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“So picturesque... and then...” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Sorrento - Day Tours

Sorrento - Day Tours
Via Marconi 177, 84017 Positano, Italy
+39 334 397 6705
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Ranked #27 of 42 Activities in Positano
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
17 attraction reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“So picturesque... and then...”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 9, 2014

Get the real dislike out of the way 1st. Scootors - by the 1,000,000
Sorrento is not a city. A reasonably sized small town, more like.
From an Irish tourist perspective (and not snobbish) think Bundoran(Dl)/Salthill(G)/Dalkey Promende only much more upmarket. IMO, if tourism tackiness has a centre of excellence, this is it's address. NO. Amalfi is as bad and so is Positano. I spared myself Capri, tho' I've precious little evidence to think its any different. Shop after clonelike shop flogging identical cra... sorry, merchandise. But enough of this curmudgeonery.

My wife (or whatever PC word fits) loved it.
Magnas inter opes magnum, - the trip wasn't a complete waste.
Setting aside the trinket tourist traps (and even they were tastful), Sorrento and the others do have a charm all to themselves. I doubt they were damaged in the War, such is the apparent quaintness of the narrow streets, resplendent with tall houses/tavernas, etc and the ubiquitous cobblestones.
Literally, I found yet another photo op around every corner and if you take away the electric lights its just as Shelly, Keats and the rest of the 18/19 Cent Grand Tour(ists) left it. Certainly we found no Golden Arches or Red Hat huts, much to the credit of the Italian urban planners; pizza, fish & chip, ice cream establishments abound but in an unobtrusive way. Could you visit Italy and NOT have an ice-cream ?
There is a very definite absence of garish neon. Well done.
As one would expect, the upmarket shops, Guichy and his ilk, are there aplenty, 18 c gold being reasonably priced, Mrs tourist informed me, tho I suspect I'll see the evidence for myself later, in the flexible bill. Eating out we found quite reasonable, by Irish/UK standards, tho they tend to have a light hand with the potions of veggies. ALL sea food came "from frozen" - this info is on all menus, curious in a sea port and this was a bit disappointing. Mrs tourist found the wine menu expansive and at a good price. Acqua is €2 a lt in hotels, etc. The waiters are very friendly and good for a laugh, just ask for the French wine list ! As you'd expect, multi lingual.
But its the scenery that's spectacular.
Perched on cliffs, the towns are well served by tour busses. And cheap. Expect a one hr, or longer, tour for €10 but be well advised to go on them; you'll be rewarded with superb snaps.
I should point out that its €8 per day or part thereof, to go to a beach, when you can find one. While some are served by lifts, most are accessed by foot on steep paths carved onto the cliffs, so there may be issues if you have weight/health problems; not so much going down but ascents will be tasking. If the budget allows, do take a cruise to Almalfi; not for the (same) architecture or churches but for the scenery. Most go via but don't land on, Capri and stop for bathers for 30 mins. Again great snaps.
All in all, easy to see why its an UNESCO site. Lovely.

Visited September 2014
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4 reviews from our community

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  • English first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Belfast, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
19 attraction reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
71 helpful votes 71 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 27, 2014

A Spring Weekend Away In…

York. Catch the seven o’clock out of Belfast International on a Friday evening and be in Leeds-Bradford Airport for half-past if there’s a tailwind and the pilot cuts a corner around Manchester.

