Vico Equense - Church of the Santissima Annunziata
Sorrento - Limoncello
Sorrento - The Gulf
The Palazzi of Sorrento
The Sorrento Coastline
Sorrento - Bay Detail
Sant'Agnello - Photo by Robbie Jim - Wikimedia
An expanse of land that juts out towards Capri and the rest of the Mediterranean, it lies just south of the Bay of Naples. It is a sequence of cliffs and overhangs dominating the coastline - with a few small bays along the way – blessed with a view of the enchanting deep blue.
This, the Sorrentine Coast, is passable only for its sloping terraces cultivated with oranges, vines, olives and, most of all, lemons, all the way to the sea. Tourists lucky enough to pass through in springtime will be pleasantly overwhelmed with their perfume, while visitors year-round can enjoy the divine consequences of the sour citrus once picked: after all, life gave this Coast lemons, and the people made Limoncello!
Man has been spellbound by this spot from the beginning, initiating with the ancient Greeks – they thought that these waters were the home of sirens (legend has it that in Antiquity, Surrentum, as it was known, came about as a site of cult worship dedicated to these mythological mer-people). Later, the Romans built their splendid villas, roads, ports and thermal spas, certain remnants of which are still visible right in Sorrento. Inhabited during the Middle Ages, as well, and despite eventual incursions by the Saracens, the Sorrentine and Amalfi Coasts were prime stops for those 18th-Century European men of means on their traditional Grand Tour.
Sant'Agnello with villas to dream about, Meta and its Basilica di Santa Maria del Lauro, the Sorrento of citrus groves and the historical town center, and Massa Lubrense, the peninsula’s most extreme point, are just some of the places looking out at this particular stretch of the Tyrrhennian.
A small patch of paradise, even today it offers some of the Campania Region’s most intense panoramas of lush vegetation and turquoise hints from the sea. Sorrento, of course, is the foremost city on this little peninsula; it was etched on a plateau of tuff that quickly descends in a steep drop to the water below.
The historic center, surrounded in part by a 16th-Century wall, is traversed by streets that reveal the ancient urban plan of the original Roman municipality. Be sure to visit the Sedile Dominova, age-old loggia (1500s) that at one time served as seat of the town council of Sorrento, and the Museo Correale. Equally-interesting are the Duomo and its neo-Gothic façade, the Basilica di Sant’Antonino (c. 1400s) and the Church of San Francesco d’Assisi, with a small cloister dating to the 1300s. The beauty of the terrain and climate here have made the city one of the most important touristic destinations in the Region.
Finally, make time for a visit to Vico Equense to see its fantastic necropolis before stopping at the old borgo of Equa, and the inspiring Church of the Santissima Annunziata that stands out high over the sea.
Die-hard shoppers should journey to the town center, where amidst the 18th-Century palazzi they will find intricate works of wood intarsia, the city’s artisan mainstay.
The nearby areas of Baia di Ieranto and Punta Campanella, rather, beckon all those that want to get away from it all and listen only to the sounds of Mother Nature.
And the first Saturday of every month, the Mercatino dei Ricordi (the Memento Market) takes place in Piano di Sorrento. Jump head-first into history and interact with vendors displaying their wares: from antiques and Modern art to collectibles and other curiosities from the past.
Don’t Miss: Limoncello
Among the important and fruitful traditions handed down through Sorrentine generations, one stands out over the rest: the recipe for Limoncello, world-famous liqueur made from an infusion of lemon peels and alcohol. Sorrento and Limoncello are practically one and the same, and should always be considered a pair - a caveat visitors to Italy should heed when invited to purchase this delectable souvenir anywhere outside Campania.
Now quite common and produced in other lemon-rich parts of Italy, genuine Limoncello is nonetheless obtained from the lemons of Sorrento and its peninsula (many also consider Capri’s groves a valid resource as well). Why? Because the lemons here are quite large and emit a singular, intoxicating perfume; they are an organically-grown variety, i.e. sans chemicals or fertilizer of any kind.
Limoncello's gradation should be between 30 and 35°, while its color rests somewhere between yellow and a pale green, depending on how ripe the lemons are. It is served very cold, often after a meal.
Interested in tasting more of this zone? Try the provolone del Monaco P.D.O., the mozzarella di bufala P.D.O. from Campania, and so many other typical local specialties.
How to Get There
The Circumvesuviana train service from Naples (the Central Station in Piazza Garibaldi, lower floor) to Sorrento; or Regional trains for Sorrento (approx. 1 hour).
From Rome (Tiburtina Station) to Sorrento: MarozziBus Lines run daily to Sorrento - Tel. 080/5790211 – Fax: 080/5790900
Naples Capodichino Airport
From Airport Arrivals, take Curreri Bus Lines, direction Penisola Sorrentina (Travel time approx. 60 minutes). Tickets can be bought on board. Tel +39 081.80.15.420 / 081.80.16.376 Fax. +39-081.80.15.744