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Visitors Guide

Travel guide to Sorrento, Italy

By Ross Williams, Contributing Editor
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Sorrento has often been called the Pearl of the Bay of Naples and has some unique characteristics that many visitors find quite endearing. It is one of my favorite travel destinations. Kenny Dalglish, the famous Liverpool footballer and manager too spent some time in the idyllic town during his retirement.

The laid back southern charm that envelopes Sorrento is one of the town’s unique features and this helps to set it apart from many of the more popular Italian destinations. But the main feature here is the fact that Sorrento is in an idyllic location. The small town of Sorrento straddles cliffs that overlook the Bay of Naples across to Mount Vesuvius. From here there is a perfect vantage point for exploration of the surrounding areas.

This includes the beautiful un-spoilt countryside to the west, the Amalfi Coast to the north, and the Island of Capri situated off-shore. The town provides a comfortable base for tourists with many restaurants and cafés on hand to cater to your needs. There is also plenty of wonderful architecture to marvel at too, as well as quite a few shops to pass the pass the time and soak up the laid back Sorrento atmosphere. Since the 16th Century Sorrento has been famous for its inlaid wood items and furniture. Called marquetterie this intricate tapestry put together painstakingly is beautiful and lends an aristocratic air and elegant touch to the home or office. I remember purchasing a beautiful marquetterie wood inlaid tea trolley in 1980 in Sorrento for US$299. It was varnished with some 7 layers of lacquer and we simply loved it since the day it was shipped to our home. Just last summer, I returned to Sorrento and sought out the same shop. Amazingly, the same wood inlaid tea trolley is now sold for US$2,500!

For a different view of Italy, Sorrento is certainly worth the trip.

Travelling to Sorrento

The closest airport to Sorrento is in the nearby city of Naples. The Naples International Airport receives flights from most of the main budget airlines such as EasyJet and Aer Lingus, as well as a few of the larger carriers like British Airways and Air France. Many of these carriers schedule flights between Naples and other international destinations on a seasonal basis so you will need to check with your chosen carrier before making plans.

Once you arrive at Naples there are a few options for transportation over to Sorrento. The boat from Naples takes approximately 35 minutes to go across to Sorrento and is actually faster than both the bus and the train. The service runs approximately every two hours and a single adult trip will cost €12.10.

Other options include the bus, which runs from Positano and Amalfi, and the train, which runs along the coast serving various stations along the way and terminating in Sorrento. You can of course choose to take a car and drive over into Sorrento, but traffic is usually quite heavy so you should be prepared to spend over 1.5 hours making your way through it.

Sightseeing

There are plenty of opportunities to take in some of the wonderful architecture that lines Sorrento’s streets. Here you will find such sights as the Chiesa di San Franceso, which is one of the most beautiful churches in Sorrento, or the Duomo cathedral, a marvelous building which serves as a reminder of the great historical Roman Empire. To get more of a feel for Sorrento’s and Roman history as a whole museums such as the Museo Correale, with its wonderful collection of 17th to 19th century arts and crafts, and the Museo Botega della Tarsia Lignea with a selection of 18th century furniture and various arts on crafts on display are a must.

To Do In Sorrento

If there is one thing that Italy does well it’s pizza and Pizzeria Da Franco is known for doing the best pizzas in town. It is worth stopping by just to take in the atmosphere of the place, which is more like a deli than a pizzeria. This is a popular place so expect queues during peak periods. The wait will be well worth it though. After enjoying a pizza why not hop onto the sightseeing bus tour that operates around the town. You can purchase tickets onboard and English language commentaries are available. The tour takes in the best of Sorrento and the surrounding areas.

Staying in Sorrento

If you are on a budget there are several low cost accommodation options available in Sorrento. The Ulisse Deluxe Hostel is one of the cheapest options with double rooms available from around €31 per night. Although this is officially a hostel, it is closer to a hotel than a hostel with all the amenities of a 3-star hotel. It is clean and spacious, has air conditioning, and friendly reception staff.

A decent mid-range hotel is the Grand Hotel Hermitage Sorrento, which is a four star bed & breakfast type accommodation. It has a swimming pool, restaurant, and rooms with sea views available and rooms start at around €89 per night. For the price you get a nice comfortable room with your own private shower and bath, plus breakfast in the mornings. The Plaza Hotel is also a good choice with an elegant contemporary feel.

For something a little more upscale you may want to check out the Hotel Excelsior Vittoria, which is set on five acres of tranquil and picturesque gardens. Here the rooms overlook the Gulf of Naples and the Vesuvius. Rooms start at approximately €350 per night.

Things to Bear in Mind

Sorrento is located on top of cliffs which are great for the views, but it means that beaches are pretty non-existent. There are a few small beaches to be found and here you should also expect to find Italians capitalizing on tourist’s desperation to get access to a beach. The best spots will usually carry a fee of around €5 to gain access.

This town is a big attraction for tourists so if you go during the summer months which is the peak period, you can expect long queues for most of the attractions and transportation. In particular the queues for the Amalfi bus tour are notoriously long during peak times. You will need to make the necessary amendments to your itinerary in order to minimize your waiting times. THE END

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