Sorrento is a town that many tourists traveling towards the Amalfitan Coast hook up with - it is, as it were, the entrance to this part of Campania. Not every traveler going to these parts knows that Sorrento deserves at least as much attention as the attractions of the Positano and Amalfi, and in some respects surpasses these towns. What is it about Sorrento that makes it worth stopping by?
The history of the city dates back to very distant times, as far as the 6th century BC. - It is vain to look in the city for many ancient remains from that period. At that time the region was under the rule of the Greeks, and then passed into the hands of the Romans, in 79 the city was razed to the ground due to an explosion of Vesuvius - a very long time had to pass for Sorrento to at least come close to the form it had before that disaster.
Over the following centuries, rulers changed, architectural trends changed, and Sorrento sought the right direction for itself. Nowadays, the city is primarily famous for tourism and the cultivation of the typical oval lemon tree - citrus trees are one of the most characteristic elements of Sorrento's landscape, right next to the dark blue surface of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the monumental cliffs on which this remarkable resort is built.
In terms of basic numbers, the town is not particularly impressive - it covers an area of about 9km² and has a permanent population of just over 15,500. During the summer season, however, Sorrento is almost bursting at the seams - it is a popular destination for tourists from all over Europe who visit the town on their visit to the Bay of Naples. It is a very good place for those looking for a break from the big-city climate Naples and wishing to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of an authentic Italian resort.
Sorrento attractions - what is worth seeing?
The city and the surrounding area offer many tourist attractions ranging from amazing viewpoints and scenic beaches to an abundance of museums and historic architecture, testifying to Sorrento's rich past.
The city's central square is Piazza Tasso, named after the 16th-century poet Torquato Tasso, who was born in Sorrento. The square is home to many atmospheric pubs and local stores, where you can buy souvenirs from the region, as well as sample local specialties. In the immediate vicinity of Piazza Tasso there is a Santuario del Carmine, a Baroque monastery that was built in the second half of the 16th century. The yellow façade with white accents is blended into the densely built-up streets here and stands out against their background of color and decorative window frames.
Basilica di Sant' Antonino
Just 150 meters from Piazza Tasso is the Basilica di Sant' Antonino, one of the region's most interesting religious buildings. The exact or even approximate date of the erection of this basilica is not known, it is estimated that it was built even before the 10th century and there is a hypothesis that the building was built on the site of the saint's tomb. Over the years, the basilica has witnessed numerous historical turmoil, and was not spared destruction - in the middle of the 16th century the building was looted during a Saracen invasion, after which it required extensive renovation. The most serious renovation works lasted until the 18th century, and it is to them that the basilica owes its present Baroque form.
The basilica and the tourists visiting it are only a few hundred meters from the waterfront, where one can find, among other things, the Marina Piccola harbor, where cruise ships dock. The site is equipped with a pier and breakwater. On the western side of the promontory is located a beach with sunbed rentals. Nearby there is also a Bagni Salvatore, which is a popular municipal bathing area, characterized by clear water and proximity to Roman ruins. The place has three terraces, as well as good tourist infrastructure - there are umbrellas, chairs and deck chairs, there is also a bar and restaurant, as well as a rental boats and canoes.
The site is open daily from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm.
Duomo dei San Filippo e Giacomo
An interesting building to visit is the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Philip and St. James, which has been rebuilt and improved several times over the course of 500 years, beginning in the 15th century, and its current shape bears most of the characteristics of the Romanesque style. Some of the oldest elements of Sorrento Cathedral today are the Renaissance side door, dating from 1474, and the base of the old bell tower, dating from the 12th century - Byzantine elements are preserved in the upper part of the columns.
The interior of the cathedral is built on a Latin cross plan, with a nave and two side aisles. It features a marble altar, pulpit, and many sacred paintings - their authors include Nicola Malinconico and Giacomo del Po. The cathedral also features a 16th-century bishop's throne.
Villa Comunale di Sorrento
About 350 meters from Piazza Tasso, adjacent to the Monastery of St. Francis, is the Villa Comunale park, a famous vantage point towering over Marina Grande, from where there is a beautiful view of the bay and the marina with moored boats. The majestic shape of Mount Vesuvius can also be seen on the horizon. This is a great place to visit, especially for couples who come here in search of romantic sunsets. From the park you can walk down to the marina below - a winding path leads to it. It is also possible to go down by elevator.
Piazza della Vittoria
Nearby Villa Comunale is another excellent place to spend an afternoon or evening relaxing amidst the greenery. Piazza della Vittoria is a square located near the Marina Grande, in its central place there is a green square with exotic trees, where you can relax on a bench, enjoying the view of the Bay of Naples and the hills that form the coastline.
The magnificent Mediterranean atmosphere of the site, which also has an observation deck with an elegant white balustrade, makes this square a graceful walking destination for tourists of all ages.
