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Stunning Sorrento is one of Italy's most well-established resorts: relaxed, picturesque and sunny. Its location, on one of the most beautiful stretches of Italian coastline, has long made it a favourite with Italians. Sorrento has inspired poets and painters for centuries - and Byron, Keats and Dickens all came here as part of the Grand Tour. The town has ancient origins and an attractive historic centre, but today Sorrento is essentially a modern resort that makes a bustling base for exploring some of Italy's finest sights: Pompeii, Naples and Herculaneum.
Despite its popularity as a holiday resort, Sorrento is not noted for its beaches. It sits on a clifftop, above the shore. The nearest sandy beach to the harbour is the small Marina Piccola, which is reached by steps or a lift. The other sandy beach is Marina Grande, a 15-minute walk from the town centre. The most attractive beach is Punto del Capo further south. It is reached from the centre of town by following Via del Capo, though it is best to take a bus.
The Circumvesuviana train runs from Sorrento to the stunning ruins of Pompeii, the Roman town destroyed when Vesuvius erupted in AD79. It is best to leave early, as the archaeological site is extensive. Also worth exploring is Herculaneum, another preserved Roman town, or Vesuvius itself. You can also easily take a day trip to the beautiful island of Capri. Frequent hydrofoils leave Sorrento harbour and the journey is only 20 minutes' long.
The lack of easily accessible sandy beaches means that Sorrento is not the ideal resort for families seeking a traditional bucket and spade holiday. However, with plenty of bars and restaurants, and a pleasant town centre it is a good base for families with older children wishing to explore Pompeii and Vesuvius.
The sprawling city of Naples has a reputation as a rough, rather violent place. But while there are some areas that are best avoided, the noisy centre has plenty of fine buildings, like the cathedral (Via del Duomo), that are well worth seeing. Main attraction is the Archeological Museum (Piazza Museo Nazionale), which is home to finds from Pompeii. The famous Secret Cabinet contains erotic items found in the ruins.
Have an indulgent face or body treatment at La Serra, the new holistic centre at the 5-star Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria (Piazza Tasso 34). It's located in the hotel's garden and includes double treatment suites for couples. Treatments are based on natural ingredients like rose hips and orange essence.