Sunday, 30 June 2013

Try a Yoga holiday in italy

Yoga holidays and retreats in the medieval village of Casperia set in a unique authentic enviroment of village life. Time to relax and recharge your mind, body and soul.

Join us for a yoga holiday located within a hilltop pedestian ( no car ) italian village :

You can join in with group yoga classes or have one-to-one yoga tuition Or simply enjoy a retreat from the world at one of our accommodation options – On the holiday you can choose from a large selection of holistic treatments, explore the mountains and villages or take part in numerous activities, from watercolor painting to horseriding, italian lessons & more. Your holiday will be an unforgettable experience, a real break to unwind, relax, and physically, mentally and spiritually recharge.
Guests style there retreats the way they choose soaking up life in an italian village with warm friendly locals, wonderful food,pine scented air, its the perfect chill-out vacation italian style.

Most of our rooms are ensuite or have private bathrooms and all are self-catering. There are accommodation option for all budget types and Prices include accommodation and breakfast , fresh linen and towels, one yoga class daily (Friday through Tuesday), a guided walk in the Sabina mountains, all-week use of bicycles and yoga mats.

The holiday will be a unique experience where you can choose to:

- Practice yoga and tune into yourself within the harmony and peaceful atmosphere of this superb location
- Spend the day revitilising your body and self at open air roman baths and wild hot springs
- Relax and recharge, your mind body and soul by choosing from a large selection of holistic treatments
- Enjoy the friendly and social atmosphere during meals out to excellent Italian restaurants
- Eat wonderful italian food with organic ingredients
- See the beautiful Sabina countryside on horseback
- Swim in fresh mountain waters swimming pools or discover unspoilt mountains streams where you can spend hot afternoon bathing and resting surrounded by nature
- Cycle and discover the beauty of Sabina hilltop towns, mountains and countryside
- Relax and enjoy afternoon tea or a good cappuccino in local village cafes, and enjoy the atmosphere of an authentic Italian village
- Take a walk across the mountains or valleys, or visit the other neighboring ancient villages and stop for lunch enjoying the local cuisine.

Our yoga classes are suitable for beginners as well as more practiced yogis. We practise Friday through Tuesday every morning with some classes outdoors in spectacular surroundings on our yoga deck; while when we choose to practice yoga indoors, we use our own restored and professionally designed 40 square metre studio or a 50ms studio located in a converted stables . Morning yoga Classes last 90 minutes.

For those who would like the opportunity to practice more yoga, extra optional afternoon yoga classes are available Friday, , Monday and Tuesday and there is a weekly optional 2 hour yoga workshop available every saturday afternoon .

Individual yoga lessons are also available for people who want to deepen their practice or to create a yoga sequence designed for their personal yoga practice : one-to-one tuition includes : Asana, Pranayama, Meditation and Relaxation.

Duomo and Battistero
Built over six centuries (the façade was finished only in 1887), the cathedral is famous above all for Brunelleschi’s huge 15th-century terracotta-tiled cupola, still the biggest masonry dome in the world (1). Other highlights include Paolo Uccello’s iconic fresco of British mercenary commander Sir John Hawkwood; Giotto’s graceful campanile (belltower), with stunning views from the top of its 414 steps; and Lorenzo Ghiberti’s intricately carved bronze Baptistery doors.
Duomo (00 39 055 230 2885, Piazza del Duomo. Open daily, 10am-5pm; entrance free. Dome ascent Mon-Fri, 8.30am-7pm, Sat 8.30am-5.40pm, closed Sun; admission €8. Campanile daily, 8.30am-7.30pm; admission free. Baptistery (interior) Mon-Sat, 11.15-7pm, Sun 8.30am-2pm; admission €5.

