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The Sorrento Webcam - Life in the Center of Sorrento

Pauline Kenny

If you find yourself in Sorrento, Italy, make your way to the corner of Via San Cesareo and Via Tasso in the historic center of town, four blocks from Piazza Tasso. Find the Tabacchi store and stand with your back to it, beside the planters. There may be a red bicycle leaning against one of the planters. Look up and to your right. Wave. You are on the Sorrento Webcam. And someone, somewhere in the world, is watching you.

Screen snap of people in front of Sorrento webcam, 2003

June with Antonello and Luisa from the Sorrento Tourist Information office, August 13, 2003

About the Webcam

A webcam is a camera attached to the internet, that takes a photo every few seconds and relays that photo to a website where people can see it.

Antonello and Luisa Maresca run the Sorrento Tourist Information office, website and webcam. This is not a government owned tourist office, but is a private company. The webcam is located above the office, on the balcony of their home, where they have a small bed and breakfast, Villa del Sole.

The webcam started in June 2002. Antonello had looked at other webcams and thought many were impersonal because they were too far away from what they were filming. He wanted to create an intimate webcam that showed the small details of daily life on the typical local streets of his town.

Map of Sorrento, used with permission from the Sorrento Information Office

The red dot indicates the webcam location at the corner of Via San Cesareo and Via Tasso,
four blocks from Piazza Tasso, in the center of Sorrento

About the Addiction

I should have mentioned this earlier, but I will tell you now - be careful, this webcam is addictive! I started watching it in 2003 and it has been a regular part of my life since.

The other night, at midnight, Steve and I were watching at 8am Sorrento time while a woman paced back and forth in front of the webcam, waiting. Waiting for what? After 20 minutes, two exciting things happened at once. A car drove by, stopped, and she got in (or at least, we think she got in. On one screen shot she was there beside the car, on the next she was gone and we could see the car taillights in the upper left corner). At the same time, the Tabacchi Store owner arrived on his red bike, put it against a planter and opened his store.

Every month or two, someone starts a new thread on the Slow Travel Message Board about the Sorrento Webcam. They post about something interesting they saw, or they ask questions about it. The most frequently asked question: what are people buying at night, from the machine beside the door, when the Tabacchi store is closed? (Answer: Cigarettes and condoms.)

Slow Travel message board members post if they are going to Sorrento to arrange a time to be in front of the webcam. We have had several of these events where a group of us are online and watching the webcam. When we see the people, we do screen captures to save the photos and then post them on our photo gallery.

Screen snap of people in front of webcam, May 2004

Bill from NM and his traveling companions, May 26, 2004

If you go to the Fodor's forums and search on "Sorrento Webcam", you will see that people on that board are watching it too!

The webcam gets 300 visitors a day (May to October).

About the Location

Why is this webcam addictive? Because of the perfect location. The webcam is just far enough above the street so that you get a good view of the activity and people do not realize it is there, but close enough so you can see people's faces.

Sorrento is a vibrant and lively town on the Mediterranean, south of Naples in the Amalfi coast region. It is a popular tourist destination with Italians and visitors from other countries. The webcam is right in the heart of Sorrento, and everyone visiting Sorrento walks by this intersection. People live in the city center and we see them going about their daily lives on the webcam.

Street view of the Sorrento webcam scene, photo by June, 2003

Street view. The webcam is to the right, the Tabacchi store it looks towards on the left. This is the scene just outside of the range of the webcam.

The intersection covered by the webcam, Via San Cesareo and Via Tasso, is a pedestrian area, but you will see a few local cars going by. It is always exciting to watch the garbage and recycling pickup in the early morning hours.

The focus of the webcam is the Tabacchi store (Tobacco store). In Italy, the Tabacchi store is a busy and fun place. They sell cigarettes, bus tickets, candy, stamps, and other sundries. When they are closed, there is a machine beside the door that sell cigarettes and condoms. The mail box is to the left of the shop.

