We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang.George R. R. Martin
Everything that George R. R. Martin describes as “fantasy” is how Sorrento looked and felt to us. Colors pop up during the day at the fishermen’s buildings. At night, the city is aglow with Christmas lights. Sorrento is the place to let your taste buds be your guide, where you can eat some of the best pasta (at least in our opinion), sip on bright limoncello, and go on a culinary cooking adventure. End your stay by taking in the sounds of the streets and the music blaring on the balcony square. What better place to celebrate our 1 year wedding anniversary?
Sorrento is now one of our favorite places! We started off with a bus ride that hugged the mountain side, weaving in and out. It was an adventure and not for the faint of stomach or heart. If you want something calmer, take the train instead, but bus is the cheaper option. Both will spit you out at the city center.
We headed to our hotel, Hotel Antiche Mura, and it was breathtaking. The staff was always nice, accommodating, and willing to answer our questions. They knew we were there to celebrate our wedding anniversary and we were delighted to discover a bottle of wine in the room with a card congratulating us. After breakfast (they had a huge spread every morning!), we went outside to explore the hotel. They have a lovely terrace, ancient fortified walls, a statue bust, and some cannons. We recommend staying here, but try to book during non-peak season. Also, get the room in advance because it can be a little pricey during those peak months.
Another reason to stay at Hotel Antiche Mura? Location! It was right near everything we wanted to see. Just outside the hotel, there’s a drop off with the historical ruins of Vallone dei Mulini at the bottom. In the 13th century it served as a flour mill and then closed in the 1940s. Time has turned it into an enchanting and a beautiful spot to see while you are there.
Throughout the day we enjoyed different limoncello tastings around the city. We liked I Giardini di Cataldo the best. Find time to explore this shop and admire their traditions that they put in place since the 1800s. They offer a tour of their limoncello groves during the peak months, but unfortunately not during the off-season when we were there. Instead we made up our own tour through the groves, sipping on their delicious limoncello and relaxing under canopies of lemons.
Full on limoncello, we then took a walk through city center in Sorrento, home to tons of shops selling handmade goods. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, we would still recommend window shopping. The products are beautiful to look at and the owners love telling you how they made their products.
After shopping, we started to get hungry. We stopped at this cute restaurant nearby called Ristorante Fuoro and discovered some of the best pasta we’ve ever tasted! We got the tagliolini del Ristorante Fuoro con cremoso di limoni di Sorrento e gamberi — homemade pasta with lemon cream sauce and shrimp. Not only were the flavors superb, but the presentation was so adorable too. They placed the pasta and shrimp in an actual lemon, which really intensified the lemon flavor. Then we had their ravioli ripiene di zucca e burrata di Bufala, amaretti secchi e fonduta di gorgonzola –- homemade ravioli stuffed with pumpkin and Bufala burrata, dry amaretti, and blue cheese fondue. It looked so simple on the plate with three raviolis, white sauce, and crumbles. But, every taste I wanted was there, from the creaminess of the pumpkin to the saltiness of the gorgonzola. My only complaint is that there were only three.
Next up: our first-ever cooking class, called Quanto Basta – Cooking in Sorrento. We decided to do the meat option, but they have a fish and a vegetarian option as well. We ended up being the only students since we went during the non-peak time. Some tours and activities in Italy require a minimum number of participants or they will cancel it. The instructor was the best, though, and gave us a private class!
He started us off with a meat and cheese board platter, which was great because we got to talk to him and get to know him a little bit better before we had to cook. Then it was time to make dessert first: tiramisu. We don’t usually order the tiramisu because it’s not our favorite, but this tiramisu was amazing! We made our own cream and layered it as instructed with the lady fingers. It was not too sweet and had a fresher taste than we were used to. Also, he taught us how to make it so the lady fingers don’t get mushy later.
Our main meal, chicken cacciatore, was out of this world! It was so easy, quick to make, and didn’t require a bunch of ingredients. The sauce gave off the most amazing aroma as we cooked it and the chicken was perfectly tender.
We ended the class with gnocchi and tomato sauce. Our instructor made it seem like you could do anything with the right tools and right recipe! We had so much fun rolling out the dough. The common phrase he kept telling us was to make a gnocchi snake and not a gnocchi crocodile. Can’t promise we were the best at making gnocchi snake! The sauce he taught us to make was so simple and delicious (and we can use it on pizza too).
If you have time, make sure you take this cooking class in Sorrento. We recommend it because you will learn some amazing tricks and try out simple recipes that you’ll keep making even after the class is over. The instructor was the best, very knowledgeable and so patient with us. We would definitely go back and take another one with him. This cooking class opened our eyes and we can’t wait to try other cooking classes around Europe!
By the time we finished, it was dark outside, but the streets never looked so bright. It was the Christmas season, so there were lights up on every street we walked down. We had stopped to enjoy the lights in this small square when suddenly we heard music. Up on a balcony somewhere, a DJ was throwing a raging party.
The next day we decided to walk around the waterfront and the view from the top of the cliffs was stunning. We now understand why it was the place where the Sirens sang and lured men to their deaths in Homer’s the Odyssey.
We made our way down a bunch of stairs looking at all the shrines etched into the wall. We walked through a Roman ruin tunnel and saw the sea in the distance. At the water’s edge, we came across a picturesque fishing village alive with brightly colored buildings. We loved walking around, but it was a little disappointing that none of the restaurants in the village were open because of the off-season. We will have to return.
As our bus was cruising along the open road back to Naples, we caught the most magnificent sunset — a perfect ending to our anniversary weekend. Until we see you again, Sorrento, we will dream of blurry colors, subtle flavors, and distant sounds.