Want to get to know Sorrento like a local? Discover the 10 things to do and see to experience the peninsula like a true local!
Let's start by saying that a few towns will make you fall in love like Sorrento, an enchanting place embraced by the sea, not too far from Naples.
Want to find out what to do and where to go to explore it like a local? Then, we have some tips to give a twist to your next Italian trip.
What to do in Sorrento like a local
A city with an extraordinary landscape overlooking the sea in a truly unmissable natural setting lost between sky and sea. In addition, it possesses a millenary history since its origins date back to the 5th-6th century B.C. when it was founded by the Greeks, like many Mediterranean towns.
Sorrento is a famous town and has always been an important tourist destination, as it was already popular with the Northern European aristocracy during the era of the Grand Tour.
Even if today it is at the centre of large tourist flows, you can still experience it like a local. How? By following our tips. Have a good trip!
10. Sorrento like a local: enjoying a sea-view sunset from Sorrento's Villa Comunale
If we speak of Sorrento, we cannot but mention its splendid views and that vision of the Gulf of Naples, where the view from the sea will leave you breathless.
Landscape and wonder then, and not only. Sorrento is a city with an ancient history, capable of connecting with the contemporary, set in the tufa rock overlooking the sea like a sort of terrace.
To enjoy it like a local, you have to pay a visit to the Villa Comunale, located next to the monastery of San Francesco. You will find a fascinating view of the gulf and Vesuvius, manicured gardens, olive trees, and centuries-old palm trees. A place to discover!
9. Getting lost in the narrow streets of the historic center like a true Sorrento local
A true local loves Sorrento's historic center madly. It is a riot of crisscrossing alleyways, a living organism full of commerce and leisure, from big brands to workshops.
Strolling through Sorrento's historical center, you will encounter churches, ancient monasteries, and centuries-old palaces. Immerse yourself in all this and not only in the crystal-clear waters of the gulf.
8. Stock up on Limoncello and eat the legendary gnocchi alla sorrentina
What's about Sorrento apart from its history, culture and breathtaking scenery? The cuisine, of course! If you're in town, don't miss the traditional "Gnocchi alla Sorrentina" a typical fresh pasta made of potatoes, flour and water, seasoned with tomato sauce, fiordilatte cheese, parmesan and basil.
Here they serve it in the pignatiello the typical terracotta pan that maintains the high temperature of the dish; watch out, you get burnt! And finally, don't miss the limoncello, a sweet liqueur served at the end of the meal made from the lemons of the coast, simply unique.
7. Bathing in the crystal-clear waters of the peninsula
Summer on the peninsula is a beautiful experience, even if it is good to remember that the beaches in Sorrento are tiny and practically always crowded. Also, when the temperature allows, it is easy to get stuck in the heavy traffic that builds up due to the small roads at the edge of the mountains.
On the plus side, there are some beautiful beaches, with crystal-clear, uncontaminated sea, but you have to move a little away from the center to get there. In winter, on the other hand, enjoy the views and the sunsets over the sea and if you can't resist a swim out of season, do it on days when it is not too windy. We know the call of the sea is always powerful!
6. Touring the city's exhibitions, festivals, churches, and museums
Join and visit the many cultural spaces and related exhibitions that characterize the city of Sorrento. Churches, museums, galleries, and even libraries will leave you breathless.
Did you know that Torquato Tasso, the famous 16th-century writer, philosopher, poet, and playwright and one of the greatest of all time and author of "Gerusalemme Liberata" was born here?
Start your cultural tour with Correale di Terranova Museum, which opened in 1989 and now houses rare archaeological finds, Baroque paintings, and a collection of porcelain made by Meissen, Sèvres, Bow, Vienna, Doccia, and Capodimonte.
Afterward, we recommend visiting Villa Fiorentino, a majestic neoclassical architecture completed in the early 20th century and today home to temporary art exhibitions and concerts of the highest quality.
Lastly, as already mentioned, many churches and monasteries in Sorrento are protagonists in beauty and architecture, such as the Church of San Francesco with its 14th-century cloisters, the Basilica of Sant'Antonino, and the Church of the Carmine a few steps from the central Piazza Tasso. Do you want to miss all this beauty?
5. Exploring the Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is an absolute delight to explore, and Sorrento provides an excellent base from which to do so. You'll have the opportunity to indulge in the most typical flavours of Campania's cuisine, bask in unforgettable natural views, and explore picture-postcard villages and hidden hamlets.
Ravello's gardens and Positano's vibrant colours will surely capture your heart. You'll trek on splendid paths that seem to have been traced by the Olympian gods themselves. You'll discover that a lemon can work wonders in the kitchen when placed in the right hands.
While exploring, you'll find hidden beaches and bays shrouded in myth and listen to legends about witches, heroes, and revolutionaries.
4. Overlooking the Vallone dei Mulini
When you're in Piazza Tasso, take a moment to stroll over to the railing of Via Fuorimura and look down. You'll see one of the most unique and captivating views in Sorrento. As you gaze downward, you'll catch a natural riverbed home to the remnants of a 17th-century mill once used in grinding grain.
This location, known as the Vallone dei Mulini, is a fascinating sight. It's hard to believe that such an unusual and picturesque spot can be found right in the heart of Sorrento. You'll definitely want to snap a few photos while you're there.
The valley was abandoned in the 19th century, and the surrounding vegetation has overtaken the industrial structures that once stood there, including a sawmill, a tuff quarry, and cisterns. Although you won't be able to access it directly, the view from afar is truly breathtaking.
3. Using the Sorrento Lift
Sorrento's town centre is well-known for its verticality, much like many other villages and towns on the Sorrento Peninsula and Amalfi Coast.
Climbing up and down endless stairs and hills can be exhausting, which is why the Sorrento Lift is a lifesaver for locals and tourists.
The two lifts carved into rock make reaching the port, beaches, and historic centre incredibly easy in no time. The upper station can be found inside the Villa Comunale park, located in Piazza Francesco Saverio Gargiulo, while the lower station is near the Marina Piccola beach area.
2. Feeling like you're in an old movie
Marina Grande is a charming seaside village that feels like a scene from a classic movie. It's famous for being the backdrop to Sophia Loren and Vittorio De Sica's adventures in Dino Risi's masterpiece 'Bread, Love, and...'.
Visitors can quickly identify the most iconic scenes around the village with the help of signs.
These include the house in Via Sopra le Mura, which was the source of conflict between the two protagonists in the movie; the small harbour where Loren's character sold fresh fish; and the 16th-century steps leading to Marina Grande, which were the focal point of some of the stills that have stayed etched in everyone's minds.
As you explore the village, you'll be transported back in time and feel like in a yesteryear film, with its genuine slices of old life that never get old.
1. Photographing the murals
Sorrento may not be as popular as other cities known for their street art, but its urban art has some pleasant surprises for art enthusiasts.
For instance, near the Circumvesuviana station, you can find an impressive mural featuring the face of Lucio Dalla, created by Jorit. This mural is a touching tribute to the late, talented singer-songwriter from Bologna. Interestingly, Dalla composed one of his most famous songs, 'Caruso', in Sorrento, at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria.
There is another street artwork that is very special to the local community. It is a mural by Tvboy located next to the church of San Francesco.
On the entrance wall of the Villa Comunale, you'll see three figures who have played a significant role in Sorrento's history - Lucio Dalla (once again), Enrico Caruso, and Sophia Loren. This emotional and artistic representation celebrates the connection of these great personalities with the city.