Five Unforgettable Views on the Gulf of Sorrento
Return to Sorrento
There’s a reason one of Italy’s most famous songs is called Turna a Sorriento—Return to Sorrento. The contrast between jagged mountains of Sorrento and her sparkling seas below is simply irresistible. So much so that it causes one to euphorically burst into song. Walking along the promenades of Sorrento, the trails of Sant’Agata and the marinas of Massa Lubrense make one appreciate the juxtaposition of mare and monti here. There is something bewitching about this region. Perhaps that’s why legend suggests this is where the sirens attempted to ensnare Ulysses with their dulcet voices. This is siren country. This is Sorrento. These are our favorite views.
1. Villa Comunale,Sorrento
Sorrento is one of the world’s oldest tourist destinations. Several hundred years before the rise of the Roman Empire, Greek mariners colonized the old town of Sorrento. Since then warriors, nobles, traders and artists have flocked here for much needed R&R. The sunset views from the town’s Villa Comunale are among the most stunning in the Mediterranean. The Villa is a public garden located about a five minutes walk from Sorrento’s main square, Piazza Tasso. From here you enjoy sweeping panoramic vistas of Vesuvius, Naples, the Campi Flegrei and off in the distance, even Procida and Ischia. If you are seeking beauty, culture as well as a quick geography lesson, take a stroll in Sorrento’s Villa Comunale. If you are keen to extend your panoramic walk, head to the Foreigners Club for an afternoon spritz and more panorama viewing. Just don’t order food here—it isn’t very good! Head to L’Antica Trattoria Sorrento later if you are in need of a proper meal.
2 Punto Campanella, Massa Lubrense
What many visitors do not realize is that the Amalfi Coast and the Gulf of Sorrento are two distinct geographic entities. The region’s Monti Lattari separate the two and the cape where the Amalfi Coast and the Gulf of Sorrento join is called Punto Campanella. It has one of the best views in all of Italy. From here you can nearly touch Capri and on a clear day you can see straight into Capri’s Marina Grande. This is the heart of siren country. Beyond this cape, Ulysses encountered a group of three sirens and when they failed to ensnare him with their rapturous voices, they thrust themselves into the sea, committing suicide. One such siren was Partenope. Her body washed ashore the Island of Megaride at the site of the original founding of Naples. To visit Punto Campanella is to venture through time to an era when sirens enchanted mariners and Cyclopes lurked in hidden grottos. Today, you can reach Punto Campanella through a relatively flat footpath that departs from Massa Lubrense’s neighborhood of Termini. In total, the hike takes about two hours. Before heading down the trail, pick up a simple panino (sandwich) and a bottle of Falanghina wine from Termini’s Bodega, Alimentari Amitrano Elvira and enjoy a picnic on your hike.
3. The Monastero di San Paolo, Sant'Agata Sui Due Golfi
Sant’Agata sui Due Golfi is a charming fraction within the town of Massa Lubrense. In addition to housing Don Alfonso, one of the most lauded restaurants in all of Italy, Sant’Agata boasts sweeping views of Sorrento and the surrounding Mediterranean. In fact Sant’Agata’s name ‘sui Due Golfi’ references its position above the two Gulfs of Naples and Salerno. Just beyond the town’s main square, you can walk up the country road of Via Deserto and finally up to the hilltop Monastero di San Paolo. It was on this same site that the original Greek inhabitants of Sant’Agata built a necropolis. Today Desert Hill is home to an order of cloistered Benedictine nuns as well as a famous painting, “Ecce Homo.” On June 15, 1738 this painted rendering of Jesus cried tears of blood that caused 17 stained roses to grow. Reportedly these same roses continue to grow in the Monastery walls today. Perhaps the best part of visiting this Monastery is the breathtaking views of the town center of Sorrento and the two gulfs of Naples and Salerno. Have a hearty lunch at one of Sant’Agata’s many delicious trattoria (if you can’t get into Don Alfono, which is damn near impossible these days, I suggest Lo Stuzzichino) and then take a brisk walk up Desert Hill. Should you feel less inclined to walk, there is a Due Golfi Train Tour that takes guests up to the Monastery. I highly suggest the invigorating walk up to the Desert Hill.
4 Marina Lobra, MassA Lubrense
Where Sant’Agata sits perched high in the hills of Massa Lubrense, Marina della Lobra serves as the town’s marina. This seaside borgo retains its original charms as a fishing village. Take a winding road down Massa Lubrense to the marina and prepare to spend a day at the sea. From here, you can enjoy old-world views of fishermen netting their day’s catch against the backdrop of Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples. There is a panoramic walkway that hugs the shores of the Marina for about 1 kilometer. Take a stroll and then head to Angelo’s Bar and order a generous plate of Spaghetti alle Vongole. Life doesn’t get better than clams and a Mediterranean stroll in the fishing village of Marina della Lobra.
5.Santa Maria della Grazie Old Cathedral, Massa Lubrense
This happens to be the main church in the town of Massa Lubrense. But it is merely a geographic reference point for what is one of the most suffocatingly beautiful roadside views of the Gulf of Sorrento. Take an afternoon drive through the Gulf and stop in Massa Lubrense’s central piazza for a tipple on the terrace of the Relais il Pennino Hotel. With views of Capri, Ischia, Procida, Vesuvius and the whole of the Bay of Naples, your eyes will simply have trouble taking it all in. That’s why you ought to treat yourself to a spritz and experience the joyous occasion of being on the Gulf of Sorrento in the heart of siren country. No photo will ever do this view justice. Breath, sip and commit to memory the essence of this special view in Massa Lubrense.