Anyone who knows me knows that my love for food has no boundaries or limits. After living in Sorrento, Italy for less than a week, I was already torturing my friends and family back home with tantalizing photos of food. My college friends had it the worst, because many times they would be looking at my photos side by side with whatever the dining hall was trying to pass off for food that day.
I also have a very bad habit of inhaling my food before I can manage to get a photo of it, but I will try to describe meals in as much detail as possible if there are no photos available. To make exploring Sorrento a little easier, this blog post is organized by the name of the restaurant/café followed by all of the deliciousness that you can find there.
My first ever meal in Italy. A lot of ours, actually. This is the restaurant that SAI brought us to for our Welcome Dinner, so you know we are spoiled. We were served many rounds of food, including breads, cheeses, and thinly sliced meats. But, my favorite was the main dish. Half was gnocchi with creamy tomato sauce, referred to as “gnocchi alla sorrentina,” and the other half was penne pasta with a creamy cheese sauce and sliced zucchini. I kid you not, I talked about that meal on a nearly daily basis until we left and searched for anything similar on the menu of every restaurant I had gone to since. Nothing ever quite lived up to the expectations that Zi’Ntonio’s set.
There is even a Zi’Ntonio Mare, which is simply the same restaurant but located in the Marina, right on the water. When my parents came to visit me, this is where I took them. They were in awe. We sat outside and were able to catch the last of the sunset while eating our meal. But be warned, all of the restaurant in Marina Grande do not open until around April, a.k.a. tourist season, Zi’Ntonio Mare included.
This was our go-to place for small meals (pastries and cappuccini) since it is located almost halfway between our apartment and Sant’Anna Institute. I tried to grab something new every time I went, and it usually worked out pretty well. But, my favorite will always be anything with nutella in it, which fortunately is not hard at all to find in Italy.
Something to keep in mind here, and at many cafes, is ‘coperto,’ which is simply a cover charge for sitting down and eating. You can avoid this by standing at the bar, and it is much more beneficial for practicing your Italian, so I highly suggest it.
Fun Fact: A cappuccino and a latte macchiato are basically the same thing, but Italians order cappuccino in the morning, and latte macchiato in the afternoon. Morning means anything before 11am. No worries if you do not remember this, but you definitely will at least appear to be much more cultured if you do.
‘Baba’ is a rum-soaked cake. Italians love them, but I find them to be an acquired taste. For me, they always look better than they taste. It is true that what matters more is what’s on the inside, but I knew I still had to include this photo.
In the background, my roommate is eating one of her favorites, tiramisu. I will back her up completely and say that I have never had a tiramisu in Italy that was not absolutely delicious.
One of my favorite things about Hopera is their loyal workers. My favorite by far is Tony. He would always say hello when he saw any of us walk by or wave to us from across the street. He even remembered our names, which made us feel pretty darn special.
Just walking by this place, you know there are amazing things inside. The entire front side facing the street is made of windows, which gives a very welcoming feeling. Another wall is completely covered in moss and has wooden swings in front of it. Word of advice, if you see an empty swing, claim it quickly to take your cute photos, and then grab a seat at one of the wooden tables, especially if you have a cup instead of a cone. Puro is a great place to hang out and meet up with your friends, and also has free wifi. My friends and I booked many trips around Europe on our laptops while sitting here. There’s just something about gelato that is so inspiring.
Almost every gelateria has the same flavors, plus a couple unique ones. The real difference is the quality, and Puro definitely has great quality. One of the flavors at Puro that I thought was pretty out there was ricotta and fig. In honor of my dad, who loves figs, I tried it… and hated it. However, my dad thoroughly enjoyed it.
My all time favorite gelato flavors are dark chocolate and strawberry. If you mix them together with your spoon, it tastes just like a chocolate covered strawberry.
