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Historical photo of the village of Marina Grande – Sorrento. Taken from web.

In spite of the constant town planning evolution and the mass tourism in Sorrento, a charming place stands where the historical and traditional identity still remain so vivid: the fishing village of Marina Grande.
This place, even being a few steps away from Sorrento city center, maintains its proper history as if it was a town in another town; even the citizens feel to belong to Marina Grande instead of Sorrento, recalling so Carlo Pedersoli’s answer (the actor known as Bud Spencer) when a journalist asked him whether he was Italian “No, I’m not Italian; I’m Neapolitan!”, concept retaken even by Sofia Loren during an interview.
Let’s find out then what makes this place so special.

The ancient access to Marina Grande village narrates Sorrento coast history

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Antica porta del Borgo di Marina Grande. Foto presa dal web

The travel through Sorrento history begins right at the ancient access to Marina Grande. The antique walls, dating back to the III century AD, have partially been demolished around 1800: the surviving parts are visible from the lookout in Capo street and from what is nowadays known as the Parsano Bastion, still viable and visitable.

If nowadays the village can be reached by car o bus through via del Mare, in XV century the only access to Marina Grande was right through this door that maintains its peculiar characteristics belonging to the Middle Age, in spite of the several restorations.

The ancient access, built with big tuff rocks and limestone, is characterized by a double arch (an important trace of the Greek influence on the wall construction techniques): it is the socalled “isodoma” masonry with square blocks.

Observing this construction with a keen eye, it is possible to individuate the hinge holes where the trunks were lowed, so to give the door a better stability during the invasions.

This door narrates the Saracen invasion during the night of the 13th June 1558, when together with the complicity of a traitorservant the Turkish pirates acceded to the Sorrento Coast and stole all the riches, spreading fear and death among the inhabitants.

Marina Grande is separated from the rest of the city by a promontory where once stood the Emperor Augustus’ nephew’s villa, Agrippa Postumo and from where it is still possible to observe the magnificent ruins of the original construction and the amazing Ninfeorenovated by Bellevue Syrene, at the western extremity of Marina Piccola.

Marina Grande: the cradle of the typical “Gozzo Sorrentino”

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Photo of Cristina Gargiulo
Reproduction of the 19th century of the “gozzo sorrentino”

Thanks to the deep sea traditions, this village developed a proper sea-art which led to the creation of the typical “Gozzo Sorrentino”, a jewel of the local maritime art. It is a little boat with oars and Latin sail, stern and bow have a pointed shape, still measured in Neapolitan spans (one Neapolitan span is 26.4 cm).

Once Marina Grande was the cradle of the construction sites dedicated to the “Gozzo Sorrentino” fabrication, but nowadays the production moved to more industrialized places. Even though the traces of this sea-culture are deep and well evident.

Marina Grande: the setting in place of “Pane, Amore e…” (Bread, Love and…) movie

 The charming beauty of this place also fascinated Dino Risi and Luigi Comencini, two directors who decided to film the majority of the scenes of their movie “Bread, Love and …” in Marina Grande. The village was the scenery of the severalcircumstances that accompanied the knowledge between the Marshal Carotenuto (played by Vittorio De Sica) and Sofia (played by Sofia Loren), a beautiful and lively fish seller sentimentally linked to Nicolino, an aspirant traffic policeman, but too proud to admit it. The marshall, in spite of his initial love for the attractive Sofia, at the end will push the girl towards Nicolino’s arms with a strategical move, proving his nobility.

The place where there was Sofia’s house and some other emblematic placed seen in the film, are nowadays indicated with a sign, helping the recreation of the most popular scenes.

Why should you visit Marina Grande?

During our boat tours which usually begin in the nearby Marina Piccola (where there is Sorrento Port), we always stop before the bay of the village to let our guests enjoy its peculiar beauty and we often suggest a complete visit to better get its details.

If all the info given here haven’t intrigued you enough, here’s a list of a few more reasons to visit the village of Marina Grande:

  • The presence of a few taverns where to taste the local culinary traditions, first of all “La trattoria da Emilia”
  • Restaurants overlooking the sea
  • Breathtaking photographable landscapes
  • And so many other things!