Savoring the Summer in Italy

September 5, 2011
Summer in Italy

Earlier this summer, I had my first extended stay in Italy, where I traveled with a tour group. Although I prefer finding landmarks and absorbing them myself, I appreciated visiting parts of Italy that many do not usually reach. There is so much foot traffic in Rome, Venice, and Florence, and I think the fact that I ran into the same classmate in Rome and Venice a few days later really proves that point. However, I had the chance to experience Sorrento, Positano, Capri, and Assisi, and while Rome was my favorite large city, I loved the countryside feel of Assisi and the Mediterranean atmosphere in Sorrento.

Sorrento is located in Campania, Southern Italy along the Amalfi Coastline, in proximity to the towns of Naples, Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Capri. The Amalfi Coast gives off a serene, misty feeling, and as the day gets warmer, the sunlight bounces off the water like blinding, sparkling diamonds. I was reminded of the gorgeous French Riviera.

The Amalfi Coast is a getaway for many individuals, including high-profile celebrities. If the Greek-like architecture and stunning coast does not do the trick, then perhaps the mild winters and warm, comfortable summers do. After all, a morning drive with a few stops along the coast was enough to convince me that I would have a summer vacation place nestled there in the cliffs pronto, as soon as I pay off my New York City housing rent.

While Sorrento mornings brought misty, bright views of churches, docks, and local shops, warm Sorrento nights brought a mixture of excitement and coziness. The cliff itself reminded me of starry nights in Arizona, where I lay out on the hammock in back of the pueblo, ten minutes’ drive away from the nearest store.

I suppose my memories in Sorrento were also particularly memorable because I was sharing them with a special companion from South America. On one late night where I searched frantically for a signal to write an email on my Kindle, I finally found it on the well-lit steps of the hotel, under a huge lemon tree. I enjoyed music emanating from a restaurant in my surroundings, laughter and chatter mixed with the occasional clang of forks to plates and glasses to glasses, though I never saw a single person or even the restaurant. I savored the feeling of being a rock’s throw away from an eagle’s eye view of the water and indulged myself in thoughts of mysterious, provocative Mediterranean nights.

Earlier, I had strolled around the cobblestone streets of Piazza Tasso, named after the poet Torquato Tasso, author of Gerusalemme Liberata. I marveled over the gigantic, distorted, mutant-like lemons, which were displayed in local shops and dotted so many of the trees we saw. We sampled limoncello, an alcoholic drink made with lemon rinds, water, and sugar, one of Sorrento’s claims to fame. Although very strong after a gulp, the satisfying sweetness of a lemon drop spreads throughout, making it a wonderful dessert wine.

After dinner, we meandered around the town. Unlike in Florence where shops close around seven at night, the stores here all closed after ten and many locals stayed out later in bars karaoke singing.

If you are visiting Italy and want to stay somewhere cozy and scenic, or visit sights that not everyone and their mother has seen, I would recommend Sorrento. The panoramic coast, music, and excitement at night all serve as a great backdrop for a romantic vacation, a love affair to remember, or a story illustrating an inspiring landscape to an inamorato on the other side of the world. Sorrento nights are definitely worth losing sleep over.

Jessica keeps a food and travel blog at


About Jessica Wu

Jessica WuJessica Wu is a contributor to Now!here, Columbia University’s online travel magazine. To read more travel accounts, please visit Now!here Columbia.

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