Piazza della Signoria and Ponte Vecchio
If the Duomo is Florence’s spiritual centre, its civic hub is Piazza della Signoria (2), a wide square dominated by the crenellated medieval town hall of Palazzo Vecchio, packed with artworks designed to glorify (or in the case of the windowless Studiolo of bookish Francesco I, provide a private refuge for) the ruling Medici dynasty. Ponte Vecchio, the oldest of the bridges across the River Arno, may seem a tourist souk these days, but it’s been lined by shops ever since it was rebuilt in 1345, after its wooden predecessor was washed away in a flood.
Palazzo Vecchio (00 39 055 276 8325, Open Mon-Wed and Fri-Sun, 9am-midnight; Thu, 9am-2pm. Full-price ticket €6.50/€10 with tower.

Galleria degli Uffizi
Italy’s richest and most celebrated art gallery (3), is housed in what was originally built as the Medici Whitehall – the governing dynasty’s administrative centre. It’s difficult to pick out the cherries from an already cherry-picked selection (there’s lots more in the vaults), but they would have to include Gentile da Fabriano’s Adoration of the Magi, Botticelli’s Primavera and Birth of Venus, Piero della Francesca’s twin portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Urbino, and Michelangelo’s Tondo Doni. Booking, however, is virtually essential: see Telegraph tips below for advice.
Uffizi Gallery (00 39 055 294 883, Piazzale degli Uffizi. Open Tue-Sun, 8.15am-6.50pm, closed Mon. Full-price ticket €6.50, or €10 during special exhibitions, plus €4 for pre-booking.

Palazzo Medici Riccardi
Masaccio and Masolino’s frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel are better known – and very lovely they are too, breathing the simple humanism of the early Renaissance. But it’s well worth making time for the other great Florentine fresco cycle, decorating the private chapel of this mid-15th-century Medici palazzo: Benozzo Gozzoli’s Journey of the Magi, a lively transposition of the Biblical story to the Florence of 1439 (4).
Palazzo Medici Riccardi (00 39 055 276 0340, Via Cavour 3. Open Mon, Tue and Thu-Sun, 9am-7pm; closed Wed. Full-price ticket €7.

La Specola
Florence University’s natural history museum (5), houses a charmingly old-fashioned collection of botanical and zoological specimens, including a hippo that was given as a present to Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo. But the final rooms are what most visitors come for: a series of increasingly gruesome wax anatomical models, sculpted in eye-popping detail between 1775 and 1791 as teaching aids for trainee doctors. Smaller children may be traumatised, but difficult-to-please teens (and boys of all ages) should enjoy being grossed out – especially by the collection’s coup de grace: three grisly wax tableaux of plague victims.
La Specola (00 39 055 228 8251, Via Romana 17. Open Tue-Sun 10.30-5.30, closed Mon. Full-price ticket €6.


A cloth-trading centre since the Middle Ages, Prato is today ringed by textile factories. But the centro storico is a delight, and in the stripey Pisan-Romanesque Duomo it has one of Tuscany’s great fresco cycles: Filippo Lippi’s scenes from the lives of John the Baptists and St Stephen. Lippi fell in love with a beautiful novice while painting the frescoes and abducted her before she could take holy orders; she became the mother of Filippino, and was reputedly the model for the voluptuous Salome in the Feast of Herod panel.
Prato is best reached by train (15 minutes) from Florence’s main Santa Maria Novella station: timetables and fares at train stations.


