars and gelaterias serving up a delicious array of Italian dishes, drinks and the most amazing desserts. After dark the streets are abuzz with artists, musicians and some of the most creative and imaginative street entertainers I’ve ever seen.
|View from the hotel's rooftop pool|
Sorrento is so easy to navigate on foot, guided tours (at least the two I tried) tend to be either very brief or repetitive. A three-hour open top bus tour I went on on the second day went into such tedious levels of detail about olive harvesting methods every time we passed a grove that I found myself tuning out twenty minutes in and just enjoying the scenery. Luckily Sorrento is just a short coach journey from Naples and the historic city of Pompeii so I spent a day exploring the ruins and joined a guided tour of the ancient streets, the bakeries and the famous Villa dei Misteri (or Villa of the Mysteries). Pompeii is so vast I was only able to see a tiny part of it, I’d like to return one day to see the bath houses and the small amphitheatre in the far south eastern corner of the city.
|An ancient bakery in Pompeii|
|Columns surrounding the Forum|
|A Pompeiian street|
|Intricately carved stonework|
While I was in Sorrento I also took the opportunity to visit the nearby island of Capri. I made the mistake of choosing a small (though very pretty) open top boat for the journey that completed a circle of the entire island, bobbing and swaying constantly in the currents as it went. If I were to do it again I would opt for either the ferry or the hydrofoil which cost just over 13 euros for a return ticket. Capri itself is a favourite destination for the well-heeled and stylish, designer boutiques line the streets and porters driving golf buggies tote expensive monogrammed luggage from the harbour to the island’s exclusive hotels. I found the main square and shopping streets a little claustrophobic, but I did enjoy exploring the tiny winding paths that snake their way around the island’s homes and eventually lead to the highest point of Capri with its spectacular panoramic views.
|The rugged coastline of Capri|
|A pebble beach|
|One of the pathways that lead around the island|
|View over Capri|
Overall I would say if you’re looking for a relaxing break in luxurious surroundings then you can’t go far wrong with Sorrento. It’s perfect if you enjoy shopping, eating out and soaking up the local culture. Sorry this post is so long overdue, hope you enjoyed reading about my summer adventures anyway.