Excursions Sorrento Italy
The nicest Italian Small Museum. Opens thanks to the generosity of Alfredo Correale count of Terranova and his brother Pompeo: two brothers last descendants of the ancient family refined collectors that lived in the second half of the XIX century that wanted to give this institution the task of perpetuating the history of their family by keeping and valorising the extraordinary artistic patrimony put together duringcenturies. The most precious works of art came from the many Correale houses in Naples and Sorrento and were collected in the “Villa alla Rota” that became the home of the museum in 1924. On the ground floor in the first room, there is the tribute to the Correale family with the portraits of the founders and the family tree. Next to it, a tiny chapel with a precious 1800 miniature altar, the next room houses the historical Sorrento inlaid works of the XIX century and the archaeological and medieval sections with important finds that document the ancient origins of the historical centre of Sorrento and of some of the surrounding areas. In the hall, you may admire the large stairway with a balustrade in inlaid piperno that leads to the first floor of the historic palace. Wandering through these rooms the visitors are transported in a journey in time. You may admire paintings from the 17th and 18th century from the Neapolitan school with subjects from the religion and the history. Very rare and unusual is the painting of the game of (Biribisso). The game table, in the refined paining of Francesco Celebrano, is divided into 70 numbered boxes that are decorated with gold ramages, that represent miniature masks of the comedy of the art, animals and fruit. In the sumptuous white and gold lounge rich in consoles and mirrors there are the portraits of the most important predecessors. The next lounge contains many mirrors and the collection of Flemish painters between XVI and XVIII century. Precious furniture and rare oriental porcelains spread all over the rooms, recreating the warm and suggestive atmosphere of an aristocratic home. On the second floor there are various sections: amongst beautiful consoles with shelves in rare stone and tortoise shell, you can admire fine paintings of the XVII and XVIII century and above all paintings from the famous school of Posillipo that portray images of southern Italy. Many works from A.S. Pitloo, T. Duclère, G. Gigante, F. Palizzi and many more. Distributed in the halls one can admire table clocks and pocket watches, glass from Murano Bohemia crystals, fans, silver, nativity scenes, or everyday utensils. The home is made alive, as to feel the presence of the ancient owners. The important porcelain collection that is on show on the last floor of the museum, explains the strong will of the European royal families to finance in the XVIII century the beginning of the first porcelain factories in Europe: the Correale family preferred collecting the most refined items from Meissen, Sevres, Bow, Wien and of course Capodimonte. The Correale di Terranova museum has been defined the (most beautiful provincial museum of Italy) for its incomparable natural surrounding and above all for the variety and richness of the works of art that it offers and that for centuries have belonged to the family. Amongst the paintings there are some works of art attributed to Artemisia Gentileschi, Giovanni Lanfranco, Battistello Caracciolo, Francecso de Mura, Francesco Solimena, Anton Van Dyck, JanVan Kassel, Andrea Belvedere. The Foundation also houses a library that has a very rich collection of books and an important collection of drawings by Teodor Duclère and Anton Sminch Pitloo, at present non included in the visit, but sometimes part of temporary expositions. The beautiful view that accompanies the visitor through the windows of the Villa overlooking the bay of Sorrento is only an anticipation of that offered by the breathtaking view from the terrace that can be reached after a short walk through the lovely gardens of the Museum amongst beautiful old trees.
