In such an enchanting town as Sorrento why not dedicate oneself to one of the most amusing and satisfying activities, Shopping, especially on holiday, is one of the most efficient therapies to find psychophysical wellness and treat oneself to a little free time to spend in total relaxation.
Shopping in Sorrento does not mean only buying, but following a precise itinerary, it means entering a coloured and variegated universe of shops, placed along the central roads of the town. From clothes to furniture, from handicraft to shoes: Sorrento offers a wide choice of products to its visitors.
The centre of Sorrento shopping is surely Via San Cesareo, one of the richest roads in shops where to buy typical products or local handicraft. It is in this road, in fact, that there are the most famous shops of masters of Sorrento wood inlay, of crib art of 1700 or also of ceramists and artisans of waxes and shoes. But also, you will find jewels, cameos, corals and such typical delicacies as limoncello or walnut liqueur , cakes, dairy products and much more.
Along Corso Italia, parallel to Via San Cesareo, there are fashion shops: clothes, accessories, shoes, leather and cosmetics for any kind of need and for any purse, from great brands to low cost products.
Not to forget is the presence of several shops also in nerve centres of the town like Lauro Square, Via Tasso, Via San Nicola or also Via degli Aranci.
Despite Sorrento is already full of historical, landscape and artistic attractions, you cannot absolutely give up dedicating some time to Sorrento shopping: you will be able to look about and admire, and , why not, do your perfect purchase.
The knowledge of a place passes also through the discovery of its culture, of its traditions. The building of wooden boats, in particular of the boats well-known all over the world with the name of gozzo sorrentino, is one of the most ancient habits of Sorrento handicraft.
Sorrento has a shipyard and nautical tradition going back to the 10th century. The construction of gozzos in the ancient shipyard of Marina Grande of Sorrento goes back, according to historical sources, to the 17th century. The name of Aprea mare shipyards, the well-known gozzo Aprea, a sailing or cabin boat, wooden or fibreglass, is one of the most important names in the outline of nautical handicraft. The skilled carpenters keep, still today, the tradition of Sorrento gozzo flourishing, built according to ancient craftsmanlike techniques. The name gozzo derives from the swollen and round shape of the master section of the ships. According to the collective imaginary, the creation of Sorrento gozzo derives from the readjustment of an abandoned Saracen boat.
Sorrento gozzo has a gestation of almost fifty years before being built. The kinds of wood chosen for its construction, elm, oak and cluster pine, come from trees with a large trunk and a life which is not lower than fifty years. Wooden boats, which are aesthetically very beautiful, today reproposed also in fibreglass, whose building is entrusted to rules and dictates handed down orally from generation to generation. Boats measured in Neapolitan spans (a span is 26,4 centimetres) and made by the skilled hands of Sorrento artisans who do not need a prescribed plan, but shapings and profiles.
This small rowing boat with lateen sail, with pointed stern and stem, is typical of all countries on the Mediterranean Sea and it is destined to fishing. A typology of work-boat endowed with a grace which has made it famous all over the world. Linked to religious tradition, the gozzo normally has at the bow a crucifix and an image of the saint it has the name of. Sorrento gozzos are dedicated to the Patron of the town, Sant’Antonino, protector of sailors and farmers. The structure of Sorrento gozzo remained almost unchanged until the 20’s of the twentieth century when the earliest engines were assembled. The engine propulsion marks the good luck of the gozzo as a yachting boat chosen by sea lovers.
Two are the gozzos typical of Sorrento Coast, present still today in the waters of the Gulf of Naples, the varchetta and the gozzo a menaide, characterized by a hull with pointed stem and stern. The two typologies of boats differ from one another for their length, their function and aesthetical conformation. The gozzo a menaide, 27, 30 and 32 spans long, usually used for the fishing of anchovies, sardines and so on, takes its name just from a kind of nets used for fishing.
The “varchetta”, nearly 14 spans long and wider than the gozzo a menaide, was used to fish octopus, squids and cuttlefish along the cliffs.
Cultural heritage of a place which from the sea has taken resources and richness, Sorrento gozzo is now an iconographic feature of Sorrento, an enchanting and magnetic attraction of the Gulf of Naples.