Do not overlook this special place!!! It took me until about two thirds of the way through the semester to discover this. And by discover, I mean be brought to by Sorrento’s SAI representative (thanks Marisa). Unfortunately, I do not have photos, but I promise it is one of the best places ever. Right when you walk in, you are facing rows and rows of pastries. Every single time, I would get a croissant with cream filling, ‘cornetto con crema,’ and a cappuccino. In case that isn’t enough to put a smile on your face, they put a smiley in their cappuccini (that is the Italian plural for cappuccino). It is so cute. And another one of the best parts… no coperto!!! I could sit and enjoy my small meal that cost only a little more than 1 euro. It was one of the most authentic cafes that I had gone to in Sorrento, both in regards to price and customers. Cafes that are catered towards tourists are notoriously more expensive. Bar Paradise was not. There were always only locals there, even during prime tourist season. It was wonderful. There are many times when I would just sit at one of the tables outside and write in my journal and enjoy the peace while also watching the bustle of the city right in front of me.
As the name would suggest, this place is owned by a man named David, as well as his wife. They are a wonderful couple and wonderful people. And, perhaps more importantly, wonderful at making breakfast foods.
This is another restaurant that only open around April in response to the influx of tourists. It is definitely filled with tourists, but absolutely worth it. Even the locals that our friends lived with for host families frequented this place. That’s how legit it is. Luckily for my roommates and I, we lived on the same street as Gelateria David. All we had to do was walk out of our building, turn right, and walk straight in. Basically, we were next-door neighbors. And, of course, regulars. After ordering the same thing about five times, Mrs. David had it memorized. My waffle with nutella and strawberries would be started soon after we exchanged our “Ciao”s.
After I committed to spending my semester in Sorrento and told all of my friends, a friend at my university (hi Shannon!) wrote me a note that included all of the things I had to do and places I needed to go to. Eating at Gelateria David was one of the first things on the list and I am so happy that I was not let down.
The streets of Sorrento
Before you gag at the thought of eating from the streets, look at this beautiful photo!!! Bet you didn’t see that one coming, huh.
One day, out of the blue, there was a line of pizza that stretched almost the entirety of one of our cobbled streets. It was not free, but all of the money raised from selling this monstrosity went to charity. So, you’re eating pizza for a good cause. What better excuse is there?
Il Leone Rosso
Yet another restaurant that was conveniently located on the same street that I lived. This one is open year round and was frequented fairly often by roommate and I. The pizza there is incredible. However, one day we discovered their desserts. Their American inspired desserts. My eyes lit up like a kid’s on Christmas morning.
Continuing on with my talk about American food, this restaurant specializes in… wait for it… CHEESEBURGERS. My absolute favorite. They are perfection. Whenever my roommate and I were craving a cheeseburger, which was more often than we’d like to admit, we knew to come straight here. We tried almost everything on the menu; we would each order something different, cut it in half, and trade one half. This is one of those situations where I never had enough self control to wait an entire 5 seconds to take a photo before eating everything in front of me.
This one is all about the sandwiches. There are plenty to choose from, and all at a reasonable price.
As with many, this restaurant is only open seasonally. So, stop by while you can. I could not find actual sliced bread anywhere, so I have no idea where they got their bread, but I do know that they are delicious. There is even a sandwich that has a honey drizzle on it, which is what my roommate ordered. There are also fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies, but those are pretty expensive so I would recommend focusing on the food and saving the fruity drinks for when you’re laying out on the marina.
This is even broader than the streets of Sorrento, but Napoli is the birthplace of heaven in a pastry, also known an sfogliatella (pronounced sfoy-ya-tella). The American equivalent is a lobster tail, but whatever you call it, it is a crispy pastry with a ricotta filling.
At almost every corner, there is a bakery that sells sfogliatella. Although I unfortunately have not tried every single shop in Napoli, the bunch that I have been to all have amazing pastries. I personally do not think you could go wrong here.
Fitchburg State College
During this past Spring semester of my sophomore year, I spent my time living, learning, and interning in Sorrento, Italy. SAI presented me with the opportunity to intern before I was even aware that it was an option for me. Everything that SAI was involved in made my transition to living in a foreign country more manageable and enjoyable. Even the roommate pairings were perfect!
The courses that are offered at Sant’Anna Institute immediately stuck out to me during my search. I am a criminal justice major and was both thrilled and surprised to discover a course centered on international crime.
Because of my semester abroad, I have formed countless relationships with students from all over the United States, as well as with many local Italians, and other Europeans through my extensive travels. I now have the confidence and skills to interact with all kinds of people in all kinds of places. Studying abroad is an irreplaceable experience and I look forward to helping other college students get the most out of their semester(s) abroad.