Cameos…Keeping the art and tradition alive in Sorrento, Italy

Cameos…Keeping the art and tradition alive in Sorrento, Italy – my fondest memories.

It has been a few years since I was cruising around Italy and one of my fondest memories is that of Sorrento.

Strolling the streets of Sorrento is simply delicious. The colorful buildings and architecture in Sorrento are classic Italian style.  The outdoor cafes seemed to always be brimming with tourists and locals alike. There is just an energy about Sorrento that’s hard to capture in words.  The main street is busy with a “hustle and bustle” feel to it.  However, I found myself wandering down side streets and stopping at local fruit and vegetable stands. I don’t know what it is, but it is hard to resist the many photo opportunities you find in Sorrento while just meandering around the streets of Sorrento.

The captivating aromas from the restaurants finally got to me and I sat down for lunch.

Typical Italian style and since I was in no immediate rush, I sat at this quaint restaurant which was tucked away on one of those side streets.  As I sat and had a long leisurely meal…I noticed that every “walking tour” that came down this street all stopped at this particular little shop.  It was right across from where I was dining.   I was so intrigued, that once I was finished, I had to go take a look.
Small Side Street in Sorrento
The captivating streets of Sorrento.

Well, what I found was this amazing little locally owned jewelry shop.  But wait…not just any jewelry shop.

There was an artist carving a cameo right there in the front window!  Ok…I am sure most people have seen a cameo or a replica of one in the past.  However, to SEE someone actually carving with meticulous detail right before my very eyes, was truly incredible!   I had to go in and take a closer look.  This tiny little shop was filled with all hand-made cameos!  Next thing I know, I am involved in conversation with the owner of the place.  Come to find out, I am standing in the oldest cameo workshop in all of Sorrento!

The cameos were everything from traditional portraits and mythological figures to custom-made designs from a current day photograph.  While I was there, the piece that was being carved was of someone’s beloved Labrador Retriever!

While cameos have a history dating back to the 15th or 16th century, they have certainly evolved over the years. For many, they were a sign of prosperity.  Made popular by the likes of Pope Paul II and Queen Victoria, they were highly regarded by the upper echelons of society.  Worn by the elite, they were regarded as a status symbol of sorts. The beauty of these works of art also led to the making of many imitations in more recent years.  However, there is really nothing quite like the feel of wearing a genuine hand-carved cameo.


An artisan carving a Cameo.
You can watch as an artist’s hand carves cameos at Bimonte Sorrento.
The technique itself is captivating to watch. It can take hours if not days to create a high-quality cameo. A skilled artist typically will use a shell of sardonyx or carnelian.  However, cameos can be carved using a number of other types of material such as mother of pearl or even agate. Then they will sketch out the design onto the shell itself. From there, it is almost magical as intricate tools are used to complete the work. Images are carved in relief, giving them a three-dimensional look so that they stand out from the background.
Bimonte Sorrento Cameos
Bimonte Sorrento has a stunning selection of cameos on its website.
Bimonte Sorrento is one of those places that you simply must seek out.  However, they have a spectacular following and you can even order online.  They can still custom create something for you…but let me assure you, there is nothing like experiencing it in person!
I can hardly wait for my next trip back to Italy and Sorrento is definitely on my list.  Hopefully, it will be on yours too!
Check out this YouTube Video I did with Melissa, SUBSCRIBE and LIKE US, we appreciate your support…..


Over the years, we have recommended this charming cameo carving boutique to many tourists visiting Sorrento.  We have now arranged a 15% discount on any beautiful cameo you wish to purchase from Bimonte Sorrento. Simply contact their website at Bimonte Sorrento or call Christian directly. Please enter the coupon code BIMONTE2020 to assure your discount is applied.
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