Sorrento is one of the most popular places in Italy for tourists and holidaymakers for several reasons. Not only is it a beautiful town filled with interesting sightseeing spots and excellent restaurants, bars and cafes, it’s also the gateway to the famous Amalfi Coast and in easy reach of other popular sightseeing spots such as Pompeii and Naples.
Perched upon the clifftops overlooking the Bay of Naples, Sorrento was first inhabited by the Ancient Greeks until the town fell under Roman rule and became a place where wealthy families would build holiday villas and spend their summers. Remnants of these villas and other Roman buildings can still be found in and around Sorrento, along with medieval-style architecture and traces of other past civilizations.
The popularity of Sorrento as a holiday destination began when it became a recommended stop on ‘The Grand Tour’ of the 19th century, along with being favoured by the influential poet Lord Byron. Since then, thousands of travellers from all over the world have been coming to Sorrento to enjoy the sea air, sample local cuisine and explore the coast of southern Italy.
Sorrento is the ideal destination for those who want to enjoy a traditional coastal Italian holiday skilled with plenty of chances for sightseeing and relaxation. Whilst many visitors arrive in the summer months, coming to the town in March means that you can enjoy the off-season experience and revel in peace and quiet wherever you go.
March is the start of Spring in Sorrento, and whilst the weather does gradually improve as the month progresses, hot beach weather is still quite a long way off. The average high temperature during the month is only 15°C, which is pleasant enough but will still require a coat or jacket when you are outdoors.
The average low temperature in Sorrento in March is only 6°C which takes many people by surprise as it can get very cold very quickly. There are only around 5 hours of sunshine every day of the month on average, so be prepared for grey and chilly weather interspersed with a few hours of welcomed sunshine.
There is an average of 14 days of rain in Sorrento in March, which is the last wet month of the year before the weather conditions start to change. Most days during the month are partly cloudy and can have moderate rain showers that last for a couple of hours and then blow over, although thunderstorms can also happen during March.
Whilst many people come to Sorrento in the summer months to enjoy the famous heat and sunshine, you shouldn’t let the weather in March put you off visiting at the start of Spring. It is warm and dry enough for the majority of the month to go and enjoy the outdoor attractions of Sorrento and other nearby destinations, and the lack of other tourists makes it one of the best times to visit for those who want to enjoy the town at their own pace.
How to Get There
Sorrento is found on the coast of Southern Italy, 50km from Naples and reachable by a range of different transport options.
The town itself isn’t large enough to have any major public transport links, but its proximity to Naples means that it is still quite an accessible part of Italy to visit on your holiday. One of the easiest ways to reach Sorrento is by flying into the Naples Capodichino International Airport and then catching a shuttle bus that goes straight to the town centre.
It is also possible to reach Naples by train, as the Naples Centrale train station (Napoli Centrale) has regular services to and from many other popular parts of Italy such as Rome, Milan and Florence. You can then catch a Circumvesuviana train to Sorrento, which is a very cheap mode of travel but can be quite cramped and uncomfortable if you catch the train during peak commuting hours.
One of the most scenic and relaxing ways to get to Sorrento is by catching the ferry from Naples and sailing down the coast of the country to the town’s port. It’s a very convenient and fast mode of transport, but does not always run if the weather is bad.
Finally, it is possible to get to Sorrento by car. However, the town is famed for having exceptionally busy traffic as well as almost nowhere free to park, so this option is not strongly recommended.
Festivals and Events
Good Friday Procession
If Easter falls in March then you will be able to experience the events of Holy Week in Sorrento, the most notable of which are the parades on Good Friday. The first of these is known as The White Parade, and is a procession through the town that begins early in the morning on Good Friday, the day before the Easter weekend.
Hundreds of residents of Sorrento dress up in white, hooded robes and carry candles or burning torches through the streets that are also lit up with candles. A statue of the Virgin Mary is carried with the procession and stops at the entrance of every church, to represent her looking for her son Jesus.
Music accompanies this procession and none of the participants speak, which gives it a very spiritual atmosphere. This first parade is known as the procession of hope, in contrast to The Black Parade which happens later in the day and is known as the procession of death.
The Black Parade takes place late at night on Good Friday and acts as a kind of funeral procession for the religious figure of Jesus, who was said to have died on this day. Participants take to the streets in black clothing this time, and the mood of the procession is a lot more serious and sombre.
