Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Day in Sorrento

Wisteria blooming in Sorrento
My aunt and uncle left about two weeks ago, and I've been catching on my blog from both their visit and Paige and Julia's visit before that. In the intervening time, my days have been spent organizing photographs, cleaning, resting, and the like. We did take a brief trip down to Sorrento, on the Amalfi Coast, a couple of weeks ago. We'd started to feel a bit lazy on our weekends, and we don't want to leave Italy when our time is up feeling regret for lost weekends. With potential rain in the forecast, we made a plan to go to either Sorrento if weather was nice or to the Volcano Mall if it was raining. I have no idea what the Volcano Mall is other than a mall in the shape of a volcano. I don't know what stores it holds, if the volcano has mock eruptions, if it's a mall like an American mall, and so on. Nathan told me he saw a picture of it and thought it was a new soccer stadium.

Saturday dawned, and it was quite nice. The Volcano Mall is saved for another day. We elected to leave Scully at home because it's no fun dealing with our dog on a leash and every stray in a 5 mile radius snarling at him. It's actually a bit tense and frightening for me to always have to watch for attacking dogs. Things were going well for our pleasant afternoon in Sorrento...until we reached the turn-off from the Coast Road and came to a screeching halt. We crept along, unsure of how far we were from the main area, and after about half an hour, we passed a train station that I thought was the main one, so we parked in a nearby lot and began walking. As it turns out, we parked too soon - an entire town too soon. Rather than get back in the traffic, we just walked and walked and walked some more. Then we took a wrong turn and walked an extra 1/3 of a mile or so before finally reaching Sorrento's main piazza. I was not in a good mood. Nathan quickly realized he should get gelato into me fast - he knows exactly how to cheer me up!

Much restored, we returned to the main piazza to take in the beautiful vista to the sea. We'd planned to follow a little walking tour we had in our guidebook, but after all the walking we'd just done - no, thank you. Instead, we decided to just wander down whatever streets looked interesting. Sorrento has a pedestrian zone (I cannot tell you how much I love these zones, where I can relax from jumping out of the way of speeding Vespas or constantly be dodging the mass of crowds on the sidewalks and the mass of cars on the roads - and the cars on the sidewalks, since we are in Italy, after all). One little street was nothing but an alley, but seemed to be the main, shopping area. Throngs of people filled the tiny alley, most of them speaking English. When we finally reached a harbor overlook, we could see that there was no cruise ship there, so we never did find out why the mass of Brits and Americans filling Sorrento that particular day. Maybe it's always like that.

How to sunbathe in Sorrento
While Sorrento is nice, I'm not quite sure what I would actually do there for an overnight or longer term stay. Many Amalfi towns have restaurants with sea views, so if you don't want to do anything in those towns, you sit with gelato or wine or pasta or whatever and just enjoy people and ocean watching. Sorrento didn't seem to have these options. There is a train station with service north to Pompeii and Naples and buses with service south to the smaller, coastal towns, so I suppose it's a nice little anchor city if a visitor wants to see a good bit of the area. And I suppose the pedestrian zone makes for a nice touch, as well as language is not as much of a barrier due to all the other tourists, but...I just didn't find the "wow" factor. It was nice enough for an afternoon, and maybe if we'd been a little more energetic, we would have sought out the sites and been more impressed, but it really just seemed to be a crowded, Disneyland version of an Italian town. We'll have to return in the off-season and try to explore Sorrento's charms a little more.
Sorrento lemons are like no others!

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