We recently welcomed the first exclusive-to-Citalia hotel to our collection – the boutique Villa Don Camillo. Set in a restored 17th-century villa, it features just seven rooms, plus a peaceful pool and gardens filled with citrus trees. It’s located on the outskirts of Sorrento, on the border between two quiet suburbs, Sant’Agnello and Piano di Sorrento. Not too familiar with the area? We sat down with our Sorrento concierges (Rosetta, Laura and Steph) and our overseas manager (Becky) to find out the lowdown about the area…
Tell us a bit about Sant’Agnello and Piano di Sorrento. How do they differ from Sorrento itself?
Laura: I’d say Sant’Agnello and Piano di Sorrento are more traditional and ‘local’ than central Sorrento. There’s a real community feel as you walk around the town or visit the local market. Both suburbs have fantastic bars and restaurants, and are good for shopping as the prices are generally a lot more reasonable than in Sorrento.
Rosetta: Yep, I agree. I like Sant’Agnello and Piano as they do both have more of a residential and local feel compared to Sorrento – and as Laura says, they are great for shopping!
Steph: What I think is great about this area as that you’re close enough to Sorrento to benefit from its facilities, but far enough that you get a calmer, more relaxed feel. Sant’Agnello has its own shops, restaurants, church, gardens and train station, so you’ve got plenty on your doorstep.
How would you get to the centre of Sorrento from Villa Don Camillo? Are there regular buses from Sant’Agnello or Piano?
Laura: Villa Don Camillo is only 10 minutes on the bus from Sorrento and the bus stop is quite close by. Alternatively, it’s a five-minute walk into Piano or 10-15 to Sant’Agnello.
Rosetta: There’s also the Circumvesuviana local train, which has stations in both Piano and Sant’Agnello – the train ride is quicker than the bus and much cheaper than a taxi. If you’re wanting to walk into Sorrento, there are two routes you could take. For those brave enough, you can head up to the main street (Corso Italia), which runs all the way from Meta, through Piano di Sorrento and Sant’Agnello, to the far end of Sorrento. It’s quite a busy main road, so I wouldn’t recommend it for a pleasant stroll. Instead, you can take the quieter back route running parallel to the main road – it’s around 30 minutes’ walk to get to Sorrento.
Is there much to do in the area?
Laura: The area isn’t a sandy beach haven, but Sant’Agnello has a nice bathing platform and Piano has a small beach area based around the old fishing marina.
Steph: Yes, I’d also recommend the bathing platform. It’s called La Marinella and is a lovely spot to eat or have a drink (like most places, there is a charge for sunbeds and umbrellas). You can walk down or take the lift, or you can admire the view from the top of the cliff. Not only can you see Vesuvius, Procida and Ischia, but also the coastline of Sorrento laid out in front of you.
Laura: Sightseeing-wise, Villa Fondi in Piano is a historical building with a panoramic terrace and lovely gardens. Built in the 18th century, it’s now the town hall and a popular wedding venue.
Becky: We can actually arrange weddings at Villa Fondi if you’re thinking of getting married in Sorrento. Villa Don Camillo would be a lovely setting for your reception if you’re staying there, too. In terms of shopping, there are lovely fruit and veg shops, bakeries and delicatessens for picking up picnic supplies and presents to take home.
Rosetta: The market on Monday morning in Piano is good, and right in the centre of the town. There’s a variety of stalls, mainly selling clothing, accessories and shoes. There’s also a small market on Sunday morning in Piano’s Piazza Mercato, which sells plants, flowers and fresh fruit.
Where are the best places to eat or drink in Sant’Agnello and Piano di Sorrento? Do you have any favourites you can recommend?
Laura: La Terrazza in Sant’Agnello is fab for watching all the boats sail around the Bay of Naples with Vesuvius in the background. Very romantic in the evenings! The Wine Bar (also in Sant’Agnello) has the most wine I’ve ever seen in one place – you can sit out on the piazza with a lovely glass of wine and a platter of local cheeses and meats.
Rosetta: I’d also recommend both of those – you really can’t beat the view of the bay from La Terrazza. In Piano di Sorrento, there’s a restaurant called Betania which I love. It’s tucked away in a narrow side street above the town centre and served delicious grilled meat dishes and pizzas (and for dessert, I love their warm chocolate brownie with vanilla ice-cream). The dining area is really cosy, with original old stone walls and soft lighting.
For a quick lunch or takeaway, I’d recommend Il Ghiottone, a laid-back place with wooden benches and simple, delicious pastas, pizzas and panini. You won’t usually find more tourists in here, but you will find a lot of locals!
Becky: There are plenty of bars and cafes to go to. Bar Cherie (very close to Villa Don Camillo) is a favourite of mine – they do a great cappuccino and white-chocolate croissant, and in the evening, the hot Neapolitan nibbles with an aperitivo always go down well.
Steph: My top pick for cocktails would be the amazing rooftop bar at Hotel Mediterraneo (open to non-guests). There’s live music on certain nights and the sunset views are spectacular.
Sold on the area? Find out more about Villa Don Camillo here.
Photo credit: Main image by stevep 2008 via Flickr