Shopping in Sorrento

shopping a sortrento

A stroll in Sorrento among shop windows and historical buildings while savouring a handmade ice-cream.

Shopping is certainly one of the most fun things to do on holiday, especially the search for the most original and significant souvenir to take back home Sorrento is the ideal place for this quest because of its abundance of typical products ranging from wine and food to local artisanship and roads entirely dedicated to shopping and strolling. Via San Cesareo, the heart of the historical centre with its 16th and 17th century buildings is the real core of local shopping; it is an explosion of voices and colours, plentiful stands exposing their products and offers its guests the best of what Sorrento has to offer. Lemons, oranges, chilli peppers, typical liqueurs such as Limoncello and Nocino, ornate sandals, handbags, scarfs, colourful ceramics and precious inlaid chests, bars, small restaurants, ice-cream shops. And while you go through this vibrant and merry itinerary you may bump into a real jewel of 13th century architecture: the Sedil Dominova, an elegant medieval loggia where noble citizens held assemblies. Parallel to via San Cesareo is Corso Italia, the most elegant road in town, with its shops dedicated mostly to fashion: clothes, accessories, footwear, leather goods and cosmetics for every demand and for every budget, from designer brands to low cost. As in via San Cesareo, here too it is possible to be fascinated by the exquisite façades of the historical buildings.

Sorrento Gozzo

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.

The Sorrento Tarantella

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.