He met Charles Hope in Brussels, and together they proceeded to Paris, where Robert fitted himself out in the latest fashion and set out to “lay in a stock of good acquaintance that may be of use to me hereafter.” After fewer than three weeks in Paris, they set off for Italy by way of the south of France, visiting en route the Roman sites of Nimes, Arles, the Pont du Gard, and Montepellier. They reached Genoa early in January 1755 and proceeded to Florence via Leghorn. Arriving at the end of the month, they were immediately caught up in the social whirl for which Robert had hoped.
While he was in Florence Robert made the acquaintance of a man who was to have an important professional influence upon him. This an was the talented young French architect and draftsman Charles-Louis Clerisseau, who agreed to accompany him on his tour as instructor and draftsman. Clerisseau had been a student at the French Academy in Rome but had left in 1754 after a dispute with its director. As a result of his friendship with Clerisseau, Robert came in contact with avant-garde architectural theory in Rome. “I hope,” he wrote, “to have my ideas greatly enlarged and my taste formed upon the solid foundation of genuine antiquity.” Clerisseau agreed to
serve [him] as an antiquarian . . . teach [him] perspective and drawing . . . [and] give [him] copies of all [Clerisseau’s] studies of the antique, bas-reliefs and other ornaments . . . .
Adam left Florence in February 1755 and travelled to Rome, where he had to decide whether to devote himself to elegant society or to architecture
If I am known in Rome to be an architect, if I am seen drawing or with a pencil in my hand, I cannot enter into genteel company who will not admit an artist or, if they do admit him, will very probably rub affronts on him in order to prevent his appearing at their card-playing, balls and concerts. (S.Mi.)