All posts by Richard Edwards

Ballerì – Shoes with a zest for life

Balleri shoes in Sorrento

Ballerì offers a range of ballet flats hand crafted in Naples with the finest materials. Creative designs by the owner, Gaia de Lizza, encapsulate the colours, traditions and styles reminiscent of the Neapolitan Riviera to match the mood and occasion of the day, be it playful, chic or just chilling out.

The quality of materials and workmanship together with innovative designs lift these flat shoes to a higher level. The Ballerì collections offer a choice suitable for all holiday activities and occasions, from beach party to restaurants or classical concerts.

Balleri shoes Sorrento

Lemon Soul Collection
This is Ballerì’s signature collection with embroidered lemon icons presented on satin and printed cottons in various styles. The range includes sling back, cross and ankle band. Perfect for the holiday spirit and as a reminder of good times on your return.

Eleonora Collection
Ideal for smart casual occasions such as concerts, cocktails, dinners and of course la passeggiata (traditional Italian evening stroll) to see and be seen. Available in suede or leather in different colours.

eleonora
Carla

Carla Collection
Less formal and possibly more casual smart, this round toe style is also available in suede or leather in a choice of colours. Cocktails on the terrace anyone?

Ballerì Boutiques
The Sorrento boutique is just off the main square, Piazza Tasso, but if you can’t wait until your vacation then visit Ballerì’s Online store. This shows the full range of styles and colours to help get you in the holiday mood.

Sorrento: Corso Italia 187
Capri: Piazzetta Cerio 7

Balleri Boutique Sorrento

Autori Capresi Exclusive Linen

autori-capresi-linen-sorrento

Cool linen and a warm welcome

We first discovered Autori Capresi in June 2012 during a passiagata through the narrow streets of historic Sorrento. The shop entrance exuded coolness and drew you in from the sultry street air to appreciate a wonderful selection of exquisite and unique hand crafted clothing using the purest and lightest linen. The owner, Antonio Truppa, and his family are passionate about their linen and the production of high quality customised clothes and accessories.

Carefully selected hats, belts, scarves and sandals complement the linen colours and styles to keep you looking and feeling cool. There are outfits for all ages suitable for ‘lay back casual’ to ‘smart casual’ occasions. Perfect for your Neapolitan Riviera vacation and irresistible presents for the grand children!

Autori Capresi Accessories

Not surprisingly such originality and quality have attracted a worldwide following with visitors becoming members of an exclusive client base. Demand from the Sorrento and Capri outlets together with customised orders from existing clientele means there is no online store. All the more reason to add Autori Caprese to your ‘must see’ list during a visit Sorrento or Capri.

Further examples from the Autori Capresi collections can be seen on their promotional video below and the website with links to instagram and facebook.

Autori Capresi Promotional Video

Outlets

Sorrento: Via P. R. Giuliani 21
Capri: Via Fuorlovado 5

San Carlo Opera House in Naples

san-carlo

(All year)

Opera lovers visiting Sorrento should take the opportunity to visit the magnificent San Carlo Opera House in the heart of Naples.

2019 offers a wonderful programme of ballet, classical concerts as well as operas including Madama Butterfly in May and Traviata in Sept.

You can view the full programme at the official website.

Watch this video to get a flavour of what you could enjoy during your visit.

Villa Fiorentino

Villa Fiorentino Events 2019

(All year)

View the the official programme of events taking place at the Villa Fiorentino throughout the year. This includes an exhibition of more than 90 works of art by Henri Matisse.

Here is a more detailed review courtesy of Villa Fiorentino website, translated by Google.

The first exhibition will be the third edition of “SORRENTO IN ARTE” by the Associazione Pittori Sorrentini, presided over by Raffaele Iaccarino.
The collective will remain open to the public from 2 to 27 February, free admission.

On the 2nd, 3rd and 4th March there will be the XVI edition of the EXHIBITION OF CAMELIA, curated as always by the Garden Club Penisola Sorrentina. Camellias from the gardens of the Sorrento Peninsula will be exhibited as potted camellias. The last day will be dedicated to school children. Free admission.

From 9 March to 6 April it is the turn of the anthological painting by Nico Taminto entitled “IN THE SIGN OF MAN – A RULE OF ART”. The works realized in 50 years of activity will be exhibited. Free admission.

From April 10 to May 1 on display the excellence of the artisan Sorrentine Peninsula in the event “MANU FACTUM”. The members of PenisulArt will each bring their own piece to represent all the sections: crib art, violin making, jewelery, fashion, ceramics, ceramics, inlay, cabinet making, metals, poor art, artistic glass, photographers, sewing, painting, modeling and sandals. Free admission.

