Despite its popularity, there is a quieter side to this beautiful Italian town, as Dag Pike discovers...

Sorrento in southern Italy is one of those magical places that should be on everyone’s itinerary at some point in their lives and for many it is a bucket list destination.

Despite this being a busy and much sought-after area for yachting, it is possible to find an anchorage off the town if you know where to look.

Sorrento lies on the southern peninsula that encloses the Bay of Naples and like much of the Italian coastline, the shore is rugged cliffs.

The town of Sorrento lies up above the cliffs but along the coastline here there are areas inshore suitable for anchoring.

The main harbour is Marina Piccola, which is enclosed by a long breakwater. It is also the terminal for the fast ferries that shuttle to and from Naples and across to Capri.

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There are limited moorings for yachts within the harbour but for a more peaceful night’s stay you can move along the coast to the northeast and anchor a couple of cables offshore in about 10m of water.

With the shoreline being mainly cliffs, a series of mini-breakwaters have been built just off the shore and these provide shelter for a large array of sunbeds where holidaymakers can soak up the sun instead of lying on beaches.

The anchorage is just offshore from these breakwaters and can be busy during the daytime. To find the anchorage, first of all identify the distinctive light on the end of the breakwater.

Keeping to the east, head inshore until you can pick out the mini-breakwaters that create the beach. You should then be about the right distance offshore to anchor.

A chart showing the anchorage in Sorrento, Italy

Of course, the sounder is your best guide as you head into the shore and with the bottom shoaling quite steeply you can find an anchorage when the sounder shows between 5 and 10m.

The bottom is stony but a good anchor should hold. If you feel the need to go ashore then it is best to take the tender into the harbour as there is limited access to the immediate shoreline.

It is a steep climb up to the town but here you will find a galaxy of restaurants and bars ranging from top of the range hotels to more modest street bars.

In the height of summer the crowds descend and it can be made worse when a cruise ship anchors in the bay. Sorrento is best visited in the spring or autumn when things are a bit quieter.

The anchorage is wide open to the north so you need to keep an eye on the weather forecast, but during the summer months the winds are generally benign.

You are more likely to be disturbed by the wash of passing boats than you are by the wind in the summer months.

If things get uncomfortable then you could move up the coast to the next marina area, Marina di Equa, where there are anchorages on either side of the harbour. Here, it is blissfully quiet.