I giggle as I take my ferry ride from Sorrento to Queenscliff, (Victoria, Australia) waving friends behind as I cruise across the bay to meet my brother and family staying at Aireys Inlet. Places that may not mean much to overseas readers, who might have first thought I was talking about Sorrento in the Bay of Naples. The giggle in fact is related to the name being adopted by a little sleepy coastal town at the end of Port Phillip Bay where dolphins swim free. A small town with a population of only 1,500 although the number does swell during the Summer months.
I have just come away from my Italian experience, having eaten at DOC pizza and mozarella bar in Mornington and been absolutely bowled over by the selection of Italian foodstuffs they have in their delicatessen area. Salamis and cheeses tease my nose and palate, figs and lush tomatoes burst from baskets and the amazing selection of pastas makes me almost homesick! All in a bustling jostling atmosphere of cute young Italian waiters screaming orders around the table as only they know how.
Now memories flood in of the chaotic crowded ferry area of the ‘real’ Sorrento where I gathered tourists eager for the trip over to Capri. One was so eager that she got left behind in the scramble as she was still engrossed in shopping at one of the many souvenir shops near the ferry exit. What a day that was! But she forgave me as the ferry wouldn’t wait and she was last seen waving us goodbye!
Sorrento known as the land of colour – it’s golden citrus fruits, majolica ceramics in a backdrop of lush palm, pine and olive trees and matchbox striped bathing boxes overlooking a fantastic blue sea. Home to the legend of sirens that tempted many a sailor and tried hard to lure Ulysses. He outsmarted them fortunately, by stuffing his ears with wax and strapping himself to the mast. It’s beautiful cloisters of San Francesco, prestigious hotels like Albergo Victoria and its crowded alleyways filled with every delicacy from fresh seafood to limoncello and baba (rum soaked cake). Yum yum!
Home also to the famous from Casanova and Goethe and in later years Enrico Caruso, the great Italian tenor of the early 1900’s, (one of my favorite restaurants bears his name) and Luciano Pavarotti. It’s a bustling town of around 16,500 inhabitants, and a very popular tourist destination, as ferries sail out to the most sought after places: the Isles of Capri, Ischia and Procida (a little gem), and Positano and the rest of the magnificent Amalfi coastline.
Sorrento in Victoria does not hold the same allure or the same cliffs overlooking the sea, but it’s still worth the visit. I have fond memories of swimming with the dolphins who peered at us in our iridescent wetsuits, as we flapped around and gurgled into the water to attract them. ‘Flipper’ cruised past to say hello along with the rest of his family and I was breathless at their beauty and taken aback at their cheeky smiles as they glided timelessly among us.