On the southern of the Gulf of Naples, with a splendid panoramic position, stands Sorrento. According to tradition, the name derives from the Sirens, mythical creatures who enthralled sailors with their song.
Perhaps founded by the Teleboi, the presumed conquerors of Capri, over the centuries Sorrento was subjected to the domination of many peoples: first the Samnites, then the Romans, and in 552, the Byzantines. At the beginning of the ninth century it became a Free Duchy, but from 1133 it was subjected to Norman domination. Then Sorrento was passed on to the Angevins, later the Aragones, and finally the Bourbons.
The peninsula was a favourite seaside resort for Roman nobility who built grandiose villas. Some ancient villas still remain, although now as ruins.
In the 18th century, Sorrento underwent the reforms of Charles III, and in the 19th century became a favourite place for artists, men of letters, and musicians from all over the world who drew inspiration from the beauty of the surrounding landscape for their works.
Boasting many varied and impressive options for vacationers, the Marina Grande and Marina Piccola, modern hotel accommodation and efficient conference centres, Sorrento is today one of the most famous and visited holiday centres in the region, and in the whole of Italy. It is also noted for its citric fruit production, especially lemons, as well as walnuts and exquisite wines. Lace and woodcarving crafts, with their ancient origins, are also still flourishing.
Sorrento is famous for the production of Limoncello, an alcoholic aperitif made from lemon rinds, alcohol, water and sugar. Other agricultural production includes citrus fruit, wine, nuts and olives. Wood craftsmanship is also developed.
Positano (named for the Greek god Poseidon) was founded when ancient Greeks at Paestum decided to move out of the swamp (and escape malaria), Specilizing in scenery and sand, Positano hangs halfway between Sorrento and Amalfi on the most spectacular stretch of the coast.
The village, a sight from a distance, is a pleasant gathering of cafés and expensive women's clothing stores, with a good but pebbly beach. Positano is famous for its fashions-90 percent of its shops are fashion boutiques.
Squished into a ravine, the center of town has no main square (unless you count the beach). There's little to do here but eat, window-shop, and enjoy the beach and view ( hence the town's popularity).
Consider seeing Positano as a day trip from Sorrento: take the bus out and the afternoon ferry home. If you stay the night, save the day for the beach, and the cooler morning and evening for exploring this hilly town. The town has a local flavour at night, when the grown-ups stroll and the kids play soccer on the church porch.
The "skyline" looks like it did a century ago. Notice the town's characteristic Saracen-inspired rooftop domes. Filled with sand, these provide insulation-cool in summer and hot in winter. It's been practically impossible to get a building permit in Positano for 25 years now, and those making renovations can make no external changes. The steep stairs are a way of life for the 4,000 hearty locals. Because hotels don't take groups (bus access is too difficult), the town has been spared the ravages of big-bus tourism.
On one of the most famous stretches of the coastline, in a splendid panoramic position, stands Amalfi, one of the most fascinating towns in the Campania region. The town preserves important evidence of its prestigious past: the cathedral, dedicated to St. Andrew, dominating the square of the same name from above steep steps, the Paradise cloister, a construction in Arabian-style dating to the thirteenth century and the ruins of Arsenal of the Republic, The imposing nature of these buildings, the fascitation of typically Mediterranean architecture, made up of mazy lanes and characteristic white houses piled one upon the other, the natural beauty of the place, make Amalfi one of the most famous Italian resorts.
Ravello is situated ina more elevated position than the other pearl of the Amalfi Coast and it can boats exceptional landscapes that have earned Villa Cimbrone's terrace the name of "Terrace of Infinity". On the right of the dome, stands the beautiful Villa Rufolo. Through a path you can reach the belvedere and then, the cove of Eva and the tempio of Bacchus in which the ashes of Lord Beckett are guarded.