Both of these parades are very popular events with residents of the town and outside visitors, so you can expect the streets to be incredibly busy all of Good Friday and the days surrounding the festival. Places to stay in Sorrento fill up incredibly quickly over the Easter weekend, so be sure to book well in advance if you want to visit the town during the festival.
Things to See and Do
Go to the Correale Museum di Terranova
If it does rain during your holiday in Sorrento, one of the best ways to pass the time is visiting museums or galleries, and a trip to the Correale Museum di Terranova perfectly fits the bill. Housed in a classic Italian villa donated to the city by Alfredo and Pompeo Correale, the museum contains hundreds of pieces of art and other artefacts and is one of the best collections in southern Italy.
The museum is spread out over 4 floors and 24 different rooms, giving you plenty of space to explore if the weather outside is less than ideal. But if it is sunny, the villa also has a very beautiful garden that offers unbeatable views over the Bay of Naples.
Explore Marina Grande
Even though its name translates to ‘big marina’, Marina Grande is actually a small fishing community within Sorrento that is found right on the edge of the town. With a small but beautiful bay and one of the only sandy beaches in the entire area, this is a picturesque part of the coast that is bound to be incredibly quiet and peaceful in March.
If you’ve been looking for a peaceful seaside atmosphere then Marina Grande is the perfect place to come for the afternoon. You can visit one of the cafes or bars on the waterfront, explore the area’s tiny church, and even dip your toes in the water if the weather is nice.
Eat Out in the Piazza Tasso
The Piazza Tasso is right at the heart of Sorrento and is one of the most-visited parts of the whole town. Here you’ll find locals and tourists mixing in the square and enjoying its surrounding shops and restaurants, and in March you really get a sense of the town’s authentic atmosphere.
Whilst in the summer months the Piazza Tasso can be absolutely rammed, at the start of spring you can browse the offerings of every restaurant before choosing where you’d like to enjoy your lunch or evening meal. It’s also a brilliant spot just to stop and have a coffee, as there’s no better place in all of Sorrento to people-watch.
The historic town of Pompeii is one of the most famous sightseeing destinations in the whole of Italy, and Sorrento is ideally positioned to visit the area as a day trip. March is also the ideal time to visit because there will be much shorter queues and reduced crowds, giving you more time to explore without having to fight for space.
There are numerous different organised tours on offer that lead you around the ruins of Pompeii with a guide, and joining one of these is a fantastic way to get the most out of your visit. Tour groups will be smaller during the off-season so you’ll have more of a chance to ask questions and make the whole experience much more memorable.
Go Island Hopping
Another popular activity for those staying in Sorrento is to visit some of the nearby islands either as a day trip or for an overnight visit. Capri is one of the most-visited nearby destinations and offers a lot of different activities to all visitors, from sightseeing to relaxing beside the sea.
The other main island-hopping destination is Ischia, which became a popular part of Italy to visit after it was used as the filming location for ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’. It’s a beautiful island to visit on a sunny day and offers a far less touristy experience than glamorous Capri.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make whilst visiting Sorrento is hiring a car for your entire holiday. Unless you’re only staying in the town for one night and then travelling elsewhere, you won’t need it and can end up having to pay huge amounts for parking, as well as wasting time stuck in traffic jams.
A much better option is to hire a scooter to get around on if you don’t fancy having to explore Sorrento on foot. Many companies offer very reasonable scooter hire, and in March the roads won’t be excessively busy which is ideal for those who are a little nervous.
When it comes to dining in Sorrento, it can be tempting to just pick a restaurant that looks kitted out for tourists and has dishes you recognise on the menu. But you’ll have a far better culinary experience if you head just a little further off the beaten path and enjoy the food from local restaurants, which is not only likely to be cheaper but also far tastier. Make sure you try limoncello at least once during your stay – the whole area is famous for it.
Whilst Sorrento is a coastal destination, don’t get your hopes up for miles of sandy beaches and paddling opportunities. The town’s position on the cliffs means that beaches are few and far between, and those that do exist are mainly privately owned and require an entry fee to enjoy. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem in March however, as it’s unlikely to be warm enough to fancy a swim!
Finally, consider learning a bit of Italian before you visit Sorrento. Whilst the town’s popularity with foreign tourists means that many of its inhabitants will be able to speak English, it’s a good idea to have a grasp of useful phrases that will see you through day to day.
To discover more about Sorrento and what else you can enjoy on your Italian holiday, check out the rest of the Italian Breaks website for when to go, where to stay and what to do.