Only two weeks back and already, the trip to Italy feels like a dream. In actual fact, it was so good, I keep imagining we are back in Sorrento. On a couple of occasions I've woken up expecting to be in the Hotel room at Nastro Azzurro only to find that the slow steady rumbling reverberating around the room is not the steady whir of the air con in but in fact my husbands snoring.
Due to prior work commitments we only managed to grab a weeks break, but boy did we cram a lot in. Italy has a wealth of history and Sorrento did not disappoint. With its own narrow streets and plethora of colorful shops in the old town and bustling harbor area, it was also within an hours drive of Pompeii and the lesser well known Herculaneum making it a perfect base.
The impressive outline of Mount Vesuvius made several appearances on our days out, when it wasn't hidden by clouds. During the trip to Pompeii, its stark beauty and dominant presence was a constant reminder of the past. It was not difficult to imagine the fear people had felt when it had erupted so violently in 79 AD. What is impressive is that despite the fact Vesuvius is still smoking or 'asleep' as out tour guide had whispered ominously, the hustle and bustle of Naples continues only kilometres away, amongst her foothills.
It was reassuring, although not all that suprising to learn that Naples has an evacuation plan today. Hopeful with technology today, there would be a bit more warning if the volcano where to awaken once more. However, despite the leaps in technology today walking around the ruins of Pompeii, it was easy to envisage a similar fate as that suffered by the previous inhabitants. They lay imortalised in casts amongst the ruins, a poignient reminder of the power of nature and a nod to our own mortality.
The immense sense of history made my fingers itch to paint the buildings and Vesuvius, to depict its story.
I got my chance a few days later, sitting above the harbor in the Foreigners club in Sorrento
which I highly recommend if you are ever there, as they make the best coffee along with impressive views across the Bay of Naples. I managed to get a very quick sketch of the volcano before the clouds masked the top of it again.
At the Hotel, I was also spoilt for choice with the epic mountainous views and colourful history of the old town and ornate churches
It was at this point I decided I wanted to paint using egg tempera and learnt the hard way, how difficult it can be to explain why you need a raw egg to an Italian omlette chef. As Robert Vickery pointed out in his book about traditional egg tempera, it can be tricky. After getting a firm Non from the afore mentioned omelette chef, Ant eventually managed to get reception manager to understand and bring me some fresh eggs.This was made on the promise that I would show him the completed art work.
So now back in the UK with several Plein air studies I am debating which to use for a painting, thinking it may be of Versuvius...we will see. Next trip am keen to go back and actually climb to the crator. Definately another one to add to the bucket list.