Sunday, June 5, 2011

Serene Sorrento

After our jaunt in the Tuscan countryside, we hopped another train from Naples to Sorrento first thing in the morning.  Everyone warned us about Naples being big on pick pockets and scam artists so we were on high alert.  Luckily, when we arrived in Naples and made the transition from the regional train to the local commuter train with ease and without incident.  Once we got on the commuter train, we had a 1 hour ride to the end of the line, which was Sorrento, located on Italy's AMAZING Amalfi coast.

Sorrento main square

If you get the chance to go to Italy, DO NOT miss the Amalfi coast.  I think this was my most favorite leg of the trip.  There was a lot to see, lots of good day trips you could take from Amalfi, lots of opportunities for the 3 Rs, romance, rest, and relaxation.  We arrived and checked into our hotel, the Antiche Mura, which was a really nice 4 star hotel.  We decided to upgrade a little bit on this part of the trip, per our travel agent's recommendation.
So happy to be on the coast!
After we got situated at our hotel we strolled around to the Pizarria da Gigino where we had a very late lunch.

Darryl's Pizza

My caprese salad
A couple of words about the food.  First, we discovered on this trip that we didn't really like Italy's pizzas.  They were hard to eat.  I was starving and not amused at the prospect of sawing through it with a butter knife, and the proper Italian way to eat pizza is with a knife and fork.  While we were obviously American, we tried to respect the local etiquette as much as possible, thus the frustration.  And on top of it all, it was kind of just, meh.  We tried A LOT of pizzas throughout the trip, typically from highly recommended places in our guide books.  Italian pizza just didn't do it for us.  I also came to terms with the fact that I'm not a fan of mozzarella either.  My caprese salad was phenomenal.  The tomatoes were so fresh and tasty and amazing, they tasted like home grown.  It is my belief that the tomatoes on the Amalfi Coast were extra spectacular due to the fertile volcanic soils.  But the thing that was kind of ruining the salad for me?  The mozzarella.  I tried fresh mozzarella a few times (as well as having had it numerous times at home) and you know what?  I'm over it.  Give me shredded any day, but you can have the fresh mozzarella, I'm not interested in it.  It's bland, it tastes like nothing, and it has the texture of a sponge.
Fruit stand in Sorrento

Darryl reading the Rick Steves walking tour

After lunch, we popped into a Christmas shop to procure an ornament to adorn our Christmas tree.  I try to get an ornament from every vacation we take as a couple.  I lost the lobster from our trip to Boston last year (fail), but hopefully I'll remember where I put the Italian ornament come December.  After that we checked out the lemoncello factory.  We expected this to be a big facility, possibly offering a tour and a tasting.  It was fairly disappointing.  It was really just a couple of vats in the back of a small shop, but we still got a free tasting.  It's not our favorite thing to drink, but you get a glass of it after every meal in this region, so we just went with it.  Then we started reading the Rick Steves walking tour of the city.  We much preferred his audio tours, we got tired of stopping and reading the excerpts out loud to each other, but it was fairly interesting.
Giant lemons, Sperry Topsider for scale....and also my leg.

Shop full of lemon paraphernalia
Sorrento is known for its amazing citrus fruits.  One morning I even squeezed my own orange juice with a press they leave out for guests.  So.  Freaking.  Good.  And they had HUGE lemons the size of footballs and lemon orchards every where you look (and lemoncello, and lemon granita, and lemon soap, and lemon, candles, you get the idea).
Main church in town

We walked down to the sea at the end of our walking tour.  Beautiful views.  You could rent space to lay out on the piers, but it was a tad bit chilly for it that day.
Bay of Naples behind us

Look, I found Vesuvius, I think I'm the only one here cheering for an eruption....

Boats by the water
After spending time taking photos of the Bay of Naples and Vesuvius, we strolled down to the smaller marina for more sight seeing.  This may sound a bit boring to you, but Sorrento was really beautiful, so even though our legs were totally worn out, we kept pressing on.
One of the biggest past times in Sorrento was the evening stroll taken by the residents.  On our way back to the hotel for a little rest we encountered the beginnings of this phenomenon.  By 9 PM when we re-emerged we found this main street was closed down and the streets were packed with locals and tourists alike, strolling around with their dogs or families, enjoying a gelato and the evening air.  It was like nothing I've ever seen.  What a pleasant way of life.
Strolling in Sorrento

Some sort of chicken breast thing?

Mushroom Risotto
We found a good spot for dinner outside the Men's Club.  No, it's not a stripper joint, but a club for old men to hang out, play chess, and share the local gossip.
Musicians serenading us in front of the Men's Club

Enjoying some wine with my dinner
Afterwards we got some gelato and strolled around until midnight when we headed back to our hotel.

1 comment:

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