The Perfect Base: Sorrento

Sorrento is an ideal base for hopping around and seeing southern Italy’s top destinations, as Citalia guests Phil and Carol Blackmore did in May 2022. We caught up with them to hear all about their experiences.
We absolutely love Italy and over the years have been on city breaks to Venice and Rome, by Auto-Train to Tuscany, Umbria, and the lakes with a day trip to Verona, and by air to the Cinque Terre and Pisa. We’d always wanted to go to Sorrento and so decided to make it a special trip to celebrate our golden wedding.  

We first heard about Citalia through Carol’s sister, who had travelled to Sorrento a few years earlier. After enquiring, we were immediately in touch with our Personal Travel Planner, Erin Bridewell, who looked after us from then on. Erin was absolutely brilliant and gave us great service. She was so patient with us, and offered recommendations in terms of our hotel, which was in a fantastic location. We would step out of the hotel and be straight in the marina, and we were just a short stroll away from Sorrento’s Old Town.  

As this was our golden wedding anniversary treat, we planned a holiday for 10 days in total, which was perfect - I mean we could have had a few more days if you twisted our arms…  

Sorrento is quite a small coastal town and so you might think that you don’t need that length of time, but there are just so many interesting places around that it’s worth having a longer holiday - in fact this was one of the main pulls for staying in Sorrento.  

We took a small group tour in an eight-seater minibus to the Amalfi Coast one day, and enjoyed a lunch high up in the hills, taking in Positano, Amalfi town, and Ravello. Amalfi Cathedral was brilliant, and we had a wonderful day out. There's such spectacular scenery, and the winding road here is incredible but a little hairy. Apparently, the road was featured in the last James Bond film, however, we were not 'shaken or stirred'. Our driver had a fabulous sense of humour, like Italians often do - laid-back yet lively. At every bend he’d yell, 'Mamma mia!’ and tell us to cover our eyes! We understand that the ferry trip to this area is also an enjoyable journey and plan to travel that way next time.
We also took a day trip to Capri, taking the ferry and then transferring to a smaller boat so that we could travel all around the island. We went up to Anacapri. Back in the 1960s this was the place for the wealthy ‘in-crowd’ and one of the cafés we went to for lunch had many film stars photographed with the owner on the wall. Today, Capri is more touristy, but it doesn’t take away the attractiveness of the island. Apparently, after the ferries leave around 5pm, Capri settles down, so I think maybe if we did this trip again, we’d arrange a private tour to go in the evening or stay a night. Or perhaps we’d visit the sister island of Ischia.
We had always planned to go to Pompeii and again, Sorrento was the perfect base to visit from! It was so simple to arrange too - we wandered along to the local railway station that had a little kiosk, and we were able to book train tickets and a guided tour for the following day. The train journey took 40 minutes, and upon reaching we knew exactly where to meet our guide. 

We highly recommend going to Pompeii with an expert, as it’s not like a museum where everything is labelled, and I’m sure we would have missed a lot even if we’d taken a guidebook with us.  

We were at the ruins for about three and a half hours. It was fascinating! I think next time, we’d also arrange a trip to the less visited Herculaneum, as we hear that’s a more complete site.
We arranged a similar day trip by train to Mount Vesuvius. We joined a minibus to take us to within 500 or 600 ft of the top, and then we climbed the remainder up to the summit, which was rather steep. Walking around the rim was probably one of our holiday highlights, and we’re so glad we did it. We were really lucky as there’s frequently a big cloud that hangs over Vesuvius, but that day we had the most spectacular views over the Bay of Naples.  

You can't go to Sorrento and not eat well. While there are plenty of restaurants with canopied tables and waiters in waistcoats encouraging you to come in, we found a very unassuming place with just tile topped iron tables and plastic chairs called Manneken Pis. We noticed that despite it being crowded, people would pause to look at the menu, decide it didn’t look very special, and move on. They missed out! We stopped there for lunch one day and enjoyed an excellent Caesar salad, and the food was so good we returned twice for dinner.  

We also went twice to a lovely, ‘typico’ Italian trattoria called Taverna dell '800, which was the only 18th century tavern in the town. They were very welcoming, and we enjoyed dishes of seabass and porchetta. For fish, we found a few really good seafood restaurants right at the end of the Marina Grande, including one where you can sit out on the jetty.  

We discovered one shop in the Old Town that produces their own limoncello, and so we stopped for an ice-cold limoncello and made a few purchases as you do. We got chatting to the owner and he asked us our names. A few days later, as we were walking past, the chap called out, “Hi Phil, hi Carol” It was great, we almost felt like regulars. 

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