To the left and right of the lower part of the webcam photo are shops; a store selling handbags on the left and a store selling ceramics on the right. They hang things on the walls outside their shops when they are open and you can see them from the webcam.

There is a caffe around the corner from the Tabacchi store, but it has been closed for renovation for the past few months. It is expected to reopen for Christmas 2004. When it is open, you can see the outside tables, to the left of the mail box. We are all looking forward to the caffe reopening.

Click to see YouTube video of the Sorrento Webcam from the street.

About the Time

Another thing that makes the webcam interesting for us in North America, is the time change. I like to check the webcam in the morning, around 9am. I live in New Mexico, Mountain Time, so it will be 5pm in Sorrento. At that time of day, the shops are reopening after the afternoon closing and the town is coming back to life.

It is also fun to check the webcam late at night. Midnight here is 8am in Sorrento and you see the town waking up, the shops opening. Or check mid afternoon, when it is the middle of the night there, to see late night activities and the garbage pickup.

About the Sorrento Information Office

The Sorrento Information Office provides the same services offered by the website: hotels, apartments and B&B reservations; excursions and transfers from Sorrento to Pompeii, Herculaneum, Vesuvius, Naples, Caserta, Positano, Amalfi coast, Capri, and Ischia; tickets to all events in Sorrento and surrounding areas; tickets for local transportation. Drop by to say hello! Maria and Luisa in the office provide timetables and maps and a guide to Sorrento.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, I would like to thank Antonello for running this webcam. It lets us keep in touch with Italy, when we are thousands of miles away. It is entertaining and fun. It lets us focus in on the little things in life and realize that they are usually the most interesting things.

Now, it is time for me to check out the Sorrento Webcam and see what is going on!

How To Do a Screen Capture from the Webcam

If you see something interesting on the webcam (like the early morning garbage pickup - a personal favorite), you can save the photo. Follow these steps (for a Windows computer):

  • Move the pointer over the webcam picture and do a right click on your mouse.
  • Select "Save Picture As ...".
  • A window pops up to let you save the photo on your computer. The filename is "current". If I am saving several in a row, I add a number at the end so I have them in the right order.
  • Click Save and the image is stored on your computer.

The images are saved in JPG format at 72ppi and 640 pixels wide. I use PhotoShop to make the photo a bit smaller (600 pixels wide - the maximum width allowed on our Photo Gallery).

Then I go to www.slowphotos.com and upload them to our Italy - Sorrento Webcam category. (You have to register on Slow Trips to upload photos, but registration is free and easy.)

Resources

http://www.sorrentoinfo.com/facebook_sorrentoinfo_en/: Link to the Sorrento Webcam (to access the webcam now you must login through Facebook).

Debut on the Sorrento Webcam: How one traveler found slowtrav.com, found the Sorrento Webcam and, like the rest of us, became obsessed with it.

www.sorrentoinfo.com: Sorrento Tourist Information, Via Tasso 19, complete tourist information for Sorrento, accommodations, restaurants, maps, events.

www.slowphotos.com/photo/showgallery.php?cat=556: We collect snaps from the webcam in our Slow Travel photo gallery.

www.slowphotos.com/photo/showgallery.php?cat=3251: June's photos taken from ground level in front of the webcam.

www.slowtrav.com/photos/showgallery.php?cat=558: Antonello sent us these photos of the Tabacchi store that the webcam looks at.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx6kn6hin3E: Antonello's YouTube video of the street in front of the webcam.

August 2003 discussion on the forums : On Wednesday, August 13, 2003, June from our message board and her traveling companions did a scheduled appearance on the webcam. Antonello, who runs the webcam, joined them.

May 2004 discussion on the forums : Pauline trolls for people to stand in front of the webcam - Bill from NM volunteers!

June 2003 discussion from forums : Cynde from HI, our first board member to stand in front of the webcam while we all watch.

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