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Italian Journey: Sorrento

A gentle breeze from the sea caressed my face. The air was warm. It was a pleasant mild morning. From afar, looking in my direction, he was the quiet ruler of Napoli: Vesuvius. Neapolitans have lived under his peaceful rule since 1944. However, this has not always been the case. This fascinating volcano was responsible for devastation and destruction. Pliny the Younger, a Roman poet, recounts Pompey’s last moments in a letter to his friend Tacitus – it is breathtaking.
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I drank fresh Tassoni. Beverages overlooked often outside of Italy. It is a refreshing sweet syrup made from cedar (Yellow citric fruit), the perfect aperitif if paired with large green olives.
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I was sitting on the terrace of the Grand Hotel Excelsior Victoria. A historic hotel, operating since 1834. The hotel sits on a cliff on the outskirts of Sorrento. There was very little for my wife to fall in love with in her stunning views, secluded garden and frescoed restaurant. Before I knew it, the first check was signed to reserve a venue for our wedding.
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My wife was right there beside me, typing on a piece of paper. While admiring the sea, I was struck by the very technical questions of “what about flowers? And what kind of chairs should we use? What kind of menu”? “My answers were very deep and thoughtful ‘whatever you want my love for’ and I kept staring at the sea.
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At the center of this picturesque terrace, surrounded by Roman statues, was a small door. It was the entrance to a quick elevator ride from the hotel to the sea. Sorrento really has no beach. What they have are those who call beach establishments. Breathing platforms with the breath of Italianism. For the day you can rent your own cabin, king size sun bed or for extreme relaxation, your own couch. You can access the sea by a ladder placed around the property.
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When that gut-wrenching feeling hits your stomach, you can enjoy the best Mediterranean seafood in the restaurant – by the sea. My wife enjoyed Di Buffalo mozzarella – now she was hooked – I had a delicious frezella. It is bread that is placed twice in the oven to dry. Subsequently, it is soaked in water. As the bread softens, it is removed from the water. At that point, you can coat it with fresh tomatoes, salted anchovies, basil. The finishing touch is the addition of a little virgin olive oil and the job is done. This is a sublime and easy lunch for a day at the beach. If you are ever in Sorrento or Napoli please try it, you will thank me for that.
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As a kid, I loved spending time in these institutions. The whole experience is reminiscent of the movie Scandal in Sorrento with Sophia Loren and Vittorio de Sica.
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After our afternoon nap – my American wife fully embraced the afternoon nap affair – and with some sun on top it was time to head. We took a staircase to the top of a cliff. We ended up at the Comunale villa (it’s a park). At the entrance of the villa could be found a beautiful church of St. Francesco. In front you could see the entire Bay of Naples. We sat in a small bar in the villa and at my wife’s request we enjoyed an aperitif – by then my wife had fully embraced Italian habits. I had a Tassoni – I got hot when I got back to Napoli – and my wife AperolSpritz. It was late afternoon so we decided to go for a walk before dinner.

The city center is still decorated like a Greco-Roman city. In the center of the main square, Piazza Tasso, there is a small cafe that can be enjoyed with an aperitif or ice cream. Make sure you get ice cream when you get out there. Forget about your fit app, it pays off. We walked the narrow streets. The walls of the shops were decorated with huge lemons. Don’t be fooled, they are real. Penisola Sorrentina is known for its huge lemons and lemon products such as lemon soap, limoncello and its multicolored ceramic products – all of course handmade.

As the evening approached, my wife and I were doing what we do best: wine and dinner. For our evening we chose Ristorante il Buco. It is located in the old part of town, through the street leading to the port. Its interior was reminiscent of a vault with a romantic touch. The lighting was perfect and there was ample space between each table to enjoy a conversation with a partner. Restaurants in London and New York tend to take away your personal space. Not at il Buco. Throughout the evening we enjoyed a tasting (tasting menu) of various dishes. The kitchen was refined, the service excellent. The food was accompanied by refined Greco Di Tufo. I finished the evening with my head on the table and could barely breathe. Still, it was all worth it.

Charles Dickens, John Keats and George Byron once walked the streets of this small town. Like many before and after them, they fell in love with his soul, his people, his food and his breathtaking view. As for my wife and me, we got married there. There could not have been a better place to celebrate our love. I always loved spending time in Sorrento, now I can share it with my wife. After all, Sorrento is not a place you once see. Ernesto De Curtis, the famous Torna a Surrient, we have moved to the following destination: Eternal City.