From May 3 to May 6 a three days dedicated to “THE ART OF TEXTILE AND EMBROIDERY”, review curated by the Cooperative “La Sirena arl” chaired by Mrs. Carmela Scala, in collaboration with the Association “Il Punto Sorrento”. Free admission.

From 11 May to 9 June the third edition of SyART FESTIVAL – SORRENTO LOVES ART will take place, an event dedicated to artists from all over the world that has an annual cadence and that has seen in the last edition 32 artists representing 5 nations.

The flagship event of the cultural vintage of the Sorrento Foundation is represented by the exhibition “HENRI MATISSE – IL MAESTRO IN SCENA”, which will be exhibited in the rooms of the villa, over 90 works that retrace the 35 years of career of the French painter With particular attention to the imprint that the artist gave to the theater and to the creations to effect From 15 June to 17 October, admission fee.

And as usual the last part of the year will be dedicated to the most magical party of the year with “CHRISTMAS IN VILLA FIORENTINO”, with rich news. From December 1st to January 6th 2020.

A rich year to live under the banner of culture and tradition for guests who will visit Sorrento, but also opportunities for the citizens themselves who want to enjoy Villa Fiorentino as a place of art and leisure for leisure.

Ravello Concerts

Ravello Concerts 2019

(April to November)

Visitors have a choice of concerts featuring works from classical selections to enjoyable jazz performances.

The concert start time from 1 April to 3 May and 9 Sept to 1 Nov will be 6.30 pm, to take advantage of the public bus service at the concert end, which is reduced in Winter and Spring.

The concerts from 6 May to 5 Aug will be performed at 8.30 pm (8.00 pm from 2 to 7 Sept) for concert goers to have time to appreciate thoroughly Ravello and to enjoy music in the cool of the evening

2019 Programme

The Art of Wood Inlay in Sorrento

Inlaid Box Sorrento

Visitors to Sorrento will not fail to see examples of the traditional art of wood inlay (intarsia) in all kinds of products, from small souvenir items to intricate pieces of furniture. Examples on a grander scale can be seen on the main entrance and side doors of the Cathedral. These include work done in the 1990’s by local artisans, Guiseppe Rocco and Vincenzo Stinga.

This traditional craftsmanship has passed the test of time and produces stunningly beautiful works of art for modern as well as traditional home interiors. Beyond the souvenir items you will find furniture and decorative accessories that will inspire anyone with a flair for interior design looking for a ‘statement’ piece.

Inlaid tables from Sorento

The Gargiulo & Jannuzzi Store on Sorrento’s main square, Piazza Tasso, offers superb examples of inlaid products to satisfy the creative imagination of any interior designer. These include exquisite decorative boxes and larger statement pieces, all blending traditional workmanship with contemporary tastes.

The Jannuzzi Store has a huge selection of products on display and offers customised design and delivery services. An introduction to the techniques used by the craftsmen is also provided. You get an idea of the range available from their website.

Inlaid boxes from Sorrento

There are a number of other workshops to be discovered in Sorrento where local artisans manufacture a wide selection of traditional and contemporary designs, see below.

To see the development and application of wood inlay since the 19th century, visit the Wood Inlay Museum and Craft Shop (Museo Bottega della Tarsia Lignea) in the beautifully restored Palazzo Pomarici Santomasi on Via S. Nicola, which is a 10 minute walk from the centre. Exhibits include furniture and objects with incredibly intricate wood inlay by past masters of the craft together with pieces from contemporary designers.

Inlaid objects from Wood Inlay Museum in Sorrento

View this video to see a small selection of wood inlay items together with other historical artefacts on display at the Museum. More information can be found on the official website of the founder Alessandro Fiorentino.

Other workshops
Stinga Tarsia. View their excellent video showing the making of a classic inlaid box. www
Cuomo’s Lucky Store. www
Augusto & Luca. www
Calemma. www
Gargiulo Inlaid. www
Biagio Barile. www

Classic Cars Tour of Sorrento and Amalfi

Classic Car Club Napoli in Sorrento

(1 to 4 Nov)

Magnificent machines from the Napoli Classic Car Club touring the beautiful Amalfi Coast and beyond. An opportunity to see a unique collection of classic cars as they tour the Sorrento Peninsula with visits to Sorrento, Positano and Capri. They will be based at the Exclesior Vittoria Hotel in the centre of Sorrento so there should be opportunities to see them arrive and depart on a number of occasions.

For details view the official programme.

