The joy of missing out: slow travel in the lemon groves of Sorrento
How a slow holiday in the lemon groves of Sorrento helped this weary traveller to rediscover the small, simple joys of travel again
We’re sitting on a sun-drenched terrace overlooking the Bay of Naples, watching in awe as Luigi, our host, carefully strains lemon-peel infused alcohol into a large jar of sugared water.
I say awe because this is the process that creates the scrumptious digestif with which we’ve been washing down our equally scrumptious meals each night: authentic Sorrento Limoncello.
The citrus scent of the lemon groves below wafts up to the terrace as little glasses are passed around. ‘Saluti!’ we cheers, clinking our glasses together before letting the sunny, sweet liquid glide easily down our throats.
We’ve spent the past few days living at Il Giardino di Vigliano, an organic lemon farm (agriturismo) nestled in the hills above Sorrento. It’s part of our week-long Local Living adventure with G Adventures; an unpack-your-suitcase-once adventure that allows us to experience life in a working rural community in Italy.
While many travellers come to Sorrento for its dreamy coastlines and islands, its rich and famous lifestyles and glistening super yachts, a stay like this is a chance to acquaint ourselves with the food, family, and local culture of the Amalfi area.
We quickly discovered that when life gives you lemons in Sorrento, you make Limoncello. Or lemon cheese. Or drizzle lemon-infused olive oil all over your wood-fired pizza. And you sit on a sun-drenched terrace with new friends and count your blessings.
The farm itself is a welcome hideaway from the craziness of the Sorrento Coastline; choking with traffic and overrun with tourists. Merely walking into the sweet, fragrant lemon groves, thick with shade and ripening fruit on our first day felt like a refreshing breeze on a scorching afternoon.
But then, our entire trip has really been a welcome relief from the frantic pace we’ve felt obliged to travel at over the last few years.
Increasingly, we’ve felt disillusioned with this idea that travel has slowly morphed into hopping from one ‘must see’ to the next, like some strange exercise in ‘moreism’.
At times, it feels like it’s become about more destinations, more sights, more food, more shots for Instagram, more galleries, more ticks on the bucket list; all at a speed so breakneck that travellers end up whiplashed by both everything and nothing all at once.
Nowhere is this more true than in Italy’s most famous, and over-visited, cities and regions; places like Venice or Rome.
But where’s the meaning in travelling like that?
While the younger versions of ourselves might have loved (and had the energy for) skipping around 5 cities in 7 days and bingeing on their highlights at a superficial level to satisfy our wanderlust, these days we prefer our travels slower; more considered.
To us, travelling slowly - like spending a week on this lemon farm in Italy - allows us to take a headfirst dive into our destination. Days become an exercise in mindful-travel rather than mad-dash.
It’s remembering that at its roots, travel is about exchange; your culture, language and food for mine.
It’s being brave enough to eschew the crowds, the ‘must-sees’ and ‘bucket lists’ by embracing simplicity and taking time to just be in a place; forgoing the “I’ve ‘done’ [insert country]” mentality.
In dating terms, it's the wine and dine experience over the superficial speed date.
Slow travel allows us to rail against the damage caused by air travel and mass tourism; a slow journey by local train, bus, or your own two feet (like our hike in Emilia Romagna) is far more eco-friendly (and wonderful!) than strapping oneself into a tin cylinder and launching into the skies.
It also keeps tourist dollars within the communities we visit by empowering the farms, restaurants, and families that call our destination home.
What's more, rather than being fearful of all that we could miss (because we’ll always miss something), it’s throwing the to-do list out the window and granting ourselves permission to give in to JOMO instead; the joy of missing out.
As we’ve travelled longer and further, we realised that when we give up the hustle and chaos of fast-paced travel, we made space instead for the little things that brings us calm, happiness, and meaning.
Travel becomes about the small, in-between moments that become treasured memories; the day we walked through olive and lemon groves on our way to a beach recommended by our hosts; our morning cappuccino enjoyed on the sun-drenched terrace; drizzling pizza with homemade lemon olive-oil and mouth-wateringly delicious meals harvested from the farm’s own garden; calling Bongiorno! to the elderly man taking pause from a sunny day’s work to devour a plate of rich, flavourful pasta in his garden.
These many small joys add up over time; they reshape our relationship with a place, encouraging us to connect more intimately with the communities we’re moving through.
More than ticking off the Colosseum or quaint towns of the Cinque Terre, it’s real moments just like these that we’ll reflect on when our hair is streaked with grey and our travelling days have faded behind us.
For now though, we’re happy to be right here, sitting on the terrace of a beautiful farmhouse, sipping homemade Limoncello and watching the world float by in the Bay of Naples, surrounded by new friends and our Italian family.
G ADVENTURES LOCAL LIVING SORRENTO | THE ESSENTIAL INFORMATION
Why you should do a g adventures local living tour
G Adventures Local Living trips are unpack-once style adventures operating across the world; from Italian farm stays and Croatian cottages to Mongolian gers and rustic Amazonian bungalows. They're focused on slow travel experiences; a chance to immerse yourself fully in your new surroundings.
WHAT DOES A LOCAL LIVING TOUR IN SORRENTO COST?
Depending on the time of year and room type (view or no view!) you choose, a Local Living Sorrento tour will set you back between €1100 - €1399 / $1215 - $1545 USD.
1 night’s accommodation in Naples
5 night’s accommodation at Il Giardino di Vigliano, Massa Lubrense, Sorrento.
Breakfast and dinner each day (and one lunch) at Il Giardino di Vigliano
SO. MANY. ACTIVITIES: a Migrant-led tour in Naples, guided tour of Pompeii, ‘Walk of the Gods’ hike, Positano visit, Island of Capri visit (by beautiful wood-panelled boat), ferry from Positano, and walks in both Naples + Sorrento
All transport (except on your free day)
A Limoncello-making lesson
A woodfired pizza-making lesson
What’s not included:
Your flights to and from Naples (although these can be added as a package when speaking to the G sales team)
Transfers to and from the airport (again, just ask the sales team if you’d like these added)
Extra drinks, like wine or soft drinks with dinner
Optional activities, scooter rental, etc.
BOOK | Book your G Adventures Local Living Sorrento trip here