Category Archives: Sorrento News

D’Anton Design & Bistro

D'Anton Bistro in Sorrento

D‘Anton, the designer bistro, sits comfortably on the corner of Piazza S.Antonino in Sorrento, opposite the Tasso Theatre. From the outside, the tables and chairs present a typical image of a small cafe/bistro serving visitors cappuccino and traditional snacks with a classic view across a pleasant piazza.

D'Anton Designer Bistro Sorrento

However, inside is a collection of Objets d’art filling the room from top to bottom creating a unique ambience. Chandeliers, table lamps, bird cages, statues, paintings, mirrors, ceramics, glass, plant holders, cushions and more compete for attention as a source of inspiration for interior design projects. Try to imagine an Alladin’s cave that has a cocktail bar and food with many of its treasures available for purchase.

D'Anton Bistro Sorrento

Dishes of traditional offerings and original cocktails are presented in an equally imaginative way to compliment the surroundings. In the evenings the atmospheric lighting is perfect for romantic interludes.

If you are looking for a source of inspiration for interior design, an intimate table with a film-set decor, traditional snacks using local produce, cocktails with attitude (try the limoncello cocktail made from Francesca’s secret recipe), or just the perfect cappuccino then D’Anton is the place. Gabriel, pictured below, and Francesca will be pleased to welcome you.

D'Anton Bistro Sorrento

D’Anton Design & Bistro
Piazza Sant’Antonino
Sorrento
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Sunset dinner in the Marina Grande

Let me invite you for a sunset dinner in the picturesque harbour of the Marina Grande. Make your way to the Piazza della Vittoria, at the rear of the Tramomtano Hotel, and with the Bellevue Syrene on your right follow the cobbled lane. This will guide you through hidden villas and secret gardens, down well trodden steps and under an archway which opens to a magnificent vista of the harbour.

Marina Grande in Sorrento

In the next hour or so tables will start to fill every available space in and around each restaurant along the water’s edge. Dishes of grilled sardines, plump prawns, fish of the day, crab, lobster ….. will be whisked across the road from kitchen to outside tables. On this occasion we’ll have to ignore the temptation of the long established Trattoria da Emilia and the more recent Soul & Fish restaurant, at least until lunch tomorrow.

Because this evening we are dining at Delfino’s, right on the other side of the harbour, past the children paddling on the beach, the illuminated church and the lady making traditional lace products. From here you can enjoy uninterrupted views of the sunset with the relaxing sound of waves splashing under the boardwalk. The atmosphere is a little quieter with enough table space to allow some privacy for those ‘special’ occasions.

View of Marina Grande harbour

On one side is the fishing harbour and on the other, the bay of Naples with Vesuvius skirted by the lights of Naples just out of the picture on the right. The scene is set, so lets order aperitifs to toast the sunset while we wait for the highlight of the evening, the meal. I’m going for one of Delfino’s specials, Risotto with mussels, clams, squid, octopus and scampi, or perhaps Pasta with clams, zuccine and peeled shrimps, but those Dumplings with smoked cheese and peeled shrimps look tempting ……..

Sunset from Delfino's restaurant Sorrento

Its popularity with the locals and visitors throughout the year says enough about the food and service which are under the constant supervision of the family owners Andrea, Luisa and Roberto (the quiet one). Nothing more to add except it is advisable to book in advance for an outside table. Buon appetito!

Delfino in Sorrento

Restaurant Bagni Delfino
Marina Grande, Sorrento
tel: 081 878 2038

Wine of the month

Friends of Sorrento brings you reviews on wines from Southern Italy courtesy of Richard Ballantyne, Master of Wine. This month’s recommendation is:
Sergio Arcuri 2014 Cirò Classico Superiore ‘Aris’.

Aris wine fom Sergio Arcuri

CalabriaCalabria is a little off the beaten track so you could be forgiven for having never heard of the wines from this region. We have discovered one outstanding producer whose wines are incredibly stylish and authentic.

