Praised by poets, celebrated in songs, immortalized in paintings, Sorrento is known all over the world and is one of the favorite destinations of international tourism. The city fascinates with its generous nature and amazing landscapes on one of the most beautiful stretches of coast in the world. There are numerous churches and historic buildings, surprising panoramic points, characteristic alleys full of craft shops, an exceptional gastronomic offer. There are also clubs, restaurants and cafes where you can spend your free time, shops on the main street where you can go shopping, festivals and cultural events to animate the evenings and, of course, equipped bathing establishments where you can relax in the sun caressed by a pleasant breeze.
The history of Sorrento is lost in the mists of time: colonized first by the Greeks than by the Romans, the Normans, and the Aragonese, this thousand-year-old city has made the diversity and union of different cultures it’s characteristic. Built overhanging the sea, the city gave birth to the poet Torquato Tasso and has always been a destination for intellectual and refined tourism; from the nineteenth century, in fact, it became a favorite destination for European travelers in what was called the “Grand Tour”, aimed at getting to know different cultures. Sorrento still welcomes visitors in search of sun, history, art, culture, and entertainment. The city fascinates tourists with its breathtaking views, the landscape made of gardens and citrus groves, the marinas, the suggestive historic center, an interesting historical and religious architecture, the ancient tradition of inlay and lace. Also noteworthy is the famous song “Torna a Surriento”, written by one of its inhabitants to celebrate its beauty and uniqueness.
Best things to do in Sorrento
Vallone Dei Mulini
Vallone dei Mulini (Valley of mills) is a place of great natural beauty in Sorrento. It is a natural riverbed that once reached the sea. The Vallone owes its name to the presence of a mill, of which the ruins are visible, used until the early 1900s to grind wheat. To make the mill-turn was used the rainwater that swelled in the canal. In addition to the mill, historical-artistic testimonies also tell the presence of a sawmill and a public washhouse inside. The construction of Piazza Tasso (Tasso Square) in 1866, decreed the end of the activities in the valley. The filling of the terminal part of the valley with the consequent isolation of the area from the sea caused a sharp increase in the humidity rate which made the area uninhabitable. The particular microclimate instead favored the development of a luxuriant herbaceous and arboreal vegetation. All in the historic center of Sorrento! The valley is inaccessible and therefore you can only photograph the ruin.
The Correale Museum has an interesting collection of minor arts from the 17th and 18th centuries. The museum is housed in what was the XVIII century residence of the Correale family, donated by the brothers Alfredo and Pompeo Correale to the city of Sorrento together with the family collections of pictorial and decorative art to make it a museum open to the public. Inaugurated in 1924, the Museum is divided into 24 rooms in which are exhibited Greek, Roman and medieval artifacts, 17th and 18th-century furnishings, porcelain and majolica from Capodimonte and other manufactures, Venetian glass, Bohemian crystals, a group of shepherdsNeapolitans of the eighteenth century, watches, furniture, and local crafts and some rare editions of Torquato Tasso’s works. Not to be missed, the beautiful garden that surrounds the palace and the terrace-belvedere overlooking the Gulf of Naples.
Cloister of San Francesco, Sorrento
A few meters from the Villa Comunale, there is the convent complex of San Francesco d’Assisi formed by the church, the cloister and the monastery. In the XIV century the Franciscan friars erected a church later modified in the Baroque style, with the exception of the white marble facade dating back to 1926, and the inlaid door of the XVI century. The single-nave interior with rich stucco decorations preserves a seventeenth-century wooden statue of San Francesco. Near the church stands the monastery, which is still inhabited today. The fourteenth-century cloister with its arched structure is remarkable, a harmonious fusion of different styles due to the restorations of the various eras. In addition to its beauty, the cloister is famous for hosting art exhibitions.
