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Sorrento

SUBLIME SORRENTO

Your first view of Sorrento is sublime; soaring limestone cliffs that stretch off to infinity, topped by a string of ornate, elegant hotels in shades of ochre, cream and red. They resemble nothing so much as brightly coloured trimmings on top of a cake. And if there is one thing that Sorrento is truly rich in, it is in an amazing, vibrant smorgasbord of colours, sights and smells that stay with you long after you leave it behind.

From atop those same cliffs, your ship will look like a toy boat, frozen on a limpid blue sea like a fly in amber. The heady scent of lemon groves and the whimsical lilt of a violin makes your first glass of limoncello just taste that much sharper. It could truly only be Italy.

The broad main square of Piazza Tasso opens out from the scintillating boardwalk along and near the cliff tops. From it’s indolent cafes, you can gaze across at the silent black mass of Mount Vesuvius, mercifully unheard from since its last eruption in 1944.

Archaeology buffs will enjoy the Museo Correale, and the relatively small fourteenth century cathedral that forms a focal point of this upper level. The main shopping street is the Via San Cesareo, adjacent to the bustle of Piazza Tasso.

But the most spectacular sights lie along the famous Amalfi Drive, with its sinuous hairpin bends that look down on serried tiers of houses, clinging to the cliff faces at seemingly impossible angles. This is not a journey for the faint hearted, but it is truly exhilarating and, for photography lovers, it really is a dream come true.

From the main harbour, you can take a hydrofoil to fabled Capri or even Ischia, if time allows. Be sure to be aware of the return trip times as well.

Down on the waterfront, a series of large, wooden lidos point out into the sparkling Mediterranean like gaunt, spindly fingers. Lined with umbrella shaded deck chairs and private, for hire cabanas, they allow you to indulge in la dolce vita on your own terms. These usually charge an admission fee, but it is not overly extortionate.

Near the tender dock at Marina Piccola are a few pleasant little bars and cafes that look out over the ocean. There are a handful of shops selling souvenirs, and a small, spiky sliver of a beach used by some of the locals.

Getting there: tenders land passengers directly at the Marina Piccola. There are usually local shuttle buses that will take you up to Piazza Tasso for a nominal fee, although many cruise lines also supply their own. You can walk uphill comfortably in around twenty minutes, but the ascent is long, steep and winding, and not ideal for anyone with any mobility impairment.

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