Famed Mount Vesuvius is a 4,203 foot volcano that sits across the Bay of Naples from Sorrento. It was this volcano that suddenly exploded and buried the Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum under a thick layer of ash. The crater rim at the top gives the best view of the area, and the crater continues to show some signs of life with its wispy sulfurous fumes. A road leads up most of the way, and those not looking to hike the entire rocky face of Vesuvius can take a bus up. However, the last third of a mile, arguably the steepest part, must be walked. Vesuvius can be reached by taking the local commuter train that runs around the edge of the Bay of Naples area. After a 45 minute train ride, get off at either the Ercolano Scavi or Pomepi Scava stations, and then take a bus. Walking from either the Pompeii area, or worse from Sorrento itself, will be very urban and not especially pleasant. To do the entire mountain, simply have the bus let you off at near the base and start walking.
Ente Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio
8 - 80040 San Sebastiano al Vesuvio (NA)
00 (+39) 081 7710911
The most famous attraction in the Bay of Naples are the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, which were destroyed and buried under volcanic ash during a two day cataclysmic eruption in 79 AD. The result was the preservation of the two towns, creating the best representation of what urban life in early imperial Rome was like. Both can be reached from Sorrento in about 30 minutes using the local commuter rail line.
Pompeii and Naples Archaeological Office
Tel: 00 (+39) 081 8575341
In the Bay of Naples is a rocky little island known as Capri, and the wealthy have been enjoying it as a retreat since the time of the second Roman Emperor, Tiberius. The island is far enough from Naples to have clear waters, and the stunning cliffs and offshore pinnacles make for great sea kayaking. However, the famed Blue Grotto is routinely crammed with tourist boats and should be approached by sea kayakers with caution. The waters off the Green Grotto are also supposed to be good for snorkeling. Ferries run directly from Sorrento to Capri, and on a slow boat the ride is about 45 minutes.
Eat and Drink
The Neapolitan style of pizza is what is widely known simply as "pizza" in the United States. So, when you eat pizza in Sorrento, you are eating the original version in its home territory. That does not mean every pizza will be a spectacular experience, but it will be an authentic one. Looking around the cliffs and hills surrounding Sorrento are numerous groves of lemon trees, and the town is famous for its limonicello. Have some as a digestive after a big meal, and try to remember to take a bottle home.
Sorrento is a lovely little Italian town, and easily the prettiest in the Bay of Naples. This is a large part of the explanation for why it has been so popular with visitors to the area. It is well worth a stroll, and those looking to seriously stretch their legs can go up to the top of the ridge behind the town and take in the view. A word to the wise about the local lemon trees: even trees growing in places like parking lots are private property, so technically picking the lemons is theft.
Marquetry is a handicraft where an object is decorated with veneer pieces, creating a pattern. It is used to make furniture and paneling, and is a major tradition for the Sorrento area. The town is still home to shops owned and operated by local master craftsmen who are well-known throughout Italy for their work. It is certainly worth it to stop by and admire their handiwork, and perhaps buy a piece to take home.