Wednesday 26 August 2009

My life in Sorrento

People always ask me: what do I do everyday? And what’s it like to really live in Italy? Both very good questions.

To answer these it really depends on: where I am living, what day it is, what month it is and most importantly what the temperature is like.

I currently live in Sorrento, Italy (for only another 10 weeks then I am out of here!) which is a strange place to live. Sorrento is not quite a city, but not quite a small town. It is a beach resort with no easy access to the's like I said - strange. Not necessarily in a bad sense, but in the sense that I would come back for a holiday, and I would recommend Sorrento to others for a holiday, but I myself would not choose to live here.

Where would I choose to live?
I hear you ask. Well you'll just have to wait for that post to arrive!

I work for a large British tour company and my job role has changed slightly over the years since I have moved from Rome, to Sicily, back to Rome again before arriving here. I look after hotels here in Sorrento, Amalfi, Positano, Cilento and Ischia. This year especially my job is predominately phone based so I am on call 24/7 for my customers and hotels to call me with all their questions and queries. I recommend places to eat, sell excursions, handle complaints and basically everything to do with the customers. Each week the resort office (which is here in Sorrento) print me my new bookings which can range from 20-100 bookings per week. At the moment I have about 80 bookings here in Sorrento alone, so that is about 190 guests.

A large part of my job is liaising with the hotels to check the bookings, fax customers departure information and to help them out with guests’ queries and complaints.

Once every 2 weeks I go to the Naples airport, not really to meet and greet my guests as we don't have enough staff for that - but just to make sure my drivers are all there and that there are no problems.

Life here in Sorrento is quite normal really. It is not as romantic and quaint as some may think. Sorrento is a very touristy and a very busy resort so it can get on your nerves (well my nerves anyway.)For a smallish town Sorrento is full and I mean FULL of traffic. Driving here takes years of your life, as does walking here, plus there is no where to park. I nearly get run down by crazy moped drivers everyday!

Days off wise, what I do depends on who I am with. If bel ragazzo and I are off together then we either do lots of fun stuff...or nothing at all. Sorrento is so close to so many beautiful places, but the traffic and the actual getting from A to B is sooooo annoying that we have become hermits in the summer months. If you want to go to the beach, you cannot find anywhere to park. If you do find somewhere to park then you have to pay a fortune to leave your car under the watchful eye of some random, overly tanned and normally pot bellied man...a man who you are not sure actually works there. I have never figured out the random car parks around the area. I always assume that you sort of have to pay the man on the side of the road to 'watch' your car; as if you don't you'll probably not have a car to come back to!

If you do pay the random man, and do leave the car about an hours walk from the actual beach, then you have to fight your way to find a space on to the tiny centimetre of public beach...unless you want to pay an arm and leg on hiring a sun lounge. If you do not want to part with all of your money, then you just have to listen to the Napolitano families yell and scream by your sides.

If the beach is not your thing, and you want some cool, mountain air then you need to get into the car and leave Sorrento via the one road which is always grid locked with traffic. In most cases I can assure you, you will end up doing a dangerous u-turn and backtracking, since you get sick of sitting in the traffic knowing that you are no where near your 'cool, refreshing, mountain' retreat.

You often read books about people living in Italy and it paints this magical picture of peace and tranquillity. **Note to self: I must get organised and write my book list of good and bad 'moving to Italy' books that I had read as I have many to go in both of those sections.***

In many of these 'Italy' books, foreigners who have moved to some sort of town or city start to visit the local bar for their morning cappuccino...and by the end of the book they are best friends with all of the staff and get invited to their house for dinner - they have after all become part of this close knit family. Well...bel ragazzo and I do have our 'locals' but that is mainly because we get discounts there as it is expensive to drink and eat here. Most of the staff are only really nice to us since they know that we work with all of the tourists.

In these books, the foreigners who come to live in Italy are on first name basis after a mere 24 hours with all of the locals and batting off compliment left, right and centre. Ok, so I do get a daily 'ciao' from the sexy man who owns the scooter shop, but that is because he fancies my friend. Bel ragazzo does get asked the time by this old, orange haired woman everyday, but then we think she is crazy and asks everyone this.

So it seems I am not ticking off that many boxes. Oh, well I am batting off compliments left, right and centre, but when they come in the form of an ancient, missing toothed, unattractive driver, screeching "bona" at you whilst sweat is pouring down your back at the airport...I don't really take that as a compliment.

(Bona is more of a slang word meaning sexy but in a more vulgar way.)

So ladies and gents...that is what my life is like living and working in Sorrento.



