The View from Sorrento

“Look at the sea, how beautiful it is,
it inspires so many emotions,
like you do with the people you look at,
who you make to dream while they are still awake.”
-Torna a Surriento (Come Back to Sorrento)

There isn’t much to see and do in Sorrento. It’s more of a stopover for travelers on their way to elsewhere or for those looking for a relaxing, accessible town; my parents and I stopped there as a base for visiting Pompeii before heading to Capri for a wedding. But that doesn’t mean Sorrento isn’t a beautiful, relaxing destination along the Italian coast.

sorrento harbor
View of the harbor from Piazza Tasso before the clouds dispersed

Spending a day in Sorrento after a few days in the crowds and heat of Rome is pleasant — the sea breeze provides relief from the summer heat while walking the streets. It would be enough to lounge around with a bottle of wine as I stare out at the cliffs that meet the Gulf of Naples, but then what sort of story would I have to tell?gulf of naples

The journey from Rome was less than pleasant — the high-speed train to Naples was wonderful, though the train stations were less than ideal. Upon arrival in Naples, we kept vigilant watch over our belongings as we searched for the train that would transport us to Sorrento.

People hanging out at the harbor in Sorrento

The Circumvesuviana is the worst train in Italy — ask the Italians; they’ll back me up on this. The tracks were laid by Julius Caesar himself (alright, probably not). The only time the train service was improved, Mussolini was in power (this is quite possibly true), and it has been in decay ever since. It’s like riding the NYC subway in the 1980s, but the train is smaller and more crowded. Upon departing Naples station, the hour and a half journey gave us scenery as delightful as landfills, graffiti, and dilapidated structures (not Roman ruins, just modern ruins and neglect). There is no air conditioning on the train and it was pouring–windows were open and the floor of the train was soaked. I was fortunate to use my suitcase as a seat for the 36-station trip.

sorrento alley
The passageway leading to Marina Grande

Sorrento was peaceful on arrival. Little traffic, few people, and sunny skies greeted us as we finally exited the Circumvesuviana. We walked farther than expected as our hotel was more difficult to find than anticipated, but we didn’t mind too much — we took in the local architecture and the mountains in the distance.

Via Luigi de Maio from Piazza Tasso
Via Luigi de Maio from Piazza Tasso

We walked down the winding Via Luigi de Maio to the port — we wanted to see the area and figure out where to catch the ferry to Capri. It was a beautiful sight with the buildings set on the cliff.

marina grande
Marina Grande

I later wandered away from Piazza Tasso through narrow streets and alleys, through ancient structures, down to Marina Grande, another coastal part of town where people lounged on a small beach.


After dinner I watched the sun set while staring out over the Gulf of Naples once more before the rain came in again — the clouds cleared the next day for even better pictures. I headed across the street from the hotel to buy a bottle of wine — I had to return to the shop after I realized my hotel didn’t have a corkscrew (isn’t this considered criminal negligence in Italy?).

Have you visited Sorrento? Did you experience a similar sense of relief and calm?

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