30 June 2018

Vegan in Sorrento & Capri

Since I first visited over 10 years ago, I've always loved Italy, the scenery, the culture, the food and something I most recently learned to appreciate...the red wine (and limoncello!). There's just something about Italy and that's why I wanted to see more of it, having previously visited the main cities and lakes, mostly in the north.

This time around we visited Sorrento and the Amalfi coast, with a brief half-day stop in Naples before our flight and it was the best birthday present I could ask for, so thank you to my parents who I had the best week away with! This being my first trip to Italy since going vegan, I'd almost anticipated to eat a marinara pizza for every meal, which, when you're going to the place that pizza was invented and the specialty is a cheese-less one, you can't really complain, but I was pleasantly surprised with the accidentally vegan choices there were! Keep reading for a list of accidentally vegan menu options in Sorrento! 


We had 5 full days in Italy, we were based in Sorrento and took trips to Capri, Amalfi, Pompeii and finished our holiday in Naples. The whole week was filled with plenty of walking, some incredible food, sunshine and a healthy amount of red wine and limoncello, all in the presence of great company. Cheers to that!

The whole town of Sorrento has a perfect mix charming buildings and a stunning coastline, in June it's occupied by a nice mix of tourists and locals, ensuring you fully capture that almost indescribable feeling of passion that just encompasses you whilst visiting Italy. Being on the coastline, you'll expect to be walking up and down many hills during your visit, but you'll be used to it in no time and feel better for it (especially after all that delicious food!) The main town square leads onto steep steps which deliver you almost right to the port...where you can catch a ferry to Capri or other towns in the Amalfi Coast (buy tickets from the stands at the beginning of the port) and the train/bus station is just a short walk up from the square...with transport to and from the little towns of the Amalfi coast, Naples (including the airport) and Pompeii (buy tickets from the tobacco shop prior to travelling). Do also be sure to follow the road down past the main square towards the port for some incredible views of Vesuvius and take a look over the bridge near the square for a peek at the old mill ruins. 

There are a few little beaches just to the left of the port - one public and a few belonging to beach clubs that have an entry fee. We visited the public beach for a short while in the afternoon after returning from Capri - it's no Bournemouth beach; with a very small area with a mix of volcanic sand and stones - but we didn't visit Sorrento to sit on the beach for a week and the sea was a beautiful temperature, even so early on in the summer. 

Sorrento is full of some wonderful restaurants and I'll touch on some top tips for picking the best restaurants whilst travelling in my next post. The single most important thing about Italian food is undoubtedly the olive oil  - with garlic coming in at a close second - it features heavily in almost every dish (or at least the ones we enjoyed), adding a beautiful flavour and silky feel to each bite. I shamelessly ate 2 packs of breadsticks (after my meal) on our last night in Sorrento, just to get another hit of flavour of this incredible olive oil that was the perfect balance of floral, earthy and sweet and I think I probably could've drunk it from the bottle (it was that good). 

A few restaurants that deserve a mention are Ristorante Pizzeria L'abate, we actually ate here twice, breaking my rule of not repeating the same restaurant when travelling (there's just so many new places to try), but the beautiful spaghetti puttanesca, paired with the incredible house red, beautiful decor, friendly service and limoncello, we just couldn't resist coming back. For true Neopolitan style pizza (thick, chewy, slightly charred and bubbled crust with a thin base) we were recommended Basilico - based inside the cinema, it won't win any awards for atmosphere, but the pizza is another story, we ate here on my birthday and it was truly delicious pizza that you picture when you think of Italy. We walked past this next place every night and thought it looked too 'commercial', but unbeknownst to us, this restaurant actually had a vegan menu and the best olive oil of my life, so we booked a table and enjoyed the deliciousness that Fauno Bar had to offer on our final night! Creamy pesto fusilli with tofu and a soya mince ragu with penne pictured below.

We stayed in a chalet about a 10-minute walk uphill from the centre, they were charming cabins surrounded by orange and lemon trees and staying here really made our visit to Sorrento perfect. There was a pool which we spent a day at to rejuvenate and a little restaurant too, which served pasta and a few other things for lunch. The whole place was run by a family and had such a wonderful feel to it, should you wish to check it out, you can find details here

We wandered into the town after dinner on our final night to find an International Folklore Festival, with visitors from a number of countries and some incredible dancing, so many people were gathered to watch and it was such a lovely thing to witness. 

