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Sorrento - Italy

Jane Labous makes an authentic Neapolitan pizza and enjoys views of Vesuvius in this lemon-scented city, surrounded by olive groves on the Amalfi coast of Italy.

Travel Time 2hrs 50min

Why go?

Balanced, quite literally, on the soaring limestone cliffs of Italy’s Amalfi coast, with uninterrupted views of Mount Vesuvius in the distance, Sorrento is undoubtedly a holiday town. The gentle hues of its sherbet-coloured buildings, stacked up the rockface and into the hills amid tall cypruses, olive groves, lemon trees and plum orchards, have attracted many a film crew. Stroll the pedestrianised streets and you’ll find everything from leather to huge local lemons (seriously, these things are big), while the jagged coastline, dropping straight down into the blue Mediterranean sea, offers plenty of spots for swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing.

What to do

Start with a walk down to the Marina Piccola, the town’s ‘little’ harbour where everything happens. Fishermen quietly cast for mullet and anchovies off the pier, while ferries buzz in from the islands of Capri and Ischia, just off the coast. Watch the world go by with an ice cream in your hand – or simply sunbathe on the special floating decks created for the sun-worshipping Italians. From here, several flights of stone steps wend their way uphill to the old town, a puzzle of streets lined with pink and primrose buildings, where market stalls sell lemons and tomatoes and shoemakers craft sandals in every imaginable style. Piazza Tasso, lined with cafés, is where everyone sits outside with an espresso and watches the street theatre – boys and girls zoom past on scooters and the occasional spat breaks out, Italian-style, between moped rider and car driver. Sorrento’s main museum, Museo Correale, has Italianate treasures from 17th and 19th-century Naples, and the ornate interior of the Duomo church is equally impressive. A stroll away, the medieval cloisters of the Chiesa di San Francesco look straight out across the sea to Mount Vesuvius. Most visitors to Sorrento also take the 30-minute boat trip out to Capri, where you can ride a cable car up to the summit of Monte Solaro and see Sorrento and the entire Bay of Naples stretched out in front of you. Don’t miss the Path of the Gods – a series of dazzling scenic walks criss-crossing the hills around Sorrento (sorrentoinsider.com).

Where to stay

The Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria (0800 008 7299, exvitt.it) on Piazza Tasso is the oldest, most elegant hotel in town. Built in 1834, it’s seen everyone from Luciano Pavarotti to Princess Margaret come down to breakfast, and you’ll feel as if you’ve been whisked away to a bygone era as you dine in the grand ballroom, whose frescoed ceiling, bursting with cherubs, dates from the 1800s. Maison La Minervetta (00 39 081 877 4455, laminervetta.com) is a more modern affair, clinging to the cliffs with spectacular views of the bay, while Bellevue Syrene (00 39 081 878 3963, bellevue.it) has its own sunbathing platform.

Where to eat and drink

There’s no denying the practicality of Sorrento’s lemons; not only are they larger than life, but they’re used to make everything from the local liqueur – limoncello – to lemon chocolate, lemon soap and sweet lemon gelato. Of course, ice cream is the order of the day, every day, in summer here; the best place to try it is Gelateria Bougainvillea (bougainvillea.it), where it’s handmade by Nino and Gianluca Cioffi in over 70 flavours. You can take an ice cream making class at Gelataria David on Via Marziale – stroll into the shop to organise a time. There are cheese tastings at Inn Bufalito (innbufalito.com) on Via Fuoro, which serves Sorrento-style cheese fondue, local sausage salisiccia and buffalo meat carpaccio. Try local pasta with rock fish sauce or gnocchi alla sorrentina, gnocchi with tomato and mozzarella, at Michelin starred Ristorante Il Buco (ilbucoristorante.it) in the Marina Piccola, or head to Il Giardiniello (00 39 081 878 4616) on Via Accademia for classic pasta e fagioli, pasta and white beans.

Time running out?

Try making pizza with the chef at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria. He’ll show you how to knead the dough, spoon on the tomato, mozzarella and basil and shovel it into the pizza oven. It looks simple – but wait until you taste the result!


Travel Information

Travel Information

Currency is the euro. Sorrento is one hour ahead of GMT and is a two hour, 50 minute flight from London (Sorrento is a half hour drive or bus ride from Naples).

Getting There

Easyjet (easyjet.com) flies regularly from London Gatwick and London Stansted to Naples.
British Airways (ba.com) flies to Naples from London Gatwick.


Sorrento Tourism (sorrentotourism.com) is a useful resource for planning your trip.

Average daily temperatures and rainfall

Min Temp456812161818161285
Max Temp121215172226292926211613

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