Sorrento Peninsula, Where You Go Back Again and Again
If we had a bird’s eye view of the Sorrento Peninsula, a bird soaring higher than the seagulls that fly through the sky above its coastline, we would realize that the peninsula is shaped like an exclamation point. The full stop that completes it is the island of Capri, across the water. Mother nature doodling poetically while she composed her sublime creation?
The exclamation point indicates marvel and wonder, and aren’t these the same feelings experienced by travellers and tourists who have been coming here for hundreds of years? Aren’t these the feelings captured by world-famous artists who gave in to the seduction of the Divine Coast and then expressed its beauty in poetry, music and paintings? Dolce vita, indeed, and a magnificent life. But also the otium, or idleness of the ancient Romans, serene leisure, fruitful for the mind and the body.
It also was the allure of this ancient land that stilled the unease in the souls of great talents such as Wagner and Goethe, Ibsen e Nietzsche, Shelley and Tolstoy, who lived and worked here, and that invigorated the creative spirits of their genius with its climate, its landscapes, and the simplicity of its daily life.
At any time of the year, the Sorrento Peninsula is a real treasure trove of beauty, for its nature, its history and its legends.
Every season offers its own surprises. Within the walls of its towns and villages there are monuments and palaces, churches and piazzas that bear witness to ancient civilizations. The Greeks built roads and temples, the Romans, villas. Then, since the Middle Ages, foreign peoples arrived, with different languages and cultures: Normans and Angevins, Swabians and Spaniards.
The main attraction of the Peninsula is and always will be its beautiful coastline towns, in particular Sorrento and Massa Lubrense. We describe Sorrento in our special section. Massa Lubrense is an agglomeration of 18 breathtakingly beautiful villages each one offering different and unique landscapes, from Sant’Agata sui due Golfi, set on the hill between the two magnificent bays of Naples and Salerno, between the Sorrento and the Amalfi coast, to the magical and unspoiled Bay of Jeranto, the outpost of this paradise, at the end of Punta Campanella, the furthest tip of the land.
Although many appreciate the enchanting scenery of the coast, the inland area also is worth visiting. A distinctive route leads through Casola di Napoli, a small town that still retains many of the typical local traditions, towards Lettere, a land of ancient shepherding tradition, dominated by a medieval castle that saw battles and raids in its feudal past. Above all, it is a land devoted to wine, that produces an excellent red. It is a wine excellent with pizza and ragù, and in general with all the flavorsome dishes of the traditional cuisine of Campania.
The Strada Statale 366, a road that winds up through the highlands, leads up to Pimonte, surrounded by woods – mainly of chestnut trees – and by unspoiled nature that delights mountain walkers.
Gragnano, another inland town, is famous throughout the world for its pasta. Apparently its name derives from a Roman root meaning “land of wheat”, which just goes to show that one’s name can influence one’s destiny. In fact since the sixteenth century this area housed a flourishing pasta production industry, fuelled by the abundant water and the climate, which is ideal for the slow-drying process. There is a very interesting local museum dedicated to pasta and its production, exhibiting equipment and machinery of this vital art that transforms white flour into yellow gold.
Higher up, so high, in fact, that it is known as the Neapolitan Switzerland, sits Agerola, an unparalleled tourist destination for those who love cooler climes, especially in the summer. It too is surrounded by green-clad mountains and cultivated terraced land. The town’s attraction lies largely in its gastronomic vocation, which entices tourists and gourmets seeking a healthy and tasty cuisine.