Cocktails at Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria

Signature cocktail menu at the Excelsior Vittoria in Sorrento
Selection from the 20 Signature Cocktails

The menu at Bar Vittoria takes a leisurely trip around the world, from Portugal to Germany to Cuba and Japan and eventually back to Italy, with each country inspiring a cocktail. The Madame Bovary from France, the Bollywood from India, the Tartan from Scotland and so forth. The clifftop terrace has stood since 1834 – when the hotel became a favourite stop on the Grand Tour route – and since then the bar has served whiskies to Jack Lemmon, champagne to Marilyn, and pretty much anything a monarch, opera singer or film star might fancy.

On our visit we tried the Flauto di Pan, a take on the Peruvian classic Pisco Sour, delicately flavoured with pineapple and pomegranate. A refreshing aperitif with enough complexity to keep you interested. Then from Italy the Stradivari, a kind of Aperol Spritz/Negroni cross, adding limoncello and moscato wine. And from the US, maybe our favourite, the Marilyn: a boozy after-dinner sipping drink made with bourbon, Ancho Reyes (a chili liqueur which gives a little kick) and Amaro 18 – Italian bitters made with aromatic herbs. There’s also a little waiter theatre to enjoy…our Stradivari was poured and topped with prosecco in front of us from a silver trolley, and the ladies at the neighbouring table enjoyed a live martini-mixing.

The Flauto di Pan
The Flauto di Pan (“panflute”) with Vesuvius in the background

The signature cocktails were created by head barman Gerardo Oliva, whose CV includes the Capri Palace in Anacapri, and the Castello del Nero Hotel & Spa in Tuscany. And there are lots of little menu details that nod to history or culture or local mythology. The Liquore delle Sirene pops up in a few drinks, an Italian liqueur of 23 botanicals including Mediterranean fruit and flowers, Asian sweet spices and bitter roots from the Americas. It’s used in their Parthenope cocktail, named after a Siren in Greek mythology. (The Sirenusas are an archipelago of islands between Capri and Positano – the name a reference to the sirens said to have lived there and lured sailors to their doom.)

The prices here aren’t for the faint-hearted: the cocktails are 18 euros each. But, remind yourself, this is a once-in-a-lifetime drinks experience. And to soften the blow, they don’t skimp on the nibbles. At the very least you can expect a generous trio of crisps, toasted almonds and big sweet green olives (according to a quick internet search, Castelvetrano olives from Siciliy). We were also brought a plate of tasty amuse-bouches – cream cheese and chorizo in shortcrust-pastry boxes, miniature pizzas, and bitesized basil and mozzarella sandwiches.

Cocktails and canapes at the Hotel Excelsior Vittoria in Sorrento
Champagne cocktail, the Stradivari and snacks aplenty

It goes without saying that you can order off-menu – the barman will make any classic cocktail on request. We had a great gin martini the night after too. For me, the only things missing from the menu were a few good craft beers. Granted it might not be their priority (and maybe Campania hasn’t been hit by the craft-beer craze like the UK) but it couldn’t hurt to add to the omnipresent bottle-of-Peroni.

The bar hosts live music every Friday night, including international jazz artists. On our visit, a quieter Wednesday, there was a pianist on the terrace playing the traditional Italian songbook – Torna a Surriento etc.  I personally find this kind of music a little sentimental, and preferred the modern tracks they had in the background later into the night. (Hearing a contemporary sound in a historical setting can be strangely magical.) That said, some might consider a traditional soundtrack part of the Excelsior experience.

View from the bar terrace at sunset
View from the bar terrace at sunset

And then of course there’s the view. Honestly it’s a fight to not spend the whole time reaching for your phone – and I did find myself wishing that people were a little less phone centric – because the sunset is breathtaking. If you’re visiting Sorrento but not staying at the Excelsior, you’d do very well to head down to Bar Vittoria (check beforehand what time the sun sets) and see for yourself why it’s such a firm favourite.

by Sam Edwards
www

Sorrento Vintage Market

Sorrento vintage market

(August)

A chance to discover something unique, perhaps a hidden masterpiece, a work of art, a momento, or just enjoy the wonderful setting of the Chiostro S.Maria della Grazie, Piazza S.Antonino, in the heart of old Sorrento.

Sat 5 and Sun 5 Aug
Sat 11, Sun 12, Mon 13, Tues 14 and Wed 15 Aug
Sat 18 and Sun 19 Aug
Sat 25 and Sun 26 Aug

From 10 am to 9 pm

Excelsior Vittoria – 6 years on

Excelsior Vittoria Hotel Sorrento Review

We first visited Sorrento in 2000 and stayed at the Excelsior Vittoria on several occasions, but it has been 6 years since our last visit. 10 years ago we also wrote an article on the hotel, and now seemed an appropriate reason to update the original feature. So we booked three nights in July and here are our thoughts.

