The coastline of Sorrento overlooks theBay of -naples for less than 5 km, and starts a few metres after the beach of Marinella di Sant’Agnello, in the area called “Porto della Principessa” (Port of the Princess).
The stretch up to the MArina Piccola is rather homogeneous, dominated by high tuff Cliff with hotels and prestigious buildings on top.
On the small verdant promontory above, called “Punta San Vincenzo”, which separates Marina Piccola from Marina Grande, there is Villa Tritone (formerly Villa Astor), where there used to be a Roman villa, and later a convent. The land was then purchased by Baron Laboria and subsequentely by William Waldorf Astor, who transformed it into a garden, filling it with rare plants, romantic paths and an area with exotic and aquatic plants.
Marina Piccola is the port of Sorrento, where ferries and hydrofoils to other places in the Gulf of Naples leave. Even before the construction ofthe port began in 1912, it was the favourite Landing place for tourists due to its proximity to the centre of Sorrento.
One of the characteristics of Sorrento is that it is not a real true maritime town: the high coastline of the peninsula falls into the sea (moving away from thesea, thus favouring the contact with the hinterland) and is only interrupted occasionally by deep and narrow valleys, dug into the soft tuff by streams that descend from the Lattari Mountains. The oldest part of Sorrento was built on the isolated stretch of the coast between two of these valleys, which formed the moat that surrounded and defended it. The two marines of Sorrento arose around the mouths of valleys, far from the town and unprotected.
Marina Piccola is located at the mouth of the Valley of the Mills, which marks the border of the town of Sorrento to the east. At the main gate of the town (“Porta Maggiore”) the valley was crossed by a bridge that connected Sorrento to the rest of the plain. The marina can be reached from Porta Marina which opens under the Basilica of Sant’Antonino, at the top of a steep flight of step, now interrupted by the road. When the port was built the old fishermen’s houses were replaced by modern buildings so that travellers and tourists received with a more dignified and less common image. The only remaining testimony of the past is a small chapel dedicated to Santa Maria del Soccorso and the Souls of Purgatory.
Today, Marina Piccola is a major tourist hub: more than a third of international tourism of the province of Naples passes through this pier. In addition to the natural and artistic beauty of the city and its surroundings, Sorrento has been able to present itself as the centre of a larger tourist area, offering hospitally to those who wants to visit the nearby Capri, Pompeii and Positano. Another terminal for hydrofoils has been built outside of the port so as to meet the new needs.
To the side of the port of Marina Piccola, there are lidos. Originally for the hotel guests (built overlooking the sea in place of existing villas with private access to the beach), they are now open to the public. Since the strip of sandy beach is very small, the lidos stretch into the sea on stilts. Exposure to the North and the cool water below, effectively alleviate the summer heat. From this side of Marina Piccola, climbing a ramp cut into the tuff which leads to the viewpoint of the Villa Comunale.
Marina is overlooked by some famous hotels including the Hotel Tramontano, which occupies the area where the house of Torquato Tasso once stood.
The hamlet of Marina Grande, which is located just Beyond theheadland, sheltered by high cliffs on the both sides, is certainly one of the most authentic of Sorrento, animated by a fishing community that surrounds the Church of St.Anne, whose feast day is celebrated on 26th July with impressive firework displays.
Built towards the end of the seventeenth century, the Church has a single rectangular nave with a barrel vault. There is a polycrome Marble parapet above the high altar, where is a small temple there is a statue of St.Anne. There is also an eighteenth-century sculpture depicting St. John the Baptist and an impressive hand-made Christ Crucified.
The small village can be reached on foot via the ancient Greek port of Marina Grande, dated the third century B.C.
In the hamlet, where in the past the typical Sorrento fishing boats were built, there are bars, restaurants and beaches to the delight of the many holidaymakers who come to sunbathe on the beach, that ismore than two hundred metres long, or on the platforms equipped with sun loungers and parasols.
Source: Secrets and Wonders of the Sorrento Coast by Roberto Pellecchia