Sorrento was the last stretch of our 2-week trip through Italy, and to me it felt as if we saved the best for last. In our 3-day stay, we caught the sights in Positano, Amalfi, Ravello, and Pompei. In the middle of May, we experienced the glorious sun in Southern Italy. The beaches, the food, and copious amounts of limoncello make for amazing memories.
What to do there
We took an early morning ferry from Capri to Sorrento. Early morning ferries tend to be less crowded and it allowed us to get to Sorrento earlier in the day. After reaching the port of Sorrento, we took the local bus to the Circumvesuviana train station. Our room was close to the station, and we walked rest of the way from the station.
After checking in, we made our way to the Sorrento city square. The grand square has many shops and restaurants connected to main route into the city. An amazing energy fills the air as you take a walk through the sights with local Sorrentines. Walk around shops to try the different Limoncellos, recipes passed from one generation to the next. Lemons are a local favorite and their amazing size and flavor are included in the cuisine as well.
We made our way to the Hotel Astoria, located in the heart of Sorrento. Known for beautiful views from their rooms, the hotel boasts about the perfect location and their service. Though we did not stay overnight, the bar and restaurant are worth a visit. The décor is picture worthy and ambiance is perfect to enjoy a drink, or two while watching the sunset.
As the lights came on across the city, we made our way to the Aurora Light restaurant. Located in the square, we sat on the patio with a perfect view of the city. The music in the square with the constant laughter in the restaurant made one of the best meals for Mrs. CurryOnTravel and I; the perfectly cooked Eggplant Parmesan also helped. The bread was soft and took in just the right amount of the local olive oil.
The next morning we took the SITA bus to Positano. About a 30-45 minute drive, the bus drove through the hills and stopped at Via Cristoforo Columbo. The sights are familiar if you ever saw a picture of Southern Italy, with houses and shops stacked in the hills. The inclined roads of the hill are overlooking the ocean, with black sand beaches. Depending on the time of the year you visit, you can get in a quick dip in the hard water. Be sure to visit the Ceramica Assunta, known for their ceramic designs.
Positano is a good stopping point for sunbathing. You can spend the time wandering through the city during the day, and watching the sunset at the beach by the late afternoon. The area is not a party scene on the beach, though several yachts are always floating in the ocean for just that purpose. You will find many tourists on the main road, trying to get the perfect picture. Ask the locals for the best spot and you’ll find plenty. Stop by La Zegara for some pastries and coffee, or head to Hotel Covo dei Saraceni for their famous lemon sorbet. Many restaurants provide a perfect view of the ocean; enjoy your meal at Mondo Bio or Le Grazie with a view.
Hacking Tip: The SITA bus, which leaves from the Circumvesuviana station provides the perfect transportation to coastal areas of Positano and Amalfi. Leaving every hour or so, the luxury buses (with air conditioning) allow day-trippers to visit the sights on a budget. You can purchase the bus tickets at the station. Take the first 8:30/8:45 bus to avoid the lines later in the day. There are stops throughout Positano and Amalfi coast, though the bus may not always follow the scheduled times exactly.
The following day, we took the SITA bus to Amalfi Coast from Sorrento. Little farther than Positano, the Amalfi Coast is located on the opposite side of the coast. After taking pictures by the beach, we visited the Duomo located in the city. As we walked the streets, we stopped at Pasticceria Savoia for some rum baba and pastries.
View from the beach
From Amalfi Coast, you can take a second bus to a small town of Ravello. Less than 5 miles from Amalfi Coast, it may take you another 30 minutes to reach Ravello due to the hilly track. The trip is worth it to visit the remote town located high in the hills. Walk the streets and you’ll feel as if you’re taking a trip back in time.
The Villa Cimbrone Garden is located close to the Ravello square. There is an entry fee, but for 7 euros, it is a bargain to get a grand view of the Mediterranean coastline. Walk through the greenery to see the busts of different Roman Gods and Goddesses. The view from the Terrace of Infinity cannot be beat during late in the afternoon through the sunset.
Lavendar on the vines
The rest of garden feels like a villa, because it used to be. Spend the time going through the courtyard and take pictures of the Gothic additions to the original Venetian architecture.
Coast as far as the eye can see
After the Villa Cimbrone Gardens, we toured rest of the town, which consists of the Duomo, restaurants, and olive-oil shops. Visit the shops or take the Frantoio Gargiulo tour; even if you have no interest in buying olive oil, taste the different types and you might just change your mind. Mrs. CurryOnTravel really enjoyed the truffle oil.
Our last day in Sorrento fell on the first Sunday on the month. Lucky for us, this meant that the ruins of Pompeii are open to the public at no cost. We took the Circumvesuviana train to the Pompei Scavi stop. Depending on the day, the trip could be as long as an hour from Sorrento.
Hacking Tip: Though the Circumvesuviana train provides a great route between Sorrento and Naples, be vigilant on the train. There are a lot of wandering eyes, searching for easy tourist targets. Do not carry too many valuables, and keep them in tight grip. The stories of the train are usually exaggerated; however, it never hurts to be cautious.
The ruins are located at a walking distance from the train station. There are many guides outside the ruins, you can negotiate with them or book a guide in advance. Audio guides are also available for rent. Our advice is to have a guide of some sort to make the visit more interesting. The ruins are massive, and depending on the interest level, you can spend a few hours to an entire day. The famous areas of the ruins are The Temple of Jupiter, Roman baths, Lupanare, Amphitheater, and Vetti’s house.
Ruins of Pompeii
Destroyed in 79 AD, due to the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, it is interesting to imagine what busy city this must have been. The construction is simply marvelous, to truly stand the test of time and last this long. You can view Mt. Vesuvius in the distance, and some tourists visit the dormant volcano following their trip to Pompeii.
The three days in Sorrento were a perfect ending to our trip to Italy. Our eyes never got tired of the sights, and as we took the bus back to Rome, we were wishing we had another day in this amazing city.
How to get there
There are many ways to get to Sorrento, or other areas of the coastal towns. From Naples, you can take the train to Sorrento; or from Capri, you can take a ferry to Sorrento; and if nothing else, you can take a bus from Rome to Sorrento.
To visit the towns of Positano and Amalfi Coast, you can drive or hire a driver for a personal tour. Ferries are also available to travel between the towns.
Where to stay
Our stay in Sorrento would not be the same, had it not been for David. David’s apartment is located in a safe neighborhood, close to train station and a quick walk to the heart of Sorrento: the main square. David was a gracious host and provided much needed information to plan our trip. He told us about the bus that leaves from Sorrento takes you all the way to Rome. This saved us both time and money. You can book David’s place here. Thank you David!
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