It’s really the case to say it: “Winter is coming“. But let’s not fret. Winter is coming, it hasn’t come yet. While autumn winds blow our city towards December, the air stings our cheeks in the morning and trees dress themselves of a last red before stripping down with the cold, there’s still hope, we still can look for warm places. And there’s a place that keeps the heat of summer longer that any other place: Sorrento.
Sorrento is one of the cities of the Divina Costiera (as Anna Magnani called it in one of her movies) that remain lively throughout the year, but it is special in those moments of transition between spring and summer, and between autumn and winter. It only takes three days to enter a full relax mode. The Milan-Naples flight is very short, and after, instead of renting a car (and pushing your luck driving on one of Italy’s busiest highways) we recommend the hydrofoil: in 40 minutes you arrive in Sorrento, and it feels like a mini cruise in one of the most beautiful gulfs in Italy.
WHERE TO SLEEP
Once in Sorrento, our advice is to stay at La Minervetta, a cozy maison on the sea, a really special place, with a lodge that gives you the best view on the gulf. Where the attention that are given to you are visible even from the care for details and in the wonderful interiors. All the members of the staff are very kind and helpful, ready to provide you with the best tips on the area: not just restaurants and bars, but also shopping addresses, itineraries, and even a list of shops where many of the things you see in the hotel are available for purchase.
A curiosity about the place is that the owner has decided to furnish each room in a different way: in a similar style, but using different mirrors, lamps, books, design pieces and antiques, collecting these items in course of his travels. You might well fall in love with a drinks coaster, a plate, a catalogue for an exhibition, a piece of ceramics.
The entrance hall is very large and has three beautiful windows that overlook the sea and the Vesuvius. On the terrace every morning breakfast is served by two lovely ladies who are capable of pleasing any palate (I think I haven’t tried this many egg types anywhere else): muffins and homemade pies, pastiera, cakes and Neapolitan almond pastry, cannoli, cereals and a choice of teas wider than the one in Buckingham Palace. What will astound you, always, in every corner, are the colors, the creativity and combinations. Even a simple breakfast table becomes a palette of a painter.
The terrace is also the place for a mini aperitif that is served every day at five o’clock, perfect for a break before returning to the room in the evening to admire a breathtaking panorama. The twelve rooms are all beautiful and overlooking the gulf of Naples and Marina Grande, which can be accessed from the terrace by taking the stairs. The hotel is connected by a stairway to the Marina, where one of the seaside resorts is reserved for guests.
WHAT TO DO
If you want to explore the surroundings or make a longer stop, you can take a boat to Capri or Positano or stay in Sorrento and go to the splendid Regina Giovanna’s Baths, a natural swimming pool among the rocks beaten by the sea. If you just want to relax chatting with guests from all over the world, you can spend the entire weekend of your fuite between the hotel and the beach, which I especially recommend, because in the evenings you will be forced to go out for dinner and have plenty of opportunities to see Sorrento.
Walk through the historic center, a labyrinth of narrow streets with lots of shops and restaurants. There’s plenty to visit: a real hidden gem is the 14th century cloyster of St. Francis Church, which is great if you wanna sit in the shadow and fend off the midday heat. If you want to travel through space and time visit the Nymphaeum of the ancient Roman villa of Agrippa Postumus, that are now part of the Bagni Salvatore. Autumn is the best time to visit them, that is avoiding the botherings of the overcrowding. In the middle of the cliff’s rock there are man made arcade and hald-sunken rooms adorned with mosaics. A truly beautiful spectacle.
You surely can’t miss the Cathedral, baroque on the inside and neo-gothic on the outside, or the Basilica of St. Antoninus where the relics of the saint are kept, You could also spend a relaxing afternoon in Villa Fiorentino, where there are often art exhibits and events, but that also has a wonderful park famous for its flowers.
To complete your escape, you need a sunset. Here are some perfect spots: the always crowded but very romantic Villa Comunale and Terrazza Marinella in Sant’Agnello, an area before Sorrento.
WHERE TO EAT
Inn Bufalito is a modern bistrot with an authentic flavor, which, as its name suggests, offers many varieties of mozzarella and buffalo cheese, as well as many dishes of Neapolitan cuisine. The meals are light and creative and eating here will definitively improve your vacation. If the weather is good and the seats are available, try to eat outside: you could have your lunch or dinner in one of the little alleys of Sorrento. Try ricotta di bufala and Caprese pie with lemon. Inn Bufalito also has its own boutique ideal for some gourmet shopping before departure.
To have a classic dinner by the seaside, you can opt for Bagni Delfino, where the catch of the day is served in a small port. The view you have from this restaurant is simply priceless and the staff just great: even in the middle of touristic craziness its memebers don’t stop being kind even for a second. This is a really classy place and the food is great.
If you’re traveling across the panoramic route that goes from Sorrento to Positano, take the chance of having a lunch in the magical Nerano bay. Lo Scoglio da Tommaso, the restaurant on the water that you’ll find here, is a somewhat mandatory destination for every weekend on the Costiera, a true monument among the local restaurant: it was one of Gianni Agnelli’s favorite places, who usually had lunch here when he was around Sorrento. The amazing De Simone family will welcome you in this restaurant by the sea, trust their advices and get carried away by the flavors of their cooking. You’ll try the best zucchini spaghetti of your whole life.
You can’t leave Sorrento without buying a lemon soap and limoncello candies to be stored only in the fridge when you return home. We advise the Terranova factory shop; you can go straight to the estate or buy the products in the city center.
Not all the souvenirs are edible: the coast is famous for sandals and Sangallo caftans. Those of Sandali Siniscalchi are 100% customizable. Those by Antica Sartoria by Giacomo Cinque, instead, are world famous by now. (even in a small town in Florida there is a shop) but here you will find one of the first stores with a wide range of clothes and braided cloth necklaces. For something really special, such as paintings, home accessories and futuristic bijoux, you have Unica Concept Store. As you maybe already know, the Campania region is famous for its Christmas tradition, so in Sorrento there is a Christmas Shop open all year round.
Photo credit Cover Picture © La Minervetta