What to do in Sorrento

Sorrento may be small in size, but it is big in reputation. Nestled in Southern Italy along the Sorrentine Peninsula and overlooking the Bay of Naples, this small town is seen as an oasis from which to escape the busy city life of Rome. Gazing out toward Mount Vesuvius and the Island of Capri, Sorrento has an air of serenity that will delight all who visit it.

Sorrento

History of Sorrento

Sorrento has a colourful history, being ruled by Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, French, and Spanish in its past. The name comes from the Greek word for Siren and it was here that Ulysses was said to have been seduced by the mythical mermaids. Inhabited by the Greeks between 474 and 420 BC, the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus stated that Sorrento was founded by Liparus, the son of Ausonius, who was the king of the Ausoni and the son of Ulysses and Circe. During Ancient Roman times, Sorrento’s name was Surrentum.

Things to do in Sorrento

Food and Wine

In the heart of Sorrento lies Piazza Tasso, a bustling hub of activity boasting an array of restaurants and bars. People can be found here throughout the day hunting out a delicious meal to pair with an equally appealing glass of wine. Sorrento offers a myriad of restaurant choices and any true foodie can find their perfect meal simply by wandering around the pretty streets. Due to its proximity to the sea, the local seafood makes a delicious dinner option and it is worth finding a restaurant that cooks it well. Bookings are advised at many restaurants but a lot of them will take walk-ins if that is your preferred option.

Sorrento is close to the vineyards of Mount Vesuvius where the volcanic soil provides the perfect nutrients for making delicious wines but if you want a true taste of the town then you must try the Limoncello. This liqueur is made from the local lemons and is bursting with citrus flavours. In this region, the famous saying could certainly be altered to “when life gives you lemons, make limoncello!”

Old Sorrento

With its narrow stone streets lined with beautiful buildings and shops, Old Sorrento is a fantastic place to explore by foot. It is a historic area, with ancient buildings scattering the paths. Learn about the town’s past as you wander through these incredible historic landmarks. Pop into some vintage shops filling the section, home to many mysterious treasures selling for dirt cheap. Start your day with a coffee at one of the many cafes and finish the day at one of the local restaurants or wine bars lining the cobblestone streets.

The Church of San Francesco

The Church of San Francesco

The Church of San Francesco is both a historic and romantic destination to visit. The front of the church was built in 1926 however the original building, which was made into a church in the fourteenth century, is well preserved. Next to the church is a cloister with a stunning array of plants and flowers bordering the ancient columns. Nestled in the Old Sorrento section, this fairylike world will be well worth the visit.

Sorrento Cathedral

Dedicated to Saints Philip James, the Sorrento Cathedral was built in the 11th century and was rebuilt in the 15th century. As you approach the building you will notice that it has a very modern appearance. This is because the façade was constructed in 1924. Inside, the cathedral is lined with beautiful marble pillars and the walls are adorned with paintings by Nicola Malinconico and Giacomo del Po. The marble altar and pulpit are also impressive features.

Vallone dei Mulini

Vallone dei Mulini

Vallone di Mulini translates as ‘Valley of the Mills’ and the overgrown remains of the mills here are a hauntingly beautiful sight to behold. The valley is located behind Piazza Tasso and can be viewed from Via Fuorimura. It was created by a volcanic eruption that occurred 35,000 years ago and is carved by two rivers – the Casarlano-Cesarano and S. Antonino. The moisture here, alongside the sun exposure and volcanic rock, allows rare plants and ferns to grow and it is fascinating to see nature reclaiming the abandoned mills.

Beaches

During the summer months, the beaches of Sorrento can become crowded so you may need to venture a little further to find your perfect seaside spot. But although it may not have the typical white sandy beaches you’re used to, Sorrento can still provide a fun-filled beach day.

Next to the port in Marina Piccola is a small stretch of volcanic sand beach lined with beach clubs and a small section of public beach. Sun loungers and umbrellas can be rented from the beach clubs. The small fishing village of Marina Grande also has a small strip of sand for you to enjoy and since the seafront is lined with restaurants you can find somewhere to enjoy a drink or a meal after your relaxing beach day.

For a bit more of a hike, travel out to the Regina Giovanna pools, the unique natural pools of Sorrento. Encircled by rocks with a small opening looking out towards the sea, this emerald-tinted oasis is truly an unforgettable sight. Further east along the coast you will find the small fishing village of Marina di Puolo. Sitting within a cove, the village is largely protected from the weather so it can feel like summer even in the winter months. The beautiful waters here are perfect for taking a dip and enjoying the Italian sunshine, any time of the year.