A Travellerspoint blog

Our Grand Tour

sunny 23 °C

The picturesque Italian city of Sorrento was one of the stops on the European Grand Tour that became an essential part of the education of young members of the British aristocracy in the 17th and 18th centuries. Those fortunate (and rich) enough to enjoy the exotic sights and cultures were expected to write about their experiences and here is what we imagine we might have written at that time.

We are not, apparently, the first visitors to discover the ancient Greek city of Sorrento on the Amalfi coast south of Naples. This heavily fortified rocky outcrop was seemingly inhabited 600 years BC by the Greeks but the Romans eventually captured it, lost it to the Spaniards who in turn lost it to the Turks. It is now firmly Italian and there are hereabouts many summer palaces built by the Neapolitan nobility from the 12th to the 15th centuries. Indeed, we are guests in one such elegant mansion – the Palazzio Marziale, circa 1464 …
Our bathroom is decorated in the finest Italian marble while the foyer is most splendidly furnished …
This elegant abode overlooking the Bay of Naples lies a safe distance from the still active volcano of Mt. Vesuvius, (more about which we will write later), and we have no concerns as we wander the narrow lanes examining the many hand wrought trinkets offered by the local artisans…
All manner of wooden objects are inlaid with the most intricate of designs requiring many hours of skillful work. However, we fear that in time these local handicrafts will be usurped by men using machinery in such far off lands as China…
Lemons grow in such profusion on the sun-drenched hillsides that the peasants ferment the skins to make a pungent liquor they call limoncello. It has neither the refinement of brandy nor the sophistication of port, but it is nevertheless an amusing libation…
Lemons are so plentiful that all manner of foods and toiletries are scented with them in this part of Italy and there are numerous shops that exclusively sell lemon products…
The narrow lanes of Sorrento, snaking twixt the magnificent mansions and palaces, are so thronged in the months of summer that it is said to be impossible for the bearers to carry a Gentleman about in a litter let alone a donkey cart. Fortunately for us we have arrived at a time conducive to taking an evening stroll without being accosted other than by the many restaurateurs whose premises abut the lanes…
The ancient fishing port which lies at the foot of the sheer cliff is also a tranquil place at present…
However, we are thoroughly enjoying the delicious fresh seafood that the Mediterranean sea provides, especially the sardines, octopus and mussels.

Posted by Hawkson 09:45 Archived in Italy

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Recipe I wanted to try called for a couple of tbs of limoncello. Went to our local LCB. It's 30$ a bottle! Filed recipe away.

by R and B

Very, very seductive writing and photography, makes me want to be on the next plane..

by gottfried

I would like to make limoncello because it is such a refreshing 'digestive'.

R and B - we do have an opened bottle of limoncello in our fridge - let me know if you need some.

by The Vickerage

I am in full envy. There are recipes on line for limoncello. Cheaper and delicious. Ask Sheila for the recipe. Beautiful place lucky you two. Thanks for the photo.

by Sue Fitzwilson

Great narration!!

by Jenny Jose

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