Vico Equense is the first town on the Sorrentine Peninsula, geographically speaking. It's located between Castellammare di Stabia and Meta di Sorrento, and has a picturesque old town overlooking the Bay of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius from the clifftop. It's also known for its pretty beaches and excellent restaurants, pizzerias, and gelato shops! Vico is just a ten-minute train ride from Sorrento but is practically unknown to international tourists. Scattered around the town center on the hills leading up to Mount Faito, there are 13 historic country houses where locals head for a traditional pizza or a filling farm lunch. If you love a vibrant nightlife scene, head to Marina d'Aequa on summer evenings to bar hop or settle in for dinner directly on the seaside.
The most recognizable sight in Vico Equense is the pink facade of the formal cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata, set on a rocky outcrop directly over the sea. A rare example of gothic architecture on the Sorrentine Peninsula, the cathedral actually sports a baroque facade. The small church dedicated to the confraternity and set just behind Santa Maria Annunziata boasts a beautiful wooden altar from the 1700s decorated with countless small pearls, coral fragments, and glass paste that was created by the cloistered nuns from the nearby convent of the Santissima Trinità. Located a few steps from the cathedral, Castello Giusso was built by Charles II of Naples between 1284 and 1289.
Art enthusiasts should head to the tiny hillside hamlet of Massaquano to visit the Chapel of Santa Lucia, decorated with a fresco cycle attributed to the school of Giotto from the 1300s.
Until just recently, the town of Vico Equense was virtually unknown to international tourists but over the past few years, the growth of Airbnb offerings and the increasing popularity of exploring off the beaten path has led to more foreign visitors. We recommend staying here only if you are traveling by car so you can easily explore the surrounding countryside and visit the many beaches and hill towns. Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Sorrento are easy to reach by train, but the Amalfi Coast (including Positano and Amalfi) can be a challenge to visit with public transportation as you need to take the train to Sorrento and then switch to a local bus. In July and August, there are direct ferries that run between Capri and the port in Marina d'Aequa.
Consider staying in Vico Equense if you have already visited the area and want to explore the lesser-known towns and sights this time around.
Vico Equense has a long and rich culinary history, so it makes sense to dedicate a few words to the top specialties from the area!
- La Pizza a Metro: this "pizza by the meter" has a crust that is deeper and softer than traditional Neapolitan pizza and is served by the meter, shaped in a long rectangle and cut into single-serving squares. It is common in many area pizzerias, but the original "pizza al metro" can be sampled at Da Gigino Pizza a Metro - L’università della Pizza in the center of Vico Equense.
- Gelato at Gabriele: this dairy shop is known for its excellent artisanal gelato, cheeses, and yogurts. You can order a cheeseboard to sample a number of different types of cheeses, dig into a delicious dish of wild strawberries and custard, or try one of their famous gelato flavors, best if served on a warm "brioche" bun. Gabriele is a mainstay of "best gelato in Italy" lists.
- Il provolone del Monaco: this specialty cheese is produced in just a handful of dairy farms in the hills above Vico Equense and is made exclusively with the milk of cows pastured around Agerola. You can purchase provolone del Monaco at the “De Gennaro” deli on Via Caccioppoli (opposite the hospital). If you are getting around by car, visit the dairy/cheesemaker in Pacognano (in the hills above Vico Equense). Otherwise, order a cheeseboard that includes provolone del Monaco at Tavolini della Tradizione, the bistrot and shop in Seiano run by the De Gennaro family.
In addition to its numerous and excellent pizzerias, Vico Equense has one of the highest concentrations of Michelin-starred and gourmet restaurants in Italy. The local hospitality academy counts two famous chefs among its graduates: Gennaro Esposito and Antonino Cannavacciuolo.
La Torre del Saracino: chef Gennaro Esposito's famous restaurant is located in a historic watchtower overlooking Marina d'Aequa. Two Michelin stars.
Try: seafood "pasta e fagioli". There is also a tasting menu that includes a variety of the iconic dishes for which Gennarino (as he is known by locals) became famous.
Location: Via Torretta 9, Seiano
Tel: 081 8028555
Antica Osteria Nonna Rosa: chef Peppe Guida has created an intimate, charming restaurant inside his family home that dates from the 1600s.
Try: the tasting menu known as “Peppe, fa' tu” (Peppe, you decide)
Location: Via Bonea, 4
Il Bikini: this beach club restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and serves gourmet dishes right on the waterfront
Try: ragù with “sconcigli”, tiny shellfish gathered directly from the coast
Location: Strada Statale 145
Tel: 081 8015555
Laqua Countryside: chef Antonino Cannavacciuolo's restaurant and resort located in his birthplace of Ticciano
Try: the "Ritorno alle origini" (Return to your roots) menu featuring dishes the chef has recreated from his childhood
Location: Via Ticciano 137
Tel: 366 1123906
Unlike most other towns on the Sorrentine Peninsula, Vico Equense has relatively spacious beaches at a number of spots on the coastline.
- Lo Scrajo: a hot spring spa with natural sulfuric spring water that bubbles up below the sea and is known for its therapeutic properties. Entry to the spa includes access to the beach and a lounger on the sun deck next to the springwater pool. You can also opt for a lounger rental on the beach that includes access to the springwater pools. Be sure to dine at the Michelin-listed restaurant.
- The beach in central Vico: a string of pebble and volcanic sand beaches that can be reached from the old town. "Lo scoglio della Tartaruga", a tiny islet just offshore, is a short boat ride away.
- Seiano beaches: located in Marina d'Aequa in nearby Seiano, these are the largest beaches in the area and include the popular Calcare. There are beach clubs and a free public beach, but they are all very crowded in the summer so we recommend either arriving first thing in the morning or booking a lounger in advance.