This bronze sculpture, by Giuseppe Tirelli, is one of many works of art throughout the hotel, and captured the immediate feeling of relaxation and being pampered on arrival. There are certainly more staff with many familiar faces now passing on their considerable experience and advice to the next generation. Here are Giovanni, Raffaele and Giuseppe.

A warm welcome at the Excelsior Vittoria

The character and atmosphere of public rooms remain as captivating as ever and the stroll from the main gate entrance all the way down to the 20’s lobby and through to the terrace is iconic. The terrace has not changed, it does not have to, it simply provides a perfect spot to view the Bay of Naples and all that surrounds it. The lift down to the port has been modernised and the area immediately below the terrace now hosts a small clean beach and restaurant.

The hotel now hosts a full programme of events throughout the year, including music, charity dinners and art exhibitions. Regular jazz performances take place on the terrace accompanied by glorious sunsets, delicious canapés and aperitifs, including Excelsior’s 20 signature cocktails which are worthy of their own review.

Sunset from the Excelsior Vittoria in Sorrento

As expected from a five star hotel, the rooms are continually being refurbished to meet the comfort and technological requirements of today’s guests. A number of things caught our eye such as the luxurious, cool cotton sheets, the simple flexible overhead reading light, flip flops, complimentary bedside bottles of water every night and trouble-free wifi. This attention to detail is noticeable throughout the hotel and its gardens. There are double hammocks for relaxed reading under the shade of orange and lemon trees, quiet intimate corners amongst pergolas and discreet safe play areas for children.

And the food?

Excelsior Vittoria breakfast table

Let’s start with the first meal of the day. A breakfast banquet in the elegant Vittoria Breakfast Room. A selection to satisfy and tempt all tastes with a chef preparing eggs and pancakes to your taste and another blending fruits and vegetables of your choice. Traditional Neapolitan breads, carrot pie, rice cake, plum cake, sfogliatella napoletana and much, much more would require a stay of two weeks to sample them all. The table service was exceptional.

Moving onto a light lunch, especially after that breakfast, the L’Orangerie Restaurant offers an excellent selection, we ordered stuffed zucchini flowers and a perfect caprese salad. Its proximity to the pool means you can book a table from your sun lounger and – if you’re eager to get back to that novel – take your champagne away with you when you’ve finished. In the evening it transforms into a very chic but informal setting and is often used for gala and charity dinners.

Excelsior Vittoria pool

The Michelin Star Terrazza Bosquet Restaurant presented a culinary experience appropriate for a special occasion with the company of Vesuvius and sparkling Naples to share a very memorable evening. The pigeon breast was delicious and the Fiorduva white from Marisa Cuomo Winery perfect with the risotto.
We visited the Marisa Cuomo Winery during this visit and will be writing a post shortly.

I believe one of the secrets of the Excelsior’s success is that the owners – three generations of the Fiorentino family – are based there most of the season and involved in its day to day activities. This family approach seems to permeate the whole fabric of the hotel and the staff’s attitude to their guests.

The changes made since our visit six years ago are subtle and reflect a continual ‘fine tuning’ of services and amenities that compliment rather than compete with the hotel’s unique location and history. 2019 sees the hotel’s 185th anniversary and perhaps this is the truest seal of approval.

Richard Edwards MA

The Excelsior Vittoria Lobby

Exclusive promotions for Friends of Sorrento members
We organise a number of exclusive fully escorted tours throughout the year for small groups of 8 or 16 with rooms at the Excelsior. If you would like further information please contact us.

Rooftop cocktail bar + live music

Mediterraneo Hotel Sky Bar Sorrento

(May to October)

Every Tuesday from Sunset to 11:45 pm enjoy live music at the Hotel Mediterraneo’s Vista Sky Bar with wonderful views of the Bay of Naples and Vesuvius. This rooftop bar provides a perfect spot to watch a glorious sunset with jazz, bossa nova and pop music performed live by Biagio Valcaccia duet or trio.

Add a cocktail or two, some finger food and the mood is set for a relaxing evening.

The Mediterraneo is a pleasant 25 minute level walk from the centre of Sorrento through a residential area.

Non guests are welcome but we highly recommend booking in advance. Please note that a table and sofa reservation could be subject to minimum spending.

Booking enquiries

Michelin Star Restaurants

There are 17 Michelin star restaurants within a 30 km radius of Sorrento, 4 more between Ravello and Salerno, 3 in Naples, 3 on Capri and 2 on Ischia. A full list of names and locations is provided below.

Diners will experience superb cuisine at immaculate tables set in beautiful surroundings and in many cases with breathtaking vistas. A vacation for all the senses.

