The marvellous natural scenery makes the Sorrentine Peninsula one of the most famous tourist destinations in Italy. Protruding into the Tyrrhenian Sea, almost touching the island of Capri, it extends from Castellamare di Stabia to Punta Campanella, watershed between the gulfs of Naples and Salerno.
The great attraction of this land is in its natural beauty: the coastal road is one of the marvels of Italian scenery. Citrus groves, vineyards and olive groves that softly pour down the slopes towards the sea, the road follows the tortuous coastline, where curve after curve opens up incredible views of the Gulf of Naples, Vesuvius and Capri. The coast is high, craggy and rocky, with sheer limestone cliffs that crumble into the sea, coves and rocky shores.
Sorrento is the most famous place on the coast. It 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.
Around Massa Lubrense there are many charming little villages: Termini, Nerano, a town halfway up the shore with houses and terraces that come down towards the sea, and the vast and beautiful Marina del Cantone. From Massa you can continue to the far extreme of the Sorrentine Peninsula, in front of Capri: Punta Campanella. In 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, today the property of the FAI (Italian Environmental Foundation) who insures its environmental integrity. From Massa Lubrense one can go up to Sant’Agata sui Due Golfi (Saint Agatha of the Two Gulfs), in a magnificent panoramic position over the gulfs of Naples and of Salerno, and reach the ancient 18thcentury carmelite hermitage called Deserto (desert).