I love to travel, and whilst it’s not something I am able to do on a frequent basis, it is something I am eager to make the most of. Recently I was extremely lucky to have the chance to visit Sorrento with my boyfriend and his parents. I have actually visited Italy in the April of this year where I went away on a city break to Venice with two of my friends, and whilst it was as beautiful as you would imagine, it was extremely busy and slightly touristic in nature. When I got the chance to go back and explore a different, more peaceful part of Italy, I was ecstatic.
Sorrento is a coastal town which is situated in south-western Italy, facing the Bay of Naples. The town is mostly perched atop cliffs famous for their views, with said cliffs separating the various marina’s from each other. Whilst famous for the freshest lemons, with trees growing in abundance to make the Italian staple that is limoncello, Sorrento is also firmly associated with mermaid’s. Whilst here, I was actually told by a local guide that Hans Christian Anderson actually visited the town and was so inspired that he wrote what later became The Little Mermaid! Whilst I cannot verify the accuracy of this, it was certainly an interesting though to consider.
Whilst here we stayed in the Hotel Admiral (website here), which is situated in Marina Grande. Despite its misleading name, this is actually the smallest of the Marinas in Sorrento, and provided a wonderful base for the holiday which was ever so slightly away from the more highly populated areas. Whilst small, this area was teaming with restaurants, with the specialty being the fresh, local fish which is caught daily. Having tried some of these (food round up coming soon) I can firmly agree that they are well worth visiting. Additionally, just a short walk away (albeit up an incline: below right photo) is the main centre of Sorrento, as well as paths which lead to the other larger Marinas.
The hotel itself was small, yet busy. Our board basis was breakfast and evening meal, and whilst we did eat breakfast everyday at the hotel, we weren’t massively impressed with the food. My boyfriend is a chef, and whilst I could argue he had high standards, even I could see that the food was quite basic and did not really conjure the Italy so famed for its cuisine. On the other hand, we were in Italy, the home of the most amazing, fresh and wholesome food, and pizza is my favourite dish to eat, so we were always going to dine out no matter what the hotel had been like. Food aside, the staff were very friendly, and the drinks were made to a great standard by the bar staff.
What really sells this hotel however, is it location. It is one of the only hotels which is directly on the harbour front overlooking the water, with the most delicious views of the sun rising and setting, as well as that of the local fisherman heading out on their boats. in the photo below you can actually see how the hotel directly overlooks the water. To the left of this, you have Capri, the island which is named as home to the rich and famous, whilsrt directly in front of the hotel, across the water, you have Vesuvius, the volcano famed for destroying the entire of Pompeii in the catastrophic eruption of 79 AD. All in all a pretty spectacular view!
The volcano itself is just over an hour’s drive away, as is Pomepeii. Being this close to such an historic location we were determined to explore it as best we could. Firstly, we did a trip to Pompeii arranged by Thompson. I would highly recommend this, as not only did it run all day and keep us engaged, it is also incredibly easy for those taking part, with the minibus picking us up from the harbour, a meal included, and most importantly, a guide. If you are considering doing Pompeii I would highly recommend this! Pompeii is not only large, but incredibly hot in the summer and confusing to navigate in the heat. People are actually said to get ‘ruin fever’ and become completely lost in a daze. Not only did the guide thankfully navigate us safely around, we were also given details about Roman life which really enriched the experience to a degree we would not have achieved ourselves. I’m not the greatest of photographers, but hopefully some of the images below can evoke the sense of awe which made this trip so brilliant. In the bottom left photo you can actually see the close proximity of the Volcano to Pompeii!
This day trip also included another stop off in the afternoon to Herculaneum. Although nowhere near as infamous as Pompeii, this location was also destroyed by the Volcano eruption of 79 AD, but was actually preserved in a very different way. Pompeii was a victim of the toxic volcanic ash and pumice which rained down on the city, burying it under 4-6 meters. The organic matter left holes in the debris which experts realised they could use to create moulds and thus see what had once been there, hence the plaster cast people who died in such disturbing positions (above image). Herculaneum on the other hand, was destroyed by the heat and the lava, meaning that the city and its organic based matter was preserved in a much different way, with the actual skeletons of hundreds of people who tried to flee kept intact. This was as poignant as it was horrific to see in reality! What fascinated me most about this place was the fact that for so long they did not even know it was there, and a whole new town has been built around it. This means that only a small portion of Herculaneum has actually been excavated, with many more mysteries still hidden underneath!
The other trip we did was to Mount Vesuvius, the volcano itself. During the time we visited Sorrento a lot of Europe had been suffering under a heat wave, one which they rather aptly named Lucifer. Because of this, a week or so before we arrived there had been extensive forest fires on the volcano and surrounding areas, which meant that the roads leading to it had been closed to public transport. Sadly, the trip Thompson runs was unable to take us up, however, they did provide us with the option of hiring a private car, which although pricier, was well worth the money. I was actually surprised by how far the car takes you, with the actual walk to the top of the volcano being nowhere near as long or as tiring as I had imagined. It was well worth the ascent for the views, which stretched right across the coast. It was simply breathtaking to see the Volcano and to come to grips with how the very shape of it was changed by the eruption of 79AD. Well worth a visit, and something exciting to tick off my bucket list!
I would thoroughly recommend Sorrento. Not only is it a beautiful place, with great Summer weather and friendly locals, it is also not as highly concentrated in tourists as many other staple Italian locations such as Venice and Rome. I have travelled with Thompson on several occasions now and have found the service to be great every time. Booking with a travel agent certain takes the stress out of everything, and leaves you the maximum amount of time to explore a beautiful location!
Has anyone else been to Sorrento? What did you think?
Package Holiday on Thompson: http://www.thomson.co.uk/destinations/europe/italy/neapolitan-riviera/sorrento/hotels/hotel-admiral.html
Hotel Website: http://www.admiralsorrento.com/en