Trip Report - Sorrento


Apr 20th, 2006, 11:40 AM
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Trip Report - Sorrento

OK, I'm finally getting to part two of our Italy trip. We started in Rome (see previous posting) for 3 nights. Then we boarded the train for Naples to spend the remainder of our week in Sorrento.

The train ride down was pretty and uneventful (except for being ripped off in the Naples train station by a guy who carried someof our bags and directed us to the correct train and then demanded 10euros per person as a "tip"). The Circumvesuviana train was extremely crowded and we had to stand for about half the journey. Then we were so shell shocked by the experience that we insisted on walking to our hotel rather than try to find a bus or a cab. But, the minute we rounded the first corner on the road down to the Marina Piccolo (where our hotel was located) and saw the blue of the water and Vesuvius rising out of the mist, we were re-energized and fell in love with Sorrento and the whole area.

We stayed at the Hotel Il Faro, having read good things about it in Rick Steves' book and on tripadvisor. As soon as we checked in, we knew we had made a wise choice. The view from our room was amazing, the room was huge and the bed extremely comfortable, the staff was incredibly helpful, and the sun deck was lovely. We went out to the little cafe right in front of the hotel to have a drink and relax after our journey. That night we got a restaurant recomendation from the hotel and went to the Parrucchiano. What a great dinner!!! I had a star shaped ravioli filled with cheese and shrimp and then covered with a lemon/orange sauce. It was fabulous and not something I can get at home! After a wonderful and relaxing dinner, we went back to our hotel and crashed.

The next day we had booked a day with a private driver recommended on this forum - Francesco Marrapese. He picked us up at 9 for a full day tour of the Amalfi Coast. There were 5 of us in the group - my husband and I, another couple, and their 18 year onld son - so we fit perfectly in his brand new Mercedes van. That day was one of our best of the whole trip. Francesco was friendly, knowledgable, funny, and a great driver. His English is quite good and I would highly recommend him to anyone needing a driver or tour guide. The day included: overview of Sorrento, a stop in Positano where we visited the church and the beach, several stops along the Amalfi Coast for pictures and a history of the area, a stop at Casole Ceramiche for our friend to buy the Italian ceramics she had been lusting after, a stop in Amalfi (more on that soon), lunch in Ravello at a lovely restaurant with a great view, and a visit to Villa Cimbone in Ravello. The special part of that day for my husband and I was being in Amalfi. His father had painted a picture many years ago of a location on the Amalfi Coast. His grandparents had both come from the area around Naples and Salerno, but we were never quite sure where this particular painting was. When we got to Amalfi and saw the point jutting out into the water with all of the houses on it and the beach in front, we both knew we havd found his dad's painting. His dad had, unfortunately, never made it to Italy before he died - he had done the painting from a postcard someone sent him. It brought tears to our eyes to be standing in that spot and to think of him and how much he would have loved to be there.

After a rest back at the hotel, we went to dinner at Vela Bianca, the restaurant attached to our hotel. We had a fabulous meal and another episode of deja vu. My husband ordered gnocchi Sorrentino style and when he took his first bite he commented - "This is my mom's sauce". It tasted exactly the way his mom's sauce always tasted, which makes sense since she learned from her mom and grandmother who were both from that area.

Day two in Sorrento involved a trip out to Capri. We took the boat out about 10:30 and had booked a trip around the island, hoping to also get into the Blue Grotto. Unfortunately the grotto was closed as the tide was too high. Darn - guess we'll have to go back ;-)! We took the tour around the island and it was amazing to see those cliffs and caves and the color of the water. Then we went up into the town and found a table in the Piazza Umberto where we had lunch and some drinks and played Hearts for about an hour or so. People walking by stopped to watch and our waiter wanted to know all about the game we were playing. it was warm, sunny, and just about perfect. We then headed off for what had been billed as a walk with an "easy grade". After walking uphill for quite some distance, my husband and his friend turned back. The rest of us continued on until the point of the natural arch and then it became just the 18 year old and I. We kind of got a bit lost and wandered through some trees and out onto the cliff and finally were able to see the three rocks off the coast (the point I had been trying to get to). Somehow we found our way back and decided that we would HATE to see what was classified as a "strenuous" or "difficult" grade. Regretfully, we headed back to Sorrento (although we were glac to be back to our home away from home) and went to dinner at a little restaurant in town the Francesco had recommended.

