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Sorrento, Province of Napoli, Campania

Sorrento rises 47 km from Naples on the peninsula dividing the Neapolitan and Amalfi Gulf, on a tufa cliff in a domineering position, enchanting and intriguing as the song of the sirens after whom it was named. It can be reached by train, and ferry boats and hydrofoils provide connections to Naples, Amalfi, Positano, Capri.
The breathtaking landscape of the coastline and the mildness of the climate always attracted visitors, among them Lord Byron, Keats, Goethe, Ibsen, Walter Scott; it was also the birthplace of poet Torquato Tasso, who gives name to Sorrento's central square.

Info

  • Population: about 16,400 inhabitants in 2017
  • Zip/postal code: 80067
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 081
  • Demonym: sorrentini
  • Patron Saint: St. Antonino the Abbot, celebrated on 14 February
  • Frazioni & Localities: Casarlano, Cesarano, Marano, Priora, Santa Lucia, Sorrento Capo, Marina Grande, Marina Piccola, Sorrento Capo, Sottomonte.

History - Antiquity

According to the legend, Sorrento was founded by Liparus, a son of the king of the Ausoni who in his turn was the son of Odysseus and sorceress Circe. The sanctuary called Athenaion was also allegededly founded by Odysseus and devoted to the cult of the Sirens (mermaids), from which the name Surrentum was derived.

Inhabited since Neolithic times, it was a Greek colony, as mentioned by historian Strabo, then was occupied by the Romans, and in imperial times became with Baia and Ischia a renowned holiday resort for the wealthy Patricians. The present urban plan still reflects the typical geometry of a Roman municipium.

History - the Middle Ages

After the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 AD it was occupied by the Ostrogoths, then for a period it was part of the Byzanthine Empire and then returned to the Roman Eastern Empire. In the late 9th century it became an autonomous center; in 1133 it was conquered by Norman Roger II of Hauteville and from then on it was included in the Kingdom of Sicily.

History - Modern Times

On June 13, 1558 it was attacked by Muslim pirates, after which a new line of walls was built for further protection. In the following centuries its importance rose both in trade and tourism. In 1861 the Kingdom of Naples was annexed to the new Kingdom of Italy. Throughout the 19th and 20th century its luxurious hotels and villas made Sorrento one of the most renowned tourist destinations in Europe.

What to see

  • Ruins of 3 Roman villas at Marina di Puolo
  • The Basilica of Sant'Antonino, built on a previous pagan temple, in honor of the patron, with a façade in grey tufa rock; in a small patio to the right are preserved the bones of the marine mammal mentioned in the miracle; inside are frescoes with 16 scenes of the life of the saint, the last three the miracle of the child rescued from a whale. In the crypt there is a statue of the saint, with an oil lamp burning, which the faithful rub with their hands for protection.
  • The Museo Correale di Terranova, with collections of Capodimonte ceramics, art galleries, archeological section, and a special collection of fans, spanning 3 centuries
  • The beautiful fishing boroughs of Marina Grande and Marina Piccola.

Where to stay

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