From Castellammare di Stabia to Sant’Agata sui Due Golfi
Castellamare di Stabia is famous for its shipyards and its thermal spa establishments.
The name comes from a medieval castle (castrum ad mare) to which the place-name Stabiae (destroyed in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD together with Pompeii and Herculaneum) was added. The archaeological excavations here have uncovered ancient structures: the necropolis of the Madonna delle Grazie and numerous Roman buildings, two of which are open to the public: Villa San Marco and Villa Arianna. Vico Equense, famous for its thermal baths and for “pizza by the meter” also preserves numerous traces of the past: the Annunziata Church (the only gothic church on the Peninsula), Castello Giusso (founded by the Angevins and restructured between the 1600’s and 1800’s) and the interesting Antiquarium, where the relics of an archaeological burial site from 7th-5th century BC are exhibited.
From Vico Equense the road becomes tortuous, following the sinuous slopes of Monti Lattari.
From Piano di Sorrento, Sorrento can be admired from afar and behind Punta del Capo the profile of Capri is visible.
Piano di Sorrento gradually slopes down towards the sea and enjoys mild temperatures even in summer.
The road follows down all the way to Meta, an holiday swimming area with lovely beaches. In the historic centre of the town is the noted Santa Maria del Lauro Basilica. Soon after is Sorrento itself, the most famous place on the coast.
The city sits high above the sea on an imposing tuff outcrop with deep gorges. The houses are immersed in luxuriant green and surrounded by groves of olive, lemon and orange trees. The whole is framed by the high reliefs of the Sorrentine Peninsula. Sorrento is a tranquil place, to be enjoyed in all seasons for its mild climate, the perfume of its gardens and the panoramic terraces that give onto the sea. The town became famous in the 1800’s, but its history has much deeper roots. The name Surrentum is possibly tied to the legend of the siren and theories of a Phoenician foundation are entertained. What is certain is that in Roman times it was the favourite dwelling of the aristocracy. The town centre is piazza Tasso, which takes its name from the author of “Jerusalem Delivered”, born in Sorrento in 1544. The Cathedral dates to the 15th century and has seen many restructuring over the ages. The Choir is made of refined inlaid wood, a traditional craft the city excels in.
Museo Correale di Terranova houses the relics of the past in the 1600’s home of the Correali, “the most beautiful provincial museum of Italy”, according to Amedeo Maiuri. The archaeological section is important and the collection of forniture, porcelain and paintings is vast.
The San Francesco Church is from the 1700’s and from there you can get to the Villa Comunale, a public garden on the edge of a cliff that offers spectacular views. From the Villa a paved road takes you to the Marina Piccola, which has numerous bathing establishments and a port from which the boats for Capri and Naples leave. The biggest beach is Marina Grande, traditional destination of Sorrentine strolls.
After Punta del Capo is Massa Lubrense, a popular and panoramic health resort. The town is less well known than others on the Peninsula and therefore not as affected by mass tourism. Thanks to this, it retains its secluded nature and preserves flavours and that special feeling lost in other places, like the old farm buildings. Close by is Marina della Lobra, a fishing village with its houses built on the beach and at the little port.
Around Massa Lubrense there are many charming little villages: Termini, Merano, and the vast and beautiful Marina di Cantone.
From Massa you can continue to the far extreme of the Sorrentine Peninsula, in front of Capri: Punta Campanella. NeIn antiquity this place was sacred: perhaps it was here that the Greek temple dedicated to the sirens (so written about by the ancient authors) surged. In the Classic Era the temple was dedicated to Athena, the Romans then built a road that led to it from Sorrento. Some of the old stoneslab paved stretches are still visible as one nears the Punta. The tower-lighthouse, built in 1335 and rebuilt in 1566, signalled the arrival of pirates with the sounding of a bell, hence the name of the Point: Campanella means bell. Here one discovers the wilder and more enchanted face of the coast. One can explore this fascinating natural environment following a trail that reaches the evocative Bay of Ieranto, a rocky cove at the feet of Mount San Costanzo.
From Massa Lubrense one can go up to Sant’Agata sui due Golfi in a magnificent panoramic position over the gulfs of Naples and Salerno, and reach the ancient 18th centrury carmelite hermitage called Deserto.