The main fashion shopping area is immediately north and north-west of Ponte Vecchio. For the big-name luxury boutiques, head for elegant Via Tornabuoni. Here you'll find Prada, Gucci, Bulgari and others, plus the outlets of three native Florentine designers: 1960s bikini maven Emilio Pucci (at No 20r), king of feline spots and stripes Roberto Cavalli (No 83r, next to the designer's Giacosa café) and, best of all, the mothership boutique of the city's own footwear and fashion empire, Salvatore Ferragamo (Nos 4r-14r).
The high-street chains cluster around Piazza Repubblica, or in the two parallel streets that head north from Ponte Vecchio. For one-offs and craft shops, you need to head away from these main streets.
Good hunting grounds on the Duomo side of the river are the Santa Croce area or the streets just south of Santa Maria Novella – where the wonderful historic herbalist and perfumery the Officina di Santa Maria Novella (Via della Scala 16, is worth a look even if you're not in the market for soaps, bath oils, colognes, smelling salts and other fragrant goodies.
But Florence's craftsmen's quarter per eccellenza is the Oltrarno, the area of the centro storico just south of the river. Highlights include handmade paper workshop Il Torchio (Via dei Bardi 17), Aprosio (Via Santo Spirito 11), where all the jewellery and accessories are made from minute glass beads, and contemporary milliner Antonio Gatto (Piazza Pitti 5), whose hats are for once both beautiful and wearable.

North and Lakes

Alberoni: It’s surprising to find golf in Venice, but the Lido has a lovely course tucked away inside the walls of an old fortress. Playing here feels like entering a secret garden and there are some strong holes – with plenty of water, naturally. Most famous is the 9th, a blind par-three known in the past for its many holes-in-one, assisted by the caddie’s boot!
6,039m (6,604 yards), par 72; €80/£70
All lengths are from back tees; green fees are for weekdays.

Bergamo: L’Albenza is a wonderful course and you will never tire of it, because the holes are all different and you have to “work” the ball. Of the three nine-hole courses, Blue and Yellow is the classic round, used for the Italian Open in 1996. It would have been nice to win when i played there, but a game with friends followed by an evening at my favourite restaurant in the old city, Da Mimmo, more than compensated for that.
6,068m, par 72; €55.

Biella: A really tough course, and one of the very best in Italy, at the foot of the Alps between Turin and Valle d’Aosta. If you don’t score well, never mind: truffles and mushrooms are on the menu in this region. Enjoy!
6,497m, par 73; €70

Franciacorta: The Wine Golf Course is not the longest, but it has the subtlety of a fine wine and I always look forward to a game here – and a sociable drink. Brut/Saten [the names of two of the three layouts] is the usual way to play 18 of the 27 holes. With L’Albereta hotel and Marchesi’s restaurant nearby, this is how to enjoy golf and la dolce vita.
5,921m, par 73; €50 

Menaggio: This is the oldest of the courses in the Lakes, with great views of Lake Como and the mountains, a traditional atmosphere and, for those very rare wet-weather days, a famous library of golf literature. The course may not be long but it is quite tight, so make sure you play straight. Enter one of the competitions and you might find yourself playing with George Clooney, who has a house nearby and is not a bad golfer.
5,476m, par 70; €65.
Castelgandalfo: Olgiata, rather than this course, is where aspiring Italian professionals go to qualifying school. It’s a demanding layout, especially since they added 800m as part of Rome’s bid for the 2020 Olympics. For holiday golf, I recommend Castelgandolfo, set in an extinct volcanic crater in the Frascati hills, overlooked by the Pope’s summer residence. If he wanted to take up the game, he would have a beautiful course in his back yard. The club has accommodation and a good restaurant in the clubhouse, a 17th-century palazzo.
6,205m, par 72; €65
Argentario: This new resort in the Maremma offers luxury accommodation paired with coastal golf. They say the prevailing style is minimalist chic, but there is nothing minimalist about the bill.
6,218m, par 71; €70
San Domenico: This is the best of Puglia’s courses – wide open and often windy, with a beautiful hotel, the Masseria San Domenico, among the olive groves nearby. People come to Puglia to enjoy the local food, notably the pesto, and escape the northern winter. It’s a great choice for golfers, too, with a beautiful clubhouse. Just the place for a Golf winter clinic!
6,388m, par 72; €95
Pevero: Take a lot of balls to this spectacular Robert Trent Jones course on the fashionable Costa Smeralda. The fairway is not very wide and if you miss it, you are in the macchia. The wind always blows hard here, and the same is true across the water at Sperone (Corsica), where I also love to play.
6,150m, par 72; €90 
Il Picciolo: They are designing a new course near Taormina right now, but progress has been held up by a combination of bad weather and Sicilian attitude. Until that is finished, my favourite Sicilian course is the original one, on a country estate near Linguaglossa on the shoulder of Etna, with the smoking volcano always in view. There is a new resort hotel beside the course, but I prefer the “dormy house” or foresteria solution, staying in the clubhouse – good food and a friendly atmosphere.
5,881m, par 72; €80