Museo Correale di Terranova
In the eastern part of the city is an art museum, considered one of the most beautiful provincial galleries in Italy. Here one can find primarily paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries, but not only. Among the museum's collections are also exhibits made of porcelain and glass, bas-reliefs and furniture from different periods. Part of the exhibition is incorporated into the arrangement of the museum's halls, which gives the impression of a kind of time travel and being in authentic rooms of an earlier era.
The cost of a ticket to visit the museum and the adjacent park is €8 for an adult (age 25 and over), €3 for pupils and students between the ages of 11 and 25, children aged 10 and younger can visit the place for free.
Museo Bottega della Tarsia Lignea
About 600 meters to the west of the city's main square is an 18th-century patrician mansion that houses a contemporary art museum. The artifacts gathered here are made using an ornamental technique in which wood plays the most important role. The interior of the museum is covered with frescoes, the walls are decorated with hand-painted wallpaper. Among the exhibits are outstanding works of 19th-century artists who created using the marquetry technique.
Among the museum's collections are wooden inlaid furniture, paintings and other works of art. There is also a store where you can buy contemporary inlays by artists from the region.
The museum is open daily from 10:00 am to 6:30 pm (from April to October, in other months the opening hours are 10:00 am to 5:00 pm).
The cost of an adult ticket is 8€, children under 12 can visit the site for free. Lower ticket prices apply for people over 65 and for young people aged 12-17 - the cost of admission for these visitors is only 5€ per person.
How to get to Sorrento?
The easiest way to get to Sorrento from Poland is by air. Planes of low-cost airlines fly to Naples - the capital of Campania - from such Polish cities as Warsaw, Cracow and Wroclaw. Ticket prices start at just a few dozen zlotys one way.
Z Naples airports You can get by public transport to Sorrento in about 2.5h (the distance to cover in this case is about 50 km).
Beaches in Sorrento
Sorrento is a much more attractive place in terms of beaches than the nearby Amalfitan Coast. First of all, the availability of public beaches and their quality is noticeably better. In Sorrento you can find both sandy beaches and those with rocky shores. A feature of beaches in Sorrento is good access to the necessary infrastructure, such as sunbeds, umbrellas, as well as restaurants and bars.
The beaches in the city center tend to be small and heavily crowded during the holiday season, which is typical of the italian resorts. Due to its proximity to high cliffs, some of the beaches are shaded in the morning, and the sun does not appear on them until the afternoon and lasts until the evening.
Popular small beaches are located in the vicinity of the marina - Marina Grande and Marina Piccola, the substrate here is volcanic sand, and there are clubs and pubs nearby.
Larger, but also located away from the center, is the Puolo beach, appreciated especially by the local population. The beach is divided into two zones - public and paid. The public zone has both a sandy and a rocky part (called Pignatella). The private zone belongs to a nearby club and, in addition to the beach, there is also a terrace. The beach is located about 4 km from the center, the easiest way to get there is by car or bicycle.
The city has a sunny and warm Mediterranean climate. The warmest months here are July and August, when the daytime temperature reaches about 30 degrees Celsius and drops to about 18 degrees at night. These are also the months with the lowest rainfall.
The average maximum temperature of more than 20 degrees Celsius persists in Sorrento from May to October, while it is worth noting that the latter month here is characterized by high rainfall, well over 100 mm. The best months to visit the resort in the off-season are May, June and September, when the weather is comfortable for both beachcombing and sightseeing, and the town is not as crowded as in the vacations.
Sorrento, surrounded by lemon orchards, is best known for its citrus liqueur called limoncello. Regional citrus is also used to make ice cream and cold desserts, which are worth trying while in the city.
A popular local dish is Gnocchi alla Sorrentina, which are Italian noodles made of flour and potatoes, baked accompanied by Parmesan cheese, mozzarella and aromatic tomato sauce. The dish is common not only in Sorrento itself, where it originated, but also in the rest of Campania.
Dinner dishes based on fish and seafood, with traditional Italian pasta, are very popular in Sorrento. An example of such a dish is Scialatielli alle Vongole. The pasta used for this dish is characteristic of the cuisine in Campania, resembling the shape of slightly wider yet shorter strands of spaghetti. The pasta is made by hand from semolina flour, water and salt, with no eggs added. Scialatielli alle Vongole is usually served with shellfish, clams and vegetables. A popular addition to the dish is a sprinkling of pecorino or Parmesan cheese.
Accommodation in Sorrento
The city has an extensive accommodation base, characterized by varying prices. Private apartments and B&Bs dominate the area. Accommodation prices for two people start at around €65 per night in a room of hostel standard. Prices increase with the standard of the chosen facility - for a double room with a sea view, located in a three-star hotel, you have to pay already ca. 95€. It is worth mentioning that these are prices during the holiday season. Outside the strict season it is much easier to find attractive accommodation at an affordable price. The cost of accommodation in early September can be lower by 10-20% than in August. Considering the favorable weather in Sorrento in late summer, it is worth considering coming to this resort after the summer vacations.
Below you will find a map of Sorrento accommodations on booking.com: