Sorrento is across the Bay of Naples.
The scenary improves considerably as you near Sorrento, where the coastal plain is carved into russet cliffs of compacted volcanic ash rising perpendicularly from the sea. This is the Sorrento (north) side of the peninsula; on the other side is the more-dramatically scenic Amalfi Coast. But Sorrento has at least two advantages over Amalfi: the Circumvesuviana railway terminal and a fairly flat terrain. A stroll around town is a pleasure - you'll encounter narrow alleyways and interesting churches, and the views of the Bay of Naples from the Villa Comunale and the Museo Correale are priceless.
Until the mid-20th century Sorrento was a small, genteel resort favored by central European princes, English aristocrats, and American literati. During World War I American soldiers came to recuperate at the Hotel Vittoria. Now the town has grown and spread out along the crest of its famous cliffs, and apartments stand where citrus groves once bloomed. Like most resorts, Sorrento is best off-season, in spring, autumn, or even winter, when Campania's mild climate can make a stay pleasant anywhere along the coast.
Museo Correale di Terranova
A highlight of Sorrento is Museo Correale di Terranova, an 18th-century villa with a lovely garden on land given to patrician Correale family by Queen Joan of Aragon in 1428. It has an excellent private collection amassed by the count of Terranova and his brother. The building itself is fairly charmless, with few period rooms, but the garden offers an allée of palm trees, citrus groves, floral nurseries, and an esplanade with a panoramic view of the Sorrento coast. The collection itself is one of the finest devoted to Neapolitan paintings, decorative arts, and porcelains, so for connoisseurs of the seicento (Italian 17th century), this museum is a must. Magnificent 18th-century inlaid tables by Giuseppe Gargiulo, Capodimonte porcelains, and rococo portrait miniatures are reminders of the age when pleasure and delight were all. Also on view are regional Greek and Roman archaeological finds, medieval marble work, glasswork, old master paintings, 17th-century majolicas - even Tasso's death mask.
Museo Bottega della Tarsia lignea
Worth checking out is the Museo Bottega della Tarsialignea, set up by local architects to ensure the continuity of the intarsia (wood inlay) tradition. It houses historical collections as well as exhibitions of modern work.
Via Marina Grande turns into a pedestrian lane, then a stairway leading to Sorrento's only real beach at Marina Grande, where fishermen pull up their boats and there are some good seafood restaurants.