The artists’ trail. It looked straight forward enough in the brochures. Along the beaches at various points were representations of paintings from famous painters who had painted the landscapes of Sorrento. By calling the scenic attraction ‘the artists’ trail’ the implication, in my mind at least, was that it was one attraction, a walk connecting the various representations and their inspired settings which one could comfortably do in a day.
I discovered that it was not so much as a trail, but several isolated attractions. There were fourteen different vantage points from which one could view impressions of famous paintings, all marked on the map we picked up from the tourist information centre. It was my goal to walk the whole distance in one day and rather than start at number one, the painting by Albert Tucker, we would start at the last of the sights, a painting by John Percival at a place called Diamond Cove. Well, it took a good hour or more to get to see Percival’s Ocean Beach Sorrento and on the way we had passed paintings thirteen and twelve. At this rate, to view all of the paintings and their scenic vistas would take more time than we had allocated for our holiday.
We trekked onward and finally got to number fourteen, not before I had discovered that one of my toenails was cutting deep into another one of my toes, causing pain with every step. Shortly after this a blister appeared on the big toe of my right foot. Along the way, on this artistic trail with views that inspired these artists to bring along their easels, their Beaujolais and their strumpets, you would expect to be overawed by the beauty of the natural surroundings. Rather I found myself making furtive, cursory glances at the sea when it ducked above the ridge of shrubs that fenced in much of the trail and only staying briefly at the lookout spots on top of cliffs and promontories, the sight from which the painters had drawn their inspiration; for the most part, however, we kept trudging on, one foot after another, as I tried not to land too heavily on my blister or my nail-incised toe, both of which were heavily bandaged with the tissues I had packed. The view became only what was ahead of me and my focus was taking one step at a time on heavy sand, trying to avoid rolling my ankle on the rocks that were protruding from the trail at various intervals.
I wondered if the artists whose works we were traipsing up and down the coastline to see suffered similar or worse privations than the ones we were. Suffice it to say we did not even make it back to London Bridge to see what would have been painting eleven in the series. Our walk had taken us from our apartment to the extreme edge of the Sorrento ocean beach and on to the Portsea back beach via meandering trails, walking over heavy, cascading sands in increasingly severe sunshine. I had realised by now that to visit all of the paintings in one day was not necessarily the intent of the tourist attraction and indeed I noticed that in the listed directions contained in the brochure, for most sites, instructions were given as to how to access the sites via the motor vehicle.