Saturday, 13 October 2012

Italy - Sorrento

Sorrento, 'capital' of the Amalfi coast and Sorrentine peninsula, with its small narrow alleyways crammed with shops and cafes and bars, lovely little hiding places to escape the world. It has beautiful hotels, each with its own ambiance, decor and gardening style. Terraces, overlooking the small port and yacht club, where we enjoyed an Italian coffee and glass of water, looking out over the Bay of Naples and Naples itself in the distance. We were here for three days and twice took the local bus into town.
We spent a good few hours on each occasion walking the inner town following our own route and turning left and right as the whim and fancy took us. At this time of year, the low season, you see uncrowded streets, you see the buildings and sidewalks because you can actually look around instead of looking how to avoid walking into people.

View of Sorrento

You see more of the locals because they are not invisible amongst the tourists, you see them dashing about on those ubiquitous scooters. Those scooters .... ! They drove Joan up the wall, figuratively and almost literally too. Entertainment it can be watching some of the most carefree and daredevil riding I've seen anywhere, and yes at times plain reckless. There was the guy with a Mastiff sized dog sat between his feet on a Vespa, the guy carting two 11kg gas cylinders stacked one on top of the other, also between his feet on a scooter. There must be a few thousand scooters on this peninsula, nothing bigger than 250cc, all makes and sizes. Riders in shorts and T-shirts and only a cheap helmet on the head - and not even that sometimes. Remember you are in Italy ....

Scooters on the main road.

Bay of Naples

Looking out of our motorhome window early one morning over a misty coast, we saw a cruise ship anchored in the bay near town. Binoculars out and some Googling identified the ship as Seven Seas Voyager from Regent Cruises. Not long after, the tenders were at work taking day trippers ashore.

Seven Seas Voyager
Yes, the views enjoyed by the passengers were serene ....

Not so the view from our coffee table on a lovely terrace supposedly overlooking the Bay of Naples ....

Other small niceties will soon make you understand why Sorrento is such a popular tourist destination. Take for example the plethora of cafes and bars in Sorrento, most providing free wi-fi access. You also have other places all over town where wi-fi hotspots are available, in parks and piazzas, and they are advertised as such. People want Internet connectivity - end of story!

Wi-fi hotspot

Niceties! I mean where else in the world can you see a traffic warden doing her rounds diligently, not harassing the motorist, not ticketing parked cars, all smartly dressed and looking the part. I mean really .... ! Bella Italia is what I say!

Traffic hotspot .... !

As has often been the case over the past three weeks, since arriving in Italy, it's the terracotta colours that becomes synonymous with the mind's eye view of Italy. Sorrento is awash in this happy blend of colour and style with a bit of shabbiness to add character. It can be a photographer's paradise.

When you've had your fill on purely buildings and architecture you can look at gardens and flowers and the meeting of the two with bricks and mortar, that typical 'free spirited' style that makes up the Italian psyche. Some examples:-

We also came across this magnificent specimen of the Madrona tree (Arbutus Menziesii) in the gardens of the Hotel Imperial Tramontano, one of only two or three in Italy according to the receptionist.

Madrona tree

Red bark of the Madrona

Our camperstop had a wonderful view of the Bay of Naples and the town of Sorrento, situated as it was 1km out of town on a hill. Once again, it being low season meant that we had a prime site near all facilities in an uncrowded environment.

An idyllic setting - sea and cliffs.

Early evening

Dusk with a heavy sky

I asked around from fellow Italian motorhomers as to the do-ability of taking Fifi around the whole of the Amalfi coast via Positano, Amalfi itself and on to Salerno. They were all hesitant saying the roads are very narrow in places and the scooters are a constant menace. In a small vehicle no problem, or next time round on a hire scooter I said to Joan ....

Arrivederci Sorrento!

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