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Sep 2017

Sorrento Coat of Arms

On a titular peninsula, Sorrento is a well-tended tourist town that's not too far south of, not-so-neat, Naples.

Most people will be having a week here even though there's not that much to it and the beach can be a chore but more on that in a minute.

  Campania Express (Piazza Giovan Battista de Curtis)

Circumvesuviana runs a train service to and from Naples that stops approximately every 100 yards. The Campania Express is 20 minutes faster but is far less frequent as are the stops.

You pay a bit more and, because of the fare dodgers, you're given an escort and boarding is via a single carriage door where they'll approve your passage.

This much is already known because here has been to before, you see, 15 years earlier on a full-board family fling and the Albergo Lorelei hasn't aged too well, neither.

It's now remembered that the old tree at the bottom of a parade of shops isn't going to keep you entertained for a whole seven days...

'Hey kids, fancy going to see the old tree today, again?'

They've been clinging ingeniously to the cliffs here since before the Romans and the ' beach' sits, not unreasonably, at the bottom of them.

You'll not be wanting to do this every day, anywhere between 500 and 1,000 steps according to advising trippers although there is another way down from the bridge in town.

Either way, you'll end up on a concrete jetty and in that fine, European tradition, you'll have to pay and dis-bathe even near the end of September when there aren't that many spare spots.

It's said that the medieval, Italian poet  Dante Alighieri came here in 1308 but that was in high season and the sight downstairs was said to inspire his vision of hell in the Divine Comedy.

That's a joke, of course, but it's a piece of work that will take a week out of your life.

The Villa Comunale park actually provides a lift down but you can queue for up to an hour to get back up, they say.

Still, nice views from up here over the Bay of Naples to old Vesuvius where it's just about far enough away should she decide to go off on one.

Vesuvius is just one of the options for a day trip since Sorrento's also a base for Pompeii, the Isle of Capri and Naples, of course.

That's only if you're not being held captive by your hotel's private pool and tied into the dining. It's either that or feign interest in the Chiesa dei Servi di Maria where you'll be told to 'Sssh!' and to cover up those shoulders every day.

  Ristorante Pizzeria Sant'Antonino (Via Santa Maria delle Grazie)

This was 15 years earlier and unbeknownst at the time, the first authentic, Neapolitan-style pizza. Thinking back, it was thought that the burnt bits were because they'd left it in too long and  San Marzano was someone who played up front for Inter Milan.

The backstreets provide the setting for that familiar, afternoon mooch where the lemons are nearly as big as the melons.

They're the main ingredient in Limoncello, the regional liqueur that's nothing like the complimentary, watery stuff that you get a free thimbleful of in your local, suburban Italians.

Luigis or Nonnas or Capriccios, per esempio.

This stuff has a right boozy kick and isn't claggy at all and every knick-knack provider here sells it by the bucketful.

Now, there's an idea for whiling away a week that you won't get back.

  Gelateria Davide Gelato Sorrento (Via Padre Reginaldo Giuliani)

Their toasties are shipped in but that's because the emphasis is on the ice cream. At least 40 different flavours on display inside and an English lady on the next table is ordering a Banana Split...

'But without whipped cream and no strawberries and no nuts, per favore.'

What? A banana? This is an ice cream parlour woman, not a greengrocers!

If you're not visiting sedately for the day, Corso Italia, the main road through, runs west through town where there's more evidence of ingenious clifftop clinging.

That way leads to a death-defying, white-knuckle drive, they say, to  Amalfi that's best done in an open-top Maserati GranTurismo, probably.

Speaking of Grand Tourers,  Percy and  Mary Shelley, no less, are known to have stayed here with the visitors who had started to come in their numbers as early as the early 19th century.

It's not known if the fidgety fop filled his time here eating figs for a week, more likely, gazing romantically over the bay wistfully thinking... 'Now, what rhymes with Vesuvius?'

'The two of us?' It's no  Ozymandias.

  English Inn (Corso Italia)

British boozehounds are catered for here and they also do B&B.

That, by the look of it, stands for Bully Beef?