By Rachel Orth / Reposted from www.angieaway.com
It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a new country. It might sounds silly coming from someone who travels literally for her job, but I like familiar travel. The first few times I visited Paris or London, I was so scared of getting lost or getting on the wrong train.
Confession time: That might be why I’ve been avoiding an unfamiliar place.
I’ve always wanted to visit Italy, but I wanted to wait until I had a group to go with. After all, French and Spanish I can fake my way through, but Italian… that’s not in my wheelhouse.
After spending three days in London on the first part of my trip, on the next leg was bound for Italy. If you’ve ever met me in person, you know the truth: I’m always ready for pasta. This was going to be amazing.
Things to Do in Sorrento
I flew into Naples and Monograms had arranged a private transfer from the airport to my hotel in Sorrento, a bit more than 90 minutes away. If I didn’t plan this trip with Monograms, I would have had to figure out the public transportation system at 10 p.m., alone, in a new country, where the only phrase I knew was “Buongiorno.”
Sorrento sits high up on cliffs dotted with olive and citrus groves, overlooking the Bay of Naples and notorious Mount Vesuvius. The popular lemon-flavored liqueur, limoncello, was created and still produced in this area. Sorrento is a must-visit destination all by itself, and many cruise ships stop here, but its also in a great location to check out other highlights of the area; Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast, the Sorrentine peninsula and the Island of Capri.
Walking Tour of Sorrento
Most Monograms trips begin with a walking tour with your Local Host. To orient myself with the area, I met up with my host Anamaria in the center of Sorrento first thing and we headed off to explore. She grew up here, so she had a ton of information to share with me.
We walked through the bustling city center passing large tour groups, day-tripping cruise passengers and shops full of limoncello until we reached a quiet side street. It was unassuming and mostly empty so I never would’ve noticed it if not for Anamaria.
This was THE main street in Sorrento way back in the day. We walked the path as she pointed out old buildings, former churches, markets and homes that were once inhabited before the Romans came. Today, the building are repurposed as schools, a few shops and private residences.
Next up on my Monograms Itinerary was a half day trip to Pompeii. Pompeii is one of the most famous archeological sites in the world! I think everyone learns about Mt. Vesuvius in school, so this had been on my bucket list for ages.
Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D, burying the city in volcanic ash and killing 2,000 people. Today, the city remains well preserved because of the ash that covered it. Monograms sorted out my tour guide, transportation to Pompeii (about an hour) and my tickets. Every bit of the day was easy, and personally I was just thrilled I never got lost!
Can you believe THIS is Pompeii?
We spent a half day exploring the once thriving town because there is a lot to see including the Roman Forum, the theater, cemeteries, bakeries and even ancient fast food restaurants sprawling over 170 acres. It’s a game changer having a tour guide with you while in Pompeii. Because there are no explanatory signs in Pompeii, it’s very easy to miss the important details while wandering the ancient streets.
When planning a visit to Pompeii, you mostly just think of it as another archaeological site. But when on the ground in person, wandering through the remains of a town essentially frozen in time, it becomes much easier to imagine what it must’ve been like for the people who died that day in 79 A.D.
Dinner in Sorrento
Everyone knows that Sorrento, and all of Italy for that matter, has a worldwide reputation for incredible cuisine. Pizza Margherita was invented just up the road in Naples and the world famous Caprese Instalata comes from the lovely Isle of Capri, after all. I wanted to try everything local and delicious so Anamaria set up a 3-course dinner for me at Cafè Latino in the heart of Sorrento. I don’t know that there’s a better way to get to know Italy than via one’s own tastebuds, so I was game for a challenge!
I ate more than I thought humanly possible, sampling the local Caprese salad with slices of tomato, the freshest mozzarella and basil leaves drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil. Then I had my favorite ravioli dish ever stuffed with cheese in a creamy sauce with cheese on top. I may never eat Chef Boyardee again!
For dessert, a taste of sweet and tangy limoncello… and then a handmade takeaway Margherita pizza to munch on back at the hotel. Can you see why I switched to stretchy pants at this point in the trip?!
Weather in Sorrento, Italy
The best time to visit Sorrento is in the spring and fall, as the weather is more temperate and the crowds less daunting than the summer months. The weather was magnificent in mid-October, and the crowds from cruise ships and day tours from surrounding areas were not so unmanageable as they are in the summertime. Note that from late October to March, many shops and hotels close or offer limited service in the off-season.