It is said that the Sirens lived along the coast here and they lured sailors to their deaths by enchanting them with their hypnotic song. The legend goes that when they failed to captivate Ulysses, the Sirens flung themselves into the sea, where they turned to rock and you can still sea them today: the islets known as Li Galli.
Grand (hotel) tourism
Whether or not the Sirens were back at work in the 19th century, Sorrento became the stopping off point on the Grand Tour, as glamorous a destination as any along the Amalfi Coast – but its popularity with the package-tour-set meant that it slightly lost its cachet. But I'm glad to say that today Sorrento is getting its mojo back again. There are some fabulous hotels here, whether you fancy the stylish boutique hotel La Minervetta, the recently opened Maison Tofani (a lovingly renovated 18th century palazzo), or the iconic Parco dei Principi (designed entirely by architect/designer Giò Ponti in 1962).
Stay off the beaten track and you'll eat very well in Sorrento, whether down by the Marina Piccolo where you can have a simple freshly-caught fish, grilled and dressed with nothing more than a drizzle of oil and a wedge of lemon, or at one of the finest Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy, Don Alfonso. Don't forget also that apart from the fabulous wines of the Campania region, the lemon liqueur limoncello is made from the famous lemons of Sorrento and you'll probably be offered a glass at the end of your meal.
Walk it off
There are plenty of opportunities for making up for the inevitable indulgences of your trip. The Sorrentine peninsula is stunning and there are great walks to be had; in fact there is a network of paths stretching for around 100 kilometres that covers Massa Lubrense and nearby municipalities as far as the Lattari mountains.
Sorrento is also a perfect jumping off point for visits to the world famous archaeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum, both being around a 30-minute train ride away. Each one can easily be visited in a day.
Half an hour or more out to sea will take you to the islands of Capri, Procida or Ischia. If you're taking a late break, it's worth bearing in mind that boats leave from Sorrento even when the weather is a bit choppy, whereas they may not from Amalfi or Positano on the Amalfi Coast.