As you would expect the dishes are true works of art, pleasing to the eye as well as the taste buds. For the moment the delicate aromas and subtle combination of flavours must be left to your imagination, but here is a small selection of culinary masterpieces to feast your eyes on.

The Chefs are obviously masters of their skills with a respect and passion for the ingredients and regional influences, seasoned perhaps with life experiences and memories. This can be demonstrated, in my opinion, by this video showing the preparation of the pasta dish, Pacchero with tomato sauce, by two top Chefs, Marco Parizzi from Parizzi di Parma and Giuseppe Aversa from Il Buco in Sorrento.

Enjoy Chef Aversa’s presentation which is full of humour, passion and respect for ingredients from the south. There are English subtitles.

Giuseppe Aversa Il Buco Restaurant Sorrento

This video was produced as part of a centenary celebration for Pasta Di Martino, a pasta making company. It is located in the town of Gragnano, world famous for the production of dried pasta and home for numerous manufacturers. Some provide factory tours and tastings for visitors and Gragnano is only 25 km from Sorrento.
pasta-tubes
Michelin Star Restaurants in and around Sorrento
In addition to these 25 star restaurants there are another 38 with mentions.
Full details can be found in the Michelin Guide for Sorrento

Two star
Don Alfonso 1890. Sant’Agata
Quattri Passi. Nerano, Marina del Cantone
Torre del Saracino. Marina Equa, Vico Equense
L’Olivo. Anacapri

One star
Terrazza Bosquet. Excelsior Vittoria, Sorrento
Il Buco. Sorrento
Don Geppi. Sant’Agnello
Taverna del Capitano. Marina del Cantone
Relais Blu. Termini
Antica Osteria Nonna Rosa. Vico Equense
Maxi. Vico Equense
La Serra. Sirenuse, Positano
La Sponda. Positano
Zass. Positano
Piazzetta Milù. Castellannare di Stabia
Il Refettorio. Conca dei Marini
President. Pompeii
La Caravella dal 1959. Amalfi
Rossellini’s. Ravello
Il Faro di Capo d’Orso. Maiori
Re Mauri. Salerno
Casa del Nonno 13. Salerno

Mammà. Capri
Il Riccio. Anacapri

Indaco. Ischia
Il Mosaico. Ischia

Palazzo Petrucci. Naples
Il Comandante. Naples
Veritas. Naples

Buon appetito!

Music in Sant’Agata

intricanti music festival 2018

(July 7 & 8)

The Intricanti Music Festival 2018 brings two concerts to the Residenza Cerulli in Sant’Agata sui due Golfi, Massa Lubrense. We have provided a rough translation of the two groups of performers but think the videos will speak louder than words. They are well worth viewing.

Start at 9.30 pm. Free admission subject to availability.

Musica Da Ripostiglio

Saturday 7 July

Luca Pirozzi – voice, guitar, banjo
Luca Giacomelli – guitar, choirs
Raffaele Toninelli – double bass, choirs
Emanuele Pellegrini – drums, percussions, choirs

Musica da Ripostiglio

The aspiration of the group, nominated for Grammy Awards 2018, would have been to arrange the songs of singer-songwriter Luca Pirozzi in a chamber music, but given the times they run, they preferred to change the trend and their music has become from “Ripostiglio”.
A musical reality born from the twenty-year artistic association of Luca Pirozzi and guitarist Luca Giacomelli, to which were later added by Raffaele Toninelli on double bass and Emanuele Pellegrini on drums. There are four of them and show, making the audience entertain with a repertoire halfway between the light-hearted and the busy, between the unpublished and the cited, a unique act able to involve viewers of all ages in an original and exciting.


Virtuosi Di S.Martino in Rumors

Sunday 8 July

Roberto Del Gaudio Dramaturgy
Music development Federico Odling

with Roberto Del Gaudio – voice
Federico Odling – cello
Vittorio Ricciardi – flute
Francesco Solombrino – violin
Carmine Terracciano – guitar

virtuosidis-martino-in-rumor

With Rumors, the chamber ensemble founded in Napol inel 1994 presents a playful and irreverent journey in the world of 60-70s song.
Decades of great revolutionary drive, of great promises of change, of great utopian prophecies, accompanied by a variegated and almost obsessive soundtrack made of songs, rock, disco, “commitment”. And just around the most famous songs of those years the Virtuosi develop a surgical treatment in style Dr. Frankenstein, grafting musical and text shreds on scores of others: Rino Gaetano meets Erik Satie, John Lennon who marries Squallor, Bob Dylan summoned to Zecchino d’Or, not to mention Pink Floyd in 007 sauce and the hymn to Abba’s militant feminism. To present this concert-show is a new character of invention, the manager of Virtuosi, in a daring series of stories and curiosities related to those mythical years, groups, stories. A paradoxical reinterpretation proposed by flute, piccolo, violin, viola, cello, classical guitar, with voices and sensations addressed to the parody of some icons of contemporary music, from Patty Pravo to the Beatles.

