We sort of lucked in to deciding on Sorrento as our holiday destination. Dad wanted Norway again, but while it's a beautiful country, we went there last year and it only seemed fair to go to Italy, since Mum's been wanting to go for a long time. There are so many great places to see in Italy though, and I first suggested traipsing around the Tuscan countryside. Dad suggested Naples, since he's keen on Roman history and so on, but there were doubts about the relaxing qualities of the city. A quick google later, and I lucked into the information that Sorrento seemed to be a pretty popular tourist destination - close to Naples and Pompeii, near the famous Amalfi Coast, but quite small and relaxed in itself. Perfect!
I did my due diligence before our trip, picking out suggested sightseeing destinations for each day, but I didn't really get into the nitty-gritty of pictures or whatever, so once we got off the motorway from Naples and started driving around the bay, the beautiful views took my breath away. Coming from a few days in the north of England, where it seemed autumn had already set in, the wall-to-wall sunshine and hot (sometimes TOO hot) temperatures also came as a welcome surprise.
Our first day (or afternoon) was mostly spent settling in to the hotel (with bath, hallelujah) and strolling around Sorrento taking in the sights. There's basically the old town centre, which is made up of narrow alleys, restaurants and souvenir shops, the port area, with some lovely views from the cliffs above, and then some less touristy areas round about. Not a huge amount to see, but it was great as a base to relax, eat and drink limoncello in. On the second night, we found a lovely restaurant a little bit off the beaten path, which featured good food, friendly staff who didn't give the impression they were just milking the tourists for all they were worth, a cute little stray cat who could be coaxed into coming to eat scraps (I think he had half of my Dad's shrimp), and free limoncellos as a digestif. I think we ended up going back three times! Most days, we did one activity which took a few hours in the middle of the day, and the rest of the time was spent chilling out and enjoying being on holiday.
Me in Sorrento, with Vesuvius in the background
A shop in Sorrento selling lemon products
|There was a Dali exhibition on when we were there, with sculptures scattered through the town|
It was another pleasant small town, with the same sorts of things as Sorrento - restaurants, shops selling limoncello, etc. The big highlight was the cathedral in the centre of town. You had to pay a small fee to get in, but I'm really glad we did. Not only was the architecture beautiful, but it was full of historical relics (literally) and precious objects. We kept seeing a representation of a man being crucified in an X shape, and were wondering why. Dad speculated that it was St. Andrew, patron saint of Scotland: you can see the St. Andrew's cross on the Scottish flag (an X shape). We couldn't figure out why St. Andrew should be so important in this cathedral until we talked to one of the staff, who told us that St. Andrew's relics were supposedly brought to Amalfi at the time of the crusades. If you go down to the crypt, you can see the altar where he is buried.
After the cathedral, lunch and a spot of limoncello tasting and purchasing, we hopped back on the bus home. Despite falling asleep a little bit on the ride (it was hot!), I decided to get out at Positano just to see a little bit more of what the Amalfi Coast had to offer, while Mum and Dad went back to Sorrento. I just wandered around, had a gelato, took some photos and went home pretty much, but it was still nice to see another town.
Views on the Amalfi Coast drive
I think this is Amalfi...
...and this is Positano, but hard to say!
|Me and Dad in Amalfi|
In front of the Amalfi cathedral
In the cathedral basilica, which date back to the 9th century
Inside the cathedral proper, which had a quite unusual boxy shape
A beautiful chapel in the cathedral
|Dad and me in the cathedral. A rare "collectors' edition" photo of me wearing glasses!|