It was forecast to rain. This was a mild disaster. The Italian holiday of dreams, lasting just 48 hours, was supposed to be the hot mess of sun, sea, and SPF I'd been visualising to get me through the past hectic few months in London.
My best friend F, who was accompanying me on the trip, had been texting me screengrabs from weather apps followed by the same hopeful message: 'We'll just drink through it.'
Thankfully (not least for my liver) as we drive out of Rome's Leonardo da Vinci International Airport and begin the 100-mile drive northwards along the Tuscan coastline, the clouds lift and the windscreen wipers go off. By the time we're cruising through the gates of Hotel Il Pellicano singing to Ciara's 1, 2 Step on the stereo, the sun is high and the cobalt-sea views are entirely instagrammable.
When work is long and money is short, micro- breaks become everything. We've got just two days, four swimsuits and a lot of holiday to cram into a very small amount of time. We can't be bored, nor can we worry about home.
In the spirit of M.I.A'shit Bad Girls' Livefast/ Die young / Bad girls do it well' – every second must count on this digested trip. And it's all to be achieved while possibly (OK, definitely) drinking Campari in abundance.
Our chosen sanctuary is the embodiment of Federico Fellini's 1960 film, La Dolce Vita. A 50- room haven hidden in the cliff of the lush peninsula of Monte Argentario, north of Rome, Hotel Il Pellicano started life as the home of two lovers: British pilot Michael Graham and his glamorous Hollywood partner Patsy Daszel (who, Google tells us later, was once courted by Clark Gable). Since then it's been the holiday home of many beautiful and important humans: the Missoni, Fendi and Pucci families, along with the photographers Slim Aarons, John Swope and Juergen Teller.
They had us at Missoni.
With my oldest friend as my date for the weekend, we're calling the short sojourn our friend-moon, and we're behaving as indulgently as if it were the real thing. 'When in Rome,' is our mantra: another lap of the heated salt- water pool? Go on then. One more helping of buttery sage ravioli? Yes, please! Prosecco with break- fast? Why the hell not?
At check-in we're handed a crystal glass of Teller (the house cocktail named after the photographer). Our room is bigger than my London flat; a double bed that could fit four people, a patio worthy of chic cocktail soirées, and a bathroom as elaborate as Mariah Carey's on MTV Cribs.
There's no need to unpack on such a short trip and within minutes we're poolside looking like Absolutely Fabulous' Patsy and Eddie on a Euro getaway. The sunbathing platform is accessed by a lift built into the rocks and goes several levels down. It's all very James Bond, helped somewhat by an Italian Daniel Craig lookalike who emerges from the blue waters in a wetsuit with a speared octopus, right on cue. Between pondering our many Instagram captions and ordering a few more Tellers, we make up life stories for the couples lying down on neighbouring loungers who saunter past in their Gucci loafers and cashmere kaftans, smelling like Diptyque candles.
On our second and final day, we're up early (sleeping is for the flight home) to discover the rain clouds have crept back. Rather than waste anoth- er second berating the weather, we pack up and jump back in the car for Rome. F has never been before, so we've got six hours before our flight to see it all. Like Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, the scooter-riding lovers in Roman Holiday, we weave through the city's traffic and head straight for the Vatican. There we discover a car park that resembles a museum, with old pictures of Robert De Niro in Casino lining the turquoise-striped walls. After dodging swarms of selfie-stick-swinging tourists we have a whistle-stop tour of the Sistine Chapel, then jump in a cab to the Spanish Steps. En route, the driver points out other attractions: the River Tiber, Piazza del Popolo and Villa Medici.
In London there's a branch of Pret A Manger on every corner. In Rome, there's an incredible historical point of interest. After throwing a few coins in the Trevi Fountain – albeit through the scaffolding surrounding a building site – we sit down at Pietro al Pantheon, a small local restaurant near the Pantheon, for our final bowl of buttery pasta.
And before I can even learn to say arrivederci properly, it's over and we're back on the plane home. We did it all: swam in the sea, toured the city, and yes, drank all the Campari. The joy of something so fleeting is that it allowed us to be fully frivolous and the novelty of being away never waned once. At the end of Italian director Giovanni 'Nanni' Moretti's wonderful film Caro Diario (Dear Diary), a semi-autobiographical journey all set in Rome, he says, 'I keep moving because I have learned if you don't keep moving, you will miss all the best bits of life.'
Nothing could be more true.
Hotel Il Pellicano: Località Sbarcatello, 58019, Monte Argentario (pellicanohotel.com; +39 0564 858 111). Doubles from £256 B+B.
EAT AND DRINK
Pietro al Pantheon: Via dei Pastini,125, 00186 Rome (dapietroalpantheon.it/ en; +39 066 789 940).
Flights with Easyjet (easyjet.com) from London Gatwick to Rome, from £130 return.
All images from Hotel Il Pellicano, Edited by Robert Violette, Photographed by Slim Aarons, John Swope and Juergen Teller (Rizzoli USA)