Love Where You Live

This month SO Magazine chats to Ivan Di Santo, owner of tapas restaurant Soprano, and co-founder of Coco Retro, about all the places he likes to support locally. Here Ivan reveals where he likes to stroll, shop and socialise….


Whereabouts do you live in the borough of Tunbridge Wells?

I live in Hawkenbury, a green and idyllic neighbourhood not far from the centre of Tunbridge Wells. It’s the perfect location for nature lovers, thanks to its abundant verdant spaces and tranquil surroundings. Despite its peaceful atmosphere, Hawkenbury offers easy access to various amenities and entertainment options. I feel incredibly lucky to reside in such a beautiful and well-connected place.


How long have you lived there and what made you decide to move to the area?

I’ve been here for five years, and love that it is so quiet, very green, and generally is a lovely neighbourhood to be part of. There’s also a great school close by and it’s easily accessible to the town centre.


Are there any nice views or walks near to your home?

Hawkenbury has a great recreation ground, with brilliant sports facilities, a kids’ play area, and lots of fun events happening throughout the summer. It backs onto woods, farmland and hiking trails which take you through many different routes in the nearby countryside.


When you are in town where’s your favourite place to go shopping?

I like to go shopping in the High Street, which is also where Soprano is located. I am keen on supporting all of our local retailers as buying local is really important to me.


Where do you like to grab a tea, coffee or a slice of cake?

The Arte Bianca deli at the top of Chapel Place, just off the High Street, is a piece of Italy in our town. It is always my first choice for coffee, lunch, and fresh food!


Do you have a preferred restaurant you like to dine in regularly?

We love eating at Lago and The Warren which are both located near and on the High Street. Kai’s Kitchen, opposite the train station, is also a regular favourite. In fact, I like all the independent restaurants in our town…


Which places do you take people when they come to visit?

The Pantiles is always a favourite thanks to its historical feel and bustling vibe. I’m also a big fan of green spaces like the Common and Dunorlan Park.


Where’s the best spot to go for a Sunday stroll in the area?

Walks can be anywhere from Hawkenbury Rec to Hargate Forest, depending on what the weather is like!


If you’re looking to relax and unwind, where’s your favourite place to go?

To be honest, I would have to say it’s my own garden! It’s a very peaceful space and therefore the perfect place to relax and unwind.


Where do you like to meet friends and socialise?

Well, there’s not much time for that with two busy restaurants! (Ivan also co-runs Coco Retro on Vale Road with his brother Maurizio). When we do get some time off we like to jump in the car and visit a local pub in one of the surrounding villages, for some lunch and time with friends.


What do you like to do when you spend a weekend or day off in the local area?

In addition to all the places I’ve already mentioned, I’d have to also include the Ashdown Forest as it has so many lovely trails to explore.


Why do you love where you live?

Tunbridge Wells has the perfect mix of things to do and see, places to eat and drink, and a real community feeling. That’s why I love where I live.

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