A boat trip to Maria Grazia’s

Nautica Sic Sic Sorrento

Here’s a nautical idea for your vacation.

Take a boat for lunch at Maria Grazia’s restaurant on the beach of Marina del Cantone. Not just lunch but their infamous dish of spaghetti and zucchini.

On the way you will cruise along the coastline of Massa Lubrense and sail around Punta Campanella at the extreme tip of the Sorrento Peninsula. After taking in the scenery and keeping cool by swimming in the crystal clear waters you step ashore at Marina del Cantone to the welcoming entrance of Maria Grazia. There’s no rush, take your time to savour the dish, the wine and the surroundings before sailing off to Positano.
Suggest you book a table in advance

Maria Grazia Restaurant at Marina del Cantone

Relax, take in the sun as you follow the shoreline round to the magical setting of Positano waiting like an old friend with outstretched arms to welcome you in. Once ashore soak up the atmosphere, browse the boutiques, sip wine at beach cafes and be amazed by the multicoloured buildings perched above you.

It will be difficult to leave but on the return journey you will be rewarded by the natural beauty of this unique location as you sail close to Li Galli, home of the legendary Siren, and the cathedral like Faraglioni rocks next to Capri. Back on dry land you can start planning your next voyage to the islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida.

Positano view from the sea

“But I’ve never sailed a boat”, I hear some of you say. The solution is simple, take a stroll to Sorrento’s harbour where you will find the small unassuming office of Nautica Sic Sic. Small but overflowing with 30 years experience of sailing the waters of the Bay of Naples and the Amalfi coast.

Nautica Sic Sic in Sorrento

A warm welcome awaits from Capt. Maurizio and his crew who will be pleased to offer advice and proposals for sailing to your dream location. Here’s their website.

Next stop is Paul & Shark on Corso Italia for that yachting polo shirt.

Friends of Sorrento offers advice and assistance in arranging private boat trips as well as a choice of boat tours for small groups (12 max) along the Amalfi coast and around the islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida. These provide opportunities to go ashore and for swimming and snorkelling. Full details here.

Pozzuoli – Its rise and fall

We asked one of our members, Paul Barber, to write an account of his visit to Sofia Loren’s home town, Pozzuoli. Other attractions include the Flavian Amphitheater, which is the third largest Roman amphitheater in Italy, and a Piazza that rises and falls with the volcanic activity.

Pozzuoli is very well-known with Italians and is a very important place for its ancient sights and because of the nearby Solfatara volcano, which is very active. Once the traveller arrives in Pozzuoli, they can visit the ‘Flavian Amphitheatre’, go down to the waterfront for lunch and return up the hill out of town to the Solfatara volcano.

View from VesuviusView over Naples towards Pozzuoli from Vesuvius

When visiting Mount Vesuvius our guide told us about the volcano monitoring station situated there and explained that it is linked to another at Solfatara, where ground movement is constantly monitored in case of eruption of the super-volcano there. Pozzuoli is situated in the middle of the Phlegrean Fields of small volcanos and is subject to a phenomena known as Bradyism, in which the whole town slowly rises, sinks and rises again caused by the underlying volcanic activity. The town has risen more than 11 feet in the past 30 years!

Pozzuoli AmphitheatreAmphitheatre above and below

The ‘Flavian Amphitheatre’ is very interesting; built between AD 69-79, the third largest amphitheatre in Italy (with a seating capacity of 20,000 people), it was the site of the martyrdom of Naples’ beloved San Gennaro – who’s remains are to be found in the Duomo of Naples. The exterior of the building is crumbling a bit, but unlike Rome’s Colosseum, the flooring of the Flavian Amphitheatre survives intact. Visitors can wander through the tunnels and chambers beneath, where gladiators and wild beasts once awaited their fate.

Moving down towards the waterfront, in a palm-shaded, sunken park at the centre of town lies the romantically half-flooded ‘Temple of Serapide’. This was once the marketplace of the Roman city and is marked by three standing columns and a ring of column stubs surrounding a raised circular dais. The site is not open to the public, but can be seen clearly from the surrounding fence.

PozzuoliTemple of Serapide with restaurants in the background

Next to the ‘Temple of Serapide’ is the ‘Trattoria il Tempio’, where the umbrella shaded tables are set on cobblestones directly overlooking the ancient site. Pozzuoli’s seafood was a wonderful experience and this restaurant serves an excellent array of dishes.

