May 1st bank holiday is coming up this weekend and this year I am off to the Cotswolds for a little British getaway. I rarely travel in England, so thought this was a good opportunity to see a place in my own country I have never been, so watch out for a post on that very soon!
Last year I was still living in Italy over this bank holiday, so I thought I’d do a throw back post to how I spent my long weekend in… Sorrento!
Travelled in: May 2016
About an hour outside of Naples lies Sorrento, a pretty little coastal town which acts as a gateway to the Amalfi coast. The area is full of history with many roman ruins and the site of Pompei within the region. It is also known for its lemon groves which in turn gives you some of the best Limoncello you will drink in Italy. Sorrento made for the perfect bank holiday weekend away by the sea, with great food and amazing picture perfect views.
Arriving in Sorrento…
Sorrento was the other end to Italy to where I was living in the North, so I took a flight from Venice down to Naples and then hired a car to get to Sorrento from the airport, which is about an hours drive away. Most airlines fly into Naples from the UK.
Staying in Sorrento…
For somewhere to stay I used my trusty favourite booking website, Airbnb. I stayed in a room of someone’s house which was perfect, just outside the city center. As Sorrento is such a popular holiday destination hotels can be really overpriced, so it’s definitely worth checking out what Airbnb has to offer in the area. If you do have a hire car try and get somewhere with parking as parking in the center is a nightmare and pricey!
Travelling in Sorrento…
Sorrento is a walk able city, but bear in mind the landscape is fairly hilly! To travel around the surrounding area you will probably want to hire a car. I hired a car from Naples airport, I was straight away warned at the desk that there were a lot of car thefts in Naples, so make sure you get all of the insurance to cover yourselves just in case!
Eating in Sorrento…
Ristorante Bagni Delfino – This seafood restaurant is one of the highest rated on trip advisor in Sorrento, so I had to give it a go! It is located on Marina Grande, again slightly out of the center and down a very steep hill, but it is well worth a visit here as it was absolutely amazing. I ate the most incredible seafood risotto, was given the best service, whilst looking out at the most beautiful view of the sea and the marina. It would be wise to book a table if you want to come here as it is always packed.
N’hambù – This place was really close to where I was staying so slightly out of the center in a more residential area of Sorrento, but worth a walk there if you get a bit bored of pizza and pasta and want something a bit different! N’hambu is a really cool hole in the wall street food burger restaurant with a small, but great menu. You can create your own burgers as well and I highly recommend getting a side of patatine as they were some of the best chips I ate in Italy!
Pizzeria Franco – Amazing lunchtime eatery if you are a fellow pizza lover… Super cheap and cheerful, nothing fancy at all, but the pizza is great and very reasonably priced for the portions you get.
3 Days and 2 Nights in Sorrento: My Itinerary…
Capri – The island of Capri was one of the main reasons I wanted to visit Sorrento as it acts as a gateway to the island. You can get a high speed ferry over to Capri from Marina Piccola which only takes about 25 minutes and they depart very regularly, particularly in the summer months.
If you are just doing a day trip to Capri I would highly recommend planning what you want to do and see as getting around the island can be quite time consuming and complicated.
First on our agenda was the famous Blue Grotto (Grotto Azzurra). This was something I had been recommended to do by a few people, so felt like it was a must whilst on the island. You need to get a boat tour to the grotto and you can buy tickets for this as soon as you get off the ferry, it costs around €20. The boat will take you to the grotto and then you have to board a smaller rowing boat in order to get in to the grotto, this costs an additional entrance fee plus a tip for the rower of the boat. The smaller boats only seat about 4 people so you could be waiting a while for your turn to enter. The skipper will row you through a small break in the rock to enter the grotto where you will be greeted by a cave pool of glimmering blue water. (Remember to duck when the skipper pushes you through as it is very low and narrow). The whole tour only lasts about 5 minutes as the actual grotto is tiny, some of the skippers will probably have a little sing song as well… it’s a similar experience to a Venice gondola! When the skipper drops you back on the bigger tour boat you then have to wait for the rest of the tour passengers to have their turn in the grotto which can take quite a while… To be honest the whole experience is very overrated. It is all a massive tourist trap and a bit of a waste of money. It is a nice thing to see if you have time, but not essential, especially if you are on a budget!
When we were dropped back off after our Blue Grotto tour, we took the bus up the very steep and windy hill to anacapri. This in itself is an experience as you are literally hanging off the edge of a cliff with amazing views of the sea, your life in the hands of a crazy Italian bus driver…
When we got to anacapri, we had had hopes of getting on the cable cars up to the top of Mount Salaro, however we got there just as they were closing for the last ride of the day, so unfortunately were not able to board! So we took the opportunity to strole around the pretty narrow streets with the aim of ending our day at the famous Villa San Michele – didn’t quite make it here before closing time either but regardless anacapri is absolutely beautiful and definitely worth a visit!
On your way back down the hill to the marina you should also pay a visit to Piazza Umberto, and if you have time Marina Piccola on the other side of the island.
Explore Sorrento – The center of Sorrento is really small and there are many narrow streets lined with shops, restaurants and gelaterias to explore. There are 2 marinas – Marina Grande which is an old traditional fishing harbour and Marina Piccola which is a large port where you can catch ferries to surrounding areas such as Capri and Naples. Both harbours are lined with restaurants and in Marina Piccola there is also some beachy areas with sunloungers and swimming pools – Leonellis Beach is one of the places you can go to catch some rays.
There are loads of lemon gardens all over Sorrento, a lot of them free to walk though. I had a strole around L’Agruminato citrus garden. If you love Limoncello, Sorrento is the best place to get it!
Due to it’s hilly terrain Sorrento is a great place to go hiking. If you are prepared to walk far/high enough you will come across some incredible views!
Not quite a hike, but a short walk away from the main town center you can find some roman ruins – Villa di Pollio Felice. You can walk here from the center in about 40 minutes, it is uphill most of the way so wear comfortable shoes before you set off!
When you have finished exploring the ruins YOU MUST pay a visit to Lido la Solara, we stumbled across this place by pure accident, we noticed a boardwalk which was broken, but decided to walk across anyway and see what was hiding behind the rock, and we came across this bar. It was shut for a private party and renovations before the Summer season kicked in, but the owners invited us in to join the party anyway and it was such an amazing afternoon and a great place to chill out, have some drinks and watch the sunset!
Pompei – No visit to this area of Italy would be complete without a trip back through history in Pompei. The story of Pompei is one I remember the most from school geography and history lessons and a place I had always wanted to visit! Back in 79 AD the whole town and surrounding area was covered in volcanic ash and pumice during the eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius killing everyone and everything in its path. It is crazy that the town is still so intact and walking around you really get a sense of what life would have been like. The Pompei site is huge so take your time and follow the recommended routes so you don’t miss out on anything! The crazy thing is Vesuvius is still an active volcano so there is nothing to say history can’t repeat itself and wipe the area out all over again.