First time in Sorrento

The release date of ‘The Virgin’s Gamble’ coincided with a holiday to Sorrento with my mum and son.  Our hotel, Settimo Ciello, was a Tui Small & Friendly.  Small and friendly it was.  It was, as the reviews suggested, basic, but had the most spectacular views, as you can see in this photo.

There’s so much to do with Sorrento as your base, with Pompeii, Herculaneum, Capri, Positano and Amalfi within 30 minutes to 1.5 hrs away.  As we wanted a relaxing holiday, and had an 8-year old in tow, we opted for just one boat trip to Capri.

Due to the restrictions of school holidays we visited in high season.  Although Sorrento wasn’t over-crowded really, Capri was crazy.  I would advise avoiding a visit to the famous island in July and August, and opt for out of season instead.  We fought the crowds to get on the Fenicular (the lift that takes you to the top of Capri), then fought our way along the alleyways to view the designer shops we couldn’t afford.  Waste of time.  Save yourself the effort and go out of season.  Then take an open-topped taxi and go to the quiet part of the island to see Capri at its best.

If you head down to the port in Sorrento you can take a local ferry to Capri, Positano and Amalfi – a much cheaper option than buying a tour that various sellers in town will try to flog you.  Of course, with a tour comes a guide, and that has its advantages.  But we heard from various sources that private tour boats can really go for it and hit the water with such force that many holiday-goers spend the whole time throwing up over the edge.  The ferry at least was smooth and hassle-free.

Sorrento has quaint, cobbled streets, ideal for ambling, shopping and making plenty of coffee stops.  It’s worth noting that if you ask for ‘coffee’, you’ll get something that resembles an espresso.  If you prefer a long drink, go for an Americano.

Sorrento isn’t cheap – cheaper than London, but about the same as the South of England, which makes it comparatively expensive for many visitors from Australia and the US, especially with the strength of the Euro (currently £1 = approx Euro 1), so bring plenty of wonga!

The waiting staff and people in stores are OK – not the friendliest, due probably to the amount of tourists they deal with in summer – but not exactly rude either.  However, the scenery and views make the trip worthwhile.  Just beware – anyone with vertigo should probably avoid.  Some of the hotels (including ours) offer incredible views, but are sky-high, with some nausea-inducing moments, especially on the walk into Sorrento town.

Well worth a visit, but once is probably enough.  If you suffer from fear of heights, try Venice – just as beautiful but without the scary moments!

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