Visit Sorrento | Complete Travel Guide 2021
by Giuseppe Morvillo
by Giuseppe Morvillo
Complete Guide to Sorrento
With it’s spectacular views, delicious food, pristine beaches and fantastic scenery, it’s no wonder Sorrento is one of the most visited destinations in Europe. It’s also very budget friendly and great for a good day trip or as an ideal base for exploring the fascination region of the South of Italy from Naples to the Amalfi Coast, to Capri and the Pompeii ruins.
Sorrento is also known to be very safe and more pleasant compared to any other town in the area as the city offers both charm and enjoyment with a numerous amount of places for you to admire natural beauty, feed your historical interest and explore the cultural sites. In this guide we have put together for you a complete guide of the absolutely must-see parts of the town.
- Sorrento | Marina Grande
- Sorrento | Cloister of San Francesco
- Sorrento | The Old Town
- Sorrento | Villa Comunale
- Sorrento | Baths of Queen Giovanna
- Sorrento | Food and Culture
- Sorrento | The Old Churches
- Sorrento | Piazza Tasso and Corso Italia
- Sorrento | Museums and Cultural Events
- Sorrento | The Valley of the Mills
Marina Grande in Sorrento
Considered an absolute favourite spot by many of our guests, Marina Grande is definitely worth a visit. The colourful and picturesque fishing village sits on the edge of the bay and is a great place to enjoy a drink on the side of the dock as well as enjoying something delicious to eat from one of the many seafood restaurants.
You will be able to find a variety of local trattorias with amazing traditional Italian meals and very reasonably priced, all on the waterfront with an amazing and buzzing atmosphere. During the summer, especially on the weekends, evening can become very busy for dinner.
You can also find here the tiny church of Sant’Anna which is well worth a visit and if you’re lucky enough to be in Sorrento during the month of July there is the Festival of St Anna that takes place where you’ll be able to see the whole of the Marina Grande lit up beautifully. The cafes, hotels and restaurant on the edge of the sea often host special dinners and parties for the firework show at midnight on this day.
Cloister of San Francesco
Just a five minute walk from Piazza Tasso, you will find the most popular spot for weddings and concerts in Sorrento’s city centre. Situated near the Villa Comunale park, a serene environment surrounds the small thirteenth-century cloister of the Church of San Francesco. One of the most dreamiest places with a mixture of style from different periods, with its vines and bright bougainvillea, the Cloister of San Francesco its a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the rest of Sorrento.
We can’t think of anywhere else in the world that could be a better setting for a wedding ceremony that the courtyard of the cloister, there is such a romantic and peaceful atmosphere here and its perfect for an intimate venue.
Considered the heart of Sorrento, the Old Town is a mixture of little streets anchored by Piazza Tasso and Via Capo at end each and nestled between Corso Italia and the coastline. This area is mostly pedestrianised and it even still preserves some of the medical buildings, Antichi Palazzi with facades typical of the 13th century, original decorations and ancient churches. The main streets are lined with hundreds of lemon related products and leather shops.
In the centre of the Old Town, at the junction of Via San Cesareo and Via Padre Reginaldo Giuliani you will find the Sedil Dominova, a 17th century grand building that used to be a meeting place for the towns nobles and now is a retreat for retired working class men. The Old Town buzzes with life and warmth of the locals, the craftsmen still work in the traditional way with their hands, the smell of lemon and orange scents linger in the air and in the evening music from the bars, cafes and restaurant bring the streets to life and you’ll see the beautiful mixture of local people and its visitors mingle and socialise.
Considered ‘Sorrento’s Room with a View’, Villa Comunale gardens sit on the clifftops of the Peninsula and its the perfect place to relax and take some pictures of the most beautiful scenery. This public park greets you with all of its beauty from the stunning views of the Bay of Naples to the Sorrento Coastline and Vesuvius, an absolute must visit when in Sorrento. The park is situations on a hilltop next to the Cloisters of San Francesco and is also near the Hotel Tramontano.
It’s a small area with a few benches but a lovely area to take a stroll through the garden filled with beautiful flowers or to have a drink or ice cream in the cafes and restaurants overlooking the sea. Inside the Villa Comunale garments you will find the lift that takes you down to the Marina Piccola harbour and its beach clubs, it’s located on the left corner of the garden and only costs €1 for a single trip. You can also walk down the steps from where you will see the most incredible views, we suggest to walk down by these stairs and then return back up using the lift.