Day three we took the train out to Pompeii and visited the ruins there. Our friends (the wife in particular) wanted to spend a lot of time there, so we separated after a bit and they wandered for about 6 hours. We stayed for about 2 1/2 hours and then went back to Sorrento. Their son lasted about 4 hours. I have to say, Pompeii was just amazing. I alternately felt awed and then like a trespasser. The frescoes in the House of Mysteries were just amazing in their color and clarity after so many years. We enjoyed just sitting in one of the courtyards and imagining what it would have been like to live there. Then we went back to Soreento and sat in the Piazza Tasso at a cafe named Il Fauno and had some lunch while we watched the people go by. It was again a warm and sunny day and it was so relaxing to just "hang out". Then we wandered through the little streets and shops a bit and returned to the hotel for a rest. When we met back up with our friends, we went for a final dinner at the Vela Bianca again and compared notes.

The next day, we had to leave to go back. We were going back to Rome to fly out the following day and they were going on to Florence for a few days. We took the same train combination back, but with much better luck. We got back to Rome at about 3pm and checked into our hotel. We decided to stay at a somewhat cheaper hotel since it was just for one night and ended up at the Hotel Scott House. It is floors 4&5 of a building right near the Termini and it was actually quite nice. It was clean, comfortable, and convenient. What more could we want! The staff was very nice and helpful and we were able to get to the train station quickly.

That afternoon we wandered up to the Piazza Republica were amazed by the Nayad (Naiad) Fountain there. We went into the Santa Maria Vittoria church to see St. Teresa in Ecstasy (sorry - we didn't think she looked too ecstatic, but it's a beautiful statue) and then wandered into the Santa Maria de Angeles church on the site of the Baths of Diocletian. A stop at a sidewalk cafe for a drink and then a wonderful dinner near our hotel finished off a great trip.

I have to say that the Amalfi Coast area was by far my favorite part of the trip. I loved Rome and I am glad to have gone there, but I would go back to the Sorrento area for the entire week the next time. And since there are still some things we didn't get to do - hopefully we'll do just that !
jcasale is offline  
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Apr 20th, 2006, 01:15 PM
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Thanks for posting. May I ask what time of year you went? We were considering a March trip to the Amalfi Coast this year but were discouraged by some folks due to weather and business closure issues. If you did go in late winter or early spring, was the weather a problem and/or did you find a lot of restaurants/etc. closed for the season?
Brian_in_Charlotte is offline  
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Apr 20th, 2006, 01:47 PM
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thanks for your report. We are headed to the AC and Capri May 4-11th.

What did you like best about your AC portion of your trip?

We are staying first in Capri for 2 nights at Casa Morgano and then 4 nights in sorrento at the Bellevue Syrene.

Any more tips? Sounds like you had a wonderful time.

I'm in great shape ( a runner) so I am hoping all the hiking is actually easy for me? no?

It's 18 of us for our annual trip to Europe and I've been to Italy many times, except this is the first time to the AC. We are all worked out with all events and transportation, etc, etc.

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Apr 23rd, 2006, 09:35 AM
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Hey, I stayed at the Il Faro too, and the dining was some of the best of my trip! My room, however; was the saddest little end-of-the-hall-no-view room, which just propelled me out to enjoy the lovely views.
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Apr 23rd, 2006, 03:38 PM
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To answer some of the questions:
We were in Sorrento the end of March this year. It was our spring break trip from school in Illinois and typically we go to the Caribbean (or last year to Brazil) so I was a little worried it wouldn't be warm enough, but the weather was fabulous. We chose to stay in Sorrento which is bigger because we were worried about places being closed in Positano. As it turned out when we did our drive of the coast, much of Positano was just getting opened up, so our choice was good. It was also a great place to be based as far as getting out and about to Pompeii and Capri.

Tripgirl, sounds like you are in better shape (and maybe younger) than me, so you should have no trouble with the hiking in and around the area. Although I work out pretty regularly, my 50 year old body just doesn't do what I want it to do all the time ! Staying on Capri for a couple of days sounds fabulous. I definitely want to do that next time. And hopefully the tides will cooperate for you to get into the Blue Grotto. Since it is one of the "1000 Things to See Before You Die", we'll just have to go back.

Sheri_lp, you are right about the great views from elsewhere at the Hotel Il Faro. The sundeck is fabulous and I went up there to read and watch the sunset almost every evenign so I wouldn't disturb my husband who was sleeping. When we wandered around, I also realized how fortunate we were in the room we got. Even our friends didn't have as good a view as we did. I would definitely request the same room if I went back - except I can't remember the number ! I think it was 304. I know if was directly acorss from the breakfast room. If anyone if planning on staying there - be sure to request that room.
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