Sorrento and Sorrento Coast have given Wood Inlay its highest splendour in the second half of the Nineteenth century. The art of Wood Inlay, yet, has very ancient origins and its flourishing is probably located in Asia Minor. The earliest inlaid objects found in Turkey, in fact, go back to 350 B.C.
In the 15th century the art was exported to Italy where first in Florence, and then in Sorrento, it developed in the technique and in the materials used.
In Sorrento, Inlay, thanks to the excellence of the products and the particular artistic characterization, achieved a relevant role which would bring the Sorrento artistic technique to be acknowledged all over the world. In particular, the diffusion and the development of the art of wood inlay in Sorrento is linked to the presence of religious men, especially Benedictine monks, who, in the monastery of Sant’Agrippino, made inlaid works by using walnut, lemon-tree, orange-tree and olive-wood. Moreover, an evidence of the flourishing art in Sorrento’s territory is given by the presence of numerous inlaid works in the churches of the town. The themes represented vary from landscapes, still natures, to local products and to events linked to local history and to popular traditions.
The technique of Wood Inlay consists in the making of drawings on wooden surfaces through the assembling of small wooden pieces, previously cut and shaped. The wooden tesseras have various shades of colour and are less thick than a millimetre and, after being cut, are shaded thanks to the immersion into hot sand. The last phase, in the making of an inlaid product, foresees the making of the drawing through the assembling of the wooden tesseras which are sticked on wooden surfaces with isinglass, then sanded and varnished.
The Tarantella is a dance which for many is derived from the celebrations which honoured the god Dionysus, and for others is derived from ‘Tarantismo’, a possessed-dance for auto-inducing a state of trance.
In Spain the Tarantella, a sort of hybrid dance of fandango and folly, came accompanied by the ‘vihuela’, an ancient instrument which re-emerged during the Renaissance.
The three dances are homeopathic in nature and serve to keep at a distance any negative influences: characteristically the obsessive repetition and almost hypnotic movements and emotive music create a sort of alliance with the possessed spirit allowing the elimination of the symtoms of illness.
The Tarantella has assumed local forms and become a communal dance for all to rediscover differing versions which have developed through the ages.
Amongst the most famous Tarantella dances, are those of Campania and Puglia; of particular artistic relevance is the Sorrento Tarantella, noted internationally for the music and the costumes. Distinguishing it from other Tarantella dances is the gavotte timing, whilst amongst the others one see’s a semblance of a polka, with a fast, obsessed rhythm throughout the dance. The other distinctive characteristic of the Sorrento Tarantella is that it is principally a dance of love that emerges for the viewers in an atmosphere of magic and idyll.
To give the connotation of ‘sweet’ to this Sorrento dance is in fact because the spectacle was adapted in a time when the public were prevalently noble families: the traditional popular dance then became more ‘correct’ with the elimination of any reference to violence and/or sexual conquer in a time more specifically differentiated in terms of elegance, grace and simplicity.
During the execution of the Sorrento Tarantella, there are certain moments dedicated to the musical repositioning of the more beautiful Sorrentine and Napoletanesi melodies. The singers are accompanied by dancers, who in many instances, use the sounds of the typical Napoletan folk instruments such as the tamburelli and nacchere.
Also worth notable mention are the costumes worn by the dancers of the Sorrento Tarantella who have maintained the original detail and style of the costumes dating back to the 18th century.
An emblem of the Neapolitan Christmas traditions, the Neapolitan Nativity Scene is such an important religious symbol, that it is entrenched even into the memory of the profane. It is a magical synthesis, between sacred and profane, which ritually populates rural homes, rather than a synthesis between history and daily life, the Neapolitan Nativity scene is a handmade production revered and appreciated all over the world.
The term is derived from Latin, and the first documented observations of the Neapolitan Nativity Scene goes back to 1205. The first representations of the Nativity Scenes as seen throughout Italy in general, is that of the manger, the ox, the donkey, with Joseph and Mary near baby Jesus.
