Useful tips you should know before going to Sorrento

Or 18 things to avoid when visiting Sorrento, Italy

Sorrento, a small sun-drenched town with the scent of lemons, sea, and delicious food, is among one of southern Italy’s most beautiful coastlines in the Campania region and a favorite tourist destination. Here are some helpful tips you should know before going to Sorrento.

Narrow street in Sorrento
Narrow street in Sorrento

Do not arrive with large vehicles: the roads in Sorrento and along the Amalfi Coast are narrow and winding, and traffic can be very congested during the high season. Parking can also be a problem in Sorrento and along the entire Amalfi Coast, both in terms of finding a parking place and the cost. Another important thing not to forget is that your car can get scratched due to the narrow streets and difficult parking spots. I recommend considering these complications before renting a car.

ZTL sign in Sorrento cetner
ZTL sign in Sorrento center

Avoid the ZTL – The historic centers of many cities in Italy are restricted by the ZTL (zona trafico limitato in Italian). These zones were created to help reduce vehicular traffic and make walking more pleasant. The ZTL zones in Sorrento are limited to certain hours, some are for residents only, and others are for vehicles with special permits. Pay attention to the ZTL signs that mark the entrance to the zone. However, ask if your hotel is in this area or if you make a reservation at a restaurant; they will ensure you get through. Usually, the central location is generally closed to traffic every evening from 7:30 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. and every day on Sundays.

Do not expect timely public transport. The roads of the Sorrento Peninsula are hectic during the summer. There are many tourist buses, Vespas, and cars, which makes the traffic slower.

Don’t forget to validate your bus or train ticket – if you buy a regional train ticket, it won’t have the time or date on it; this means the key must be validated on the platform before you board the train, and for the bus, it’s as soon as you get on the public bus.

Avoid visiting Sorrento in the high season. During July and August, Sorrento is full of tourists, and besides, during the peak summer months, it’s really hot here and not very pleasant for sightseeing anywhere. The best time to visit Sorrento is from the middle of September to the end of May.

Please don’t limit yourself only to Sorrento: Sorrento is an excellent starting point because it is located near the most important tourist destinations such as the islands of Capri, Procida and Ischia, Positano and the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Ercolano, Vesuvius, and Naples. Also, accommodation here is relatively cheaper than in other places around.

Do not expect all shops to be open all day long. From 13h 16:30h, most shops in Sorrento close for a siesta like in Spain, and most bars have one day off during the week.

Dress appropriately: When you visit Italy, you should keep two main rules in mind. The first is that even though Sorrento is a beach resort, you should only wear your beach attire when you are at the beach. And the other is that there are many churches in town, some large cathedrals, some hidden in the narrow streets. Some are gems, and you may want to visit them; generally, your shoulders should be covered, so make sure you always have a scarf to cover your shoulders. Wearing the appropriate clothing is the most respectful thing you can do.

Food & Drink

Italians have a strong sense of quality and food culture, and much about food is sacred. The dishes are prepared with love and care, and the quality of the products is of the utmost importance.

Please do not order a cappuccino after 11:00. Italians take their coffee very seriously and have specific unwritten rules for ordering and drinking coffee during the day. One such rule is that ordering a cappuccino after 11 a.m. is weird. Cappuccino is best consumed in the morning, usually with a pastry or croissant. It’s generally made with much milk, which Italians drink mainly in the morning and never during lunch or dinner. However, relax; no one will deny you a cappuccino in the afternoon.

Do not ask for a latte at the bars – I know that in other countries, a latte is a coffee with milk, but in Italy, if you ask for a latte, you will only get a glass of milk (latte milk). Instead, you can ask for a coffee with a latte in a glass, or a macchiato, served in an espresso cup and topped with milk foam.

Do not put Parmesan cheese on top of fish and seafood dishes. Most fish have a delicate and mild taste, and the cheese will only mask the taste of the sea and the fresh fish. Fish tastes best when cooked without too many ingredients. That’s why Italians never mix fish with cheese.

Do not ask for butter – the butter on the bread is not appreciated here. Instead, you’ll find a bottle of good EVO oil at your table for dipping your bread, which is healthier and part of the Mediterranean diet.

Don’t cut your spaghetti: Pasta etiquette is a real thing around here; cutting the spaghetti is considered a sin. The proper eating technique is to wrap spaghetti around your fork, using your plate as support.

Please do not ask for pineapple, ketchup, or mayonnaise on your pizzas or pasta dishes, the food culture in Italy is a real thing and a law, and it needs to be respected.

Do not ask for dressing for your salad – instead, it will be served with good olive oil and balsamic vinegar so that you can enjoy the natural taste of the vegetables.

Do not ask for Spaghetti Bolognese in Southern Italy – each region of Italy is famous for its specific products, tastes, and ways of making pasta. Instead, look up the traditional dishes for the place you visit online, and then try them. Sorrento is known with gnocchi alla sorrentina, spaghetti alle vongole, limoncello, delizia al limone, and many others are famous.

Do not buy packaged commercial mozzarella. If you want to taste real mozzarella, go to a deli, grocery store, or supermarket and ask the people who work there, or better yet if you see a local person, ask where the fresh mozzarella and cheese stand is, they are delivered daily and directly from the local producers. And to get to know the real taste of mozzarella, try eating it with fresh rustic bread and drizzling olive oil.

And last but not least, Do not avoid the carbs. Italy is all about pasta and pizza, so leave your diet at home and count the memories, not the calories.

That’s all for now; I hope you will enjoy Sorrento



Svetlana Hristova

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