Thanks for post. It’s really imformative stuff.
I really like to read.Hope to learn a lot and have a nice experience here! my best regards guys!
seo --seo

Iain-down under said...

Hi Leanne,

We don't realise how lucky we are in Australia with access to our beaches. My wife and I visted Sorrento from Positano by ferry for a short trip and I found the traffic just as you said and it's a long walk up from the ferry terminal to the town centre too!
We enjoyed our stay at Positano, only for 3 nights but it was great. One thing that makes Positano more attractive to stay in, as opposed to say Amalfi or Sorrento, is that the large tourist buses can't access the town thank goodness.

Your reference to the scirocco winds reminded me that on that trip we were staying at Tropea and did a day trip to the Aeolian Islands. The winds came up very quickly and the boat trip rapidly became rather unpleasant. We weren't able to land at Stromboli as it was too rough but we did stop at Lipari and Vulcano. despite the rough seas we had a great time.
Are you marking off the days on the calendar?

Jone said...

Hey Leanne, so great to see you blog more often, always a joy for me to read your entertaining day to day happenings in La Costiera. Everything you've written about Sorrento has reaffirmed my appreciation for Australia so much and it's one of the few countries left in the world where you do feel lucky, hence the "lucky country" I admire your humour and ability to deal with the Italian quirks, it's something I was never able to do, that's why I went home. Keep up the great work (blogging) you are truly a star!! I think one day you should gather all your blogs together and put them down in print.

Take care


Gil said...

Hi nice write up about Sorrento. We went there on a day trip last Summer and found the people friendly. Especially, the old gelato guy trying to flirt with my daughter.

Jewel said...

I would like to see your book recommendations. I've read about a dozen by people who have moved to Italy or just travelled around. Less than half were any good. Yes, I too am amazed by these people's amazing social skills. Even watching Rick Steve's Italy shows it seems you just wander up to strangers and start chatting to them and they invite you home. How many strangers have you followed home?

Dana said...

I just found your blog tonight and enjoyed reading a few of the posts; I sat here shaking my head in agreement while reading. I especially like the one about the honeymooners -- pay the money, people!

Leanne was in Italy now in Australia said...

Hi Roxy,
I'm glad you like the blog :)

Hi Iain,
What you said about Positano is so true! It is great that the tourist buses cannot get down there. And I am glad you too agree with me on the traffic is so, so very crazy.

Hi Jone
Are you coming back any time soon to the Coast? And i understand totally where you are coming from. I think I am lucky in a sense that my bel ragazzo is open minded, and also from Calabria. As beautiful as your town is, and the whole of the Amalfi Coast I could never live here as a simple never simple in this part of the world.

Hi Gil,
HA! The gelato man flirting with your daughter...I hope she at least got an extra big serving.

Hi Jewel
I am going to get started on that book list today and in answer to your question if a stranger started to follow me home I would start running or call the police!

Hi Dana,
Glad you found my blog (and more so that you like it!) thanks for stopping by.

Fiona said...

He he this cracks me up! So many people have these idealistic views of moving to Europe (especially Italy and France) and it all being gelato and coffee, and it is so NOT! For me, getting to know people - really know them, and make solid friendships - is the hardest part of not being a local. Despite that, life here is good. But we certainly don't get as many stupid tourists as you do, thank god!

Leanne was in Italy now in Australia said...

Hi Fiona,
So, so many people think that living in Italy is all Under the Tuscan Sun!

Kay said...

Hi, happy to find your blog. I'm a Kiwi living in south Lazio. I have just read a book (written by an Aussie) that I recommend highly!

Links to the book are on my blog:

Will be back to read more of your blog later... grazie!

Anonymous said...

In 1972 I married an Italian man and lived in S'Agata sui due Golfi, near Sorrento. My son was born in Sorrento hospital. I just love the area. I didn't stay married to Angelo, bt my love of Italy stayed with me and now I own a house in Bagni di Lucca, near Lucca. I travel regularly to Sorrento to vist my ex relatives. It is such a beautiful part of the world. Thanks for the reminders.

John said...

In Italy my favorite place is Sorrento. There are many Sorrento sightseeing. which worth seeing. Its museums Museo Correale di Terranova showing displays of artifacts. You get to see some amazing views of Sorrento port, another is Chiesa di San Francesco you can't miss it and off course Limoncello which is produced from lemon rinds, water and sugar you will get this at cafe's.

Eugene said...

Why is it when someone visits Italy or any other country for that matter, they always complain "it ain't like home". Of course not. You go there to experience the different cultures. If you want it to be like back home, then I suggest you go back home.stay there and be happy. I love Italy and have enjoyed all the other countries I have visited. I enjoy the differences.