It is in the 16th century that the Neapolitan Nativity Scenes truly attempts to embody the most accurate representation possible of then-daily life, with care given to the most minute detail. In the 17th century the Nativity scenes become know for their excellence, in which time the hand work of the scenes are greatly improved upon. In the 18th century, the school of art dedicated to the Neapolitan Nativity Scene is born.
The personae shown in Nativity Scene are not your classical stereotype; with new and ongoing research, the characters and the representations of then-daily life and are constantly updated.
The Napoletan nativity at the Cathedral in Sorrento, is a permanent exhibition but can only be viewed during the Christmas period.
It can be found in the area adjacent to the vestry and is famous for the numerous reproductions of shepherders (inspired by the Napoletan shepherders of the ‘700’s).
Protected by the rules of the art of Napoletan Nativity making, the nativity scene found at the Cathedral in Sorrento is composed of enchanting scenes representing the Nativity, the Shepherd’s Announcement and the traditional manger.
Wood, cork, papier mache and plastic, and plays of light faithfully bring to life religious and daily-life scenes considered to be museum reconstructions of rural and pastoral civilizations.
The most precious nativity, donated by the poet Saltovar, was stolen following the earthquake of 1980. It has been reassembled though and crafted by Antonino and Giuseppe Parlato and is the result of the passion and hard work of many, amongst who have been the parish priest, Don Luigi Di Prisco and his predecessors.
Crowded and lively in Summer, Sorrento is a town rich in events and happenings also in Winter.
On February 14th every year, on Valentine’s day, Sorrento celebrates the festival of St. Antonino, the Patron Saint of the town. A double feast, therefore, for all those who decide to spend this period in Sorrento Coast which lives the celebrations in honour of the Patron Saint very intensively.
According to the legend, St. Anthony the Abbott was a monk who, after the apparition of St. Michael the Archangel and on orders of him, built a church in Sorrento, today known as Basilica of Sant’ Antonino, among the most important artistic and architectural beauties in the town. Dear to the population also for his numerous miracles, the Patron Saint is remembered every year with a series of pleasant events.
A religious as well as a folkloristic and cultural event, February 14th is, therefore, one of the most beautiful moments to live the magical atmosphere Sorrento is immersed in: religious rites alternate with numerous profane events, thus making the festival rich in happenings.
St. Antonino is celebrated with a suggestive devotional procession occurring in the morning of February 14th: the enchanting silver statue representing the saint goes around the town, accompanied by the inhabitants and by the religious, civil and military authorities, under the charmed eyes of so many people.
In Sorrento, the procession of the Hooded People taking place during the Holy Week are two: the White Procession, also known as Procession of Our Lady of Sorrows, put on stage by the Archconfraternity of Santa Monica and the Black Procession, or also procession of Dead Christ, performed along the town streets by the Archconfraternity of Morte ed Orazione.
The tradition of Easter processions in Sorrento dates back almost to 1300: evidences testify the usage of parades of hooded people who flogged themselves along the streets as a sign of penitence. The performance of processions had a remarkable importance also during the Spanish domination in the Kingdom of Naples.
Being expressions of religious faith but also interesting folkloristic performances, the processions of the Holy Week have, therefore, a very ancient tradition and are organized and cured in any detail still today. Famous all over the world for the mystical and suggestive atmosphere they can create, they are surely an enchanting show to see during a holiday in Sorrento.
Among the Holy Week celebrations which culminate in the Good Friday processions, there is the Holy Sacrament Adoration on Holy Thursday afternoon which is done visiting all main Sorrento’s churches. It is known as ‘Sepulchres visit’.
A very followed Sorrento’s tradition, the visit to the Sepulchres attract numerous believers and tourists who visit the main churches’ altars where the sepulchres are prepared on Holy Thursday afternoon.
The visit is made in a silent atmosphere and consists of making prayers and admiring the sepulchres which are prepared by parishioners with flowers and grain.
Bells do not ring, churches are not illuminated: only the Sepulchre under the altar has some lights and becomes the place where simple gifts express the religious feeling of people. Among these symbols we find bread, wine, germinated grain and flowers. The Sepulchres are displayed until Good Friday to allow people to complete the visit in every church.