Sorrento, Italy is full of charm as it sits among lemon and orange groves south of Naples. The small town’s 55 meter cliffs rising above the sea make for the perfect view for a relaxing holiday. Below are the best sites and activities for anyone lucky enough to visit Sorrento:
Stroll Around Piazza Tasso
The heart of Sorrento is its busy Piazza Tasso. As the center of the city, Piazza Tasso must be the first stop of every tourist as it really gives you a feel for the culture of the city. Piazza Tasso is surrounded by small streets that are begging to be explored.
There are tons of opportunities for shopping and many family restaurants where you can enjoy incredible local dishes. Foodies should make sure to visit a pastry shop as Piazza Tasso has some of the best pastries in all of Italy (the Caprese almond cake is a classic). Local favorite pastry shops include Frankie’s Bar Pizzeria and Bar Pasticceria Fiorentino.
Visit the Marina and Take a Ferry to Naples
Few things feel as majestic and peaceful as a ferry ride along the coast of Sorrento. The two harbors of Sorrento, Marina Grande and Marina Piccola extend along the steep cliffs. Marina Grande is typically more interesting for tourists to visit as people can see more of the local hustle and bustle.
Marina Grande, which is counterintuitively the smaller of the two marinas, has an exciting boardwalk atmosphere as it is lined with seafood restaurants, terraces overlooking the water, and has a village view small fishing.
However, since most of the ferries leave outside of Marina Piccola, it is recommended that you spend your morning in Marina Grande then head to Marina Piccola for your adventure. At Marina Piccola, you’ll find ferries and boat tours to Capri (20-minute ride), Naples (30-minute ride), and more.
In fact, an avid traveler Ryan Gibbs stated, “Sorrento is the ideal base from which to explore the rest of the Amalfi Coast, including Capri, Ischia and Positano. Even attractions such as Naples and Pompeii are easily accessible from Sorrento, which is located on the sea overlooking Mt Vesuvius and surrounded by citrus trees and charming streets of southern Italy.” Sorrento ferries are a perfect way to appreciate the beauty of the Sorrento coast while also exploring new areas.
Visit the Cloister of San Francesco
This monastery dedicated to Saint Francis dates back to the beginning of the eighth century, and is a powerful piece of Sorrento’s history. When you visit, look for pieces of previous structures in the building. For example, three of the corner columns were once part of pagan temples.
Other highlights include the monastery’s vine-covered cloister dating back to the late 13th century. These vines beautifully complement the building’s two strong, crossed tufa arches as also its round arches above octagonal columns.
What makes the Cloister of San Francesco so special is that it has constantly adapted to Sorrento as it grows. The same eighth century walls of the building now host concerts and art exhibits during the summer. In addition, in the nearby church, which dates back to the 16th century, there are several Renaissance chapels that are fun to explore.
Tour the Correale di Terranova Museum
The Museo Correale di Terranova has been described as “Italy’s most beautiful provincial museum.” The museum began with art collections from the Correale family’s many homes in Sorrento and Naples. In 1428, the Queen of Naples Giovanna II d’Angiò gave the Correale family, for the services rendered to the Court, land that extends from the first gate of Sorrento to the sea.
Consequently, the Correale family became one of the richest families in Italy. The Correale’s are proud of their extensive art collection, especially in their 17th and 18th century paintings. Their museum also features European porcelains (including Meissen, Sevres, and Capodimonte), as well as Bohemian glass and Murano.
Relics from the Augustan era, furniture from various periods, and Neapolitan paintings complete the museum’s extensive art collection. The museum has much of the artwork and paintings displayed in various rooms around the house, as opposed to gallery style, to give a sense of what life was like in aristocratic homes. The gardens of the villa are also beautiful and worth a visit.
Stop by the Basilica of Sant’Antonino in Piazza Sant’Antonio
The Basilica of Sant’Antonino is an oratory or chapel that dates back to the ninth century and is dedicated to Sorrento’s patron saint Sant’Antonino (San Anton Abbat). The building was then developed into a church in the 11th century. The Roman columns as well as other pieces recycled from previous buildings are still part of the building today.
The history accumulated in the Basilica of Sant’Antonino is evident upon arrival as locals cherish this building as it has been a gathering place for the community of Sorrento for hundreds of years. In fact, in the crypt, there are silver offerings that people used to bring to the Basilica.
The crypt also contains historical paintings that were previously saved from being lost at sea. There is a local tradition surrounding San Antonino’s fame for sea rescues as he once saved a boy from Sorrento who had been swallowed by a whale. Inside the church, you will see bones that are believed to be from the same whale. The Basilica is located in Piazza Sant’Antonio, which is a fun and colorful part of Sorrento that is great for shopping and exploring as well.