If you’re lucky enough to book a Holland America Mediterranean cruise that features a port stop in Sorrento, Italy on the divine Amalfi Coast, you’ll be faced with a number of tempting options for how to spend your time.
Although it’s possible to sample Sorrento’s innumerable charms and picturesque settings in two hours, you won’t regret devoting a full day to exploring the ancient clifftop town with the staggering ocean views.
A serene day in Sorrento
The small village of Sorrento lies just one hour south of bustling Naples and offers a laid-back, leisurely taste of southern Italy. You’ll be tendered ashore to Marina Piccola, and from there you can grab a bus or stretch your legs on the 20-minute uphill hike to Piazza Tasso, the main town square.
Drink in the pastel-colored villas lining the cobblestone passageways with buildings and palaces that date back to the 12th and 13th centuries. This classic Italian village, founded 2,000 years ago, looks and feels like something right out of a storybook. The large car-free zone in the center of town makes it easy to downshift into the leisurely vibe of the 20,000 or so full-time residents while you browse the abundant charming shops full of traditional crafts like leather goods, ceramics, and lemon-filled chocolates.
Enjoy a gelato on the go, or grab a table at one of the many al fresco cafes or delectable seafood restaurants tucked down the narrow alleys. Wander on your own, or book a short walking tour with a local vendor to learn more about the town’s rich history.
Limoncello – “A kiss from the sun”
As you peruse the many natural gifts of Sorrento, you’re sure to be offered numerous samples of the neon-yellow elixir called limoncello. This “sunshine in a cup” is produced from the special lemon variety grown in the plentiful terraced groves along the Amalfi Coast’s perfect soil and climate.
Sorrento lemons are not the fist-sized variety you buy at home. This sweet lemon is as large as a grapefruit with an inch-thick, heavily perfumed peel. Strict agricultural guidelines ensure the liqueur’s integrity, and most aficionados agree that the best limoncello in the world is found here along the Amalfi Coast. Used by the Italians as a digestive, limoncello is the second most popular drink after Campari. This tangy and refreshing citrus nectar is best-savored ice cold from a chilled aperitif glass.
You’ll find limoncello factories scattered throughout Sorrento, but why not double your pleasure and tour a family-run mozzarella cheese factory at the same time? Combine your introduction to the production of the finest cheese in the region with a boutique limoncello factory tour.
You’ll surely want to visit the unique ruins of Pompeii while in southern Italy. A two- or four-hour tour gives you plenty of time to visit this historic metropolis that’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and still poke around Sorrento. Witness the well-preserved ruins from that fateful day in 79AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted and spewed volcanic ash over the 20,000 or so unaware village residents.
Choose from a variety of small or large group tours that escort you through the excavated remains of the everyday items that were nearly fully intact when the city was unearthed. Walk the ancient roads past the banquet halls, private homes, thermal baths, and gorgeous frescoes frozen in time. Witness poignant casts of Roman Empire citizens and their pets. Tour the Roman Amphitheater, Lupanare, the famous brothel with erotic paintings on the wall, and Vetti’s House — a wonderful example of how the wealthy lived back in the Pompeii day.
A cocktail on Capri
This world-renowned luxury playground just off the coast of the Sorrento Peninsula offers dramatic views and upscale shopping, but if you only have one full day in Sorrento, perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to have a few evening hours to spend on the isle of Capri.
A sunset sail over to the island for a quick cocktail allows you to experience the magic after all of the daytime crowds have vacated. Travel up to a popular bar via the funicular cable car, and make a toast to your buona fortuna as you vow to return next time for a longer stay on the divine Amalfi Coast.
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