Piazza Tasso (Tasso Square) is the main square of Sorrento, the beating heart of the city, with bars, restaurants, shops and many people practically at any time of the year. Named after the most illustrious citizen of Sorrento, Torquato Tasso, to whom a monument is also dedicated; the square is adorned also with the statue of Sant’Antonino Abate, patron of the city. Among the buildings surrounding the square, stand out the Palazzo Correale with a beautiful majolica courtyard, the church of Santa Maria del Carmine with its rich baroque facade and the elegant Grand Hotel Vittoria, famous for hosting the great singer Enrico Caruso in 1921.
Basilica of Sant Antonio Sorrento
The Basilica of Sant’Antonino is located in the square of the same name. Probably built around the XI century, over time the church underwent renovations and alterations that helped to give it its current Baroque appearance. At the entrance of the Basilica, two cetacean bones recall the most famous prodigy performed by Saint Antonino: having saved a child who had been swallowed by a whale. The interior is divided into three naves with twelve columns (6 on each side), partly from Roman villas. From the side aisles you can go down to the Crypt. Under the altar there are instead the remains of the patron saint and on the walls there is a rich collection of ex voto, a gift from the sailors who survived the shipwrecks, with paintings depicting miraculous rescues.
Cathedral of San Filippo e Giacomo
The Cathedral of San Filippo e Giacomo is located in the historic center of Sorrento for over a thousand years. The Cathedral has undergone various restoration works that have completely changed its appearance until the facade was rebuilt in 1924 in the neo-Gothic style. The only original element is the lateral marble portal from 1479. The interior is in Baroque style, mostly built in the XVIII century. A few meters from the Cathedral, on Corso Italia, overlooks the majestic five-story bell tower. The base and the first three floors date back, most likely to the XI century, the upper part with the ceramic clock instead, was made in the XVIII century.
Built-in the XIV century, the Sedile Dominova (from the Latin “Domus Nova”) is a small square building in the historic center of Sorrento in Renaissance style and looks like an arched loggia closed on both sides by balustrades while spectacular perspective frescoes decorate the walls. Inside you can admire some frescoes, one of which reproduces the coat of arms of Sorrento surrounded by angels. The loggia is surmounted by an XVII century dome in green and yellow majolica. The Sedile Dominova is the only testimony in the region of the ancient noble seats, the medieval institutions assigned to the administration of the city. The room adjacent to the loggia was used by the noble families of the time for private meetings.
Marina Grande retains the charm of the old fishing village with its colorful houses, boats and nets pulled up on the shore. Access to the village is via a narrow stone path and through the ancient Greek gate. The village offers characteristic clubs, restaurants and bathing establishments. Marina Piccola is the port of Sorrento, an important landing place for ferries and hydrofoils, located not far from the central Piazza Tasso. On the side of the port there are the bathing establishments which often, due to the small size of the beach, are built on stilts on the water.
In Sorrento cooking is art and its gastronomy has an ancient tradition. Natural ingredients and local products (oil, wine, vegetables, walnuts, cheeses, lemons) are the basis of the most appreciated specialties of the local cuisine, based on flavors and aromas of the sea and the mountains. Among the most famous dishes, we remember the “gnocchi alla sorrentina” with tomato, basil and mozzarella cheese (gnocchi strictly handmade); cannelloni with ricotta cheese; lobster boiled or cooked in tomato; the “parimigiana di melanzane”; fried prawns with a light breading, octopus. Simple dishes with an inimitable taste that go well with a white or red wine. Last but not least, the local pastry shop, dominated by citrus fruits: limoncello sorbet, lemon delight (sponge cake coated and stuffed with a soft lemon cream) and limoncello flavored babà. Excellent also the local “semifreddo”, the “zeppole” (fried cream puffs filled with cream), the “sfogliatella” cake and the “follovielli” (dumplings stuffed with raisins cooked in a wood oven). Finally we have the limoncello handcrafted on site, served cold in small glasses, or the “nocino”, the other typical Sorrento liqueur.