Mediterranean land that has been depicted described and immortalised in song by artists, poets and travellers from every period of history. Along the coast, rugged and inaccessible cliffs soar upwards between beautiful beaches, hidden caves, enchanting bays and sheltered coves. Whereas inland, the high plains, rolling hills and lofty mountains are seared by deep valleys to create a truly unique landscape in which man has also left a clear sign of his remarkable work: the more impervious areas have been modelled into the now-famous terraces, those huge steps descending into the sea on which man gas planted vin yards and groves of orange, lemon and olive trees. There are the garden of delight which excude an inebrianting perfume of blassom in spring. The mild climate and predominantly fine wether all year round make the Sorrentine Penisular an ideal destination in any season.
The first town in the Peninsular is Vico Equense, with its Giusso Castle on the coast and the austere Mont Faito (1400 metres high) which allows you to pass from the sea to the mountain in just a few minutes. Next we find Meta di Sorrento, a town hidden in a maze of alleyways whose small hamlets and sun-drenched beaches are a must for visitors. Piano di Sorrento is a bustling town which harmoniously blends its sea-faring vocation with its rural identity and its tole as a major shopping centre. The hill rising up behind the town is traverded by narrow roads flanked by high walls that enclose centuries-old orange and lemon groves. Beyond Piano di Sorrento we find Sant'Agnello which looks out over the sea from a high tufastone cliff that enchanted the royal house of Bourbon and led royalty from all over Europe to build majestic villas here. Also overlooking the sea and framed by the surronding hills, the international town of Sorrento with its historic city centre, its harbours and gardens of orange and lemon trees. Finally, the delighful little town of Massa Lubrense, situated on the very tip of the Penisular looking out to the Isle of Capri: a veritable oasis with numerous footpaths linking up ancient farm houses and archeological sites nestling into the Mediterranean maquis which offer superb views out to sea and down onto enchanting little coves.
Ever since ancient times man has been fascinated by this area and many peoples established settlements here: the ancient Greeks were so enchanted that they this was the home of Sirens, whose sweet song was a lure that no mariner could defy; likewise, the Romans were enraptured by its boundless beauty and natural resources and its fame spread throughout the know world. Here they built a road as far as the headland know as Punta Campanella and on the coast they constructed small harbours, fish-tanks, nymphaea and baths using local spring water to embellish their sumptuous villas, such as that of Pollius Felix the visible remains of which bear witness to its former grandeur.
Later, during the Middle Ages and more recent times, the local population engaged in bustling trade in spite of the evrpresent threat of the Saracen pirates and continued to live fearlessly along the coast in the exquisite harbours: Marina di Aequa, Marina Grande, Marina della Lobra. And the Spaniards who governed much of southern Italy for a sizeable part of the modern age, appreciated the area for its abundance of fruits, fish, birds, meat and cheeses. While in the eighteenth century, the sorrentine Peninsular was discovered by the grand tour and intellectuals from all over Europe, including Nietzsche e Ibsen, found spiritual and cultural nourishment here, inauguranting the tast for living in a villa, which made the sorrentine Peninsular a popular resort I the élite tourist trade. In a well-ordered and secure environment, every tourist can have an ideal holiday as there is no end to the possible combinations of countryside and tranquillity, health and culture – bathing in the sea, spa-water health cures at the Scrajo complex, day trips by boat, country walks, excursions to the archeological sites such as the necropolises of Aequa and Desrto and visits to the local museum (the Archeological Museum, the Mineralogical Museum, the Correale Museum), the historic city centers with their ancient monasteries and cloisters, such as the San Francesco cloisters in Sorrento, the old hamlets with their ancient frescoed churches, such as the Chapel of Santa Lucia in Vico Equense, but sport and international music and cinema events are also catered for, in addition to theatre shows, night clubs and bars.
Here there are celabrations all year-round: the thousand of local cultural traditions mean that there is always a special event any time of year from the Carnival to the famous Easter processions throughout the Peninsular, to the numerous fates in summer and autumn with their presentation of typical local produce and the Sorrentine Tarantella, a traditional local dance, and the impressive Christmas celebration. Restaurants of the highest level invite you to savour the now world-famous local cusine with its blend of flavours from the sea and the fertile countryside. Handicrafts are also plantiful: first and foremost the inlaid wood and marquetry craft, although there is also a flourishing trade in a small boats and pleasure craft. Finally, the peninsular produces a number of fine liqueurs distilled from local produce, such as lemons, mandarins, oranges and walnuts.
Old photos of Sorrentine Peninsular
Come preparare il buon limoncello di Sorrento