Seven Hours in Sorrento

Bar la Terrazza

I wish I could tell you that my day trip to Sorrento during the summer was filled with deep exploration of this beautiful town. But if I did that, I’d be lying. Instead, with thanks to my sister, after lunch we ended up walking an hour in the wrong direction.

With the excessive Italian summer heat, added dehydration and sore feet, my sister and I argued because she insisted that she knew the way to Piazza Tasso – when in fact she didn’t. After wasting a fair bit of the time we had in Sorrento, we eventually turned around and headed towards the main square after checking maps.

By the afternoon we’d found our way to the beautiful city center square where the streets were lined with restaurants, hand painted artwork, specialty stalls, and some of the most talented musicians that Italy has to offer.

I dragged myself out bed at 5am that morning. After finishing work late the night before, the 4 hours of rest that I did have felt like nothing. My eyes burned terribly at the presence of the summer morning light. Still half asleep, and resembling the dead, I got dressed and packed my bag. Fuck, my underwear is on backwards and I can’t find my wallet. After I sorted my wardrobe mishap and found my wallet, I left the house and headed for the train station.

The hour long train to Sorrento was extremely unpleasant – apart from being overcrowded and hot, a gentleman who smelled like a farm animal sat across from me. Is there a petting zoo on the train that I should have known about? After holding my breath, intermittently for the last hour, I arrived in Sorrento. I was greeted by my sister and the smell of fresh air. ahhh. We took the 30 minute walk to where she was staying to freshen up before lunch.

After devouring our pizzas, Isobel offered to take me around the town as she was far more acquainted with the area than I was. She insisted we go to the main square of Sorrento. Along the way to Piazza Tasso, we took shade at a quaint little garden setting under a canopy of trees and entered the beautiful Cattedrale dei Santi Filippo e Giacomo. Isobel had also shown me the beaches nestled into the base of the cliffs. We walked through the beautifully kept town of Sorrento on our way to Piazza Tasso. Or so I thought.

We walked… We talked… We took photos… We walked some more… And some more… And a then bit more.

I began to grow eerier the longer we walked. It was a ghost town – something I didn’t understand as it was the middle of the summer holidays in a seemingly popular tourist destination. I kept walking though, as Isobel had been staying in Sorrento for a few weeks and insisted she knew where she was going. It wasn’t until we had been walking for over an hour when I told Isobel to check her maps. After looking at her map, she very casually turned us around to head back in the direction we came from. To be honest, I don’t blame her for not wanting to admit her mistake to me – I am a bitch even on a good day.

I tried to bite my tongue because I knew that it was an honest mistake, and because I’d made many more mistakes during my travels. But I was tired, dehydrated and sweaty. So we bickered. Like all sisters do.

After our exchange we walked, mainly in silence, towards Piazza Tasso – making small talk occasionally along the way to lighten the mood. We eventually stopped to rest on a bench and as we did, I shared some of my financial concerns with Isobel. I had money, and enough of it, but I was anxious about sustaining a life in Italy if things didn’t work out. As the older sister, I felt embarrassed to be sharing my fear of financial struggle with her because she relied heavily on me for security. But Isobel was the only person in my life at that moment who would have even slightly understood what I was feeling.

Isobel didn’t say much, but I’m glad I confided in her because whilst I was sitting next to her talking, she slipped a 50€ note into the pocket of my pants. It wasn’t until I found it after, that I realised that even though I’d had a bit of a shit day and day even though I was anxious about a potential, not present, problem, it was still Isobel and I against the world. No matter how lost she got us, or how much we bickered, I knew that she always had my back.

I would have survived even if Isobel hadn’t given me 50€ that day – and she knew that too. Isobel’s act wasn’t about money, it was about reminding me that if I fall, she will catch me. Every time.

We eventually continued on to Piazza Tasso where we spent the remainder of the afternoon wondering through the main square, drinking juice, finding lemons the size of soccer balls, watching a street performance by a talented violinist and browsing the hand-made jewellery. Although nothing extraordinary happened during the time we spent at Piazza Tasso that afternoon, I was so inextricably content because I knew that no matter where I went or what I saw, it was Isobel that I got to share it with.