A 20-minute walk above Pozzuoli is the elliptical caldera of the ‘Solfatara Volcano’. Although it hasn’t actually erupted since AD 1198, the parched, alien landscape of bubbling mud pits and fumaroles furiously venting sulphurous steam remind intrepid visitors that molten lava still runs just under the ground surface here. Monitoring of ground movement and sampling of gases keep an eye on what’s going on under the surface, together with monitoring on Vesuvius scientists keep an eye out for any sign of increased volcanic activity. This has been a visitor attraction since early Roman times and in its modern incarnation as a tourism site has been going strong since 1900. Guided tours are available to take visitors round the site, which is well worth a visit for those who want to see volcanic activity close-to.

SolfataraSolfatara fumarole

Other interesting sites nearby that could be visited on a guided tour include the ‘Cave of the Cumean Sybil’ and ‘Lago di Averno’ (the gateway to the underworld where Aeneas descended to confront Hades) and trip on a glass-bottomed boat to see the old part of Baia town several metres below sea level (Baia’s underwater archeological park).

Paul Barber. June 2017

Editor’s notes
Pozzuoli is still relatively quiet in comparison to the region’s other attractions and offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore Roman ruins, above and below water, and a volcanic landscape, once thought of as the ‘gateway to hell’. Located 20 km west of Naples it takes around 40 minutes by road and 90 minutes by train. Visitor access to these sites and the transport infrastructure continue to be improved and private small group tours are currently available with Friends of Sorrento.

You can find more information about Pozzuoli’s attractions on these websites:
Wikipedia
Vulcano Solfatara
Pozzuoli’s official website

The copy and photographs of this page are subject to copyright.

Massa Lubrense Summer Events

Massa Lubrense Events 2018

(June to Sept)

Massa Lubrense, also known as the legendary Land of Sirens, is only a 20 minute bus ride from Sorrento so a day out to this beautiful area is easy and well worth the trip.

Massa Lubrense is an area with 18 beautiful villages each offering different and unique landscapes. Sant’Agata sui due Golfi, set on the hill overlooking the bays of Naples and Salerno, the Bay of Jeranto and the Punta Campanella, directly opposite the island of Capri, are typical examples. The countryside is criss-crossed with sign posted paths through ancient hamlets, lemon orchards, olive groves, oak woods and sunny coasts. The perfect picnic scenario.

Take a look at their excellent Summer Events programme to see if you can combine a visit to coincide with a concert, festival, walk or arts and craft displays.

For those interested in guided walks there is a list of Summer Excursions starting from Massa Lubrense on the back page. More information on the many walking trails in this area, including map sources, can be found in our Walks feature.

Excelsior Revisited

We first visited Sorrento in 2000 and stayed at the Excelsior Vittoria on several occasions, but it has been 6 years since our last visit. 10 years ago we also wrote a series of articles on a number of luxury hotels, including the Excelsior, and a 10th anniversary therefore seemed an appropriate reason to visit again and update the original feature. So we have booked a few nights during July when we will be visiting friends and business partners.

Here’s our update

First Immpessions

‘A Modern Classic’ was one of a series of articles written by Richard Edwards in 2008/9 under the heading First Impressions. They take a personal look at landmark hotels on the Amalfi Coast and the original articles can be viewed below.
Remember internet technology was still developing 10 yrs ago

Marameo beach resort

Marameo beach Sorrento

Sun glasses, swimming costume, lotion and some Euros are all you need for a day’s relaxation down where the Bay of Naples caresses Sorrento.

Marameo beach, restaurant and lounge bar provides a very comfortable and convenient location for those who enjoy the sounds and breeze from the sea. Visitors can take the public lift from the Villa Communale, located in the heart of Sorrento, down to the sea shore. A few steps along brings you to Marameo’s entrance, where fresh towels and smart changing rooms await.

It has all the facilities you require for topping up your tan and swimming. Order snacks and cocktails from your lounger or choose a fresh seafood dish at a table in the restaurant area.

Sorrento coast

Every sun lounger offers a choice of wonderful scenes. Grand majestic hotels perched on the cliffs above share the same view of the coastline stretching from Sorrento, Sant’Agnello, Meta di Sorrento and beyond. In the opposite direction Capri hides teasingly behind the heading of the peninsula.

Across the bay Vesuvius dominates the skyline with Naples cautiously creeping up its slopes. Time perhaps to plan a visit to the volcano’s crater or Pompeii, Herculaneum and even Naples itself, maybe tomorrow?

