According to the legend, recorded from the historical Diodorus Century, Sorrento was founded by a descendet of Ulysses, son of the King of Ausoni from the ancient Italic population and the sorceress Circe. Another legend says that the name of Sorrento derives from the mythic sirens (half woman and half fish) who loved sailors, luring them towards the rocks of "Li Galli". In the pre-roman, the city was heavily influenced by the Greek culture, as indicated in their urban framework. The rest of Porto Parsano, the port of the Marina Grande, as well as the presence of, Punta della Campanella, a grand temple founded from Ulysses the Athenian, in which was first celebrated at the worship of the Siren and then of Athena. Sorrento soon entered into the territory of Rome. It was often visited in the first imperial age as a vacation place for rich patricians, who elected all of the arc of the Gulf of Naples, from Campi Flegrei to Sorrento, as an ideal place to spend the summer and autumn months. This is how many of the diverse Maritime Villas arose in this area: magnificent residencies that had their own pieces of sea, ample private quarters as well as rustic quarters, in which they produced oil and wine, and with fruit from the land of their property. Sorrento's fame is also recorded by Orazio and Stazio, in their "Silvae" which praises the beauty of the place and in particular the villa of their friend Pollio Felice. On August 24 of 79 A.D. the city underwent serious damage after a disastrous earthquake, which also provoked the eruption of Vesuvius and the ensuing destructions of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabia. But one of Sorrento's most critical moments took place in 1648, when a riot, lead by Giovanni Grillo, broke out against the Spanish. With the support of the public of Piano and Massa Lubrense, they tried to take over the city government, where the nobles were loyal to the Spanish power. The black plague epidemic in 1656 further shocked the local population. But in spite of all these negative events, Sorrento continued to be a leading urban center among the other cities of the province. Under the Borboni reign, a few notable transformations occurred, whether it be from an Urban or political point of view, the economic and social sector, there was a growth in agricultural, industrial, touristic and commercial activity. The street from Castelammare to Sorrento was opened under the Reign of Ferdinand II. In 1861 it was officially under the Italy Reign, by means of the public. Sorrento was already rediscovered as a vacation place in the 18th century, and became a refined and intelligent touristic center. Among its illustrious visitors there was in particular Lord Byrono, Jhon Keats, Walter Scott e Goethe. This city is the birth place of Torquato Tasso (1544-1595) who was considered one of the most illustrious Italian poets and authors of the 500s, among others, of the "Jerusalem Liberty".
Today Sorrento is a provincial commune of Naples, and only 35km from Pompeii. Finding a hotel is simple, whether it be because the citizens have numerous accommodations or because it is well situated by constant means of transportation of buses or taxis, with neighboring areas that offer rich and comfortable hotel accommodations, residences, villas, and private houses (Villa Vesuvio, Villa Principe, Villa Lux, Villa la Palma, Villa Bianca, Villa Giovanna, Villa Limoneto A, Villa Limoneto B, Villa Limoneto C, Villa Limoneto D, Villa Limoneto E, Porto Apartment A, Porto Apartment B, La Palma Apartment A, La Palma Apartment B, La Palma Apartment C, Corso Apartment A, Corso Apartment B, Corso Apartment C, Elisa Apartment, Magic Apartment, Apartment White, Apartment Philip, B&B Relais Amore, B&B Marion, B&B Porto). The local economy is mostly based of tourism, cultural or resort, on agriculture (citrus, nuts, and olives), on the food industry and the local art of inlaid wood.
THINGS TO VISIT:
. The Remains of the Ancient Wall: with Roman origins, they are still visible today in certain parts of the city. The encompassing wall had five entrances and a series of watch towers used against the pirates that often attacked and ransacked the city.
. Porta Parsano: before called Porta degli Anastasi, it is located above the remains of the old port, of which you can still see two pylons, with the arch. These pylons have a netting of works and Ashlar. They can be traced to the Augustinian age, while the restoration is traced to around 1 A.D.
. Porta della Marina Grande: it is the oldest of all the ports and currently holds a large part of the ancient Greek influences. It is located under a tower of which there are not many traces left, but whose existence is documented on an old map from the 700s made by Giovan Battista Pacichelli. Until the 15th century it was probably the only access to the sea from the city and together with the other port, the Marina Piccola, makes, in the pre-roman era, the only outlet for the commercial traffic with neighboring cities.
. Piazza Tasso: is the main square of Sorrento. Its actually conformation is the result of numerous urban transformations in the area over the course of the 19th century. The Baroque church of Carmine and the Palazzo Correale look over the piazza while at the center is the statue of Torquato Tasso which was inaugurated in 1870.
. Il Duomo: The church's principal façade has three openings, above which a fresco representing an image of the Asumption of Mary, and is flanked with two huge pink marbled columns, taken from pagan temples. In the lunettes of the lateral doors there are the Apostles Philip and James the minor. In 1904 a violent cyclone destroyed the upper part of the façade which was then reconstructed and embellished in the first years of the 10th century. The inside of the main entrance was enriched with a drum, embellished with scenes from the history of the local church. In the choir loft above the drum dominates the monumental organ donated by Arcivescovo Giustiniani in 1897. In the back of the central nave on the left stand Episcopals and, in front, the pulpit (1573). This, supported by elegant columns, is constructed with panels of marble, with a bas-relief of the Baptism of Christ at the center. In 1936 the alter from the 700s was disassembled and moved to the back of the apse on the center of the crossing. Replacing the alter was a chair in carved nut wood from Caucaso and with inlaid panels with representations of the Apostles, the four Sorrentine saints and the protector Sant'Antonino. The entrance of the sacristy, erected in 1608, is adorned with a portal of white marble, on which is a renaissance sculpture of Our Lady with the Baby.