Saturday, 29 June 2013


BarBar – Via Crescenzio, 18 – Tel. 06.68308435. Hours 19.00 – 3.00. Closed on Monday. Cocktail bar. First loungebar New York style. Minimal interior with big sculptures and small waterfalls. Cigar room.

Bloom – Via del Teatro Pace, 29/30 – Tel. 06.68802029. Hours 19.00 – 2.00. Closed onTuesday. Free entrance. A high tech New York-style design restaurant on two levels (international, oriental inspired cuisine) with a sushi bar and music.

Duke’s – Viale Parioli, 200 – Tel. 06.80662455. Hours 19.30 – 2.00. Closed on Saturday. Free entrance. Trendy, contemporary Californian style cocktail bar. International cuisine. with Californian touch.

ES Hotel 7th Floor – Via Turati – Tel. 06.4448411 – Sette - gourmet restaurant overlooking the swimming pool. Hours 19.30 – midnight. Zest - Top floor restaurant, informal setting for all-day dining, Mediterranean cuisine. Hours 13.00 – midnight. Also available for private hire.

Gilda – Via Mario de’Fiori, 97 – Tel. 06.6784838 – Hours 23.30 – 5.00. Closed on Monday. Entrance fee Friday, Saturday and Sunday Euro 20,66. The place to spot famous Italian actors and politicians. The sophisticated nightspot near Spanish Steps has a piano bar as well as a restaurant and dance floors with live and disco music. Jackets are required. Gilda has opened a new place dedicated to wine tasting “Le Cru a Gouter” - Via Mario de’Fiori, 98/99 - Tel. 06.6784838. Hours 17.30 – 23.30. Closed on Mondays.

Goa - Via Libetta, 15 – Tel. 06.5748277. Hours 23.00 – 3.00. Closed on Monday. Famous disco with original and avant-garde music. Ethnic and industrial style interior.

Gusto Wine Bar & Hostaria – Piazza Augusto Imperatore, 9 – Via della Frezza, 23 – Tel. 06.3226273. Hours 11.00 – 1.00. Always open. Free entrance. Winebar /Restaurant. Minimal-chic, fancy food and great wine list. Jazz, fusion and swing concerts. Buffet brunch on Saturday and Sunday 12.30 – 15.30

Ketumbar – Via Galvani, 24 – Tel. 06.57305338. Hours 20.00 – 3.30. Closed on Sunday. Free entrance. Discobar. Trendy place divided in various spaces, oriental and minimalist atmosphere for dinner and after dinner. Fusion kitchen and good wine list, restaurant open until midnight. Chill-out and lounge music.

La Maison – Vicolo dei Granari, 4 – Tel. 06.6833312 – Hours 23.00 – 4.00. Closed on Monday. Entrance fee Saturday and Sunday Euro 15,00. Disco. Exclusive, fashionable and intriguing. Lounge and ethnic music. After midnight you can dance to the latest tunes.

La Suite – Via degli Orti di Trastevere, 1 – Tel. 06.5861888. Hours 24.00 – 4.00. Closed on Sunday and Monday. Disco. Famous, international atmosphere that reflects the free spirit of the ‘70s. Possible to dine with and fruit while listening to lounge music.

Le Bain Art Gallery – Via delle Botteghe Oscure, 32/a – Tel. 06.6865673 – Hours 19.00 – 2.00/20.00 – 24.00 restaurant. Closed on Monday. Free entrance. Fashionable Champagne-lounge, a favourite with bon vivants in search of the pleasure of exclusive atmospheres, washed in distinctive red and with an ultra-modern design.

