Piano di Sorrento – Stepping into a postcard

Lemons the size of grapefruits, olive trees dripping black and dark emerald fruit,  sky as blue as sapphire, Piano di Sorrento was akin to diving into a kaleidoscope of colour, stepping feet first into a picturesque post card.  Located about 25 kilometres southeast of Naples, off of the Amalfi and Gulf of Naples coasts, this lesser known town of 13,000 inhabitants is a stone’s throw away from tourist infused Sorrento. Unable to find a reasonably priced hotel in Sorrento (as I had procrastinated and foolishly waited until the last minute to book accommodation), I consequently ended up in neighbouring Piano di Sorrento instead, and was pleasantly surprised with the change in venue.  Having more of a compact feel than its more worldly and well-heeled neighbour, this gem of a coastal retreat invoked a small town ambiance and amiability, instantly welcoming you into its realm.  Staying at homey “Relais Francesca”, I was greeted each morning by a warm “buon giorno” (good morning), and fed a resplendent spread of melt in your mouth freshly baked bread, cold cuts, yogurt, fresh fruit and assortment of cheeses, local hospitality at its finest.  My innkeepers were beyond accommodating, bending over backwards to extend their warm-heartedness and show me the finest that Italian culture and cuisine had to offer.

Relais Francesca


Surrounded by groves of citrus trees sprouting bright yellow lemons, the gardens which enveloped this treasure of a bed and breakfast were awash in brightly hued colours, deep fuchsia pinks, purples and orange, giving one the impression that an artisan’s paintbrush had playfully splattered rainbow droplets of joy onto the lush vegetation.

Ambling about the blooming hyacinths, jasmines and geraniums, daily greeted by the cheerful singing and chirping of songbirds, I pondered whether five days in this utopia would suffice. Perhaps I should learn a bit of Italian lingo, apply for any job at the Relais and devote the rest of my days luxuriating in a happy and bright hued postcard existence.  A thought that seriously crossed my mind and one which I would have been more than happy to accommodate had I not had bills to pay and commitments to attend to back in my neck of the woods across the pond.

Situated less than 10 minutes away from the local railway station, the picturesque inn is nestled in a quiet residential area, a tranquil oasis of paradise. It therefore perplexes me as to why it took well over 2 hours (and I kid you not!!) to finally set my pink-sneakered foot into the B & B at 129 Via Bagnulo.  Perhaps it was because I had neglected to take a map of where I was going or perhaps it was because I foolishly followed the handsome male specimen who had also exited the train, meandering along the main road as opposed to veering onto the lesser travelled winding pathway, unaware that the Relais was located just around the corner. Yikes!!  Carting my overstuffed bright orange suitcase up and down the cobblestoned pathways, I eventually lost sight of the mysterious stranger, ending up lost and stranded a block or two away from my hotel digs.

Circling round and round, encountering the same landmarks over and over again, I was at a loss as what to do and how to find the elusive B & B.  Arms feeling like bricks, hauling a suitcase that weighed at least several tons, crammed full of blank paper, travel journals, books and clothing, I seriously considered kicking my luggage to the curb, rationalizing that I really didn’t need or want it anyways, as I could always replenish my goods with brand new Italian ones.  Really should have been wise enough to dig the map out of my suitcase prior to leaving the airport, but that required a bit of effort, such as stopping, unzipping my luggage and dumping its entire contents on the floor in order to retrieve the map which was strategically placed at the bottom.  Works well for packing, not quite as well when attempting to search for it.

I must have been quite the sight indeed, a frazzled, sweating, dejected middle aged pink sneaker attired woman clutching a piece of paper in one hand while rolling her bright neon orange suitcase up and down the trodden laneways of Piano di Sorrento. Luckily for me, my aimless wandering caught the attention of a local family, who, after initially viewing me with pitiful and curious glances, graciously escorted me to Relais Francesca - a mere two minute walk around the corner.

Why had I failed to spot the hotel, as I had surely traversed past it at least a hundred times whilst traipsing all over the block in my desperate attempt to locate it?  Perhaps it was the high enclosed gate shielding the grounds that prevented me from putting two and two together or perhaps it was just a dyslexic oversight on my part, tripping me up and preventing me from reading the street numbers accurately.  Who knows?  All I do know is that my Italian journey in Piano di Sorrento commenced with a genuinely warm introduction to the kind and generous spirit of its inhabitants, as they welcomed me into their fold and helped out a stranger in distress.

Come journey with me as I traverse the cobblestoned pathways of Piano di Sorrento and enjoy the hospitality of picturesque bed and breakfast “Relais Francesca” in Italia….

Next week – what new adventures await? Stay tuned!!

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