Sorrento, ItalyPosted in Where to Travel to Now
Where in the world is romance intrinsically entwined with the landscape and its people? Seb King hits Sorrento, on the Amalfi Coast, in search of a beauty that intoxicates.
From the nearby city of Napoli and its bizarre airport that resembles a world war two hanger with model planes suspended from its domed ceiling, to the jaw-dropping coastline of Sorrento and it’s armies of lovers. Two hours on a bus separates these two paradoxical worlds. It’s funny how our sense of time and space dissipate when beauty takes a firm grip of our minds.
Rows of lemon, olive and orange trees line the roadside. Each orchard is cocooned in netting, to stop birds from stealing the crop while also preventing fallen produce from spoiling on the ground. The cobbled streets are narrow, uneven and radiate with heat from the incandescent sun. From the nearby town of Sant’Agnello the main hubbub of Sorrento is a good fifteen minute walk from our hotel along a busy road, but this doesn’t stop my girlfriend and I. We’re determined to get our money’s worth and no seven inch stiletto heel is about to get in our way.
“Better bring your flats”, I inform my girlfriend.
“But I bought these wedges especially”. She rests her arm on her hip and slams the pair of high heeled shoes onto the bed. They bounce about an inch in the air before they collapse into the downy mattress.
She pulls a cliché ‘unhappy face’ and lets her fleshy bottom lip hang. Why is it that pretty girls always look so cute when they’re pretending to be upset? “Well it depends if you think you’re going to be able to walk in them”, I reply, stating the case for practicality.
Impulsively, she swivels with lissom ease on the toes of one foot and turns her back on me. I try not to laugh but it’s hard, it really is. From the labyrinth of covers she scoops the pair of wedges into her hands and snaps “I will wear them!” before storming off into the bathroom to change. The reason for her anger is lost on me and I wait by the desk with a book in hand.
Above: Sorrento Is Blessed With A Chronically Stunning Coastline.
The main square in Sorrento is called the Piazza Tasso. This is the epicentre of Sorrento town centre and is flooded with market stalls, designer shops and al fresco restaurants. From here it’s possible to arrange a horse and carriage ride back to your hotel at the end of the night or organise a mini tour of the surrounding area in typical Italian decadence. The Piazza Tasso is also located near the Marina Piccola, but if you’re scared of heights then be sure to take a firm grip of the handrail and prepared to negotiate a staircase that spirals down a cliff face to the Mediterranean.
Above: The Glamorous Streets Of The Piazza Tasso Are Packed With Tourists And Locals Alike.
The Il Fauno restaurant benefits from an outside terrace that stretches into the Piazza Tasso with all the stealth of the invisible man. My girlfriend and I discovered that a fun game was to try and detect who was a holiday maker and who was Italian; it was great fun, especially with a glass of Prosecco in hand and a bowl of giant olives on the table.
Above: Why Not Arrange For A Horse And Carriage Ride @ The Piazza Tasso? It Sure Beats A Double-Decker Bus.
If you’re on the hunt for somewhere to whittle away the hours of the night then your best bet is to head to Bar Insolito
where late night opening hours, urbane decor and champagne await. I think it’s worth a mention that nothing in Sorrento is cheap. Expect to pay around €7 for a pint of Nastro Azzurro, a cover charge should be included in the overall price of your order and if you’re lucky you might be presented with some yummy nibbles. I don’t mind so much when I pay inflated prices for drinks in areas of astounding beauty.
Above: The Fresh Fruit Stalls In The Piazza Tasso Put The Supermarket Fruit & Veg Section To Shame
Unfortunately, the one thing Sorrento does lack is a sandy beach. Expect to shell out €17 to use a deck chair for a day in peak season (May-July) on a prefabricated island that protrudes into the Med but if you, like me, haven’t the cash to sit around on piece of overcrowded concrete then make your way to the Marina Piccola.
Above: The Laws Of Sea Currents And Longshore Drift Dictate That Beach Space In Sorrento Is Hard To Find.
If a visit to the neighbouring island of Capri is on your wish list then you’ll be pleased to know that ferries run from 8am-6pm from the Marina Piccola. Equally, there are a number of reasonably priced eateries around the area that boast sea views. But most importantly, Marina Piccola claims ownership to a beach, although it’s a little dirtied by the boats that come and go it’s free to lay a towel, read a book and dip your feet in the water; it’s also not crowded with preening pubescent teenagers.
Above: The Strip Of Beach @ The Marina Picola Is Enveloped By Over-Hanging Cliffs, A Picturesque Spot For A Convenient Dip.
Alternatively, head west of Sorrento on the Via Capo SS145 to reach a pebble beach called Calcare. In order to access this gem of a beach you have to pay a €4 entrance fee, you will also need to take a lift down to sea level. Calcare is not the biggest beach in the world but on our visit it was far from crowded, the water here is crisp and clean and is overlooked by the ruins of a Saracen watchtower. It took us ages to walk here from Piazza Tasso so if you’re thinking of visiting Calcare or the nearby Amalfi Drive then I’d suggest hiring out motorised transport.
Above: The Pebble Beach Of Calcare Is Worth A Visit.
Closer to home, in Sant’Agnello, we managed to stumble on the La Terrazza restaurant on Rione Cappuccini 20. If it’s breathtaking sunsets and uninterrupted views of the Mediterranean while supping an ice cold beverage you’re after then La Terrazza is the place to head. Watch the speed boats and yachts scrape the sapphire of the ocean with their wake while staying well away from a battle for territory from the humungous seagulls that roam overhead.
Above: The Remnants Of A Saracen Watchtower Overlook Calcare Beach.
Due to La Terrazza’s location on the outskirts of Sorrento the prices at this sophisticated bistro are slightly lower than the majority of eateries in the Piazza Tasso, plus it sports an unrivalled panoramic of an ocean enveloped by gothic buildings that balance preciously on cliff edges. True beauty. On a clear day it’s also possible to catch a glimpse of Napoli and Mount Vesuvius.
Above: The View From La Terrazza Bar And Restaurant Is One To Savour.
Top Tip: Check with your hotel before you travel whether the air conditioning is provided in the hire price of the room. At the Florida Hotel
(where my girlfriend and I stayed) air conditioning was an extra €7 a night and no other form of ventilation was provided (not even an electronic fan). It made us feel unwelcome and plagued the night with an unnecessary, inconsiderate heat all in the name of profit margins. Not what you need when you’re on holiday, especially when you think you’ve already paid enough for the room fee.
Above: The Streets That Branch Off From The Piazza Tasso Are Typically Continental.