From Giardini-Naxos in Sicily we sailed across to the mainland of Italy to visit the town of Sorrento which overlooks the Bay of Naples.

Hotels of Sorrento

Stairway up to the town. People can be seen walking up the stairs.

Tunnel in the wall where there was a lift

Similarly to other towns in the Mediterranean, Sorrento history has been traced back to prehistoric times. Originally, it was a Greek settlement and later becoming the Roman town of Sorrentum. With its ravines and cliffs as natural defences, sea access and fertile land in the hinterland modern development, including filling some of the ravines, was not affected.

Once again, the ship had to anchor outside of the bay, so we went across to the town of Sorrento which was built high up on the top of hill. We could see large hotels and homes which, we were told could be reached by lifts or even sets of stairs but for us to reach the town we were taken on a small bus up a steep and winding road. We were dropped off in the centre of town and were told that buses would leave here every half hour to return to the pier. From there we were free to discover the town.

The two of us began walking up the hill and came to a ravine in which there was an old building. I found it quite amazing to think of a home down there. Within the ravine we could hear water flowing but couldn’t see any water flowing.

Deep ravine with old building and running water

Above and to the right of this ravine was a restaurant whose owner had a blue Fiat sports car parked outside. On the windscreen was a sign reading “do not touch” and while we were there he came out and wiped the car down. It was already shiny clean as far as we could see but he was possibly checking that tourists weren’t touching the car.

Restaurant owner’s Fiat

We continued up the hill we came across a high wall with a long flight of stairs going up to what appeared to be a large house. There were repairmen unloading large pieces of glass on to the staircase but there didn’t seem to be any purpose to this. We would have loved to see what they were planning to do with the glass but could see that it was going to take a long time to do the off-loading, so we moved on. High up on the wall was a plaque with the name Robert Bracco but, with it all written in Italian, we had no idea what it was all about. We have since learnt that he was an Italian author who had a holiday home in Sorrento. Behind the wall was the large white villa we had seen from the ravine (see the picture above) which we had assumed to be an hotel but, in doing some research, we now know that it is called Villa Manning and was the holiday home of Robert Bracco.

Plaque for Roberto Bracco

(I apologise for the quality and lack of all information on the plaque, but it was very high up on the wall)

The higher we went the more we realised that there would not be much to see at the top of the hill, so we decided to turn around and look in another area of town. At the bottom of the hill we came to the main shopping street, Via Cesareo, a street filled with boutiques, gift shops and shops filled with glassware and pottery. We stopped at one fascinating shop filled with delightful mementoes of the town and we purchased a couple of items, including a fridge magnet, something we purchase wherever we visit. We have a world map on which are the flags of all the countries we have visited surrounded by about 200 magnets. Such special memories.

Halfway down the street was a statue of San Antoninus (St Anthony), a Benedictine monk and the Patron Saint of Sorrento. While a monk he had to become a hermit whenever the Barbarians raided his hometown of Monte Cassino. His statue, outside the St Anthony Basilica, was the only such thing of interest in the street. Otherwise, it was shops, shops and more shops.

Statue of San Antoninus

At the end of Via Caesero, we came to a large park where we decided to take a sit down. Most of the trees were Palms and Aloes. We had never seen such tall Aloes. After a while we walked through the park to the street below and learnt some very interesting information about this park. It is called the gardens of Piazza Angelina Laura and was developed in 1978. All of the plants are from sub-tropical regions of the world. Most of the plants can be found in parks and gardens of villas on the Sorrento Peninsula being proof of the journeys carried out by sailing ships in past centuries. Ships’ Masters liked to bring back plants as mementoes. Professors Raffaele Pane and Claudio Ruoppo achieved their plan to create this park of having at least one of every plant collected by the ships’ crews.

Large Aloe trees
View of the park

As we left the park, while Trevor took photos I was sitting on a wall when a group of school children with their teacher walked up to me. The teacher asked if I would be willing to answer a few questions to help the children to practise their English. They were simple questions such as, “What is your name?”, “Where do you come from?” and “Do you like Pasta?  What an unusual experience in a foreign town.

Vicky & the school children and their teachers

We took this new street back to where we had started out, on the way stopping to buy 2 aprons as gifts. We passed some beautiful villas and gardens.

We took the bus back down the hill and walked along the pier for a while. Sitting on a bench, we noticed that it had what looked like a QR code and an internet connection on the end and the words ‘Smart bench’. Two minutes later we realised that it exactly what it was. A young lady came and placed her phone on the connection to charge it. What a wonderful idea but, only certain phones can be charged this way.

The Smart Bench

While we were there, we watched ferries coming and going between Sorrento and Capri, Amalfi, Palermo and many other places. It was a busy transport activity.

A ferry arriving

We walked down on to the pier and, inadvertently, turned left instead of right so that we didn’t get to the Tender, but we did get to admire a large contingency of yachts preparing for a big race the following day. One never knows what you will see when just strolling around a place. We did eventually find the Tender and returned safely to the ship.

Boats ready for the race