Monday, 18 August 2014


This year, I went on my first 'proper' holiday in 3 years! Apart from a trip to Rome in 2012 and Krakow earlier this year, the last time I actually went away was to Spain in 2011.

I've always promised my friend Mel that we'd go away but I've never been able to afford it, so as soon as I got some semblance of money together we started looking for places to go. We're both quite different; I like an active holiday, and am not very good at lying on the beach for a week, whereas Mel loves being by the sea, so we had to make some compromises.

One place I've always wanted to go is Pompeii, and Mel agreed, so we started looking for places on the Amalfi coast that had some kind of beach (it tends to be rocky, rather then sandy around there). There were a few places we considered, but Sorrento seemed the most appealing, so we went ahead and booked it!

We stayed in a nice hotel called 'Settimo Cielo' (Seventh Heaven) up in the hills, around a 15 minute walk outside of the main town centre. It was basic and comfortable, and the staff were lovely (even when Italy beat us in the first match of the World Cup!); the one thing that really made it was the view over the Bay of Naples, with Vesuvius right in front!

 We spent the first few days wandering around and getting our bearings. There were three things that we really wanted to do while we were there; Pompeii and Vesuvius, Capri and Naples. Other than that, we were happy to explore and see what we could find.

Sorrento's main street is called the Corsa Italia, and although it's the road that leads to everywhere, it's also a place to avoid. The few shops and restaurants on here are overpriced, tourist tat, aimed at those too lazy to look elsewhere. Turn left off the street however, and you find yourself in a maze of backstreets with amazing restaurants, cute souvenir shops and lemons as big as your head! Of course there are places to avoid here as well, but you soon learn to spot them and find the gems amid the madness.

The street directly parallel with the Corsa Italia is the main souvenir street, and the streets perpendicular are the ones with the restaurants. We aimed to go somewhere different each night (although if you're on a little bit of a budget and aim to avoid the tat, your choice becomes somewhat limited) and I think I ate pizza six nights out of seven! My favourite restaurant was called La Basilica, tucked away on a side street close to the train station, and we ate there a couple of times. Great pizza, wine and dessert - what more do you need in Italy?!

There are three main marinas in Sorrento; Marina Grande, Marina San Francesco and Marina Piccolo. The Marina Piccolo is the largest (of course, because that makes sense(!)) and is where the ferries and hydrofoils to Naples and the islands leave from. The Marina San Francesco is the one in the middle, with a small beach area, and the Marina Grande a small, rocky area close to our hotel. We never actually visited the Marina Grande (although we could see it clearly from our room), but there are jetties there where you can rent a sunbed and umbrella for a day so you can swim in the sea).

Sorrento is built into the cliffs, so descending to sea level involves a fair amount of steep steps; not too bad on the way down, but it would have been a killer on the way back up (we're talking hundreds of steps in around 35C heat). Fortunately, Sorrento is a tourist town and someone has had the bright idea of building a lift into the cliff. For just 1 Euro (or 1.80 for a return) you can save yourself the climb back up, and I can safely say it's one of the best Euros I have ever spent!

One of my favourite things about the area, is that it's famous for its citrus fruit - specifically, lemons! I first heard about Limoncello in Belinda Jones' 'I Love Capri' (more about that later), and my friend Ellie made it when we were in Sixth Form. I've had it previous times I've been in Italy, but I was really looking forward to it here. Everywhere you walked, there were stalls with lemons as big as your head, and everything had lemon in it. What I didn't realise about Limoncello in Italy however, is that rather than Vodka it's made with 80% ethanol! It took me around an hour to finish my first shot - tasty but any more and I'd have been drunk on the spot.

If you ever go to Sorrento, I'd definitely recommend staying outside of the centre, if only for the views. We were fortunate enough to be walking distance from town, so we had best of both worlds (although we did get drenched in the frequent evening thunderstorms), but even if you're higher up in the hills there are regular shuttle buses into town.

The train station was around 30 minutes' walk from our hotel, with regular trains running to Naples, Pompeii and Ercolano (for Vesuvius). The Marina Piccolo was around the same distance, and it was from here that we got the ferry over to Capri. We never actually made it to Naples (we happened to visit during a heatwave, and after two days of sweating and avoiding heat stroke, we decided that it just wasn't worth it. I will definitely be returning to the Amalfi Coast, so I can always go back in the future). It's so easy to visit other places from here, and there's bits and pieces to do in Sorrento itself, even if only to sit amongst the lemon trees with a gelato!

Controversially, Sorrento is currently one of my favourite places in Italy, even beating Rome (although that could be explained by the fact that I'm a countryside girl rather than city, even if I am a major history geek!) Amazing food, amazing location, amazing views and lovely people - there's not much more you can ask from an Italian town, and I shall certainly be going back. Not for a while though - there's more to explore first!

No comments:

Post a Comment