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The Valley Of The Mills
The southeast side of the valley of the mills surrounds the tufa stone block forming what is now the historic centre of Sorrento. The characteristic split in the rock, which cuts deeplyacross the tufa platform, was created by the biggest volcanic eruption to hit the Mediterranean, between 35,000 and 37,000 years ago. The limestone basin between Punta Scutolo and Capo di Sorrento became filled with debris. The water running through the valleys, obstructed by erupted material, opened up a new route towards the sea, progressively carving through the tufa stone cliff. The mouths of the valleys became the preferred sites for settlements. The prehistoric cave of the Conca (Nicollucci Grotto) on the rising slope of the valley of Marina Grande, and the Aeneolithic settlement of the Gaudo civilisation in Piano di Sorrento, are two valid examples. The valley of the mills is cut through by two streams: Casarlano Cesarano and Sant’Antonino. Their modest supply of water has produced very narrow gorges which widen only where two flows meet, creating a vast area at the foot of Villa La Rupe. The name Vallone dei Mulini comes from the flourmill which remained operational until the beginning of the last century. Next to it was a sawmill, which supplied cuts of any thickness to the Sorrento cabinetmakers. There was also a public washhousefor the local women. When the construction of Piazzo Tasso (starting in 1866) isolated the mill area was from the sea, the resulting increase in the level of damp made thearea impossible to live in, and so it was gradually abandoned. Today we can access what remains of the valley along the old ramps cut into the rock, enteringthrough a gulley near the Stragazzi car park and, wearing waders, stroll along the wild valley floor, looking at the ruins. If you want to save your energy, you can simply admire the valley from via Fuorimura, starting behind Piazza Tasso. boat excursions sorrentoReserve here
Palazzo Veniero represents an important heritage from the Arab-Byzantine period, not only for the town of Sorrento, but also for Southern Italian art history. This important monument, in fact, along with Salerno Cathedral, the monastic Patirion of Rossano Calabro, and tambour of the church of San Giovanni a Mare in Gaeta, are the only evidence of an artistic heritage linked to the history and events of a specific period in Southern Italy. Unfortunately, over the centuries this important ancient monument of Sorrento was obscured by a series of alterations that eliminated almost everything - its architectural lines, its grey and yellow decoration in tufa and the majolica pateras, changing the natural compositional continuity that justified its protection by the Italian Cultural Heritage Inspectorate.The windows, an important feature of the building, had been walled up, and various additions had altered its entire appearance. In the first few months of 2008 this historic, symbolic monument was restored to its former plendour In accordance with the express wishes of the Gargiulo family, especially Don Ciccio (Priora-Li Simoni), with exceptional speed and hardwork directed with the proficiency and renowned professionalism of a local architect, Pasinetti, and supervised by the Fine Arts Commission. After painstaking historical research the large arched windows, three on each floor, were restored to their original colours, as were the tufa fascias and tondos with central majolica pateras. The illegally-built balconywas removed, the tufa decoration of a succession of lozenges framing the windows is once again resplendent and the zigzag frieze around the central window has been restored. A building in the historic centre of Sorrento that had become unrecognisable has therefore disappeared, and in its place in Via Pietà tourists can now admire Palazzo Veniero as it once was, which after its restoration can again compete with other local monuments.
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The Piazza Tasso acts as a sort of informal gateway to the old town of Sorrento. As you enter from the Corso Italia which leads here from the station, you leave behind the modern shops and are surrounded by a wealth of beautiful buildings, many in the Italian variant of Art Nouveau known as Stil Liberty. The square is a buzz of activity, with constant traffic and people weaving among it, cafés lively with conversation, street artists, tourist groups and carriages drawn by plumed horses. In the centre of it all stands the marble statue of Torquato Tasso, after whom the square is named, created by sculptor Giovanni Carli in 1870. The great poet was born in Sorrento in 1544 and died in Rome in 1595, just before he was to be crowned poet laureate. At the north eastern side of the square is the Chiesa di Maria del Carmine, with a wonderful Rococo facade of gleaming white-and-yellow stucco. It looked particularly lovely in the late afternoon light, as we walked back through the square on our way to the station. It is in this square that you can catch the little tourist train which will take you to the Marina Grande.
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Roman Villa Remains
From Capo di Sorrento, which can be reached by bus, there is a narrow road, at the Romans Villa beginning of which there is a church on the right with a beautiful floor in majolica from the 1700’s. Along this road, shaded by olive and orange trees, its walls covered with ivy, we walk down ramps towards the sea. Finally we arrive at the baths of Queen Giovanna Durazzo, famous among the local people for her amorous adventures: here a large lagoon appears, connected to the sea by a narrow opening in the rocks. All the area around the summit of the headland is occupied by the remains of a large Roman villa, thought to be that of Pollio Felice constructed during the times of the Emperor Domitian (81-96a.D.) and praised in the Latin poem (The Wilds). The scene presented here is splendid, taking in the view from Scutolo point as far as the other Roman villa at the Cape of Massa. Going down further we can reach the Solara, a space of rock consumed by the sun, where an unblemished backdrop and a deep blue sea help us enjoy an unforgettable break.
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In Romanic style it dates back to the 15th century; the side door is from the same period (1474) but in Renaissance style. Amongst other things the church houses paintings by artists from the Neapolitan school of the 1700s, an archbishop’s throne in fine marble (1573) and wooden marquetry work of Sorrentine craftsmen from the beginning of the 19th century. Works of art made always using the marquetary technique can be admired inside, such as the pictures of the Stations of the Cross or the wooden panels of the main and side entrance. These are all works of recent young masters of art of marquetary. A depressed Neapolitan arch with Durazzesque Catalan patterns that was used from the end of the 1300s all through the 1400s.