What to do in the evening in Sorrento
Sorrento is a popular destination at any time of the year and always manages to satisfy the most varied requests of the people of the night. You can start with the classic aperitifs in Corso Italia, dinners in the most diverse restaurants and continue until late at night in one of the many clubs or discos that offer all kinds of music, such as the Fauno Notte Club, known and appreciated as a club that opens at 23:00 and where is possible to dance until 4:00 in the morning. Young but elegant atmosphere, with selection at the entrance (it is located in Piazza Tasso, 13). Then we have the Filou Club, with an elegant setting for live music evenings and excellent cocktails. Opens at 10 PM (via Santa Maria della Pietà). Finally, there is the Shot: excellent open from late afternoon, with a good selection of wines and aperitifs (in via Santa Maria della Pietà, 26).
Where to stay in Sorrento
Sorrento has a rich offer regarding accommodation. Obviously the most “classic” choice remains the hotel. The number of hotels and accommodations of this type is very high; it is possible to find luxury accommodation, but there are also the cheapest solutions. Hotels from one to three stars can be found both in the area closest to the sea and in the innermost one (where the costs are much lower).
Bed & Breakfasts are one of the most practiced solutions by travelers from all over the world. The advantage of the B&B option lies in the fact that, in addition to having a cost certainly lower than the hotel, it also includes – as the words say – always breakfast, which is often a buffet. In Sorrento, most Bed & Breakfasts are located in the internal area, but it is possible to find some, slightly more expensive, even closer to the sea.
You can also opt for an apartment or a holiday home. This kind of solution is available in Sorrento and is also in great demand. There are wonderful apartments and villas furnished with great attention and all details are taken care of. Why not take advantage to live in a typical Sorrento house and fully immerse yourself in the culture and style of the place?
In any case, to save money, it is always advisable to book well in advance and prefer the low season, which runs from September to April.
The best area to stay in Sorrento is the historic center, convenient for travel and for the evening so that you will already be in the heart of city life. Obviously the costs of the center are not low, so if you are looking for something cheaper you will have to move to other less touristy places on the Sorrento peninsula such as Massa Lubrense, Meta, or Piano di Sorrento.
How to get to Sorrento
Sorrento is 40 km from Naples. To get to the city from Capodichino International Airport or Naples Central Railway Station, you can take a Circumvesuviana train to Sorrento. The Circumvesuviana runs every 30 minutes and the ride from Naples to Sorrento takes about 60 minutes. It is also possible to take a bus from the Curreri Line and in about 50 minutes you will arrive in Sorrento. Other solutions are taxis, which are particularly expensive or to rent a car. In this case, just take the A3 motorway towards the Sorrento Peninsula and then exit to Castellammare di Stabia tollbooth. You will soon be on the road 145 SS which will allow you to reach Sorrento along the splendid coast.
If instead, you arrive at Rome international airport, you can go to the Tiburtina railway station and take a bus to Sorrento, or opt for a rental car or a train departing from Termini railway station.
Best Time to visit Sorrento
In Sorrento the climate of the area is temperate, and the cold is almost unknown. Only in the middle of winter (December-January) can the minimum temperatures drop to 3-5 degrees; but already in spring, the climate becomes extremely pleasant and ideal for seaside tourism. The hottest months are obviously those of July and August when the thermometer usually reaches 29-30 degrees.
Sorrento is therefore one of those destinations that can be visited all year round. Summer is definitely the season to prefer if you want to enjoy both the city and its coast. In the autumn, tourists start to decrease and the temperatures are still quite high, so you can enjoy the sea out of season. December is the ideal month for those who love Christmas: the streets of Sorrento come alive with lights and markets, the regional tradition of nativities is renewed every year and the atmosphere you breathe is truly incredible. Tourism starts in the spring, since in this season the bathing establishments start to reopen and it is also possible to devote themselves to trekking or different activities without suffering the effects of heat or cold.