Marameo beach and restaurant

Marameo has a pleasant, stylish atmosphere during the day. Transforming at sunset into an intimate setting for a candlelit dinner. We recommend visitors take the lift, or walk down, to the port and view the location and its facilities. Members are eligible for a special rate.

Marameo Restaurant Sorrento

Marameo Beach and Restaurant
Spiaggia San Francesco, Sorrento
www.marameobeach.com


Designer Sunglasses

Traditional festivals in Sorrento

Traditional music and dance in Sorrento

We have listed traditional festivals taking place in and and around Sorrento thoughout the year.

Spring
White Hood procession on Holy Thursday in Sorrento.
Black Hood procession on Holy Friday in Sorrento.

Summer
The ‘Festabiente’ festival celebrating nature.
‘Patron Feast of Saint Peter and Paul’ at Monticchio, in Massa Lubrenze.
Sea Festival at Marina Grande, Sorrento.
Sea Festival at Sant’ Agnello.
‘St. Salvatore’s Day Feast’, in Schiazzano, Massa Lubrenze, celebrating local produce.
‘Festival of the Melon’ at Piano di Sorrento.
‘Marina della Lobra Regatta’ at Massa Lubrenze.
Celebration to the blessed Mary in the village of Casarlano.
‘Saint Rocco Meatball Fair’ in the village of Maiano.
‘Lemon Fair’ in Massa Lubrenze Square.
‘San Lorenzo.
‘Ferragosto’

Autumn
Olive Oil harvest and production.
Festival of Grapes in nearby Priora.
Chestnut Festival in Faito.
‘Colli di Fontanella’ festival in Sant’Agnello celebrating end of summer and start of autumn.
The ‘Alimuri Fair’ in Meta di Sorrento re-enacts the arrival of the Saracens in the Sorrentine peninsula.
Celebrations to the Holy Blessed Mary of Lauro.

Winter
Christmas and New Year Celebrations.
Traditional Living Nativity Scenes.
New Year festivities with firework display.
Carnival at Termini. February

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Shopping on Sorrento’s Corso Italia

fashion-shops-in Sorrento

Corso Italia is Sorrento’s ‘High Street’ and most of the shops can be found along a 1km stretch from the station down to Via Capo. Add to these the shops huddled together in the lanes of the historical centre and all visitors should be satisfied. From the fun souvenir hunter to devotees of style and fashion.

Most shops are open from 9.30 am to 1 pm and 4 pm to 10 pm so there’s no need to rush. If you would like a flavour of what to expect then come with us for some window shopping.

Books on Sorrento, Amalfi and Naples

Friends of Sorrento Book List

These are the latest editions to the Friends of Sorrento book list which includes fiction, non fiction and guides for lovers of the Neapolitan Riviera and all things Italian.

My Amalfi Coast Love Affair

“As you turn the pages, you’ll feel as if you are traveling beside me on Italy’s southern coast. Sharing personal experiences, in no particular order, I relate real stories about my travels to this alluring location. You’ll read about charming villages, adventurous hikes, traditional cuisine, transportation options, shopping opportunities, and unforgettable local people. This newest book reveals a more personal side of me, and the final chapter relates what happens in my most recent trip to the Amalfi Coast, a trip I share for the first time, with the love of my life. Romance is in the air.”
Margie Miklas – Author
Order today


Naples is a fascinating and beautiful city and just as we were beginning to discover some of the many attractions we found Secret Naples, a guide full of even more hidden gems.

A mummified lizard, Borromini’s only work in Naples, vestiges of a former brothel, a hole in the wall that relieves headaches, an art gallery in a bunker, a rare customised Vespa from the Second World War, remarkable undiscovered private collections, a score in Aramaic script on a church facade, extraordinary ancient libraries unknown to Neapolitans. Far from the crowds and the usual cliches, these are just some of the well-hidden treasures only revealed to those who venture off the beaten track, residents and visitors alike. An indispensable guide for those who thought they knew Naples well, or who would like to discover the hidden face of the city.
Order today


Our Book List



Made in Italy

Sunset Concerts in Sorrento

Concerts at sunset in Sorrento

(May to Aug)

A wonderful opportunity to watch the sunset with live music in the beautiful romantic setting of the Piazza della Vittoria, just behind the Tramontano Hotel.

Concerti al Tramonto (Concerts at Sunset) start at 8.00 pm and you could enjoy the experience before a romantic dinner in the picturesque fishing harbour of Marina Grande. Make a note of the dates and listen to the performers.

Tuesday 29 May. Music by Respiro. Youtube
Tuesday 26 June. Music by Lamori Vostri. Youtube
Tuesday 31 July. Music by Gatos Do Mar. Youtube
Tuesday 28 August. Suonno d’ajere. Youtube

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