The town of Sorrento is at the center of so many myths and legendary tales that to list them all in this article would be impossible. We only report the most compelling, from the legend that the city takes its name from the siren Sirentum, who was taken captive by the pirates and freed by her countrymen, who gave all they had to get her back. Moreover Sirentum brought for the first time in Sorrento, after her imprisonment, the beer, which later became one of the main foods of the agricultural economy of Sorrento. Sirens are also mentioned in the myth of Punta Campanella (we talked about it in a previous article of Hotel Plaza Sorrento magazine). It was in fact Punta Campanella the refuge of the three sirens Ligeia, Leucosia and Partenope, who bewitched the sailors to make them drown. And in Punta Campanella can be found today the remains of the temple built by Ulysses, as it is told in the Odyssey, as a sign of devotion to the goddess Athena for having made him survive the spell of the sirens.
There are many legends that bloom around the religious traditions of the city, starting from the statue of Christ carried in procession on Good Friday, which depicts Jesus lying with a painful look. Rumor has it that the statue was engraved by a knight who, wrongly accused of treason, had found refuge in the church of San Catello, for gratitude to the priests who believed in his innocence.
We already talked about in a previous article of Queen Joanna of Anjou Durazzo, who did not hesitate to throw off the cliff her lovers after hot nights of love. The legends about the bloody Queen, which we’ll discuss in more detail soon, flourish not only in Sorrento, but also in nearby Naples.
What about the palms of confetti that are laid on the altar during the service on Palm Sunday? Legend has it that this tradition was introduced by a slave who was the only survivor of the sinking of a pirate ship. The young girl swam to the shore and offered as a gift, during the function of Palm Sunday, a bag of confetti, then unknown in Sorrento, and an object of curiosity. And talking about miracles, the devotees of the church of St. Antonino say that many centuries ago a whale swallowed a child who was returned unharmed following the intercession of the monks of the church. Even today inside the church there is an urn with the remains of the whale. St. Antonino, the patron saint of the city, appears in many local stories. The legend says, for example, that under the sea lies a bell that the pirates had stolen from the church in 1558. Blocked by a mysterious force, the pirates were forced to throw overboard the bell that since then, every February 14, the feast of the saint protector, is ringing under the sea.
Even one of the finest foods of Sorrento's is shrouded in myth. It is the pastiera, who according to the legend, is the result of the gifts offered by the Neapolitans to the siren Partenope, who was very happy with these gifts, and delivered them to the gods who mixed them to create the pastiera. A tangle of folk tales, myths and esoteric stories, that definitely surrounds the city with an air of legend.