Piazza di Siena Art Cafè – Viale del Galoppatoio, 33 – Tel. 06.36006578 – Hours 19.30 – 3.00. Closed on Monday. Fusion. Exhibitions, fashion shows, disco and live music. Big open space under Villa Borghese. Elegant and trendy, minimalist interior New York style with DJ.

The best way to explore this city is on foot as you’ll run into something fascinating around just about every corner but sometimes you might want to get from point A to B without expending the shoe leather? Rome’s public transit system of buses, trams, regional trains and metro is how you do that. I’m covering more specifics on metro/regional trains as we didn’t take the buses (except from the airport) but you can find some useful info for those here:

The metro is easy because they currently only have 2 lines - Red A and Blue B - with a third line C under construction. Take a look at this diagram:

The two lines form a rough X with the intersection point at Termini, and skirt a large section of the Central Storico (that blank space in the middle). Line C will help that situation when completed but digging has been problematic due to two millennia worth of history lurking below so construction is running behind schedule. But the other two lines will get you closer, if not directly to, some of the hot tourist sites.

Tickets can be purchased by machine (which take euros) at stations, or from humans at newsstands, tabacchi and some bars. Look for signs with the big T, like the one shown in photo 2, or which advertise Biglietti ATAC. Tickets come in several forms:

• BIT singles: these are good for 100 minutes and allow you to transfer as many times as needed between buses and trams plus one single metro ride with an in-station (can’t exit turnstiles and go back in) transfer between A and B allowed at Termini if needed, and one single, one-way, 2nd class journey on trains within the ATAC system. If not using a pass, it’s nice to have a few of these tucked in a pocket in case you poop out somewhere. Once you validate, do pay attention to the expiration time stamped on your ticket so you’re off transport before the clock runs out.

• BIG one-day ticket: covers unlimited travel on any ATAC transport until midnight of the day validated

• BTI three-day pass: same as a BIG only valid until midnight of the 3rd day after validation date

• CSI weekly pass: Same as BIG and BTI but good until midnight of the 7th day after validation date.

Each type of ticket/pass MUST be validated just before its first use, and you MUST have it with you until your journey is complete or for the life of the pass. This is your proof that you paid for your bus, tram, metro or train rides if checked by an official. Fines are high if caught with an expired ticket or no ticket at all, and they do not allow for excuses - even from clueless tourists.

Validation methods are different per form of transport:

• Bus/tram/Rome-Pantano and Rome-Viterbo train lines: time-stamp machines are near doors on the transport vehicles

• Metro, the Rome-Lido regional train line and Trenitalia SpA regional trains: tickets are fed into machines leading to your platform

• Other ATAC-system trains: tickets should be time-stamped in the yellow, orange or green-and- white machines near the tracks

See the arrow at the end of the BIT ticket shown in photo 1? Stick that end, arrow side up, into the stamping machines for buses, trams and trains. For metro and noted trains, stick that end, arrow side up, into the slot on a metro entrance machine and retrieve your ticket when it spits out the other end and the gates open to let you enter.

With the exception of transferring from bus to metro for your one allowed ride, you’ll only validate a pass or ticket once - which starts the clock ticking.

Machine didn’t work? Grab a pen and write the date (day/month/year), time boarded, and station or number of the vehicle on your ticket or, on a train, date and immediately find a guard to explain what happened.

For which trains you’re allowed to take, look again at the same diagram for the metro; you’ll see colored lines for regional trains FRI - FR8, and grey lines for 3 urban trains. Look for the stations noted along each of those lines and find those indicated in RED. Those are the last stations accessible by BIT, BIG, BTI or CSI without buying a more expensive Trenitalia ticket, and do note that this includes the airports: you’ll need to fork over a higher fee to get to those or use a different form of transport.

