Sorrento, Italy: Easy to Love

View of the cliffs that Sorrento Italy is famous for.
View of the cliffs that Sorrento Italy is famous for.

Before embarking on my first ever trip to Sorrento I was warned that it is a place very easy to fall in love with. Being what I consider to be a voracious traveller, having seen some of what are described as the best sights in the world.

I put this to the back of my mind as I head to Italy’s Neapolitan Riviera. On the way we are told that both Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp were spotted there a few days previously. Although not one given to being particularly star struck, Mr Depp’s name gave rise to a flutter in the stomach.

After the hour long transfer from Naples airport we arrive in the high rise resort. I call it this as it sits atop the cliffs which embrace the bays that make up the sun-drenched southwest coast of Italy. Arriving at our hotel, the Villaggio Netauna, the first thing that hits you is the highly organized but laid back air. Staff go about their duties quietly and efficiently you do not notice them.

First Impressions Last

Wandering out onto the sun terrace I was rewarded with a jaw dropping view over the spectacular coastline. With private access to the beach, al fresco dining, and room more spacious than many I have stayed in.  I deliberately go for mid range hotels as I believe this is where the best comparisons can be made. I have to say my very first impression of Sorrento is extremely positive.

After quickly unpacking, and a glass of excellent local wine, its time to head into town to see if the town lives up to the hype. Within minutes we are in Sorrento with its plethora of bustling shops, bars, restaurants and street cafés. The port is pretty special too, and one of the main stops for numerous cruise liners. Not being a big fan of cruising myself, I can already understand why so many ocean weary travellers would enjoy their albeit short time here.

Food Perfection

I have to admit here and now to being a café culture junkie. At Marina Grande I spot a café/restaurant that is pretty busy even at this quiet time of year. Bagni Delfino certainly didn’t disappoint, and you can imagine this place would be jumping when a cruise liner slips into town. There is something about travelling that you don’t realise you are hungry until you see people around you eating. So instead of just a drink we also ordered risotto. I am pleased to report it was one of the best I have ever tasted, and trust me there have been many.

This gives me and my companion an opportunity to plan our sightseeing agenda in a bit more detail. Being a last minute trip this hadn’t been discussed much. He stressed an interest in visiting the frozen in time Pompeii. Ever since I saw a picture of my grandmother taken with Gracie Fields on the island of Capri I have wanted to go there, and he was in agreement.

Up Pompeii

Pompeii, Italy.
The fantastic ruins of Pompeii are near Sorrento. Max Hartshorne photo.

We all know the story of Mount Vesuvius erupting and forever embalming the city of Pompeii, but nothing prepares you for actually being there. Our hearts sunk the day we went as the place was heaving with visitors. The ambience of the place had the desired effect on everyone however as we walked around in near silence. Only punctuated by the clicks of cameras and murmured conjecture about this ancient disaster zone.

Two days later, after enjoying chilling out in the town and indulging in some gastronomic delights in the hotel. All courtesy of the man who brings fresh fish every day, we headed off to Capri. This 4 square mile island has 1200 residents but the numbers in the peak season swell exponentially. An estimated 3,000 hotel guest and 6,000 day trippers invade this tiny isle. I once again am thankful we are here out of season.

Jetfoil to Capri

The jetfoil from Sorrento has us here in just over 20 minutes. You cannot deny it is a lovely place, especially at night when the streets come to life. An unparalleled view is offered across the sea to Naples and Sorrento. And their array of twinkling lights which looks for all the world like a diamond necklace in the moonlight.  The larger island of Ischia is also worth exploring, with far fewer tourists crowding it out.

After another couple of days relaxing on the beach and eating far too well it’s time to return home. Have I fallen in love with Sorrento? Let’s just say I have that heady excitement of a new relationship and those feelings could well develop over time. Maybe next time I will catch a glimpse of Mr Depp to add to a perfect holiday.