Perched on the cliffs along the Bay of Naples, Sorrento is a coastal town overlooking sparkling waters dotted by the islands of Ischia, Capri and Mt. Vesuvius. For many, Sorrento is seen as the gateway to Amalfi, and may just be a quick transfer along the way to Positano or Capri, but that is doing the birthplace of limoncello a great disservice! You need at least one jam packed day in this coastal resort town to soak up the culture and, of course, sample all the limoncello.
One Day Sorrento Itinerary
Breakfast in Piazza Tasso
Start your day in the heart of the well-known Piazza Tasso, Sorrento’s main square, with an espresso and Neapolitan pastry from Fauno Bar. This bar is a longtime local institution, and their large outdoor patio is the perfect spot for people watching while you chart out the rest of your day.
Pop by Il Vallone dei Mulini
As you head out after breakfast, take a little detour to check out Il Vallone dei Mulini (“Valley of the Mills”) tucked behind Piazza Tasso. The remains of an old saw mill lie deep below in a ravine, overgrown by ivy and rare plant species, and make for a fascinating glimpse into another time.
This large, public park along the bay is full of gorgeous gardens, fountains, sweeping views, and a well-known statue of St. Francis of Assisi (Monumento a san Francesco d’Assisi.). The neighboring Chiostro di San Francesco is a picturesque 14th century monastery that now hosts special events and concerts- worth checking the schedule to see what’s scheduled.
Lunch at L’Osteria Del Buonconvento
Eat lunch in the old monastery cellars- donated by nuns to a wealthy local woman who remained dedicated to preserving the neoclassical style wooden columns, vaulted ceilings, grand staircase, and terracotta tiles typical of old Neapolitan architecture. To stick with tradition, order gnocchi a la tomate, Sorrento’s famous pasta dish.
Shop for local artisan goods
A historic coastal port town, Sorrento is known for its artisans- specializing in lace, leather goods, and inlaid wood. Make your way back towards Corso Italia, but follow the narrow cross streets (like Via San Cesareo) and you’ll find tons of little artisans and gift shops lining the streets. Although this is most famous on the island of Capri, you can also pay a traditional shoemaker in Sorrento to handcraft leather sandals that fit to your foot, making for an incredibly special memento.
Sample lemon flavored treats at Limonoro
Sorrento lemons are famous for having a uniquely intense flavor and bright yellow skin that is perfect for making this Italian region’s famous limoncello, a lemon infused liqueur usually served after meals. However, in Sorrento you’ll find limoncello shops and tasting houses where you can sample different varieties of limoncello at any time of day, as well as other lemon infused chocolates, candies and spreads. There are many options, but I can verify that Limonoro will happily sell you a carry-on travel size bottle to take back home.
Drink with a view at Bar Bellavista
Located atop the darling boutique Grand Hotel La Favorita, this rooftop bar offers sweeping views of the Naples Bay, is filled with character, but keeps things casual. Stop for a late afternoon espresso or sip on a limoncello spritz– you’re about to walk it off. The hotel also boasts a beautiful courtyard where you can opt for aperitivo buffet instead.
Eat fresh seafood along Marina Grande
Marina Grande is the old fishing village that comes alive at night with street musicians and light displays illuminating the streets year round. It is truly my favorite little pocket of Sorrento- quaint streets, sparkling waters, fresh seafood and old world Italian charm… need I say more? You do have to take a winding walk down from the city center, but will take in darling passageways and gorgeous views in the process.
Fresh seafood spots line the beachfront, and Trattoria da Emilia is probably the most famous- family run for generations and Emilia is pictured on the menu. I recommend their mussels al limon and fried seafood mix. Fresh is an understatement, the mackerel just melted in my mouth!
Really, I think finding a spot where you like the view and ambiance is key for this dining experience. So if there isn’t a table with a waterfront view available at Emilia, keep walking along Via Marina Grande, peruse the menus (some written out by hand with the day’s fresh catch), and choose another spot accordingly.
Order Delizia al Limone for dessert
I know, I know, a lot of lemon is hitting the itinerary, but that’s what we get for packing it into one day! Delizia al limone is an amazing dessert made of fresh sponge cake filled with lemon flavored custard and drizzled with limoncello-based syrup. Amble back up to city center from Marina Grande and make your way to Gelateria Primavera, where you can order the dessert as a pastry, or mixed into their house made gelato.
Where to Stay
5 star: Gran Hotel La Favorita
4 star: Imperial Hotel Tramontano
4 star: Hotel Palazzo Guardati