"ma nun me lassà/nun darme stu turmiento!/ Torna a Surriento/ famme campà"
("Torrna a Surriento" by G. Martinelli)
"Qui dove il mare luccica/ e tira forte il vento/ su una vecchia terrazza/ davanti al golfo di Surriento"
("Caruso" by L. Dalla)
Perched on a plateau above an imposing tuff stone cliff, Sorrento is without doubt the most famous resort of the homonymous peninsula, surrounded by the lush of a rich Mediterranean vegetation, with fragrant lemon groves, orange trees and dark and twisted trunked olive trees. At first a Greek -Oscan colony, and then Phoenician, the traditions narrate that the mythical "Sirens" lived in its waters, those who tried to capture Ulysses with their melodious songs. The name, not surprisingly, derives precisely from the greek "Syrenusion" or "Syreon" or "land of the Sirens." It followed the fate of Rome, becoming a "municipium" in 89 B.C. and residence of the rich and wealthy patricians, that built here their most sumptuous "villas". In the Dark Ages it became a Republic and was cited as one of the most important maritime cities of Southern Italy, under the domain of the Duchy of Naples, from which it became independent in the XI century. Established the Duchy of Sorrento, which embraced the whole peninsula, from the river Sarno to Punta Campanella, it acquired considerable fame mainly to the presence of shipyards and a flourishing trade and a rich production of oil, wine and fruit. In 1544, it became the birthplace of the famous Italian poet Torquato Tasso. After a period of insignificant growth in the XVIII century, during the XIX, there was an economic revival with social and cultural benefits for the entire peninsula, when Sorrento was included in the "Grand Tour", a trip between the most significant localities of Italy, a important stage, for all the young Europeans that wished to complete their studies. During this period Sorrento hosted important visitors, such as: Byron, Keats, Scott, Dickens, Goethe, Wagner, Ibsen and Nietzsche.
Rich in artistic, cultural and natural heritage, Sorrento features several prestigious sites, such as:
- the remains of the ancient city, including the remains of walls, tombs, furniture, remnants of a temple dedicated to Athena on the promontory of Punta Campanella, the ruins of the villa of Pollio Felice and a nymphaeum known as Bagni della Regina Giovanna;
- the XI century Cathedral, entitled to the Saints Filippo and Giacomo and partially rebuilt during the XV century. Inside it preserves a ceiling painted with floral motifs of the XVIII century, a wooden marquetry of the XIX century, a crucifix of the XV century, numerous artworks by artists from the Neapolitan schools and 12 beautiful panels of the XIV century. The clock tower stands on a base which features recognizable Roman architectural elements, and a ceramic face clock of local manufacture;
- the Church and the Cloister of San Francesco, located near the Villa Comunale. The monastery dates back to the VIII century and the beautiful cloister of the XIV century features crossed tuff arches on either side of the porch. There are also clearly visible columns taken from ancient pagan temples. The church, however, dates back to the XVI century and houses within a fine XVII century wooden statue representing the Saint of Assisi with a crucified Christ;
- the Church of the Servi di Maria, completed in the XVIII century, in Baroque style, it houses the Congregation of the Servants of Mary. Inside it preserves three famous wooden sculptures, a Dead Christ, which is led in procession on the evening of Good Friday, a statue of the Madonna and one of St. Joseph;
- the Church of the Addolorata with a Baroque façade in tuff stone;
- the Church of the Annunciation, fronted in tuff stone, it has very ancient origins and was probably built on the ruins of a pagan temple dedicated to the goddess Cybele. Inside are featured valuable paintings of Annunciation of the XVI and XVIII centuries;
- the Basilica of St. Anthony, whose origins date back to year 1000. Built using construction materials taken from the disused ancient Roman villas of the area (including columns and capitals), while in the crypt, rebuilt in the XVIII, several votive offerings are preserved;
- the Church and the Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie, built in the XVI century and features a beautiful tiled floor and valuable paintings by local artists;
- the Church del Carmine, built in Baroque style, it features a single nave plan and inside it is possible to admire paintings of the XVII and XVIII centuries and inlaid reliquaries of the XVII century;
- the Church and Monastery of St. Paul, part of a Benedictine complex of the IX century. In the church are preserved a valuable terracotta tiled floor, XVIII century paintings and stucco decorations. Of interest is also the small lookout tower with a dome covered with majolica tiles;
- the Church of the Rosary, erected where once was located a pagan temple of 310, built during the reign of Constantine the Great. It was proclaimed as the cathedral of Sorrento from the XII to the XV century;
- the Sedile Dominova, the only testimony in Campania of the ancient noble administrative center of the life of the neighborhood;
- the Casa Quattrocentesca, located in vico Calantariano, it is only evidence in Sorrento of the influence of Tuscan masters, that worked in Naples during the XV century;
- the home of Cornelia Tasso, sister of the poet Torquato Tasso, who lived and worked here for a long period;
- Palazzo Correale, one of the most magnificent palaces in the city, with its façade enriched by ogival mullioned windows in dark tuff stone;
- Palazzo Veniero a splendid example of late-Byzantine and Arabic architectonic styles;
- Porta di Parsano, a gateway between the ancient city walls, opened in 1745 and offered protection to the city since the Greek Ages;
- Porta of Marina Grande, the oldest gateway entrance to the city of Sorrento
- the Correale Museum of Terranova, in which are exposed interesting finds of the past; important is the archaeological section, with the famous Base of Augustus, and the medieval section, with marble works dating from the X and XI centuries. It also features a wide collection of furniture, porcelain and paintings.
- the Museum Shop of wooden inlays, which houses an important collection of furniture and objects that highlight the uniqueness of the art of inlaid woodwork in Sorrento.