*Spot the lemons.
This was my first trip to Italy and it didn't disappoint, what a beauty it is. I spent a week just south of Naples in Sorrento, which serves as a fantastic base for exploring the great deal of attractions nearby. Sorrento itself is a lovely place to stay and offers a relaxed atmosphere, great restaurants and stunning views of the Bay of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius. I write a little about our stay and experience of Sorrento and give a few tips of what to see and do if you decide to visit… Or you can just have a nosy at my photos and dream of being in sunny Italy, which is basically what I'm doing as I write this! Either way, I hope you enjoy!
8 Tips For A Trip to Sorrento
1. Savour the coastal views on the journey from Naples airport to Sorrento.
You will most likely fly into Naples airport. From there it is a bit of drive down to Sorrento, but when the views are like this you won't mind so much. We actually got stuck in traffic as it was a public holiday, so it took us even longer than usual, but it didn't matter in the slightest, it gave us more time to take in the beautiful views.
2. Take in the stunning view of Mt. Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples
Sorrento's position on the coastline gives it an incredible view of the Bay of Naples and Mt Vesuvius. We were lucky enough to have a hotel right on the cliff edge. Several of them are, so keep this in mind when choosing your hotel if you would like to have this view as soon as you wake up or while you eat your breakfast. But don't worry if you can't manage to get a hotel with this view, you can go to Villa Comunale Park which is very easily accessible from the centre of Sorrento and is a relaxed spot to take in the view. I talk about it a little more later on!
3. Get lost in the streets and alleyways of the centro storico (historic centre)
Sorrento itself is easy to explore. It's just the right size for a relaxed holiday with a little sightseeing. You can see it all just by taking a wander through the streets and alleyways. It's hard to get lost as it is relatively small and as you explore you will stumble upon the numerous churches and museums. As you explore the town make sure to look up to take in the pretty architecture which fills the streets. You can take a break from walking by stopping in one of the many many restaurants or cafes. Some of the little shops also offer you non-stop tasters of biscuits, sweets and most importantly Limoncello and all things Limoncello flavoured. You may leave the shop feeling a little tipsy!
One shop highlight would be Gargiulo & Jannuzzi, a shop dating from 1893. It mainly sells locally made inlaid wood pieces, from chess boards to furniture, and also ceramic dogs, frogs and tigers. What more could you want? Even if you can't afford to buy anything it is a must-see as it gives such insight into Sorrento's history and its products.
Being so compact Sorrento is great for an evening passeggiata (stroll). After watching the sunset, you can end the day by have a relaxed walk through the centro storico, taking a look at what is on offer in the shops, or stop to get some dinner or gelato. Perhaps finish the night with a drink at Fauno in Piazza Tasso, the main square, where you can people-watch and watch the world go by.
4. Take a walk down to Marina Grande
Marina Grande is the closest thing Sorrento has to a beach. A short walk from the historic centre it offers a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy the sun amongst the fishing boats. There are some restaurants which serve fish from the morning's catch. We went to Trattoria Da Emilia twice. It is positioned right on the water's edge and is the perfect place to enjoy a meal. It is particularly atmospheric in the evening when the lights are shining from the marina and the hotels on the cliff-edge above. The restaurant was founded in 1947 and is family run. It has a very casual feel and the food is absolutely incredible, that's why we went back for a second night! You have to try the sea bass, so simple but the tastiest fish I've ever eaten! The spaghetti with clams are also a popular dish of the region and didn't disappoint.
5. Find calm in the gardens of Museo Correale
Make sure to visit Museo Correale for it's interesting collection which includes 17th to 19th century Neopolitan art and crafts, but also a variety of other pieces, from Japanese clocks to Greek and Roman artefacts. The museum is interesting and well worth a visit to understand more about the region's history, but the gardens on their own are worth the entry price. Filled with lemon and orange trees, they offer a peaceful escape away from the hustle and bustle of touristy Sorrento. It doesn't feel like you're in the town at all.
6. Have lemon gelato under the lemon grove of I Giardini di Cataldo
Lemons are a big deal in this region and so if you're going to get some gelato you have to try lemon gelato! I Giardini di Cataldowas just by our hotel, a family run business which offers home-grown lemon gelato made from the lemons of that very grove. It's delicious and refreshing! You can enjoy your gelato sat under the shade of the grove, a nice escape from the heat. They also sell a range of other products made from their produce, including liqueurs and jams.
7. Have dinner in the prettiest of locations at Ristorante 'O Parrucchiano La Favorita and Ristorante Cafè Latino
In both of these locations you will be surrounded by orange and lemon trees adorned with fairy lights, a dining experience like no other. Ristorante 'O Parrucchiano La Favorita is a large family run restaurant passed down through generations. It started off as a tiny trattoria and has since expanded significantly to have a lovely enchanted garden setting above the original rooms. Enjoy the dishes, mainly pasta, traditional to the Gulf of Naples surrounded by greenery, a relaxed escape from the busy streets of Sorrento. Ristorante Cafè Latinois set in an orange and lemon tree garden in the heart of the historic centre of Sorrento. A great place, particularly in spring/summer for a drink or a meal under the stars. The pasta was delicious!
8. Watch the sun set over Mt. Vesuvius with panoramic views from Villa Comunale Park
Finally, Villa Comunale Park is the place I mentioned earlier to enjoy the view of Mt. Vesuvius. Make sure you go at sunset! We only watched it from there on our last night and now I wish we had gone every night. Two words: Absolutely breathtaking.
Who wouldn't want to go?! Before writing this I knew I wanted to go back to Sorrento one day, but now looking at these photos, it can't come soon enough!