We made use of Rome's Metro system during our visit to the city.

We found it easy to use and a good value means of travelling between the city's many sights.

There are only two lines on the network:

Line A (shown as the red line on maps) runs from Battistini in the north-west to Anagnina in the south-east and includes useful stops for the Vatican (Ottaviano San Pietro) and the Spanish Steps (Spagna).

Line B (shown as the blue line on maps) runs from Rebibbia in the north-east to Laurentina in the south-west and includes useful stops for the Colosseum (Colosseo) and the Circus Maximus (Circo Massimo).

The two lines intersect at Termini train station and each line also connects with other railway stations throughout the city.

The cost of a single journey on the Metro is 1.50 Euros (as at October 2012).

Journeys that involve a change of Metro lines at Termini are still classed as a single journey.

A single journey ticket is valid for 100 minutes from the time of validation. The first time we purchased tickets we mistakenly thought that they were for unlimited journeys within the 100 minute timeframe, rather than for a single journey. We took a short journey on Line A from Lepanto to Spagna, spent a while visiting the Spanish Steps, and then returned to Spagna station to carry on our journey to the Colosseum, thinking that we could use our original tickets. They were rejected when we tried to access the turnstiles and we then realised our misunderstanding.

Tickets can be purchased from manned kiosks or from ticket machines at every station. The ticket machines are easy to use, provide instructions in several languages, accept coins and notes and give change. If you intend to make extensive use of the Metro, you will likely find it cheaper to purchase all-day tickets rather than a series of individual journey tickets.

Tickets are validated as you pass through the turnstiles on the way to the platform. You don't need the ticket to operate the turnstiles at the end of your journey; you simply pass through them.

Platforms are well signposted; each platform will display the direction of travel (the final station on that line) and provide a map showing all the interim stations along the route. There are route maps displayed throughout the insides of the trains and announcements are made at each stop. It really is very easy to get to wherever you plan to go on the Metro – don't be phased by it!

Trains run every few minutes from early morning until late evening. Neon displays on the platforms inform passengers of the time until the next train. We never waited more than 5 minutes for a train.

In many cases, the trains were very busy (standing room only – and not always very much of it!), especially around the central stations close to Termini.

Note: At Spagna station, there are entrances to the Metro station both at the foot and the top of the Spanish Steps. You can alight at the bottom, climb the Steps and then take a lift from the top station back down to platform level.

