I guess I have Sorrento on the mind these days, and I have been thinking back to my last visit there on a beautiful day at the end of January. I had walked by the Duomo of Sorrento on previous visits, but hadn’t been there while the church was open. Walking into a church I haven’t visited before is by far one of my favorite experiences in Italy. Sometimes beyond the starkest facade you will discover a church that missed the Baroque redecoration craze and that still offers us a taste of its medieval splendor. Or perhaps that plain facade is hiding an exquisite and well preserved interior from the 17th or 18th centuries. You just never know!
When I walked into the Duomo of San Filippo and San Giacomo in Sorrento, I was certainly surprised! Its simple and bright white facade, rebuilt in the early 20th century with Romanesque hints, reveals little about what you will find inside. While the church may have had ancient origins, it was largely rebuilt in the 1400s. Once inside, you will find a wealth of art on display throughout the elegant and well-preserved marble interior. Don’t miss the marble Bishop’s throne carved in 1573.
What impressed me the most about the Duomo of Sorrento is the incredible intarsio, or inlaid wood, pieces you can find throughout the interior. Sorrento has been known for fine intarsio work since the 18th century, and the Duomo is a veritable museum of masterpieces. Wander up and down the side aisles and you can find pictures, the stations of the cross, large doorways, a beautiful podium, and wooden choir stalls decorated with elaborate and finely detailed intarsio.
It was such a pleasure for me to see the work of the local artisans on display throughout the Duomo. For me, churches are like picture books of their surrounding communities. The Duomo of Sorrento is a wonderful example of the continuation of the historical connection between artisans and the church.
Images simply don’t do justice to the beauty of the intarsio work. While you will find examples on display in workshops and stores around Sorrento, this is one of the best stops to see how glorious and impressive it can be. Next time you visit Sorrento, try to stop by the Duomo and see if it surprises you.
In the meantime, take a walk up and down Corso Italia in Sorrento courtesy of Google Maps. I started you at the entrance to the Duomo:
Located at the corner of Corso Italia and Via. P.R. Giuliani
Hours variously listed, but try between 8-noon & 5-8pm