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  • Writer's picturesi newell

Last Days of Summer - Rome & Sorrento

A wedding in Rome followed by a chilled few days in Sorrento.

Day One - Friday

Following a late flight from Stansted last night, I eventually arrived at the Air BnB in the early hours of Friday, joining the others in our party that had arrived earlier on Thursday.

After a night sleep, we got up to look around shops in central Rome for some last minute clothing additions for the wedding later that day - still managing to do a sketch over lunch in Piazza di San Lorenzo in Lucina. When returning to our accommodation near the charismatic Jewish Ghetto, I noticed some young sketchers nearby in Piazza Mattei sketching the Turtle Fountain (Fontana Della Tartarughe) and before changing for the evening wedding, I decided to go down and sketch in the same location.

The wedding itself was held in the church at San Pietro in Montorio - sitting behind a gate is a famous small temple - the ‘Tempietto’ - designed by Bramante and considered a masterpiece of High Renaissance Italian architecture. It was just a shame that we couldn’t get inside to walk around it.

The reception was held in a very cool restaurant in central Rome and we all had a great time before returning home in the early hours of the morning.

Day Two - Saturday

A lazy start after a late night and straight to a brunch and a quick sketch at Largo di Torre Argentina before a visit to the stunning but busy Trevi Fountain. It was great to see it finally, as four years ago when I first visited Rome, the fountain was being restored. The water feature provides so much drama within the urban fabric - so very beautiful.

Then off to visit Gelateria Della Palms - famous for having 150 flavours of ice cream. Disappointingly we were not overly impressed with our 3 flavours each - I’ve certainly had better. Again the old saying of ‘quality not quantity’ seemed apt.

Then to one of my favourite spaces in Rome, Piazza Navona for beers, lunch and of course a doodle - this time of the imposing facade of Sant’Agnese in Agone that forms the centre-piece to this wonderful public space.

Later we walked along the river passing Castel Sant'Angelo towards the Vatican and were overwhelmed once again by Bernini’s awesome St Peter’s Square and the imposing colonades that capture the space perfectly.

We continued walking along the Tiber and found chilled riverside bars and restaurants for dinner away from the tourist crowds before eventually returning to the Air BnB.

Day Three - Sunday

We returned to the Colosseum district in the morning passing the amazing historic sites that sit in the middle of the city centre. Another warm day required some cold coffees followed by beers and a pizza in a cafe overlooking the imposing amphitheatre (and food and drink that was not too expensive surprisingly).

This gave me a chance to people watch and sketch including some watercolouring.

The weather suddenly changed in the afternoon with thunder and a short period of heavy showers, but we managed to make our way along the retail streets to Piazza del Popolo.

More sketching followed over coffee (warm this time after the weather change) before returning to the area around the river and Tiber Island for an al fresco dinner in one of the delightful restaurants under the stone bridges that link the island to the city.

Day Four - Monday

After another leisurely start to the day, we all had a wander around the city stopping for breakfast in a market piazza and later for coffee and a sketch where we received some additional nibbles from the waiter who noticed me sketching. There are some advantages to urban sketching!

After a little window shopping for some of the cool Italian linen white shirts, we headed to Piazza del Popolo for lunch and a chance for me to have a go at one of the distinctive churches that form a dramatic gateway to the city - Santa Maria dei Miracoli. Then we made our way to the Villa Borghese Gardens - so close to the centre of the city but such a relaxing escape.

On the way back we encountered our first ‘rip off’ cafe where we ended up paying almost 70 euros for four (albeit very large) drinks! The cafe wasn’t even in a great location lol.

Then a final dinner in the nearby Jewish Ghetto before returning to pack ready for the second part of our Italian adventure.

Day Five - Tuesday

An early start to catch a morning train from Termini to Napoli Centrale. Italian intercity trains can be fabulous - as good as I’ve experienced.

It took around an hour to travel south sometimes touching 300km/h and not wobbling all over the place like my regular London commute with SWR.

On arriving at Naples, we decided to take a boat from the port to Sorrento - a really lovely way to arrive in this beautiful coastline. I did manage to get a super quick sketch done whilst waiting for the boat to leave - still trying to finish as we left the harbour!

Fortunately the our room in the delightful Hotel Antiche Mura was ready so we could quickly get sorted and have a look around the town.

We walked down towards the water and enjoyed the dramatic views over the cliff, found a really cool cafe in one of the piazzas and wandered around the delightful old town - sketching from a street corner cafe.

Then out to dinner in a street restaurant in the bustling old town.