Ah, Italy – perhaps Europe’s best regarded location for fine food and wine. (In fairness, the French might have something to say about that. But it’s definitely top five.) Sorrento, a small town on the Amalfi Coast overlooking the Bay of Naples, is particularly well known for the wide variety of culinary delights it produces. It’s the home of limoncello, for instance, and is part of the excellent Campania wine region. While there’s a lot to see and do here, including small antique shops selling handmade ceramics and lacework, you’d be a fool to miss these culinary experiences.
This coastal part of Southern Italy, which also includes Naples, is a famous producer of citrus fruits, nuts and olives, and its cuisine uses all these as well as locally sourced meats and mozzarella cheese to create vibrant, memorable flavours. Accordingly there are a lot of fantastic restaurants in the area, with Michelin stars and other food awards spread heartily around, and most of these use local produce for that authentic taste.
Visitors are also welcome to peek behind the curtain: farms and artisan factories offer organised tours on which guests can see how these wonderful ingredients are gathered and processed. Of course, almost all of these tours also offer extensive samples, as the workers and bosses are particularly keen to show off what they can do. Besides, it’d be a little cruel to take you through the making of some mouth-watering food only to send you home hungry!
Finally, many establishments and hotels offer you the chance to get stuck in to making some food for yourself. Cooking classes are a great way to learn some new recipes to stretch your culinary muscles and really wow your friends at home. What’s more, most cooking classes also include a communal meal at the end, where you can relax with your fellow learners and a glass of local wine.
The Campania wine region
Campania, the wine region of which Sorrento is a part, has an astoundingly long history of making great drinks. Falernum, for instance, was a famed wine in Roman times, noted by historian Pliny the Elder as early as the first and second centuries AD. This reputation has carried through to the modern day, home to well-known brands such as the red Taurasi Reserva and the whites Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avelino, as well as the spectacularly named Lacrima Christi (‘tears of Christ’). The proximity to the Mediterranean keeps the air warm and salty, while the southern reaches of the Apennine Mountains balance the region with refreshing alpine breezes. The area’s high number of volcanoes also gives a distinctive character to the soil, with many vineyards growing in ground that contains volcanic rock and fossilised ash.
While there’s of course a lot of local wine available in the town, most notably from Vizi & Sfizi on Via Fuoro and Grotta del Vinarium on Corsa Italia, the main street, you’d kick yourself if you came to Sorrento and missed out on a wine-tasting tour. Most vineyards in the area will offer organised excursions, though two in particular stand out: the Pompeii and Amalfi Coast tours.
The Pompeii tour, as the name might suggest, takes you to the petrified remains of the Roman town of Pompeii, famously frozen in time by the eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius. Guests are shepherded to the site in a luxurious private minibus, and taken from there to the mountain’s own Vesuvius vineyard, where they can raise a glass to the power of nature and its preservation of ancient history.
The Amalfi Coast tour, meanwhile, offers a private trip around the coast, alongside the gorgeous Mediterranean Sea to a cliffside vineyard. If you want to end your trip relaxing with a glass of wine above an outstanding view, this is the trip for you.
How to Get to Sorrento
To get to Sorrento from the UK, you’re best off flying to Naples airport, then booking a Shuttle Direct transfer to cover the 30 or so miles on to the town. Naples is a relatively popular tourist destination, and is well-serviced with flights from seven major airlines, including easyJet, British Airways and Thomson. This, combined with the relatively short journey time of 2 hours 30 mins, means that flights can often be very affordable.
Where to Stay
Mediterranean Suites – Old Town – Just 70m from Corso Italia, the Mediterranean Suites offers free WiFi in every room, along with a flatscreen television with satellite channels. Some rooms also having a seating area and a terrace or balcony, and all have a private bathroom. For those who don’t mind socialising with other guests, there’s also a shared lounge.
Hotel Leone – Hotel Leone provides guests with air-conditioned rooms well-furnished with LCD televisions, a minibar and a safety-deposit box, as well as free WiFi. It’s just five minutes’ walk from Corso Italia, 15 from the port and six from the beach, and offers a sweet and savoury buffet breakfast.
Hotel Tirrenia – Another highly-rated hotel close to both the beach and the main street, Hotel Tirrenia has a wide range of amenities and facilities on offer. The rooms of course offer air conditioning, free WiFi, televisions and private bathrooms, and the resort also boasts a sun terrace, a hot tub and a gym.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is Europe and North Africa’s best regarded airport transfer operator, and with good reason. Its online booking system is intuitive and simple, and its drivers are experienced, professional and courteous. If you want to get where you need to go safely, affordably, and quickly, with a minimum of stress or fuss, Shuttle Direct is the best way to go.