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House of Tasso
On the right hand side of the road which leads from the F. S. Gargiulo Square to the Vittoria Square is the entrance to the Imperial Tramontano which incorporates two rooms left from the house where Torquato Tasso, author of Jerusalem Liberated, was born in 1544.
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House of Cornelia Tasso
At number 11 Via S. Nicola is the Fasulo House once the Sersale House (noteworthy, the ashlars work portico and pretty little balcony). Cornelia Tasso, Torquato’s sister and Marzio Sersale’s wife lived here, and continued to do so after she was widowed with her sons Antonino and Alessandro. In July 1577 Torquato escaped from the castle of Ferrara and embarked at Gaeta to present himself here disguised as the poet’s messenger later revealing his true identity. He stayed with his sister until December, and then left for Rome. In the entrance hall is a vault decorated with stems, military trophies and inscriptions from 1615 in memory of the poet.
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Church of St. Mary of Carmelo
Reconstructed at the end of the 15th century, on the remains of a previous ancient Church dedicated to the sacred Sorrentine Martyrs, the Church of Carmine has only a single nave. At the far end there is an ancient impression of Mary, the Madonna, which is a copy of the Dark skinned Virgin of the Church dedicated to the same Saint in Naples. One can admire paintings of reputable artists of the 16th and 17th centuries, as well as two artistic gilded wooden bone containers of Saints which date back to the 16th century.
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The Old Walls
The only part of the Greek defensive wall still remaining is under the road at the Porta Parsano Nuova (new Parsano Gate) and can be viewed from close to the same place. Another ruin of the Greek wall other than that of the Marina Grande Gate and very limited in size is the small tract (just over three metres) of the western end located in Via Sopra Le Mura. The Roman town was built over the Greek one following the same urban plan with walls of large isonomic blocks. These walls stood to defend Sorrento through the Middle Ages. Rebuilding began in 1551 and was only completed in 1561 after the tragic Turkish invasion.
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Porta Seat Dominova
Amongst the best preserved of Sorrento antique monuments despite age and neglect, Sedil Dominova can be admired in its entirety thanks also to its recent restoration. Walking along Via S. Cesareo a pleasant shopping street with numerous boutiques, the Dominova Seat stands out, its massive size testifying to its glorious past. Located in the little square called (Schizzariello) a name deriving from the spray of a fountain located there until the last century, the Dominova Seat is now the headquarters of a secular organisation called the Mutual Aid Society, one of the oldest in Italy. Under the Anjous, Sorrento, like the other towns of the kingdom of Naples, was administered by nobles appointed by the King. The Sorrentine nobles were divided in two seats, that of the “Porta” thus named because it was erected next to the town’s main gate (Porta), and that of the (Dominova), perhaps due to its more recent construction (Dominova, in Latin, new house). The Porta Seat was rebuilt in the XVI century at the corner of the Tasso Square where Via S. Cesareo now begins. Its emblem was a door with three keys on a gold background. When the noble’s seats were abolished it became first a prison and later headquarters of the city’s militia. It is now a private club. Although the ancient construction has undergone continual changes, the side facing Via S.Cesareo hasrecently been brought to light. The Dominova Seat, on the other hand, can still be admired in its integrity, the last remaining example in the Campania Region. Constructed in the 14th century, it is formed by two trachytetufo arches and two marble balustrades. The two other walls are frescoed with columns figures and ornaments. The dome is made up of yellow and green majolica roof tiles as are the domes of several other Sorrentine churches. Coats of arms of the antique noble families belonging to the seat are represented. The seat’s coat-of-arms was a passing she-wolf on a gold background. In the small innerhall the nobles gathered in secret reunions.
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Church and Cloister of St. Francis
The monastery origin dates from the first half of the 7th century. The cloister architecture presents crossed arches in tufo on two sides of the portico, expressing the style of the late 1300s and substituted on the other two sides by round arches on octagonal pilasters. Various elements of pillage are present as in the three corner columns reutilized functionally after being taken from pagan temples. Next to the convent is the church of St Francis which dates to the 16th century. Inside, in the first of the three chapels on the right a wooden statue depicting the saint with Christ on the cross can be admired. It was donated by the Vulcano family in the 17th century.
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