Baths of Queen Giovanna
If you’re wanting to get away from the busy beaches of the Amalfi Coast, I would highly recommend visiting the Baths of Queen Giovanna, a stunning spot with a Roman Villa and an exclusive natural swimming pool. You can enjoy a tranquil swimming experience as well as a picturesque walk around the cliff tops which will give you the best views of the bay, from May until the end of September.
If you walk along the other side of the ruins and follow the wooden pier around the rocks you will find an amazing waterfront restaurant and bar called Lo Solara, perfect if you’re wanting to spend the whole day there. La Solara is one of the most popular place in Sorrento and a fantastic spot where you can enjoy delicious meals and a glass of wine while watching the sunset right over the water, you can also swim until late, don’t miss out!
Food and Culture
Food in Italy is a very serious topic and in Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast there are many wonderful and delicious meals you can enjoy, we guarantee you will eat like a King or Queen. A strong part of Italian Culture, our food has many amazing options and varieties, it can often be very hard to decide what you want to eat first and where to dine. From traditional local restaurants and Michelin star to romantic settings and unique locations, Sorrento offers it all.
The most common feature you will find in all of the places you dine is the quality of its fresh produce and traditional values. In our magazine you can find our reviews on the best restaurants to enjoy fresh fish, seafood, traditional pasta dishes, tasty desserts and amazing pizza.
You must not forget to try the most famous liquor of Sorrento, Limoncello, produced using only the peel of the lemons grown locally. Via San Cesareo is Sorrento’s Old Town is lined with many shops selling lemon products from biscuits, pasta and perfume to chocolates and even soap but of course you can also find these in supermarkets and grocery stores.
The Old Churches
Besides the Cathedral of Sorrento that is located on the main street Corso Italia and considered the main Church of the Peninsula there are also many other holy places with also deserve to be visited, not just for their architectural beauty but also for the amazing history and their artistic masterpieces. In fact, churches are a core part of the culture and the history of Sorrento, they are very well preserved and during Holy Week the host many events, rituals and processions to keep the religion and traditions alive.
Piazza Tasso and Corso Italia
Piazza Tasso can only be described as the heartbeat of Sorrento and Corso Italia is it’s main artery. When looking for a place to stay its best to consider this main square as a point of reference to find well located accommodation, situated close to the train stations, restaurants and the Old Town. Bordered by bars, cafes and restaurants where you can relax with a drink and watch the hustle and bustle of Sorrento or enjoy a good pizza in the square.
All roads lead you through Piazza Tasso that separates the pedestrian area of the Corso Italia from the areas which allows traffic. If you are travelling with luggage we recommend you look for accommodation on the first part of Corso Italia, where cars and taxi’s are allowed to stop there for limited times.
Set in a lovely garden in Sorrento’s City centre you will find the Museum Corrale di Terranova, born from a private foundation commissioned by the Counts of Terranova who arranged for their art collections, ordered in the Correale Villa to create a museum named after them. The collections are displayed across three floors, with a total of twenty-four rooms including an attic recovered now used as an exhibition space, the museum is also described as ‘the most beautiful provincial museum of Italy’. The gardens of the villa are very beautiful and also open for the public to visit.
Sorrento is also famous for the historical craft of the marketing and inlaid wood and in the Old Town there is also a Museum of Inlaid Wood with a collection of art pieces, a painting gallery featuring scenes of last century, maps and portraits. It’s highly recommended for those who love ancient art and craft who want to learn why Sorrento was featured on the Grand Arts Tour of Europe in the 1800s.
The Valley of the Mills
This stunning valley is recognised as one of the most fascinating abandoned sites photographed in the world. You can find this hidden treasure walking through the city of Sorrento, just behind the central Tasso Square. It’s outstanding to see this beautiful old mill nestled into the valley below, known as the deep Valley of the Mills (Il Vallone dei Mulini). You will see an old flour mill which was used for grinding wheat for nearly a thousand years before it was abandoned during the 19th century.
Now the ruins’ roof is covered in a tangle of plants and branches, as if nature is trying to consume the building. Today, access to the valley floor is discouraged, so we advise you to take in the views from the street high above. To see the ruins and vegetation in more detail, bring a set of binoculars with you or a camera with a good zoom lens to see its beauty in depth.