-Il Museo Correale: it was born from the Alfredo brothers and Pompeo Correale, Conti di Torrenova, private volunteer foundation, who are the last descendents of an old Sorrentine family. In their testament they wanted their art collection, set in villa Correale, to make up an art museum named afterthemselves. The donation includes the art collections, the palace that hosts them and an extensive agricultural land, whose income help to the upkeep of the museum. Erected in Ente Morale with R.D 18/02/1904 n.242, the museum was opened to the public on May 10, 1924. The collections are arranged on three floors, and a total of 24 rooms, and now also the attic which is used as expositive space.
-Il Vallone dei Mulini: between all the valleys , this one is the best preserved. It is the main part of a system of three valleys, intact only in the roman period. When Piazza Tasso still was not constructed, the first valley started from the Valley of the Mills and extended until thearea of the Marina Piccola, forming an impressive port. The second valley, called "Prossimo" (next), went from the Valley of the Mills and reached all the way to the civil hospital, Porta Parsano, and then proceeded until the Marina Grande with a tight throat. Today, this second valley is partially filled until the Porta degli Anastasi; actually it is the last underlying part if Via degli Aranci. The third valley came from the Villa "La Rupe" towards the hill and then passed between the oranges and lemons to then fork itself towards the "Cesarano" district with one part and towards the "Tigliana" district with the other. There is almost nothing left of this valley. So the only ral remaining part of this system of ravines is only the center one, which is the one that goes from Piazza Tasso until the villa "La Rupe" in which you can still see the remaining archeological items.
-Swimming at Regina Giovanna and the Villa di Pollio Felice: it is a must-do stop for those who come to Sorrento to go to the beach and to see the villas, places where sacredness and legendary stories are based. It is said that Giovanna the Crazy, queen of Naples at the turn of the 1400 century, used this place to entertain herself with her young lovers. She would then cast them into the sea so that no one could tell her secrets. She herself, it is said, did not have much of a better ending, but died during an embrace with a horse. Outside of the legend, the swimming of Regina Giovanna offer a spectacular panorama and wilderness. On its calcium rocks that go down to the sea, are the remains of the ancient villa of Pollio Felice, the noble Roman that hosted guests like Orazio and Plinio il Giovane.
-La Villa Comune: located right next to the sea, where there are still some ruins from the Monk's garden and places next to the convent. Between 1877 and 1879 they were transformed into Villa Comunale. On the inside of the villa, which has a fantastic view of the Gulf of Naples, it is possible to admire the two bronze busts of Bartolomeo Capasso and F. DAverio Gargiulo.
-Il Chiostro of S. Francesco: it is characterized y the layering of styles due to the restorations from various ags. It has a rectangle floor and is delimited by a column and an arc. After the earthquake of 1688 the cloister was reinforced with mighty walls and original porches hidden by thick arches. The refectory, situated next to the cloister, conserves the structure from the 300s. The cloister of S. Francesco is now used today a place for concerts and musicals as well as art exhibitions.
-Via San Cesario: along the small streets in the old center are located many 600-700 year old buildings that refer to the influence of the Neapolitan baroque style. The characteristics are mainly the doors which were usually left unaltered during the building renovations. Among the oldest, they are characterized by a simple design with rounded arches. One can also observe the doors from the 700s with flat or protruding horizontal bands along the frame.
-Via Pietà: it corresponds to the old urban plan. According to the pattern of the urban roman age, it adopted the perpendicular plan derived from the organization of the military camps. This street, that often is interrupted by the sound of the bells of the cathedral, keeps great example of medieval architecture.
Il Sedile Dominova: it is the only remaining testimony in Campania of the ancient noble seats, or places where, in the middle ages, the nobles would come together to discuss and decide they problems. The Sedile Dominova dates back to the 14th century and is characterized by a squared floor, and topped with a open and arched frescoed ceiling. The very interesting frescoes that embellish the inside of the volt and one of which is the coat of arms of Sorrento, supported by a group of angels.
-Il Palazzo Correale: dating back to the 14th century, it is full of architectural elements from the Catalunian school. The building belonged to the Correale family until the 17th century when it was transformed into an orphans' shelter. Connected to the building, there is also a beautiful baroque styled church.
The Basilica of Sant'Antonino: it sits on top of the crypt of Santo Patrono dating to the 10th century. The central nave has a coffered ceiling painted on canvas with rosettes on gilded wood. In the center is the figure of Sant'Antonino. In the right side nave there is a painting of the figure of Sant'Andrea d'Avellino, from the Neapolitan school of the 17th century. The left side nave is dedicated to San Gaetano. From here you can access the space of the sacristy, where they conserve various ex votives, il Presepe with Neapolitan shepards of the 700 and 800s, and a valuable silver statue of Sant'Antonino. From inside the church you can access the crypt, and under the alter is the tomb of S. Antonino. Here you can admire the numerous es votives of the sailors that cover the walls of the space.
-La Cattedrale of Saints Philip and James: built in the 16th century and completely restored over the course of the 1700s, it is rich in works of art and religious artifacts of great prestige.
-Il Museo Archeologico George Vallet: hosted in a palace from the 19th century and surrounded by a beautiful public park, it exhibits numerous archeological artifacts prevalently from the ground of the Gulf of Sorrento.
-Il Museo Bottega della Tarisa Ligna: It is possible to admire beautiful examples of inlaid woodwork and the methods by which they make it.
-The Rites of Holy Week: the procession from Good Friday in Sorrento are among the most meaningful religious and traditional events to the Sorrentine population. The roots of which date back to Medieval Times; afterwards in the 1500s with the Spanish domination, it developed the characteristics that they still maintain today. They come organized, for centuries, from Arciconfraternite di Sorrento, that have greatly influenced the history of Sorrento and all of the peninsula.