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Day 3: Sorrento

We had quite a late night yesterday by the time we'd been driven around Naples, eaten one of the biggest ice-creams I've ever had in my life, and spent time admiring the view of the city at night. It was a fascinating experience to see Naples like a local; the ice-cream parlour at 9pm on a Sunday night was as busy as a pub would have been in England on a Friday night, and once you'd bought an ice-cream the thing to do seemed to be to walk along the pier and browse the many stalls selling knock-off sunglasses and jewellery.  Some of the driving was breathtaking though, as was the way the locals seem to have no concerns about stepping straight out into a stream of oncoming traffic whenever and wherever they feel like crossing the road, and just assuming that the vehicles will either stop or swerve to avoid them :o It was all quite tiring though so we had another slow start to the morning, but it worked out quite well because our plan for today was to visit Sorrento, and as the trains between Naples and Sorrento are pretty frequent, it didn't really matter what time we got to the station.

Sorrento is situated about 50km south of Naples and is the final stop on the Circumvesuviana railway, a local train line which runs along the coast. The tickets were amazingly cheap (€3.90 each), though the trains themselves seem like they have seen better days. The journey from Naples to Sorrento took us about an hour and ten minutes, mainly because it stopped at a small local station every other minute. There are occasionally faster trains, which stop at fewer places and make the journey in around 40 minutes.

It looked like it had been raining overnight in Naples, but when we stepped off the train in Sorrento there was a beautiful blue sky.


I knew Sorrento was supposed to be beautiful but what I didn't know until today was that it is built above a huge gorge.


Apparently it was formed during a huge volcanic eruption thousands of years ago, which created deep crevices in the rock. It looked like there was a beautiful view of the sea at the end of it anyway, so we followed a series of staircases down the side of the rock to the road below and began to walk towards the sea.


When we got to the end of the road we found the first of several statues of the town's patron saint, Sant' Antonino Abbate.


We'd climbed quite a long way down from the main town!


We were right by the sea now, though we soon realised that it wouldn't be possible to walk along the coast because it's so incredibly rocky!


There was a pier stretching out into the sea though, so we decided to walk along that to enjoy the views. We could see along the coast...


...out to sea...


...and back towards Sorrento.


And yes, the view out to sea was marred by yet another cruise ship! Although this one didn't seem quite as large as the one that was in Naples yesterday. The logo on the side said it was a 'Regent' ship, which isn't a brand we've come across on our travels before.


Cruise ship aside, the views of the coast were spectacular....


..and Sorrento itself looked amazing, perched on the top of the cliffs.


Sorrento also looked a long way up though and we weren't sure that we fancied the climb!


Luckily there is a lift, which for €1 will take you from Sorrento's makeshift beach back up to the top of the cliffs. 


In a matter of seconds we were up at the top and able to look down on the beach from above.  Sorrento may be the only place that makes those very rocky beaches in Croatia and Montenegro look like an attractive place to sunbathe xD


Now that we were back up high we were able to explore some more of the town.


There were some pretty churches....


...and colourful buildings...


...some of which were built right up close to the rocks.


These large cliffs seemed to signal the end of the town, so we turned around and strolled back in the opposite direction. The views were great this way too.


The colourful church was Chiesa dei Servi di Maria.


When we turned off the main street onto the narrower streets of the old town, we realised that it had a beautiful clock on one side of its tower.


We wandered around the old town for a while looking for somewhere to eat. Sorrento is definitely a touristy place and there seemed to be more souvenir shops than restaurants. Every other shop seemed to be selling limoncello, a lemon liqueur which is made around here. Eventually we found a place which wasn't too expensive and had a promising pasta menu :) We both opted for bolognese, but rather than spaghetti bolognese we chose something called scialatelli bolognese. I'd never heard of scialatelli before, but the menu said that it was fresh, homemade pasta, which sounded good. When it came it turned out to be thicker and flatter than spaghetti; a bit like tagliatelle would be if it was chopped up into small pieces. It was delicious, and actually loads easier to eat than spaghetti :) 


The food was so good that we decided to have a pudding as well. I had a tiramisu and Tim had the desert of the day, which seemed to be like a lemon-flavoured trifle.


The sky had become a bit darker while we were eating and for a few minutes we thought it was going to rain, but fortunately it stayed dry and was just a bit cloudy as we explored the rest of the town.


This was the Piazza Tasso, the main square in the centre of the town which is named after the Italian poet Torquato Tasso, who was born here.


As we walked through the square, my attention was caught by some greenery to our right.


This turned out to be the other side of the gorge that we'd climbed down into earlier in the day.


There was an incredibly steep drop down. I definitely had vertigo when peering over the railings!


The abandoned building at the bottom of the gorge used to be a mill. Apparently the creation of Piazza Tasso in the nineteenth century caused the mill's water supply to dry up and so it fell into a state of disrepair.


Soon it time to walk back towards the station for our train to Naples.


The journey back was uneventful and we were just relaxing in our apartment when we heard a tremendous commotion of horns and sirens outside the window. We went out onto the balcony and were greeted by a scene of complete travel chaos!


The white van with the red stripe was an ambulance, which was trying and failing to make any progress down the busy street. Rush hour in Naples would not be a good time to get taken ill!


Edited by Clare

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