Touring Southern Italy: A Family Getaway in Sorrento
Vacationing in Sorrento can be especially difficult when traveling with children. The narrow streets are dominated by crazy drivers in their mopeds (the preferred method of transportation). They drive fast and are very intimidating for people especially children. My kids were always scared to cross the street since the drivers do not always stop for pedestrians. Then there’s also the problem of finding an accommodation large enough for a family of four (or more).
We were incredibly fortunate to have had so many Hilton points that we were able to afford to stay at the Hilton Sorrento Palace. The hotel is in a stunning location up on a hill. It is about a 15-20 minute walk to the historical town of Sorrento but fortunately the kids were always up for an adventure. The times when they were tired, we took the bus that stopped in the corner of the street from the hotel. Just be aware that the bus schedule were unreliable, something that we later learned was very typical in Italy.
The guest rooms were large, not commonly found in Europe. We got adjoining rooms, one room had a king size bed and the other had two twin beds. It was perfect for our family. The only complaint I had was the strange odor that was coming from the bathroom. But other than that, the room was fine.
The property is what made this place unforgettable. The boys enjoyed hanging by the pool and doing activities with other kids their age (the hotel provided a kids club that was free of charge for guests). The club had games and fun activities set up for all the kids. They even had finger sandwiches, cakes, and drinks for them.
A lemon grove surrounded the hotel property. We found a lot of lemons that have fallen off from the trees, wishing we could take them all back with us. They also had a playground where the boys played while we explored in the evening. This hotel is definitely great for families.
The restaurant had a spectacular view of the Bay of Naples. The daily breakfast was a buffet of eggs, cold cereal, fruits, prosciutto, salami, bacon, and other selection of hot entrees. By the third day we were there, the lady who was making crepes was already familiar with the boys and knew exactly what they liked—nutella crepes! There was also a machine for fresh–pressed juice. They always had a basket filled with oranges and each morning we were spoiled with freshly squeezed orange juice.
There were also a few restaurants in the vicinity that the hotel staff had recommended. We had a very interesting dinner on our first night in Sorrento at what seemed like a house but was converted into a restaurant. The man who came to pick us up from our hotel was the restaurant’s chef’s son. He boasted what a great chef his mama was. “My mama makes the best pasta!” he proudly said. The conversation during the entire evening revolved around his mama and her cooking skills.
We asked him for suggestions on what to order and he recommended for us to try the salted crusted sea bass (whole fish covered in sea salt). We tried mostly seafood dishes and the kids had ravioli. The son did not lie. He was right about his mama being a terrific cook because everything we tasted was superbly delicious. We had a ton of food and the bill amounted to only $150, including wine, dessert, and limoncello. Perhaps in American dollars, $150 is expensive but definitely a bargain in euro’s standards.
I wish I can remember the name of the restaurant but the ambience was so cozy it felt as if we were dining at a friend’s house and not at an actual establishment. Whenever we talked about this experience we often referred to it as “my mama’s restaurant”.
Another restaurant we tried was in within 10 minute walking distance from Hilton. The path we took was in a quiet location reminiscent of a tiny village in an Italian countryside, completely forgetting we were in fact in Sorrento, a touristy destination.
Sorrento, however, is a good starting point (or as a base) when visiting Southern Italy. From there, you can catch a ferry to the island of Capri. The Amalfi coast is also about 18 miles (30km) and while the Roman city of Pompeii is only 15 miles (25km).
The boys are growing up so fast that I always get a heaping dose of nostalgia while writing about our trips. I want our vacations recorded before it gets completely lost in their memories forever. I want them to treasure all the memorable trips we’ve taken together as a family and also to remind them the benefits of travel. The education, experience, and knowledge gained in traveling can never be learned in a classroom or even from a book. Hearing or reading about a place is not quite the same as seeing the place. And a tourist is a person who visits a country but a traveler explores, investigates, and learns everything about that country. As any traveler would say,”Traveling is the only thing you buy that makes you rich”.
Hilton Sorrento Palace
Via S. Antonio 13, 80067 Sorrento NA, Italy