We meet again. This time for a reason.
Imagine its mid-summer. 2021. You are stuck in the UK in another phase of lockdown (obviously). Boring? Uninspiring? Cold? Yes, yes and yes again. The decision comes quick to mind - lets go on a road trip. But this time not around the UK, had enough of this country during the past few years; this time it would be around Italy.
Voila! Destination - set, timeframe - two weeks.
And so we went on our spontaneous trip and had the most amazing time, visiting Florence, Tuscany, Rome, Verona, Lago Maggiore, Biella and lots of other little villages that I won't even remember now. But going around those towns I kept going back to the thought that I wish I had more time. More time to sit down and paint every little corner.
Ok, so now we are back to today. Its spring 2022
Not going to talk here about sad side of things but well kind of stuck in the UK again, what a surprise. And what's the quick solution to all my problems? You guessed it - a spontaneous trip to Italy. But this time its going to be a solo art trip. A little dream that I had for some time now which would be impossible to do if I were to go with someone else. Solo trip it is:)
So lets start. First - the itinerary.
This time I gave myself 7 days to explore Italy: 2 days in Verona, 2 days in Florence, 1 day in Siena and finishing with 2 days in Rome. Sounds long enough, right?
Starting on the 1st of June in beautiful Verona.
I am not going to go describe the architecture cause we are not here for it. But the main reason why I wanted to go back is because of the energy of this little town - calm and peaceful. I cannot quite explain it but it felt very much like being at home.
Wandering through those little streets you cannot help but become a little noisy and start looking in windows, checking out doors and exploring all the little corners.
As a result I got a few sketches and some watercolor studies. Not everything made the cut, since I haven't painted in a while. Let's say it took me a few studies to get back in shape:)
I am not going to leave you without a few photos from Verona.
If you know me well enough then you know that sunsets hold a special place in my heart and Verona did not disappoint here.
Two beautiful days down, five more to go.
Now we are on our way to Florence. This city has a completely different energy to Verona - its more vivid, more dynamic, more powerful. It flows through the streets mixing with sounds of instruments playing, people chatting, cars honking. Florence is way bigger, meaning more things to explore but less time to paint.
Florence met me with gloomy skies but warm people.
It is a common thing for people to come up to artists while they are painting to take photos or just observe. But never have I ever heard so many 'Bravo', 'Bella' and 'Bellissima' in my life. Not to mention the amount of people who wanted to chat, in Italian of course. As a result, I added a few more Italian words to my vocabulary.
It would be too easy if I just peacefully painted right? I did not account for the fact that it was summer and the temperatures in Florence were shamelessly high. One solution was to wake up earlier while the sun was still not in its peak, but who does that on holidays?
The other solution was to try and find some places with shade. That is precisely what I was trying to do - not always successful but somehow managed to get some paintings done.
This drawing was done while I was hiding from a sun in a church.
On the second day I went on a bike ride around Tuscany hills, which was probably the most memorable thing I did during this trip. No paintings here but I got a whole wave of inspiration and a lot of emotions that I haven't felt in a while. Photos are to follow of course:)
But lets go back to art.
On the next day I wanted to go explore somewhere around Florence; and the last minute decision was to go to Siena. As I haven't researched it at all - I knew nothing about this little town. However the reality has surpassed any of my expectations.
Siena is a tiny town which opens its gates inviting you to indulge yourself in its medieval atmosphere for a day. From the second you step inside the old town - its almost like the time stops. You find yourself lost in all its little medieval streets, which are somehow carefully planned yet closely tucked in-between overbearing buildings that look almost too big for their setting.
Spent good two hours painting the main square. And another hour painting this view.
I came to Siena on 5th of June not knowing that during summer locals usually celebrate 'Festa Titolare' - celebration of all the various districts of Siena.
And I got lucky that on one day I spontaneously decided to visit this little town - the 'tour' ceremony took place. Siena was bursting with colours and sounds.
Once I entered the main gates - I got swept away by the procession of drummers. The streets were filled with people: tourists filming the procession, kids running around, drummers gracefully walking and locals who were gradually joining the procession. All that set in a medieval town which got dressed up for a festival - something that you are not expecting to see on your typical Sunday morning.
Having walked along the procession for a few minutes I then turned to go explore the main square. However, even there I couldn't escape the sounds. The town was like a living creature with the main square being its heart and soul.
But lets go back to reality. And the reality was - I needed to head back to Florence, to then go to Rome the next morning. However, I could not leave Firenze without catching probably the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. To cheesy, I know. But we are in Italy, there is never enough cheese (ok sorry for the worst joke in your life).
New day, new city. This time we are coming to Rome. I am in this city for a third time, yet somehow I manage to fall in love with it more and more with every visit. Rome seems to have electric atmosphere that flows around historical buildings. This energy turns ancient ruins into lively sculptures that live and breathe along with the tourists.
Of course I had to sketch the Colosseum.
And one of my favorite spots in the Villa Borghese Gardens.
This scene reminds me of a setting from an old movie. Its almost like Audrey Hepburn is about to step out on the front porch and wave at you. A little too much imagination for a daily walk but you can not stop your mind from wondering while you are walking the streets of Rome.
After strolling around Rome for a whole day I headed to one of the best spots in town to see the sunsets. The main challenge here was to stop just staring at the sunset and start drawing; as while it was getting darker the sky was getting prettier with every second. Not sure if I found the balance between those two activities but at the time when I finished the drawing it was already pitch black.
On the second day I did some touristy activities like lurking around famous places I didn't get to see during my last visit. Rome is way bigger than both Verona and Florence and next time I would give myself a few more days in this beautiful city.
Below is a little church yard lost somewhere among other ruins in Roman Forum. What I haven't realized at the time of drawing this scene is that a year ago while being in Rome I took a picture of this exact church and happily forgot about it.
Finally, I wanted to paint the sunset but by the time the drawing was finished it was dark again. However, the city was alive like ever. People were walking around, chattering and laughing; their voices mixing with music and continuing to flow through the streets, picking up more and more sounds along the way.
I gave Rome a nick name - A City of Stars.
We are almost at the end of our art trip. I am not going to leave you here without a few photos from my favorite city. After Venice of course:) Enjoy
Someone told me that I take photos of every corner.
I do. When I love something.
Until we meet again:)