I've come away from Sorrento with such a fondness and a reiteration of why I love Italy so much; the feeling you get from visiting Italy - especially as such a passionate foodie - is just an incredible one, with an encompassing feeling of happiness and a reminder of the important things like family, the joy experienced by savouring good food and to take some time and enjoy the sunset every once in a while.


My favourite day of the trip (also known as my birthday). Capri is a little island that you probably know of by it's famous Caprese salad, Capri pants and perhaps you've heard about the sandals too. We arrived into Capri by ferry, feeling the wind through our hair as we powered through the deep blue sea. We found some melon, mango and lemon sorbet by the port and gelato in hand, we made our way up the very steep ~ 25-minute walk to Anacapri - top tip: don't try and eat gelato and walk up such a steep hill simultaneously. When you reach the top, you'll be met with stunning views like this:

We made it up to the centre after what felt like forever (it was only 10-15 minutes back down again) and wandered around the shops, before following a path to the most beautiful viewpoint, overlooking the cliffs, blue sea and docked boats. Isidoro, the restaurant we ate at in Capri was probably my favourite of the holiday, the portion sizes were quite generous and it being only lunchtime my mum and I shared a plate of Spaghetti, Aglio, Olio, Pepperoncino e noci (spaghetti with perfectly cooked, mellow and creamy garlic, chilli pepper, minced walnuts and a perfect coating of extra virgin olive oil, making each bite so silky and even more enjoyable), with a side of Pomodori e Melanzane - which was the best aubergine dish I've ever eaten. This meal was one of the best I've ever eaten and finished off with an ice cold Limoncello to refresh our palettes. 

If you don't feel like the walk up to Anacapri or want to save your energy for one of the other walks along the clifftops, there's a funicular railway that will take you right to the top, leading onto an incredible viewpoint, where many of the shops and restaurants are, but there was a sense of achievement when we finally reached the top! If you get the chance I'd definitely recommend Capri as a day trip, so wear comfy shoes, bring your camera and your appetite! 

Accidentally Vegan Menu Options

When ordering in an Italian restaurant, of course, there are things like fresh pasta and hidden cheese to watch out for and if the restaurant staff speak great English, then you could probably customise some of the other menu items with confidence that you'll receive a vegan meal, but the good news is, there are a few accidentally vegan options (that are super tasty), already on most menus in Sorrento and surrounding areas (which are also usually printed in both Italian and English). These are:

  • Spaghetti al Pomodoro - Spaghetti with tomato and basil 
  • Spaghetti Puttanesca - Spaghetti with tomatoes, olives and capers (watch out for the addition of anchovies on the menu)
  • Spaghetti Aglio e Olio e Peperoncino - Spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and chilli 
  • Spaghetti Aglio, Olio, Peperoncino e noci - as above with walnuts (my favourite meal)
  • Marinara Pizza - A fluffy, chewy pizza base topped with tomato sauce, garlic and oregano
  • Marinara Pizza with funghi (mushrooms), carcicofi (artichokes), zucchini (courgette), melanzane (aubergine), rucola (rocket) - for when you want to order some extra veg on your pizza. 

  • Zucchini alla Scapece - Fried courgette with white wine vinegar, garlic and mint 
  • Pomodori e Melanzane - Aubergine in a rich garlic and tomato sauce
  • Bruschetta - Toasted bread with fresh tomatoes, basil and olive oil
  • Table bread - Mostly vegan, but watch out for bread with ham baked into it
  • Olives
  • Marinated artichokes - Mostly in buffet/salad sections if a restaurant has one

Service charges: Something to note about service charges; many restaurants will include them on the bill and when we first arrived it was explained to us that most establishments in Sorrento and the surrounding areas are only open in the warmer months, meaning all income is typically brought in over 5-6 months of the year, hence the need for service charges. The service charges (and meal prices in general) were pretty reasonable, however, there are some restaurants that don't add a service charge, but they are likely more designed with tourists in mind and you may miss out on some of the best food of your life! 


Not all fruit sorbets will be vegan, so you might have to ask from place to place; we found ourselves asking about gelato with no milk (in English) and senza latte (in Italian), depending on the place - vegan (or vegano) is definitely a term over there, but getting straight to the point on the ingredient you want to avoid is probably easier. Many fruit flavours were vegan (lemon, melon, mango) and we even found some dark chocolate vegan gelato (topped with hazelnuts) in the heart of Sorrento! 

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