Sorrento is a quaint, pretty town situated on south Italy’s Campania coast. Next door to the beautiful Amalfi coast, it’s the perfect place to base yourself for trips out to Capri, Pompeii and Naples. Rocky cliffs tumble down into the sea, the water shimmers clear blue and Mt Vesuvius can be seen rising out of the Bay. It really is picturesque. We stayed about 15 minutes outside of Sorrento on our recent visit to Italy, and decided to spend our last 24 hours exploring this little town. Many people use Sorrento purely as a base, missing out on many of its gems that are tucked away just waiting to be discovered.
In the Morning
We woke up early with the sun still low in the sky, a cool breeze rippling the air. All streets in Sorrento seem to lead to Piazza Tasso, the main square in the town. This is a square with traffic running through it, so it’s not worth staying here too long in my opinion. But there are some nice cafe’s, and its location makes it a good starting point for exploring the streets. Wind your way through the crowds towards the sea, which you’ll soon see peeking out behind houses. You’ll eventually reach the city wall, high up in the cliffs. Here you’ll find stunning vistas over to Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples. From here, you can head down to Marina Grande, a picture perfect fisherman’s port with colourful houses and seafood bistros. It’s beautifully quiet down here and if you’re ready for lunch, you can enjoy your food al fresco, watching the boats come and go.
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to good food in Sorrento, so lunch is whatever you fancy. Ben isn’t a fan of seafood, so we didn’t stay in the marina for lunch. We made our way into the little labyrinth of back streets and stumbled across a restaurant called Da Gagina’s, tucked away from the tourist crowds and full of locals. We enjoyed pizza, red wine and a good dose of people watching as the crowds strolled by.
In the Afternoon
By now the day trip crowds will have dispersed, so the streets will be a little quieter and nicer to stroll around. One place worth a look into is Sorrento Cathedral. Unless you are looking for it, you wouldn’t know it was there. Built in the 11th century, the exterior is white and deceptively simple, tucked away off Via Santa Maria della Pietà. Walking through the doors, you’re greeted by a majestic interior. The high vaulted ceiling is painted in frescos, a tall crucifix stands just behind the altar and statues line the walls. Even though I’m not religious, it’s a strikingly beautiful, peaceful place to wander around.
After you’ve admired the cathedral, you’re perfectly located to wander the winding maze of backstreets, filled with cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops. Your 24 hours in Sorrento wouldn’t be complete without exploring here. Sorrento is famous for everything lemon – here you’ll find all the Limoncello, lemon soaps, lemon oils and lemon decorated pottery. Pick up a few souvenirs before making your way out of the streets to a real hidden gem in Sorrento. I’ve written an entire blog post about I Giardini di Cataldo, which you can read here. There are few places more beautiful to relax after a day of wandering the streets of Sorrento. This cafe is nestled within a lemon orchard, where you can sip on velvet coffee beneath the yellow fruits, hanging like jewels off the trees. If you go anywhere in Sorrento, it should be here.
In the Evening
Before you head to dinner, make your way to Vallone dei Mulini, an abandoned mill in a lush ravine, right in the heart of Sorrento. You can’t get down to the mill itself, but you can look down into the gorge, admiring the dark romanticism of a place being reclaimed by nature. As the evening draws in, wander through the streets to Cafe Latino for some al fresco dining beneath the stars. This garden cafe serves beautiful Italian food, with fairy lights in the trees and a magical atmosphere to match.
That was what we did in our 24 hours in Sorrento! It’s a beautiful town that should be explored slowly and deliberately, taking your time to savour the views, the food and the wine equally well.