When it comes to travel I have permanently itchy feet. Even when I'm on holiday I just can't satisfy that itch and so when I get back home I often feel that I haven't done justice to a particular destination. My holidays lately have been based around touring an area or making my base in a good central location and taking day trips to nearby places.
Sorrento was one of my must-visits when in Naples for a week earlier this year. An easy to negotiate hour or so train journey from Naples (only 25KM but stops everywhere), Sorrento offers a very pleasant alternative to the hustle and bustle of southern Italy's largest city.
The train journey itself is integral to the day out. You travel on the Circumvesuviana line which passes very closes to the Mount Vesuvius and the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum which were famously devastated by an eruption of the mighty volcano. (Both of these towns can also be accessed on this route). Initially you pass through the outskirts of the city, later going through some rather attractive looking suburbs with spacious homes with roof terraces overlooking the sea. This gives way to rural scenes and as the train approaches Vesuvius you can see the vineyards climbing the slopes - home of the Lachrymi Christi wine so typical of the region. Just before Sorrento the track becomes a dramatic viaduct crossing a fantastic valley and as the train arrives at the outskirts of Sorrento lemon groves line the track on both sides. Swathes of netting are hung just under the branches - a giant canopy to catch the bright yellow fruit. Now and again you can spot someone perched precariously on an unfeasibly long ladder gathering the harvest.
As you leave the station you cut through a modern shopping centre with a very cafes and souvenir shops. This is not the real Sorrento! Do not be tempted to stop but carry one following the main road which takes you past some of the loveliest hotels in the area, to the main square, Piazza Tasso.
The first thing that struck me about Sorrento was that it's geared very much towards the English - cafes offering all-day breakfasts, English football games live on television and most shop notices written in English. Not really my cup of tea but early on in the day before the organised coach trippers arrive, the streets of Sorrento are quiet enough to stroll around and enjoy.
Our target in Sorrento though was the beach - well the sea, anyway. This area of the Italian coast has few sandy beaches and most that are sandy are private - you either can't use them or you have to pay an extortionate fee to use them. Amred with this knowledge we headed for an area which we had been told comprised of small lidos where, for a more modest fee, we could rent a bed and enjoy relative quiet.
The town is situated on the cliff tops and so you have to descend the winding path on foot or take the lift (for about a Euro) to Marina Piccola. We decided to walk down and take the lift on our return. At the bottom several options present themselves. ou can join Italian teenagers crammed together on a tiny patch of concrete and sit on your towels (free but not very comfortable), sit on a tiny area of sand which is overrun by families (also free but I don't emjoy lying on the beaches surrounded by screaming kids) or take advantage of one of the lidos (there are two). There was really no choice so we paid 7 Euros each and made our way to the furtherest part of the jetty andsettled down. The jetty made two sides of a square with the beach as the third and the fourth side opened out onto the sea. Some people were taking small boats into the sea but since the ferry and hydrofoil terminal is so close I wouldn't advise swimmers to do this. The passenger vessels arrive with some regularity throughout the day and while you can here their engines as they move into place at the harbour it doesn't create too much of a disturbance. There are secure steps from the jetty into the water and a freshwater shower to rinse off all that salt after a swim. The steps are great becuse they mean that adults can climb from the jetty without having to swim from the crowded beach, picking through the children in the shallow area - perfect.If a swim has worked up an appetite there's a reasoably priced cafe serving both alcoholic and soft drinks and the food available ranges from sandwiches to pizza and pasta dishes. You can either sit in front of the cafe on a covered terrace overlooking the sea ort ake your food away with you. We ate there and enjoyed an excellent pasta dish and a fantastic aubergine bake with a couple of cold beers.
Mid-afternoon saw us pack up and head back into town. We decided against the lift when we found you had to wait for its arrival in a very unsavoury-smelling tunnel! After the steep walk we deserved a beer so headed for the old town where pavement cafes abound. However so do tour groups so you are continually being stared at by tourists being led through the narrow streets by their guides. This is something you quickly realise about Sorrento. Its not the locals staring - its other tourists! The locals are so used to it they barely notice the tourists and the reason for that is because Sorrento is FOR the tourists.
The narrow alleys and lanes are heaving with people keen to buy a little something to remind them of the fact they once spent an afternoon in Sorrento but mostly the goods on offer are tawdry and unimaginative - tea towels, plastic lemons and "I saw Sorrento in an hour" t-shirts (actually I made the last one up but I reckon it would be a big seller!).
You see, Sorrento, whilst it is beautiful and quaint and scenic and all those things tourists expect from Italian towns, is really not very important at all. Granted it has a couple of pretty palaces and some attractive churches but not really enough to grab your attention for any significant amount of time. The narrow lanes in the old town have some interesting shops - until you see the same things again and again. Don't get me wrong, Sorrento is lovely but it almost feels as if it's all been manufactured so that day trippers can take it all in in one day - a kind of micro tourist town with just a bit of everything thrown in.
What I could see, though, is why Sorrento proves so popular with package holiday-makers. It is in a great position to facilitate easy travelling around an area that has alot to offer - Naples, the Amalfi coast, the excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum, Mount Vesuvius, the islands of Capri and Ischia and many more.If you must go to Sorrento and, please do not be discouraged by me, do not expect a packed itinerary or even a varied range of options for sightseeing. See it and enjoy it whilst having a glass of locally made limoncello but like this sharp and refreshing citrus liqueur don't expect it to last long!