A really good Italian hotel will cosset you with creature comforts, seduce you with style and elegance and make you feel at home with friendly service. Use this website to help you find the perfect place to stay during your visit to Italy. We have tried and tested every hotel featured and can vouch for the locations, standard of facilities and level of service.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria Sorrento


Caruso and Princess Margaret were once guests at this centrally located Sorrento hotel


The Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria is a familiar landmark as you approach Sorrento from the sea.
The entrance to Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria
You will see the three 19th century buildings that make up the hotel on top of the cliff above the port when you arrive by boat from Naples or the islands.
The Excelsior Vittoria is probably Sorrento’s most famous hotel and has now achieved global recognition as part of the Leading Hotels of the World group.
From the imposing wrought iron entrance gates in Piazza Tasso, a long driveway lined with orange trees leads to the entrance and reception area.
At the back of the hotel the terrace has panoramic views over the bay of Naples and of Vesuvius across the water. The brilliant tenor Enrico Caruso was famously photographed in front of that view during his stay in 1921.
The hotel has also welcomed other distinguished visitors, including Richard Wagner, Marilyn Monroe and HRH the Princess Margaret, sister of Queen Elizabeth II of England .
The Excelsior Vittoria was opened as a hotel by the Fiorentino family in 1834 and is still run by their descendants.
The d├ęcor exudes 19th century elegance with ornately decorated ceilings and antique furniture.
There are extensive gardens, an outdoor pool and a private lift down to the port.
The Vittoria Restaurant, which overlooks the sea, serves a buffet breakfast and main meals.
The hotel has 75 rooms and 21 themed suites.
Suite Margaret, named after the Princess, has a bathroom furnished with red marble from Campania and an enamel bath with classic English taps. The suite has a 25 square metre terrace overlooking the sea.
Suite Caruso is furnished with the piano and writing desk used by the tenor during his stay.

Editor’s note: “I will never forget the thrill of having my photograph taken on the exact spot on the terrace where Caruso had stood in 1921.”

For more information, to check prices and to book a room at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria, go to our hotel booking partners, Hotels.com and Expedia UK

Why stay at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria in Sorrento?


One of the world’s most prestigious hotels, the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria is in a superb location in Sorrento. The front entrance off Piazza Tasso makes it handy for the best shops and restaurants in the resort.
It is set back from the road in beautiful gardens and has a terrace with marvellous views over the Bay of Naples.
Opera fans will be fascinated by the hotel’s connection with Neapolitan tenor Enrico Caruso.
Caruso sang to great acclaim at opera houses all over Europe and America during his all too brief career. His 1904 recording of ‘Vesti la giubba’ was the first recording ever to sell a million copies.
Caruso loved Sorrento and his stay at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria is recognised by a plaque near the entrance gate to the hotel.
The Ristorante Caruso is close
to the hotel
The photograph of Caruso in front of the view from the Excelsior Vittoria’s terrace in 1921 went on to become one of the most famous images ever taken of the tenor.
Suite Caruso, furnished with the piano and writing desk used by the opera singer, inspired the song ‘Caruso’ to be written by Italian pop singer Lucio Dalla in the late 1980s while he was staying at the Excelsior Vittoria.
Opera fans might also be interested in visiting nearby Ristorante Museo Caruso in Via Sant’Antonino, a restaurant with a small museum that commemorates the life and career of the famous opera singer.


What to see in Sorrento


A short walk from Piazza Tasso along Via Luigi de Maio will take you to Piazza Sant’Antonino named after Sorrento’s patron saint. The square has a statue of Sant’Antonino Abate and is home to Basilica Sant’Antonino, parts of which date back to the 11th century. In the sacristy is a beautiful example of a presepe (crib) with 17th century figures made by Neapolitan sculptors.
You can walk from the square down to Marina Piccola, from where boats and hydrofoils depart to Naples, Ischia, Capri, Positano and Amalfi.
Or you can continue along to Via San Francesco and the Villa Communale (public gardens), where there are benches to rest on while you admire the views of the bay and the promontory you can see that is known as Punta del Capo. Just off the gardens is Chiesa di San Francesco and its pretty Chiostro (cloisters), parts of which date back to the 14th century and are now a popular venue for weddings.

Directions: The entrance to the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria is off Piazza Tasso to the right as you look in the direction of the sea close to the beginning of Corso Italia. It is a short walk along Corso Italia to the railway station in Piazza De Curtis.

Restaurant recommendation: La Fenice in Via degli Aranci is a few minutes walk from the Excelsior Vittoria.
Fresh fish is brought in by boat to Sorrento every day for the dishes offered on the extensive menu of the restaurant.
Diners can see the impressive variety of seafood available on display by the doorway of the restaurant before they are shown to a table in either the garden or air conditioned interior.
La Fenice has been offering fish dishes and other Sorrentine specialities under the direction of Giuseppe Maresca and Nello Castellano since 1986.
The smart restaurant is open every day during the summer serving high quality food at reasonable prices both at lunch and dinner time.
Among the primi piatti (first courses) are gnocchi alla sorrentina (potato dumplings with cheese and tomato), linguine alla bella napoli (with seafood) and risotto alla pescatora (risotto with seafood and tomato).
The local fresh fish is served cooked in either lemon, white wine or fresh tomato sauce.
Other speciality dishes include scaloppina alla Fenice (veal escalope with ham and peas) and involtini alla sorrentina (veal rolls with ham and cheese). The extensive pizza list includes calzone alla sorrentina (a folded pizza filled with tomato, mozzarella cheese and ham).
La Fenice is closed every Monday from the beginning of September until the next holiday season.

Gnocchi alla sorrentina
Local specialities: Try gnocchi alla sorrentina, little dumplings made from potato, egg and flour cooked in a rich tomato sauce with mozzarella and basil or scialatielle ai frutti di mare (fresh pasta strips with shellfish).
A typical fish dish from the area is pezzogna all’acqua pazza (white fish cooked with tomato, garlic and parsley).
Sorrento is a good place to try an authentic pizza, a dish born in nearby Naples. Try Pizza Margherita (with tomato, mozzarella and basil) created in honour of Queen Margherita, wife of Umberto I.

Local wines: White: Light dry, fragrant Falanghina goes perfectly with fish and dishes made with mozzarella, such as insalata caprese.
It is made from grapes grown on the slopes of Vesuvius, along the Sorrentine peninsula or near the Amalfi coast and you don’t very often see it outside Campania, let alone in other countries.
Look out for producers such as Feudi San Gregorio from Avellino and Ocone from Benevento, who are considered to produce high quality wines.
The name falanghina is thought to derive from the latin word phalanga,  meaning stake or pole, in reference to the early Greek method of training vines to poles. This proves the wine has very ancient origins and was probably the forerunner of other Campanian white wines, such as Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino.
Falanghina is best drunk when it is young and should be served well chilled.

Shopping: Taste limoncello (Sorrento’s lemon liqueur) while on holiday and then buy a bottle of it to take home with you. Inlaid wooden objects and locally produced leather goods are also good buys.

Book a room at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria, Sorrento with Hotels.com or compare prices with Expedia UK.

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