Sorrento Travel GuideIntroduction
The town of Sorrento, or “Surriento” to locals, is located in Campania, along the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy. It is a popular tourist spot, and though the town itself lacks any major sights and actual beaches, it makes a very good base for those who wish to visit other coastal towns, Capri, the city of Naples, as well as the famous sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum. This lovely town is perched on the cliffs that overlook the Bay of Naples, and on a good, clear day, one can see the Isle of Capri, Naples itself, as well as Mount Vesuvius because they’re that close to Sorrento.
As for its history, Sorrento is believed to have originally been established as a Greek town, particularly when the land was conquered in 6 BC. Later, they were conquered by the Samnites, and from that point on, began its reputation as a favorite vacation destination by affluent Romans. Later, still, the Byzantines took over, and the town remained under its rule until 9 AD. Over the centuries, Sorrento saw many shifts in power as various factions and families fought over the territory and conquered it. At the same time, there was also the problem of pirates that they had to deal with, which led to the creation of the many towers, lookouts, and high walls that we can still find in Sorrento today.
Thankfully, by the 18th century, the conflicts ceased and the town began to settle into its role as a vacation spot, and these days, it continues to maintain that reputation. On top of that, thanks to the influx of British tourists over the past few decades, Sorrento has an abundance of tourist-friendly establishments and facilities, and many of its locals speak English.
What to See
Duomo di Sorrento (Santi Filippo e Giacomo Cathedral)
The town’s Duomo is a structure that was first constructed in the 11th century, and over the many years has adopted many different styles to add to itself. Its doors are from 11th century Constantinople, while its prevalent Romanesque style is the result of a renovation that was performed in the 15th century. The base of its belfry hails from the time of the Roman Empire, while its façade is from the early 1900s. Meanwhile, its altar, pulpit, and bishop’s throne are from the 16th century. Other than this eclectic mix of features, though, it is also worth seeing the paintings on its ceilings that were created by painters and artists such as Nicola Malinconico.
Holy Week Processions
If you happen to be in Sorrento during the Holy Week, keep an eye out for its two main processions called the Procession of Our Lady of Sorrows (or the “Visit in the Sepulchres”) which happens on Maundy Thursday, and the Procession of the Crucified Christ, which is held on Good Friday. These two events focus on the Virgin Mary and her search for Christ, and her eventual discovery of his death. The procession wind down Sorrento’s main streets as it stops by many of the local churches for a short ceremony. It involves hundreds of participants and aides that accompany the Madonna during her trip from place to place, and the event also includes male choirs and bands.
One of the things that Sorrento is famous for would be its locally-produced wooden inlaid furniture. There are many shops that sell everything from small wooden souvenirs and trinkets, to large pieces of furniture, and there is also a museum (the Museo della Tarsia Lignea) that is dedicated to educating visitors about the history and development of this craft within the town.
Other Points Worth Noting
- Via San Cesareo, the main shopping street
- Chiesa di San Francesco
- Roman ruins at the Punta del Capo
- Museo Correale di Terranova
- Marina Grande, the main port of Sorrento
- Piazza Tasso, the main public area of Sorrento
- Church of Santi Felice e Baccolo
Tips and Advice
- As mentioned previously, Sorrento makes for a good starting point and base for exploring nearby areas along the Amalfi Coast. Though it doesn’t have a dedicated airport or train station, the town is still well-connected to the local transport networks and visitors can easily take day trips to places like Capri, Ischia, Naples, Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius, etc, via various shuttle, ferry, and bus services.
- Make sure to drop by the tourist offices to pick up free copies of local maps and transport schedules!
- Available accommodation at Sorrento can range anywhere from budget to luxury, so rest assured that there will be no lack of tourist services or facilities in this town.
- Be aware that Sorrento has no actual beaches. Instead, you can take a dip in the sea by making use of one of the stone or wooden bathing platforms that can be found at the foot of the cliffs.