This is a somewhat long post - yet it brings tips on everything we did in this beautiful city! :D
Previous Posts: How we got there and Where we Stayed
- What we Did
Right at Piazza Tasso you can take a flight of stairs that takes you down to Pier of Sorrento. There is also a paid elevator – more info on that on the part about the Chiesa de San Francesco. Once at the pier, you find a series of bars and bathing areas. We settled for Peter’s Beach. Coming from Brazil, where the beach is known for being the most democratic area of the country, it is quite something to be reminded that, in Italy, beaches are mostly private. So be prepared to pay for deck chairs, changing areas, seating areas. Prices range a lot and are not cheap, especially if you’re with a bigger group – or simply a family of four, for instance.
We didn’t want to swim nor bathe – we were just getting familiarized with the area – so we stayed at their restaurant, a table under the shade – yay! – yet facing the sea. The place was full of families and children running around – very child friendly, if you ask me. You don’t pay to enter the area if you’re going to their restaurant – because you’ll pay there for what you eat or drink, obviously. We ordered a portion of peperonata – yellow and red bell peppers, prepared Italian style, great! – and it accompanies a batch of bread. The small portion is big enough for three. If your batch is empty they will keep bringing more bread for no extra cost, so behave yourself, you little bread eating machine! As drinks, plenty of water and limoncello. It’s the best thing, besides wine, that you can ever drink in Italy, seriously. Our bill with three or four limoncellos, water and the peperonata portion was around 18 Euro, if I remember it well, or the price of the daily rent of one sunbathing chair.
ELEVATOR AND CHIESA DI SAN FRANCESCO
Sorrento is located some 50 meters above sea level, so once we decided to leave Peter’s Beach and look for other things to do, we decided to try this elevator out. Behind Peter’s Beach there is a path with signs leading to it. The one-way ride costs 1 Euro. It takes you from the city to the pier and vice-versa. There was a small line – small, really – and we needed to wait some three to five minutes to get in. Once you’re there it is really fast and drops you off at a very nice public garden area, with an observation point to the coast. Take your time, it’s beautiful. Out of the elevator and to your right is the way to the Chiesa di San Francesco.
Don’t miss the entrance to the cloister. For me it’s even better than the church itself. There is a small sign on the wall pointing to it. It’s calm, beautiful, picturesque, with lots of green and a few places to just sit, rest and reenergize.
The cloister and church are free to enter and look around. When we were there, there was a wedding going on at the church, so it also becomes quite a thing to just watch those families get together, people interact, have a toast.
VIA PADRE REGINALDO GIULIANI & VIA SAN CESAREO
After visiting the church we started walking around with no real objective. We strolled down Via Padre Reginaldo Giuliani, very close to the Chiesa, and looked at the stores and people sitting at the restaurants. I got myself a nice white hat at the first store in the right corner and we continued a bit. You can find restaurants of different types, little souvenir and clothing stores, and, the star of the street – for me – a store that sells artisanal limoncello. Buy, buy, buy! I’ll never get tired of this, seriously.
We turned left at the cross of this via when it reached Via San Cesareo. There you can find many other restaurants, always with lots of people sitting outside and also some live music – a guy in his piano singing some Italian classics. From there you can see the beautiful bell tower of the Duomo of Sorrento – this red and yellow tower. Continue to the duomo if you wish or turn left for little stores and perhaps some fantastic ice-cream at RAKI – more on the “Where to Eat” section.
Bite me, but I just did not become a fan of this place. Don’t get me wrong. There are some restaurants, colourful buildings, some freshly painted fishing boats and one can relax, enjoy a meal by the sea, or again, rent a chair and stay at their rocky beach. Keep in mind that most beaches in Italy are rocky and prepare yourself for sometimes looking like a drunkard trying to walk, especially if you’re used to Brazilian sandy beaches. We got to Marina Grande by walking. It is quite a walk, including through a car tunnel – maybe it was just the path we got, but we like walking without maps, so I am sure if you plan in advance you can find shorter ways. I also swear we passed by a church although I cannot find it on any map. We saw and decided we did not want to stay at Marina Grande and decided to head to Punta del Capo instead.
PUNTA DEL CAPO & BAGNI DELLA REGINA GIOVANNA
I had heard these were the most beautiful places to see in Sorrento, so we decided to make our way there. There are buses, but we preferred to walk. So we made the way back from Marina Grande and asked some three different people if we were on the right path to Punta del Capo, which they indicated so. Get water anywhere you can. You will walk alongside Via Capo on a small sidewalk until the sidewalk ceases to exist and you literally walk between the cars. So keep to your right, folks! My mother freaked out the whole way through but we made it there alive.
You will then enter a smaller street right to a gas station and also pass in front of the Regina Giovanna parking if you go by car. That is Via Punta Capo. Don’t be fooled, once there you will still have to walk quite a bit, pass in front of this dodgy-looking Kalimera bar/dance club, go through stone streets and eventually through stones and sand. It is totally worth it, because when you see the Bagni della Regina Giovanna things start making sense again.
There were some people there but it was absolutely not full. They were all Italians except us. So now you know why this Spanish queen used to go there for her private swimming time. Crystal clear waters, secluded area, still rocky but absolutely calm and free to swim. It’s amazing, the highlight of the stay in Sorrento. We swam for a bit and decided it was time to continue, so we went up and walk around Punta del Capo a bit. It is again a rocky area, so people lie down on top of the rocks and sunbathe. The view is amazing.
There is a boardwalk and if you continue there you will find a restaurant and more places to sunbathe and swim. More on the restaurant, Lido la Solara, on the “Where to Eat” section.
We made our way back with the bus because well, it makes sense if you value your life. Buy the tickets at the corner store near the stop and pay attention to the timetable, as buses are not so frequent. The bus leaves in front of the gas station / restaurant right in front of Via Punta Capo and dropped us off at Piazza Tasso. There are other stops in between, inside the city. Tickets cost around 3 Euro, cannot remember, but the value is printed on the ticket. One tip is to check the timetable when you arrive and calculate at what time you should head back. Another option is just to go back whenever you want and wait at the bench – like we did. The interval between buses was around 30-40 minutes. Easy to wait if you’re on vacation, but annoying if you have to avoid the not-so-funny small talk of two Italian guys who think it’s funny to pretend they’re mafia members and “want to learn” about Brazil.
IL VALLONE DEI MULINI
Once we got off the bus at Piazza Tasso, we decided to check this spot. It is very close to the Piazza, so we made sure to see it both during the day and during the night, as it creates two completely different atmospheres. The ruins of the ancient mill in the middle of the city absorb you. There are lots of green, running water and one cannot help but wonder how things were. It is located on a valley in the middle of the city, quite something to see. Go back at night to see it, it’s hauntingly beautiful! You see it from the top, I don’t think it’s possible to go down there.