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Sorrento is for Lemons and Lovers

by Debra Bokur

Jul 14, 2019

Debra Bokur

Destinations / Europe

The singular edge of Italy known as the Amalfi Coast has long enjoyed an almost mythical prestige among travelers and romantics. The gnarled, cliffed bluffs rising from the Mediterranean, and the winding roadway with its sheer drop and sublime views has inspired poetry, novels and plenty of proposals.

Sorrento church interior

Sorrento church interior. Photo: Debra Bokur

The string of seaside villages that make up this region are clustered along the Sorrentine Peninsula that parts the waters between the bays of Naples and Salerno. The town of Sorrento serves as a gateway for most road trips in this part of Italy, and as a popular port for a number of cruise lines.

Built within the shadow of Mount Vesuvius and close to the ruins of Pompeii, the small, steep village of Sorrento — known to the Romans as Surrentum — is undeniably charming and romantic, with winding cobbled streets and narrow passageways with seductive views of the Bay of Naples. From bustling Piazza Tasso (named in honor of Sorrento son and 16th-century Italian poet Torquato Tasso), Corso Italia runs from one end of the village to the other. The street and its many tributaries are marked by a heady selection of antique shops, cafés, historic churches and small shops specializing in local handmade lace created by skilled craftspeople using traditional methods.

Sorrento is also a major lemon producer, growing enormous juicy fruits in terraced orchards that are used in the production of limoncello, one of Italy’s most popular liqueurs — and a frequent ingredient in luscious pastries, desserts and ice creams.

Sorrento limoncello shop.

Sorrento limoncello shop. Photo: Debra Bokur

Sorrento lemons are also called Femminello St. Teresa lemons, and convey a heavenly aroma and taste. Beautifully shaped limoncello bottles glinting with the deep yellow liquid are displayed in a host of shop windows, suggesting sunshine caught within glass.

Sorrento street market. Photo: Debra Bokur

Sorrento street market. Photo: Debra Bokur

A wonderful way to experience all this historic location has to offer is with a walking tour. The Sorrento Walking Food Tour is three hours of guided experiences that include more than a dozen tastings of local fare such as homemade gnocchi Sorrentina, sfogliatelle, prosciutto panino and limoncello. The expert-led tour also features a walk through a lemon grove, viewing the ruins of the Valley of the Mills, meet-ups with local chefs and time to explore the inviting shops tucked into the town’s many corners.

Sorrento street market.

Sorrento street market. Photo: Debra Bokur

Sorrento is also the perfect base for daytrips to the nearby islands of Capri and Ischia, and to the ancient sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Ferries, hydrofoils and private boats depart to the islands from Sorrento’s colorful harbor, with frequency of departures depending on the season. To access the fascinating ruins at Pompeii and Herculaneum, the dedicated Circumvesuviana rail line connects Sorrento to Naples, with a special stop for Herculaneum at the small station at Ercolano. Disembark here, and a road running downhill leads to the site’s entrance. The trip takes about 40 minutes each way, while boat service to the islands runs roughly the same amount of time by ferry, and faster by hydrofoil or private boat.

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