Standing proudly on top of the cliffs at the tip of Italy’s glorious Amalfi Coast, Sorrento is a town that deserves to be admired. It is a land bursting with colour, where the shimmering blues of the Tyrrhenian Sea sit alongside lush green hills, rugged cliffs and bright orange and lemon groves. It’s a cultural hub, famed for producing beautiful ceramics, lacework and intarsia and has been home to the Etruscans, the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines and the Normans. This rich history, along with its idyllic seaside setting, has had a clear influence on Sorrento’s architecture. Join us as we take a look at the most beautiful buildings in this incredible cliff-top haven.
Chiesa di Francesca
Famous for hosting some of the world’s most talented classical musicians at its popular summer concerts, Chiesa di San Francesco (St Francis Church) is a symphony for the senses in its own right. Dating back to the 14th century, the church is a triumph of baroque style and features rich stucco decorations, a towering wooden door and delicately painted frescoes. However, it’s the beautiful cloister that is its main attraction. It’s a stunning fusion of architectural styles whereby impressive arches – typical of 14th-century design – stand opposite perfectly carved pillars and artefacts from historic pagan temples. With its abundance of flowers, plants and trees attracting melodious birdsong, it’s easily one of Sorrento’s most relaxing areas.
Museo Correale di Terranova
Too often we picture museums as stuffy and boring spaces, devoid of character. However, travel east of Sorrento’s bustling centre and you’ll find a museum that does away with this image entirely.
An 18th century Patrician villa that opened to the public in the 1920s, Museo Correale di Terranova is home to an incredible assortment of 16th-19th-century Neapolitan arts and crafts, as well as Japanese, Chinese and European ceramics – and the surroundings of the museum has a beauty that rivals them all. Circled by citrus groves, it’s the museum’s garden that takes centre stage. It’s rare plants and flowers set visitors up for its crown jewel: a gorgeous terrace that offers breathtaking panoramic coastal views.
With waves crashing below, the majestic Mount Vesuvius providing the backdrop and the sprawling Gulf of Naples perfectly in view, the Bellevue Syrene is romance defined. Born as a patrician residence in the 19th century before eventually becoming a five-star hotel, the building now blends old world elegance with modern luxury and even has a little ancient history thrown in. Ancient fish shops and delicate flowers attest to the former presence of the Romans and in fact, the legend goes that this place, which is set between rocks and sea, was so beautiful that the mermaids chose it as their home.
Duomo di Sorrento
Every great Italian town and city has a beautiful Duomo at its heart, with Sorrento being no exception. Duomo di Sorrento, Sorrento’s prominent cathedral, is immediately recognisable and this is mainly down to its striking exterior fresco, classical columns, triple-tiered bell tower and majolica clock. Once you venture inside, you’ll discover a marble bishops throne dating back to 1573, as well as interiors decorated in the local style. The Duomo was originally built around the 11th century – as the original Constantinople-style door reveals – but was rebuilt in the 15th century to fit the Romanesque style, with its last update as recently as the 1920s.