Sorrento, Sonseere and Serious Misdirection

April 11, 2017

For over a week, I have been spending time with my cousin, Sonseere, in Arpino, Lazio. She is now living in her remodeled apartment in the center of town but is still getting settled. Sunday, we decided to head out of town for the sun and water of Sorrento.

Both Sonseere and I, on separate occasions, have visited Sorrento and both of us have stayed at La Tonnarella, a fabulous hotel up the main street from Sorrento Centro, Center. While driving we decided to head to the hotel first.

Driving is always an adventure in Italy. We used GPS, or as I call her, Ms. GPS Woman, on Sonseere’s phone. I swear this artificial intelligence messes with us every time we use her. We drove through several small towns on bumpy roads for close to an hour before we reached an entrance to the Autostrada, toll-way. Then once on there, as we approached a change in highways, she decided of her own volition to reroute us. We missed the turn and added 10 minutes to the drive.

Still, it was all worth it. We arrived in sunny Sorrento, drove through town and headed up the hill to revisit our memories.

I believe this is the room where my friend Dot and I spend several wonderful days in Sorrento.

We could see the city and harbor below us from our balcony.

And across the water.

And below us to the sea. I would highly recommend La Tonnarella to anyone seeking a stay in Sorrento. I will return. By the way, the restaurant is excellent—although it is not open in off season.

After reminiscing on the veranda of the hotel, breathing in the salty air mixed with the scent of wisteria, we returned to la macchina della Sonseere, Sonseere’s car, and drove to the parking garage off Piazza Tasso, Sorrento’s main square. By this time, we were both starving.  We had previously eaten at the other two restaurants on the piazza. We decided to try Aurora Light, We had no idea it would be so luscious.

Sonseere suggested we have an Aperol Spritz instead of vino. Great idea in the sun!

Her dog, Henry, had come along. He had his water dish next to us.

The Aperol Spritz had ghiaccio, ice, and was stronger than those I had in Chiavari. The bread was delicious. But il aperitivo e I primi piatti sono magnifici! The appetizer and both first course plates were magnificent.

We began with delicately fried zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta and a bit of white fish. Sounds a bit odd but it was scrumptious. No fishy taste at all. The presentation was gorgeous too.

Next, we had Green Gnocchi (please pronounce this potato pasta as knee-o’-key), with an olive, tomato and capers sauce. The photo does not do it justice. We both ordered it and we both loved it.

Aurora Light Restaurant had many unique selections. It is not an inexpensive place to eat. But it is well worth the price plus the location for people watching is excellent.

Since we were both stuffed, we had to walk it off. Sorrento is an ideal place for walking. First, we crossed the street to see the Wisteria at the Hotel Victoria.

Spectacular color and aroma.

The hotel itself is stunning. The Wisteria surrounded the automobile exit. And it went on forever. What a lovely place.

There is even a Pergola covered in wisteria overlooking the passage to the sea.

Ahh, the sea…

We strolled through the shopping areas, streets narrow and wide. I bought Limoncello and candy with Limoncello. Sonseere needed a telephone charger for her car and found that at a shop called Shopping Victim. Following that purchase, we headed back to Piazza Tasso. Before collecting the car for the ride home, we stopped at one of my favorite places in Sorrento, La Vallone dei Mulini, The Valley of the Old Mills.

Originally there were 5 different valleys like this one, each with fresh water streams from the higher altitudes. They separated three, distinct kingdoms long ago. This is the best preserved. It looks to be over one hundred feet below street level. It is still accessible if you are brave enough. There are stairs of tufa and what looks like a rickety bridge.

There was a public laundry attached to the mill. The mill was so important as it was used until around 1900 for grain production. The sawmill cut all the varieties of wood we see in the inlaid wood products of Sorrento.

Alas, no climbing down there for us. It was time to pay the Piper (or parking attendant) and head back to Arpino. Somewhere along the way, Sonseere had thought the drive would only be 1 ½ hours. It was almost double that without delays and without Ms. GPS Woman playing tricks on it.

There definitely were a few. This was Palm Sunday. There is really, only one street in and out of Sorrento and everyone was on it. It was stop and go for us. But not for the crazy people on Motorcycles who drove on the line and over it.

There were so many of them too.

It was unnerving, especially for Sonseere who was driving. I was shooting photos while we drove.

Then, there was Ms. GPS Woman and her games. As we approached a long tunnel, she suggested a faster route. We agreed immediately and she said to veer right. There were two streets where we could veer right. We chose the wrong one. We were in the tunnel with hundreds of cars for what felt like hours. Perhaps 20 Motorcycles passed us on both sides while I cursed Ms. GPS Woman.

When we finally exited the tunnel, she said to turn right as we passed the right turn. THANK YOU MS. GPS WOMAN! Sonseere mentioned doing a U-turn and I seconded that thought. We managed to avoid hitting any cyclists and made it to the turn. Shortly after that point, Ms. GPS Woman took a dinner break. She was gone.

Now, we are somewhere along the coast between Sorrento and Napoli, driving on main streets and we cannot even get phone service on either phone. We drove through Castellane del Stabia I think. And we were getting nervous.  We could see the water at times. And Mt. Vesuvius at sunset,

which reminded us that it was getting dark and we still had to find the highway and service for our phones. We now programmed both phones for directions back to Arpino. It took a while before they began to work. Sonseere drove over cobblestone streets and along empty roads until we found the access to A1 Superstrada, thank goodness. The moon was out and it was getting dark.

I took this moon photo from the moving car, out the window. We were not moving too fast.

Once on the freeway, life got a whole lot better. However, about 45 minutes outside of Arpino, both phones directed us off the freeway. Now Sonseere had to drive winding roads without streetlights to return home. Henry, her dog, hadn’t been out of the car in hours and neither had we. I think we were both on our last nerves when Arpino came into sight. We were glad to get out of that car and back to Arpino safely. Still, with all the serious misdirection and minor mishaps, we both agreed, Sorrento was worth it all.

Have you heard the Sirens of Sorrento calling?

Ciao for now!

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