Sergio Arcuri is a fourth generation wine producer in the DOC of Cirò where the grape variety of Gaglioppo is king. Sergio has a very small estate of 4 hectares which includes a parcel of vines planted in 1948, and another planted in 1980.

It’s these old vines that give his wine such depth and complexity. There is no oak in this wine whatsoever – it is fermented in cement tanks, then aged for 18 months in another cement tank underground to keep it cool from the blasting heat of the South of Italy.

Sergio Arcuri Ciro Aris
The wine bears remarkable similarity to top end Barolo for its fragrant notes of dried rose petals, dark berries, dried figs and prunes. The wine is remarkably fresh and lively with great acidity and framed with powerful, but ripe tannins.

The wine is made partly from the vineyard planted in 1948 with the remainder from vines planted in 1980, always from bush vines (Alberello) and it certified organic. Sergio eschews the use of sulphur dioxide in his winemaking, and this wine spends 18 month ageing in an underground cement tank.

Richard Ballantyne MW

This is a truly exciting discovery and we are delighted to introduce you to it. The wine is included in Richard’s 20% Off Italian Wines Offer until end of April. See details


Wine tours from Sorrento

Art jewellery by Daniela Pollio

Ping Art Jewellery Sorrento
PING is the creative studio of Daniela Pollio in the heart of historic Sorrento. From this quiet corner on Piazza S’Antonino flows a wealth of creative art jewellery and miniature sculptures. Creations that could easily have fallen out of story book illustrations and dreams, or uncovered from mystical places and long forgotten civilisations.

Ping Art Jewellery Sorrento

Rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, keyrings and miniatures all seem to have an affiliation with ‘earth’ and ‘people’. Inspiration comes from nature, books and everyday life, including the digital age. Each item lovingly put together and crying out to tell you about itself. Visit the studio, select the piece that captures your imagination and let its story unfold when admirers enquire. Its all part of the experience.

Grimilde & Mufasa
Grimilde is the Whitesnow’s stepmother, Mufasa is the Simba’s dad. The collection is dedicated to the pleasure of reading. A king and his Queen live in a cottage not a castle, with a lot of flowers with human faces. The crowns are on simple chairs not thrones. All the things go out of the books and materialise.
Daniela Pollio

Ping Art Jewellery Sorrento
Daniela Pollio Sorrento

Daniela Pollio
You can browse a publication of Daniela’s collections below and view examples of art jewellery and miniatures on her Instagram and Facebook pages.

The workshop and gallery is located at:

PING Art Jewellery
Piazza S’Antonino 9
Sorrento

miniature-shoes

Collections
PING’s digital publication showing various collections created over the years with photographs and captions in English providing the ideas and inspiration behind each collection.

ping earrings

Pets for life and posterity

dog-mosaic
This mosaic from Pompeii is on display at the Naples National Archaeological Museum*. Another can be seen in Pompeii itself at the entrance to the House of the Tragic Poet with an inscription, Cave Canem (Beware of the Dog) as a warning to strangers and guests.

Remains of a dog have also been excavated from the ruins complete with an inscribed collar demonstrating the devotion between dog and its young master. The dog’s name was Delta and the inscription related how he heroically saved his owner from a wolf attack.
* Image from Wikimedia

dog-group

The centuries have not diminished such an affinity with dogs, and while digital cameras record countless memories there is something special about a more permanent and tangible reminder of companionship.

Just 25 km from Pompeii in the heart of Sorrento, dog lovers can discover their own pet’s lookalike from a range of popular breeds produced in ceramic and delivered to their door. There is even a customised service to reproduce the colours and distinctive features from photographs of a beloved pet.

dog-face

Remind yourself of those fond memories of companionship with a pat on the head of your pet’s sculpture each time you pass. It’s not just dogs on show, but a menagerie of cats, rabbits and other animals from the smallest mouse to the grandest lion.

dog-group-2

If you would like more information about these ceramic pets please complete the form below.

Pets for life

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

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

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

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.