Our next stop on DDC21 is Sorrento, famous as one of the world’s prettiest seaside towns, perched on the coast in southern Italy right next to Pompeii and Naples. You have probably seen these cliffs in pictures or desktop wallpapers — the houses burst with bright colors, exotic pink and sunshine yellow, and they stack almost on top of each other as they climb the tall cliffside.
The people of Sorrento have a rich, blended culture, and the region has a deep history you can follow back to the 11th century BC. Combined with the Blue Grotto, a sea-cave with a signature blue glow on the nearby island of Capri, this stop on our voyage is one of the most popular vacation spots in all of Italy.
Taking a Tour through Time
The first thing any visitor to Sorrento will notice is the fantastic blend of cultural styles peppered through the town. As with much of the Mediterranean, Sorrento has a long history of conquest and cultural trade, which resulted in a mix of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, French, and Spanish influences spread throughout the city.
Each historical landmark you visit might be separated by hundreds of years of human history — whether it is the 16th century of the Sedil Dominova, the 14th century of the Correale Palace, and the 13th century of the Veniero Palace. If you want to see just how far you can travel back in time, look for the Roman ruins of Villa di Pollio Felice. This remnant of the old empire dates back to the 1st century B.C. Today, the village persists as an ancient rock archway surrounded by steep cliffs with a beautiful natural pool below where you can swim.
The city walls themselves stem from a similar time, with three different cultures represented in their construction. Built by the Greeks, strengthened by the Romans, and rebuilt in the 1500s under Spanish rule, each section of the walls can point you to a different era — it is rare that we can see the passing of time so clearly.
The Perfect Stroll by the Sea
Take a walk down to Sorrento’s boardwalks and you will find two Marinas: Marina Grande and Marina Piccola. Marina Grande, ironically the smaller of the two, has a bustling boardwalk atmosphere. Here you can take a beachside stroll past seafood restaurants, fish vendors and bakeries selling treats like Caprese almond cakes. Marina Grande keeps its distance from the ferries and crowds of the busier Marina Piccola, making it the perfect place to experience local delights.
Marina Piccola, on the other hand, is a larger port where the ferries and boats dock to take tourists off the coast to the island of Capri. When you’re done with Marina Grande, hop aboard a boat to one of the most celebrated islands in the world. Once there, you can climb Mount Solaro to take in a view of the Bay of Naples or, if you would rather not hike, visit the terraced Gardens of Augustus. Just be sure to stop by the Blue Grotto before you leave.
The Famous Blue Grotto of Capri
Plenty of boats set off from Sorrento every day to circle Capri’s natural wonders. The most famous of these is probably the Blue Grotto, a fantastic sea-cave that feels almost magical in its beauty. This cave, extending about 150 feet into the cliff, holds a pool of seawater about 500 feet deep that is so dazzlingly blue it makes the entire cavern seem to glow.
Sunlight passes through an underwater hole in the seawall and shines upward to make the water look even brighter than the air. This causes red reflections to be filtered out of the light, resulting in a brilliant blue or emerald glow that fills every corner, looking like a magic fountain from another world. The opportunity to bask in this glow makes the Blue Grotto a must-see destination on our voyage.
Next Stop: Rome
Once you’ve had your fill of the Blue Grotto and the full tour of Capri, return to the Sorrento harbor to climb aboard the Splendor once again. Be sure to eat your fill and get your rest, because our next stop is the fabulous capital of Italy itself — Rome.