Sorrento is a strangely appealing place with its laid back Southern Italy charm.
In reality, it’s a strangely appealing place, its laid-back southern Italian charm resisting all attempts to swamp it in souvenir tat and graceless development. Dating to Greek times and known to Romans as Surrentum, Sorrento’s main selling point is its fabulous location. Straddling cliffs that look directly over the Bay of Naples to Mt Vesuvius, it’s ideally situated for exploring the surrounding area: to the west, the best of the peninsula’s unspoiled countryside and, beyond that, the Amalfi Coast; to the north, Pompeii and the archaeological sites; off-shore, the fabled island of Capri. According to Greek legend, it was in Sorrento’s waters that the mythical sirens once lived. Sailors of antiquity were powerless to resist the beautiful song of these charming maidens-cum-monsters, who would lure them and their ships to their doom. Homer’s Ulysses escaped by having his oarsmen plug their ears with wax and by strapping himself to his ship’s mast as he sailed past.