The official starting point of the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento is known for its authentic Italian cuisine, one-of-a-kind shops with custom made accessories and its beautiful scenery, including archeological remains and medieval buildings. Couple that with mild climates, fabulous views of Mount Vesuvius and the sea—as well as its close proximity to Naples and Capri—and it’s no wonder Sorrento makes a great long weekend destination. Plus, unlike other Amalfi Coast towns that shut down in the winter, Sorrento is a year-round destination. In fact, traveling outside the summer months means less tourists and cooler temperatures.
Where to Stay
A member of Leading Hotels, the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria (exvitt.it) was founded in 1834 by the Fiorentino family and makes a good home base for exploring Sorrento as well
as nearby Capri and Naples. The intimate boutique property has 83 rooms, half of which are suites. Perched on the top of a cliff overlooking the Gulf of Naples, the hotel has three adjoining buildings: La Vittoria, La Favorita and La Rivale. The balconies and terraces have sweeping views of the water or the five-acre park which surrounds it. The hotel is steeped in history—ruins of a villa belonging to the Roman Emperor Augustus are said to lie beneath the property and the remains of a Roman swimming pool are still visible. The Boutique Spa La Serra, located in a former 19th century greenhouse, has plenty of natural sunlight and focuses on a holistic approach to wellness.
Where to Eat
The Excelsior Vittoria is home to the Michelin-star restaurant Terrazza Bosquet, offering regional Neapolitan cuisine as well as Mediterranean favorites like lamb loin and pigeon breast. The Orangerie restaurant serves traditional regional dishes like handmade pasta, grilled meat and fish (caught fresh from the Gulf waters). Guests can also try their hand at pizza making. Outside of the hotel, try Maria Grazia, located in nearby Nerano, located on the beach and known for amazing mozzarella, antipasto platters and spaghetti with zucchini (it’s the family’s secret recipe). Back in Sorrento, don’t miss Ristorante L’Antica Trattoria (lanticatrattoria.com), which is known for cannelloni, and Ristorante ‘O Parrucchiano (parrucchiano.com), an Italian favorite for 150 years.
Where to Explore
Highlights of the tour offered by the Excelsior Vittoria include strolling down Corso Italia, the street where a plethora of one-of-kind boutiques and famous Italian gelato shops reside. (A good one to try is Gelateria Primavera.) Be sure to grab a coffee in Piazza Tasso (the main square right outside the hotel’s gates), before visiting the Sorrento Cathedral and strolling through the cloisters. The hotel can arrange for a personal shopper but then you’ll miss all the fun of exploring the top spots in Sorrento. This town is known for its shoes—be sure to stop at Ballerí for flats and Ca Gi Sa Sorrento for custom-made sandals. The region is also known for its inlay wood, so be sure to visit A. Gargiulo & Jannuzzi. For leather, Mary Shop by De Martino offers a great selection.
Where Else To Visit
Excelsior Vittoria offers guests use of the hotel boat (along with a personal captain) for day trips to Capri, one of the highlights of the region. Travelers can visit the famous Blue Grotto—where you’ll pass through the renowned Faraglioni rocks—and the boat can put down anchor for a swim in the Bay of Naples. Capri is known for its chic boutiques and fashionable residents, so an afternoon here is good for people watching and shopping.
Naples is only one hour from Sorrento. Known as the home of the margherita pizza (it was
created for Princess Margaret), Naples has no shortage of authentic eateries. A must-try is Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba, which serves delicious classic and deep-fried pizza. After lunch visit the Teatro di San Carlo, the famous opera house that was founded in 1737, then stop at the National Archaeological Museum, which specializes in ancient Roman remains. Then pick up some authentic homemade pastas at Eder, a delicious local shop.