We found a great campsite in Sorrento. It sits right on a cliff overlooking the gulf of Naples and is surrounded by olive groves.
Not only does it have a tent area but also there are caravans and small wooden chalets to rent at a very reasonable price. We stayed in a lovely wooden chalet with patio which though basic had everything we needed for our stay. On site there is also a restaurant, a small shop, kids play area and a swimming pool. It’s a 10 minute walk into Sorrento and near the sea so the location is a great added bonus. I had stayed in the Bristol Hotel the first night I arrived which was a very nice hotel but my stay at the campsite was far more enjoyable.
Unfortunately there is a lack of beaches in the area of Sorrento, along with a vast English crowd that do take up what is available. When travelling there last year I was in desperate need of a good beach after spending a week in the rural dry lands of Puglia and the best way to go about finding something secret is by befriending a local. An old restaurant manager recommended a beach about 30 minutes walk outside the main town of Sorrento, a place he said was so discreet he used to go down there with his wife years ago to make love. I later also found out it was where Queen Giovanna, who it is named after, used to go to sunbathe naked without prying eyes. I arrived first thing in the morning to deserted rocks and rugged plateaus just asking for a towel to be thrown on. It’s really like no beach I had been to before. Dark caves and washed up boulders, blue lagoons and secret rock pools, only reached through wild paths and risky climbs, a true gangster’s paradise of the south.
Follow the road south of Sorrento towards Amalfi, by car if possible as the road isn't made for walkers, until you reach a sign for Regina Giovanna beach on your right hand side. Brace yourselves for the steep trip down, only accessible by bikes or Piaggios and try to keep to the bare minimum with luggage.
Google map: bit.ly/I4xv9Q
Where better to pass the summer months than from a hand-painted luxury villa overlooking the Gulf of Naples? Start the day under a shady cypress tree in the garden, with a breakfast of olives, cheese, fruit and nuts, washed down with watery wine. Then cross your exquisite mosaic floor and glide down to the pristine beach. Later, refresh yourself in the company of other VIPS at the luxurious marble baths, and maybe take in a performance at the theatre together in the evening. Affluent Romans did just that until Herculaneum was completely submerged under a 16m-thick sea of mud in AD79, deposited there by Vesuvius. Enthusiasts and archaeologists have been excavating the site since 1709, but they still have a long way to go because the people of Ercolano live on top of it. Smaller than Pompeii, Herculaneum can be completed in a morning, with plenty of time for the kids to be back on the beach by the afternoon.
We have been coming to Sorrento for many years and it a wonderful place for a holiday with lots to see and do. Only 20 minutes by train from Sorrento is Pompei, which is really worth a visit, and also Herculaneum a lesser known town a little further than Pompei. Capri is only about 30 minutes on the ferry from the Port in Sorrento and much cheaper buying the boat ticket directly at the Port.
Capri is expensive but worth going to see for the day, with the blue grotto and beautiful views. We did the chair lift a few years ago which is good fun. This year we rented a house about 20 minutes from Sorrento in Massa Lubrense and it was a great experience. The house had a little garden and we sat outside in the evening, which we loved. The owner Lucia went out of her way to make us feel welcome and even took us to visit Puglia which is about three hours from Sorrento. The Amalfi drive is about 30 minutes from the house we rented and we went there three times, once going to Positano and the other times to Amalfi. We managed to go to Ravello getting a local bus from Amalfi and spent the afternoon there.
Sorrento is a great place to go for a late summer or autumn break. The evenings are cooler, but the days are still sunny and warm, and the colours of the autumn foliage blaze along the Amalfi coast. The crowds have gone, and the temperature is much more agreeable for visiting the sights such as Pompeii and Herculaneum. Foodies are in for a treat too, as this is the time of year for freshly picked local mushrooms, chestnuts and walnuts. For a splurge try L'Antica Trattoria - fabulous food, a beautiful terrace and a cosy traditional interior for the cooler evenings. For a restaurant with a local neighbourhood feel, try Il Leone Rosso - spot on for an authentic Pizza Marinara.
Forget expensive coach or taxi tours along the Amalfi coast - take the public bus from Sorrento bus station, and head out towards Positano. For a few euros return you will have one of the best scenic trips of a lifetime - try and get to sit on the entry step looking out. They even run to time. Magic!
Main bus station - Sorrento.
It's the real deal: a gorgeous place with endlessly enthusiastic hosts in the middle of an organic lemon grove looking straight out to Capri. Aldo's the farmer, all round lovely guy, and the man who bakes you your fresh bread for breakfast from one of the ovens built into the wall (naturally one for pizzas) while you sit round the big beautiful table in his kitchen, and tells you everything about what he's growing, Naples, and his wife Matilde. And her funny habits. She pops up after work and on certain nights can cook you dinner from their local goodies, and yep, they are good, plenty of fish and home grown vegetables. And as Matilde used to run a restaurant in Sorrento, she's good at it, very good. The farmhouse is a self-restored old stone saracen watchtower with rambling extensions, and you can stay in the tower, just below the kitchen, or in a separate cottage in front with it's own lawn looking straight out to the Bay of Naples and the shimmering blue sea. There's an old fashioned plush restaurant just down the hill through the vineyards, serving divine lobster ravioli and much more. Another mile on there's the small town of Massa, or you can rejoin the crowds in Sorrento for something a bit livelier. There is splendid panoramic isolation at the Torre, but with nearby buses that head out to the pristine nature reserves of the Punta Campanella and onto the Amalfi Coast. When we left, Aldo gave us a rucksack of organic lemons and a huge grin. So recommended it's not true.
Outside Massa Lubrense, 4km from Sorrento
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