Another forty minutes and the historic city welcomes you with its quaint medieval names displaying their Viking ancestry, Jubbergate, Aldwark, Walmgate. Stay in the centre in a tiny hotel like Galtres Lodge where your room has a view looking down Grape Lane, a narrow cobbled alley where one Ford Transit can cause chaos by unloading for five minutes.
A few minutes walk away is Gert and Henry’s, a family owned restaurant situated in the heart of York in a Tudor building of great charm. This is a building that has settled comfortably over the years and now sits dreaming on the edge of a market. Windows sit askew and the floor has a slope, both of which cause slight giddiness.
Gert & Henry’s offers a delightful surprise and at nine o’clock on a Friday night. Prepare yourself for home made food, which has never seen a microwave, in a warm, old-fashioned atmosphere, serving great Italian, Seafood and English dishes at a very reasonable price. Salmon wrapped in Parma ham in a cream and watercress sauce, served with beautifully cooked fresh vegetables, whereas herself had a traditional roast beef dinner. Both had a magic touch of looking pretty but also being very filling, two things you don’t generally expect together at a restaurant. Try a litre of their house red that seems to go with anything.
The service was prompt, provided by the most charming Chinese staff ever encountered, who you just have to leave a generous tip for, since they genuinely brighten up your day! All in all, Gert & Henry’s is a surprising concoction of good food, service and atmosphere at decent prices, considering its prime location.
Dander back to the hotel through medieval streets that have echoed to footsteps from Viking times, a quiet pint in a minute resident’s lounge that’s crowded with just the two of us, and off to bed in a room that has real sash windows with tiny distorted panes of glass. Outside our window is a narrow alley called Grape Lane that is straight out of medieval times. With its cobbles, tilted walls and sagging roofs it can’t have changed much.
At breakfast sit at a window that is inches away from the early morning shoppers and enjoy boiled eggs with golden yolks to dip toasted soldiers in.
Exercise is called for and we walk the city walls past the imposing Minster only a few minutes from the hotel. From here look down into gardens that will never have to worry who’s going to build behind them. All the buildings around the Minster seem to be connected with it. They sit in tiny closes with quaint names and everywhere there is history. Roman statues and columns rescued during excavations sit basking in the early spring sun, dreaming of Imperial power and marching legions.
Cascades of daffodils dress the grassy slopes below the walls as we walk along past the different gates that once led into the city. We walk the walls as far as Clifford’s Tower, the original castle and scene of appalling butchery of Jews by an unruly mob in the dim distant past. An east wind cuts over the walls and we come down at Monkgate.
This is a city for food if ever there was one. Afternoon tea in Little Betty’s, an offshoot of Betty’s in Harrogate. Primly dressed waitresses from a bygone era serve us real tea at tables with starched tablecloths. And there’s a proper strainer to keep the tea leaves out of the delicate bone china cups. We cannot resist having a Fat Rascal with the tea, a spiced rock bun with a face of cherries and angelica, and a speciality of West Yorkshire.
And on the way out, we buy some Parkin, a spiced ginger cake made with oatmeal and treacle, another speciality of the region along with Curd Tart and Yorkshire Pudding.
There are shops selling nothing but freshly baked, roasted, boiled and grilled meats, succulent juices trickling across the boards as the chef slices them in full view in the window and the carefully placed extractor fan pumps mouth-watering smells into the street.
There is a shop that sells all manner of pies and pasties and anything to do with pastry. We buy a dozen pork and apple pies with the lightest of pastry and the best of free-range pork for the starving family at home.
There are stalls selling hot dogs made with hand made sausages, joints of venison glistening with juices and the tenderest lamb chops from locally raised stock.
There are deli shops for the most discerning, fruit and vegetable stalls with the freshest of produce and everywhere cups of Yorkshire tea.
But this is not just a city of hedonistic appetites; there are shops of culture and style. Hiding down a lane off Stonegate are shoe shops of style and elegance. No prices on the items in the window.
And a shop that sells Teddy Bears. Enter at your peril as it unlikely that you will come out not clutching an endearing specimen.
Sunday morning and the imperious sound of the deep-tongued Minster’s bell summons the faithful to prayer. It’s impossible to get lost in the city as the building towers over everything. It’s only a few yards round the corner from the hotel and as we approach the doorway it’s easy to understand the colossal power the Church would have had with this elegant building dominating the skyline. Gargoyles high among the flying buttresses leer down while clouds sail past the lofty spires.
Inside it is quiet with a murmur of voices from busy clerics as they prepare for Matins. It’s worth sitting through the hour and a half service for the sung Eucharist. Notes from the sopranos soar among the stone tracery of the vaults and echo from the stained glass to settle gently in the Nave. And if you survive the sermon, there is tea or coffee in the Chapter House after the service where complete strangers may come up and talk to you. It has to be said that it’s a nice touch to finish the service.
And having attended the service you may now wander at will around the building and admire the effigies of twelfth century knights reposing beside their ladies on top of their cold stone tombs. One is only slightly uneasy at the thought of those mouldering bones inches away behind the stone.
We avoided Jorvik this time but wandered the Shambles, still worth visiting especially for the enterprising photographer who will provide medieval costumes, armour etc. for a photo which he then prints as a ghostly image against a castle background. Very atmospheric and worth the money.
The Haunted Pub ghost tour was very well done with our guide being entertaining without being boring. And after a few pubs had been visited, it was then that the spirits began to appear!
Sunday afternoon was kept for the National Railway Museum for me, while herself indulged in the mysteries of the clothes and shoe shops. The Railway Museum, the largest in the world, is a temple of serenity with sleeping iron leviathans the gods.
It’s worth hopping on the bus down to Ripon to see the cathedral with its carved misericords designed to support the elderly monks as they stood during long prayers, sermons etc. Canon Dodgson, father of the Rev. Henry Dodgson, (alias Lewis Carroll) had a living here for some time so it is not surprising to find a series of carved misericords depicting among other things, a rabbit going down a rabbit hole. Inspiration for a story?
Knaresborough’s not far away either with its serene walks by the river. Enjoy toasted teacakes by the riverbank while contented waterfowl paddle close by in anticipation of crumbs.
Or Fountains Abbey with its huge sleeping walls towering against green forest glades beside placid lakes.
And as you leave York with its nooks and crannies and echoes of Nordic voices in the alleys, be determined to return and seek out, like old friends, the streets where the cobbles are as old as the city.

Visited June 2013
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