GOLDEN DAY SIXTY-EIGHT: Sorrento with Mary Sherman Indelli
I always enjoy dinners with my friend Mary Sherman Indelli, where we trade stories of our Italian adventures. Mary has been in the travel biz for over 35 years. She was inspired by her passion for her favorite country to create ItalyItalyItaly, a company that offers customized tours in every region for groups or individuals. I envy Mary’s frequent research trips, where she hops around from countryside villas to boutique city hotels, checks out top wineries, cooking classes, and tour guides–and then comes home with loads of up-to-date contacts and experiences, so she can create itineraries that suit each client. “I always give travelers a selection to choose from and budget options, so they can decide where they want to save and where they want to splurge,” Mary tells me.
One of Mary’s favorite places is Sorrento, on the Amalfi Coast. As she puts it, “Sorrento is perfectly positioned so travelers can base themselves there, and without packing and unpacking, have a relaxing time taking day trips to Pompeii, Naples, the islands of Capri or Ischia, and the coastal villages of Positano and Ravello.
I’m grateful she’s joined in to share her Golden Day in this piece of Paradiso…
A wonderful place to stay in Sorrento is the Bellevue Syrene. It was built over a Roman villa, and was once a private home, so it has lots of history and an intimate feeling–65 rooms, and each one is different.
The hotel’s loggia, draped with wisteria, is extraordinary. The view of Mount Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples from there is one of the best in Italy–my husband and I couldn’t drink in enough of it–we never wanted to leave! After a breakfast there, relax on the hotel’s private sunbathing deck, take a morning swim, or indulge in a spa treatment.
Late morning we love to explore the little shops and caffes in the back alleys of Sorrento, or take a drive to the next town, Massa Lubrense, to walk on their pathways among the lemon and orange trees.
For lunch, head to Piazza Tasso, Sorrento’s main square. There you’ll find Pizzeria Aurora , or their sister restaurant, O’Canonico, next door, both of which are beloved by locals as well as tourists. They are family run–casual, authentic, and the pizzas made in the wood burning oven are fantastic. Some think their waiters have an attitude, but that is the Italian way. I always show my appreciation for their food and service and they treat me like a queen.
In the afternoon, go on a boating adventure with Captain Gianni Tedesco. Gianni, a native, is the perfect guide for a circle around the magical island of Capri. He’ll stop at hidden grottoes and bays for you to swim in, and take you to the major attractions–such as the Grotta Azzura=Blue Grotto. His boat is set up with music, drinks, and his mother’s homemade limoncello, that you can enjoy while lounging on the deck. Click here for more info.
Back in Sorrento, enjoy sunset cocktails at the Bellevue Syrene loggia.
Before or after dinner, join in on the passeggiata, which begins at Piazza Tasso and goes down Corso Italia. You can chat with the locals, stop for an espresso or a gelato and blend in with the life style of southern Italy.
If you’d like to splurge for a sophisticated dinner, make a reservation at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria. The dining room is splendid, with frescoed vaulted ceilings. The food is all made with local products and fresh caught seafood. The hotel is built over another former Roman villa, and Enrico Caruso had a suite there. The property is surrounded by orange trees, and once you enter their gate at Piazza Tasso, you feel as if you have entered another world. Down the lane, you arrive at a very elegant and charming villa hotel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and the Port of Sorrento.
An alternative for dinner, also a splurge, is Il Buco, (Rampa Marina Piccola 5, 06 0598 21212), where the food is out of this world, and you are treated like royalty.
If you’d like a more casual dinner, Ristorante Ruccio, (Piazza Marinai d’Italia 33, 081 807 4069), is the best for dining right on the water. This family owned spot will pamper you the minute you walk through the door.
Grazie for the inspiration, Mary!
*Map courtesy of http://www.venere.com