|Sorrento Clock Tower|
I arrived back home from our two week Great Big Western USA Roadtrip to find a package waiting for me. It was the goody box I'd won from the "Where in the World was Ms. Toody?" giveaway hosted by the charming Ms. Toody Goo Shoes blog. I love surprises, and I had no idea what was inside. The contest involved figuring out where she had traveled based on her picture clues. I took one look at her photos and was immediately transported back to the Amalfi Coast which we had visited last summer. My kids wanted to visit Pompeii, and I decided that scenic Sorrento was a much, much better place to stay than the more convenient Naples.
|Watching a suave man and a woman dressed in white climb into their Ferrari and zoom away. La Dolce Vita!|
Sorrento is named after the mythical Greek creatures called sirens whose enchanting songs lured men to crash their ships. In Homer's The Odyssey, Ulysses heard the sirens' song and survived, causing the sirens to throw themselves into the ocean near here. In some ways, it was still a dangerous city. I was afraid I'd emerge with a much lighter wallet.
|Warning sign on train to Pompeii|
No, I wasn't scared of pickpockets. I was leery of how much I loved and adored everything I saw in the stores. Our hotel was located in the old city. The front of it faced the main street, Corso Italia, filled with higher end chain stores like Max Mara and Swatch. The back of the hotel overlooked Via S. Cesareo, a narrow pedestrian street with one irresistible store after another that beckoned me to enter and buy something.. or everything. By day, it was filled with tour groups from the nearby cruise terminal. I preferred exploring it at night and in the early morning before it got too busy. It was so different from the Asian Night Markets that I'd grown accustomed to.
|Looking down on the pedestrian street from my hotel room balcony.|
I had recently decided to give up my practice of buying handbags as souvenirs when I traveled. Then, I came to my senses and realized that I should implement the change after I had left Italy which is renowned for its leather goods. I couldn't take my eyes off all the painted pottery. The popular blue, white and yellow color scheme would fit in perfectly with the decor in my Texas home. My daughter acquired a taste for aged balsamic vinegar, as sweet and thick as honey. How could I leave without buying a bottle? The only thing that saved my wallet was the fact that our luggage was stuffed to almost overflowing. We were in the midst of moving back to the USA from Malaysia, and our suitcases held everything we would need before our sea shipment arrived a month later.
If Life Gives You Lemons
As I walked around Sorrento, I quickly realized that what it must be most famous for is its lemons. My daughter wanted to return to the store "next to the place that sold lemon stuff," and I informed her that didn't exactly narrow it down in this town. The soil here is ideal for cultivating the large and sweet Sorrento lemons. I stared in disbelief at how big they were. I watched a storekeeper weigh one, and I couldn't believe that the needle on the scale pointed to almost 2 kilos.
|Lemon Grove Garden (Giardini di Cataldo) near the train station|
Lemons are everywhere. Painted on dishes, made into soaps, and turned into one delicacy after another, of course. In the granitas and the gelato...
|Getting scoops at Gelataria Davide (while listening to Arianna Grande blasting over the speakers).|
In the cakes...
|Delizia - Sponge cake soaked in lemon sugar syrup and covered with lemon custard|
But the most prevalent delight is the Limoncello.
|Limoncello - a sweet and lemony alcoholic digestif|
Every store seems to have its own recipe handed down from one generation to the next. Most are happy to give you a sample to taste. You could really make an afternoon of trying to find the best limoncello in Sorrento. They even had limoncello at the toy and candy store.
|Candy, toys and limoncello. How to keep the both kids and happy.|
Have I mentioned that I love lemons? Lucky me. Life was giving them to me by the bushel.
And other miscellaneous quirky things
Sorrento wasn't 100% lemons though. There was the water and beach which we somehow never made it down to. There was the pizza. We try to get the kids to try local food when we travel, and we received much less resistance than usual when we suggested pizza.
Pizzeria da Franco had delicious pizzas and hot sandwiches. The odd thing was the fire escape map at every single booth, like the kind you typically find on the back of a hotel room door. Our booth was only a few feet away from the door, but the map clearly showed us the best escape route via a dotted line.
|Teeny, tiny Tic-Tacs|
At the train station, I found the teeniest, tiniest box of Tic-Tacs that I've ever seen. I think there were all of 6 regular size pieces in here.
|Foosball/Table Soccer anyone?|
I also found a small foosball/table soccer game at the train station. Three little plastic players per team. In contrast to that, I walked past an imposingly tall and big man dressed in a caftan. I whispered to my husband, "I think I just saw André Leon Talley."
"Who's that?" he replied.
"The former editor-at-large of American Vogue."
At this point, my husband looks at me like I'm a little loony and asks, "You think you saw the editor of Vogue at the Sorrento train station?" Well, when he put it that way, it did sound a little unlikely. He'd probably zip off in a luxe car like those La Dolce Vita people I'd seen earlier at the Hotel de la Syrene.
My last surprise from Sorrento came as we boarded the train to Pompeii. Music was pouring out of one of the train cars, the exact car that Hubby decided to get on. As we leapt on board, I came face to face with two men serenading the passengers with their merry Italian songs.
|A little live music|
My sadness at having to leave Sorrento the day after touring Pompeii was only appeased by the prospect that our next stop was Venice. I came away with a leather handbag and a small bottle of 10 year aged balsamic vinegar. The storekeeper tried to sell me a bigger bottle, but I explained that my suitcases were full and a few additional milliliters were more than I could manage.
The Goody Bag
So, it was with excitement that I opened the package from Ms. Toody Goo Shoes earlier this week. What goodies had she sent me?
|Goodies from Ms. Toody Goo Shoes|
A year after I'd last seen Sorrento, a part of it arrived at my door. Thanks, Ms. Toody!
What's your favorite souvenir that you've brought home from a trip?
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