Sorrento, land of mermaids decanted by poets and celebrated in songs, is located on a tufaceous terrace overlooking the Gulf of Naples.
Every year tourists from all over the world are fascinated by its breath-taking views, the marinas, the gardens and the citrus groves, the suggestive historical centre with shops and artisan workshops, the historical and religious architecture, the ancient tradition of wood inlay and lace.
Sorrento’s main attractions are:
Crossed by the lively Corso Italia, Piazza Tasso is the main square of Sorrento.
Named after Torquato Tasso, to whom a monument by the sculptor Gennaro Calì is also dedicated, the square is adorned with the statue of St. Antonino Abate, patron of the city.
The square is surrounded by the “Casa Correale”, by the church of St.Maria del Carmine with its rich Baroque facade and, along the north side, by a terrace overlooking a narrow tufa cliff crossed by a little road that leads to Marina Piccola.
The Valley of Mills
The Valley of Mills has origin from the most violent eruption in the history of the Phlegraean Fields and to the subsequent erosion processes by the waters which progressively affected the tuff base. The Valley owes its name to the presence of a Mill, whose construction was commissioned in the XVII century by the family Correale. The mill, whose ruins are still visible, was used until early 20th century to grind wheat. Historical and artistic testimonials show the presence in the inside of a sawmill and a public wash-house. The filling of the ending part of the valley with its consequent isolation from the sea area, caused a rise of the humidity rate who made the area uninhabitable. The particular microclimate promoted instead the development of a rich herbaceous and arboreal vegetation.
The Museum is based in the 18th century residence of the Correale family, counts of Terranova, donated by the Correale brothers to the city of Sorrento together with the family collections of pictorial and decorative art to make it a museum open to the public.
Opened in 1924, the museum is divided into 3 floors with 24 rooms where are exposed Greek, Roman and medieval antiquities, 17th and 18th centuries furnishings, porcelain and majolica of Capodimonte and others manufactures, Venetian glasses, Bohemian crystal, Neapolitan shepards of the 700 and watches.
Very important, the collection of furnishings and local handicraft objects of wood inlay, the nucleus of Neapolitan and foreign paintings (17-18 centuries) and the nucleus of landscapers of the “Posillipo School” and some editions of works of Torquato Tasso.
Not to be missed also the library, the garden that surround the palace and the terrace/belvedere overlooking the gulf of Naples.
From the municipal gardens is possible to enjoy a breath-taking view. Located close to Tasso Square, from the gardens it’s possible to reach Marina Piccola by a useful lift.
St. Francesco Church
Just a few metres from the Municipal Gardens, there is the convent complex of St. Francesco d’Assisi composed of the church, the cloister and the monastery.
During the XIV century, Franciscan friars erected, on the place of the ancient oratory founded by St. Antonino, a church later modified in Baroque style.
The church of St. Francesco, built in the 14th century and restored early in the 18th century, keeps the architecture of that time, except for the front in white marble dating from 1926 and the inlaid door of the 16th century.
The interior presents a single nave with rich decorations and has a wood statue of St Francesco of the 600. On the high altar the painting of St Francesco who receive the stigmas (1735) of Antonio Gamba.
Near the church there is the Benedictine monastery founded in the 7th century and ceded to the conventual friars in the 14th century, where they still live today.
Not to be missed is the 14th century Cloister of St Francesco. Unlike the church, with its arch structure, the cloister has kept the original architecture of the 14th century, despite the harmonious fusion of different stiles due to the renovation in different times.
Cathedral of St. Antonino
St Antonino is the “patron, lawyer and father” of Sorrento and the peninsula and to him is dedicated the cathedral of the homonymous square. During the centuries it’s been the subject of renovation that gave it the current baroque style.
The interior presents three naves divided by twelve columns, some of which coming from villas of the roman time.
The ceiling of the central nave is decorated by 3 paintings of Giambattista Lama. From the lateral naves we descend to the crypt, with the vault supported by 8 columns. In the middle of the hypogeum there is the altar where is located the statue of St. Antonino. Under the altar are stored the remains of the Saint Patron.
Dome of Sorrento
Built during the 15th century in roman style on an ancient place of worship, the cathedral has been the subject of many restoration work, until the makeover of the front in the 1924.
The only original element is the marble side portal that shows in the architrave the crests of Sisto IV, of the house of Aragona and the Archbishop De Angelis.
The interior in the form of a Latin cross, in Baroque style, has works of big value: baroque paintings of Oronzo and Nicola Malinconico and Giacomo del Po, the “Madonna with the baby and the two St Giovanni” of Silvestro Buono.
Of great importance also the wooden choir in the presbytery, example of Sorrento wood inlay from the early 900, and the church organs over the entrance door.
Just few metres from the Dome, on Corso Italia, there is the 5 levels bell tower.
The basement section and the first 3 levels probably date back to the 11th century, the top with the ceramic watch have been realized during the 18th century.
Built in the 14th century as Domus Novae (from which Dominova), the small squared building in the historical centre of Sorrento is the only testimony in Campania of the ancient noble seats.
The Sedile Dominova looks like an arched loggia, closed in two sides by balustrades while perspective frescoes decorate the walls of the other two sides. Among the frescoes there is the emblem of Sorrento, surrounded by angels. The loggia is surmounted by a 17th century cupola with green and yellow majolica. In the vault are represented the heraldic symbols of the noble families who were part of the seat.
The room adjacent the loggia is from 1895 the headquarter of the “Società Operaia per il Mutuo Soccorso”.
Marina Piccola e Marina Grande
Marina Grande is a fishing village made famous by the film with Vittorio De Sica and Sofia Loren “Pane, Amore e…”. The characteristic village offers restaurants and bathing establishments.
In Marina piccola is located the port, important point of arrival of ferries and hydrofoils that connect Sorrento with Capri, Ischia, Procida and Naples.
On the side of the port are located bathing establishments which often, due to the small size of the beach, are built on stilts on the water.