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Sorrento, Italy
web: lasolara.com
email: info@lasolara.com

By Marion Morra and Eve Potts, Correspondents

Hotel Solara (Best Western) // High on a hill, amid the olive trees, the Hotel Solara, with its charming, helpful staff, is a perfect place to relax while being close to all the activities in Sorrento.

Located about 10 minutes by hotel shuttle bus from downtown Sorrento, the Hotel Solara offers spacious, soothingly tailored rooms, decorated in blue, yellow and white, with balconies overlooking the mountains and the bright blue sea. Large flat television sets that have separate channels for English, Italian, German and other language programming display a huge digital clock (turn-offable) with the time when the TV is turned off. Complimentary breakfast–they make a great cappuccino--is served daily in the dining room, a perfect way to start the day. The hotel offers an outdoor infinity swimming pool, with a poolside bar and children’s pool, an indoor bar and two large lounge areas with plenty of comfortable chairs and sofas. There is a fitness center, as well as facilities for events (banquets, meeting rooms). The Best Western Hotel La Solara, with its gracious, friendly, perfectly run by an accommodating staff, is an ideal base for exploring the Sorrento peninsula.

Places to see // You can spend hours wandering the little streets in Sorrento, chock full of shops and restaurants, and eating gelato (make sure you check out the Gelateria David; Via Marziale 19 where you can take a one-hour lesson in gelato-making). There are three museums worth seeing – Museo Correale with its rich eclectic assortment of paintings, archeological finds, clocks and ceramics; Museo Bottega Della Tarsia Lingea, with its examples of elaborately designed inlaid furniture and the Villa Florentina, which has ongoing exhibits – one featuring DaVinci inventions, was in place when we visited. There are dozens of lovely churches and basilicas—and the pealing of bells at noon on Sunday on the main drag brings everyone, including dogs and babies, to attention. There also are wonderful parks, especially with beautiful water views. Don’t be surprised to see a wedding party walking along the street. Sorrento is a favorite spot for brides from many countries.

Places to eat // The center of Sorrento has an endless assortment of bars, cafes, trattorias, and restaurants. Wonderful Italian food is available in all price ranges as it is in every city in Italy. It is hard to get a bad meal whether you visit the trattoria or an elegant restaurant. One of Sorrento’s culinary specialties is squash blossoms, stuffed with mozzarella, a real delicacy. One of the most delicious dishes of squash blossoms we tried was at the Trattoria Antica, a gem of a spot on Via Padre Reginaldo Giuliani 33. Up an almost hidden set of stairs you arrive at a garden arbor, with beautifully appointed tables featuring Murano glass. Everything here is done with flair. The menu features traditional local recipes as well as original chef’s creations, all using the purest and freshest ingredients. The Fauno Bar, right on Tasso Square in the middle of town, gives you a front-row seat on all the comings and goings of Sorrento. It’s a bar, it’s a trattoria, it has great gelato and it’s a perfect spot to stop for a beer or glass of wine on a hot afternoon. Our feeling that it’s hard to get a bad meal in Italy was borne out again in Sorrento, where we dropped in on numerous large and small restaurants and found good eating everywhere, although the menus were quite generic.

Shopping // There is a pedestrian-only centro storico (historic center) with shops of all kinds. Some of them offer tacky souvenirs, but you also can find handmade inlaid wooden items, coral jewelry, limoncello, lemon soaps, tiles, ceramic pottery, olive oil, wines, tablecloths and embroidered lace. Numerous shops sell leather sandals, which will be fitted to your own foot size in a matter of minutes. On every street you’ll find well-designed linen clothing for both men and women, beachwear, leather belts and handbags.

Transportation // You will love the Hotel Solara’s shuttle bus which runs every hour from early morning until late at night. It gets you into town, along a very winding road, in 10 minutes and the drivers are always on time. It’s a short walk to the town center, and you have to remember where you were dropped off so you can find it again when you’re ready to return. Parking is free at the hotel but be wary of driving in Sorrento especially in the summer since much of the parking on the side streets is for residents only and the city center is closed to traffic for much of the day. Sorrento is also a jumping off point by boat for Capri, Ischia and the other nearby Islands. And you can take a ferry to Naples and the Amalfi coast, or you can get there by SITA bus. The Circumvesuviana train reaches Naples in an hour, Pompeii in 30 minutes and Herculaneum (known as Ercolania in Italy) in 50 minutes.

Tips // You will be doing a lot of walking so make sure you take comfortable walking shoes or sneakers.

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LOCATION: Sorrento, ITaly


+39 081 533 80 00