Sorrento, Our First Taste of Italy

Sorrento, Our First Taste of Italy
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Traveling around the boot of Italy, I must say, that for my first stop being Sorrento, it definitely took my breath away. I loved the idea of it being close enough for a bus ride to Positano and Pompeii. If you are looking to visit a seaside town in Italy, Sorrento is a great place. It is central to the places we wished to visit. If you would like to spend the day in Capri, Sorrento is a great option. Many also chose to stay in Positano and visit Capri by boat and Sorrento by bus. You have options, so see what is best for you.

Sorrento was such a quaint wonderful town filled with the aromas of great food, the best gelato I ever had, ceramic Capri bells, and everything lemons! In this part of the region, lemon gardens are everywhere and lemons grow as big as your head! Well, almost, they are quite huge, unlike the small lemons we get in America. While you are in Sorrento, you must try a Limonchello, a very sweet liquor. One must not forget about the endless souvenir shopping with lemons on them…ceramics, magnets, soaps, pot holders, holiday ornaments, dish towels, the list is never ending.  A special keepsake for sure from Sorrento. I bought several lemon items, and everytime I see them, they bring a smile to my face, of the fondest memories of walking all the side streets. Lemons are definitely their mascot for souvenir shopping.

In absolute awe of Sorrento’s lemons!

 

One of the many Sorrento shops, filled with everything lemons.

 

Even the cats of Italy are cultured in art.

 

Antica Gelateria, Sorrento. The best gelato I ever had!

Antica Gelateria was a gelato shop I visited three times while staying in Sorrento. There is a small alley across from the shop where you can sit and enjoy a wonderful cappuccino with your gelato.

 

The best part of Sorrento are all the shops to browse. If you love Italian horns, handcrafted ceramics, cameos and red coral, this place is ideal to find the perfect momento. I collected a silver charm from each main region I visited in Italy. I noticed charm bracelets were huge in Italy. In Sorrento, I purchased a sterling Italian horn on a silver bracelet. Most Italians speak English quite well and one gentlemen told me all about the making of cameos. Their craftsmanship dates back hundreds of years and it is fascinating to me they keep those crafts alive today.

A deli in Sorrento.

I grew up on Long Island, New York. Italian delicatessens were everywhere. We bragged about how amazing our food was, especially Italian food. Well, sorry my beloved New York, but nothing compares to fresh Italian food in Italy.

Spaghetti made with freshest ingredients.

Because of my Hashimoto’s, I cannot eat ‘gluten’ on a regular basis. But in Italy, I ate flour filled foods like rolls, bread, croissants, pastries, pasta and pizza every single day for three weeks. No issues. No inflammation. Italy, like many European countries, use only fresh ingredients with no pestisides and no preservatives. Even the livestock is fed well and treated with dignity. Italians value where their food comes from and how it is prepared. They take pride in it and the absolute freshness of their food! I am a huge foodie. Every meal I had was a symphony of flavors and textures in my mouth. I could taste food better than I ever did before. It made me sad that when I returned to America, even with buying ‘organic’ food, I was never going to taste fresh food like Italy again…until I returned.

My pilot and dear wife, Holly, though not a foodie at all, loved every meal we had. We celebrated my birthday in Sorrento with a delicious meal of lobster and ravioli. The portions there are smaller because they are more filling with fresh ingredients. For dessert, we had Tiramisu and cheesecake…OMG!!

Ristorante The Garden, Sorrento

We dined at a wonderful restaurant filled with fresh food, red wine and amazing ambiance. We ate upstairs in a garden like setting above Sorrento at night. Ristorante The Garden was our first dinner in Sorrento and it was on my birthday. Be sure to NOT dump parmesan cheese all over your dish! It is a common thing with Americans and Italians are quite aware of it. Taste the food first! Unlike America, Italian food from Italy tastes so fresh and the flavors really pop. The above picture was of our server who insisted that it would be a “catastrophe” if I blended the different cheeses together. I respected that and ate it just as it was served to me and it was absolutely amazing.

Italians eat very late at around 9pm. Crazy isn’t it? They eat all that food late at night and still wake up thin and healthy! Ha! Most restaurants cater to Amerians and if you dine around 6pm or 7pm, you will find more tourists than locals eating at that time.

I got to enjoy my childhood favorite, zeppoli! (photo from Florence but had to share).

Every meal was a treasure for me. I was able to enjoy anything I wanted without asking if it had soy or gluten in it. It didn’t matter if it was ‘organic’ or not, Italians don’t use dangerous pestisides. For a foodie girl from New York, I got to taste where my Italian heritage all began…zeppoli, eggplants, prickly pears, sfogliatella.

I even understood why cactus were on window sills in little clay pots all over Italy, just like my mom had. One of my favorite things to photograph, were all the clotheslines filled with garments hanging out to dry above the streets. Reminded me of how my grandmother (from Naples Italy) would dry her clothes on a line in New York City above her vegetable garden. My history started here in Italy. I learned so much about myself, just being here. I learned a lot about my grandmother and parents. It warmed my heart, as well as my belly.

The meals in Italy, for me, were not just about stuffing my face with yummy food, it was a taste of my family traditions, my childhood, my ancestors. Having Hashimotos comes with limitations on foods I grew up on, but in Italy, in the beautiful town of Sorrento, I got to enjoy it all…fresh, and simply wonderful.

So here are the highlights of Sorrento, obviously great food and cafes (as with any region of Italy). Be sure to visit the gift shops and learn about the story of the bells, Capri bells. They originated in Capri but huge in Sorrento! I didn’t see them anywhere else as much as I did here. It’s a precious story and I love hearing  stories and traditions from the locals. Love Italian horns? I sure do and in this region I saw so many of them! Be sure to sit at an outside cafe and sip on cappuccino and people watch at night. There is usually entertainment in the streets too. Such fun! Try out the lemon drinks and products! I purchased a few spices to take back with me to America. I love fresh herbs from other countries.

Our stay in Sorrento was for five nights. It was plenty because one day was spent in Positano (one hour bus ride) and another day we visited Pompeii (50 min tour van ride). We felt we had enough time to enjoy Sorrento and take in all it had to offer.  We absolutely loved our accommodations at Villa Angiolina. It was located in a quiet area and a short walk to the little town center of Sorrento. The staff was friendly and accommodating. Be sure to book a hotel where breakfast is included while in Italy. It is not only convenient but saves you money. Some hotels serve a continental breakfast while some serve a full hot meal. At Villa Angiolina, we had delicious croissants, cold cuts, cereal and coffee. It was enough for us. We visited Sorrento in October and the weather was wonderful, as we went further up the boot, it got colder so be sure to pack for various weather. Pack light! We each had a suitcase we dragged around. We got a van service from the train station, a bit pricey but worth it. After a long flight and then taking trains it was worth it to hire a driver to take us to Sorrento.

Be sure to keep a look out of our other Italy adventures…Positano, Rome, Assisi, Venice, Siena and Florence. Remember, no matter what place in Italy you travel to, take in their culture, talk to a local about their life, and above all…eat everything!!! Ciao!

 

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