Many artists dream about painting in Italy. Now, as retiring baby-boomers are increasingly taking up “brush and pallet knife,” more than ever, painting in Italy is the “thing.” Every day, a new “Artist’s” tour of Italy crops up in travel sections of the newspaper and on the Internet. But there still remains a majority of artists who prefer to “go it alone.” They are independent in their artistic styles, and prefer to be independent regarding their travels in Italy . This blog intends to target these free spirited artists who still need guidance to the best places to paint, especially those idyllic gems that are little known and less traveled. Certainly, independent travelers who are not artists will also benefit from this blog.

With a few exceptions, this blog is not a guide to restaurants, lodging, rental cars, or shopping, (except for art supplies.)

Sprinkled among the posts are: my paintings, and a few Italian proverbs and poems written by notable Italian authors for whom I work as a translator.

Please visit my website to view my original art:


Giclee prints of my paintings, ranging from greeting size to poster size, can be purchased at:


Friday, December 18, 2009


  • Like hundreds of small Italian villages with populations under 4,000, Faicchio can’t be found on most Italian maps. Don’t be discouraged. You can find Faicchio on detailed maps of the Campania region sold at all gas stations on the Autostrada del Sole (A2).
    Faicchio is my favorite location for painting in the Campania region. Okay, I admit that it’s the village where my grandfather was born and raised. And it’s a definite perk to have my cousin married to the mayor. And if I run out of gas, I can rely on another cousin who owns THE gas station to fill my tank. If I get sick, another cousin who is THE doctor can tend to me and if I need surgery, his son THE SURGEON has all my confidence. Yes, the milk and cheese from another cousin’s dairy farm keeps me satiated. And the figs, tomatoes, pears, and wine at yet another cousin’s farm keep me from going hungry and thirsty while painting en plein air. But aside from all these familial perks, Faicchio is quite simply an idyllic location for artists.
    Located about 45 miles northeast of Naples, Faicchio is situated at the base of Monte Monaco di Gioia in the Matese Mountain Range. To reach the village, drive over the bridge that crosses the Titerno River.
    You can begin by setting up in the small, but enchanting Piazza Roma that fronts the 12th century Norman castle. The Faicchiani love art and have an irrepressible curiosity. This combination is fuel for the small crowd that will no doubt encircle you before you have time to sharpen your first pencil. Don’t be intimidated. They will treat you with no less esteem than if you were Michelangelo. In addition to the castle, the views in all directions are definitely paint-worthy. If you have, or appear to have difficulty decided what to paint, your audience will no doubt offer dozens of fingers pointing in as many different directions. The Faicchiani are immensely proud of their village and its stunning environs and well they should be.
    Midway up the mountain, the 18th century Convent of San Pasquale, looms over the village. You can drive up to the convent or take the paved steps that begin in the center of town. I recommend the steps. It’s a bit of a climb, but there are broad platforms with benches along the way where you can stop and catch your breath, or even set up an easel and capture the stunning views of farmlands, orchards, and vineyards. Once you reach the convent, there are numerous lookout areas where you can set up. You might even find yourself balancing your paint box on one of the 3rd century BC Samnite walls that rise up along the esplanade. Don’t stop at the convent. Allow time to climb or drive to the summit of Monte Monaco di Gioia where the gaze is lost in the Apennines Molisano Mountains to the east and the intermingling of sky blue and the blue of the Gulf of Naples in the west.
    Outside the village, on the road toward San Lorenzello, and about a mile or two out of town, on your left, you’ll find the double arched Ponte Fabio Massimo, a 3rd century BC Roman-era bridge. The bridge can be crossed on foot and at the opposite side you can set up along the riverbed, where you’ll find white limestone and dolomite whose origins date back over 60 million years. The bridge is a favorite artist’s muse. If you stare at it long enough, you can almost hear the clattering of greaves and armor as ghosts of Roman soldiers march across the bridge’s graveled surface.
    Don’t leave the area without a trip up Mont Acero, which you’ll find on your left off the road toward Telese/Telesino. At the summit of this winding road you’ll be rewarded with views that you’ll swear could reach to Rome to the north and Sicily to the south. Before leaving town, stop at the market to buy water, fresh local cheese, regional wine, and bread still warm from the ovens. There are picnic tables at the summit of Mont Acero, so you can dine al fresco while you paint that next masterpiece.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Borrowing from Greek mythology, The Romans set the renowned dwelling of the “Sirens” (the naughty mermaids who lured seamen to their deaths) at Surrentum/Sorrento. Ulysses’ crew resisted the Siren’s call by stuffing their ears with wax. My advice is to get the wax out of your ears, heed the call, and go to Sorrento to paint.
Perched high on cliffs that overlook the Bay of Naples, This little jewel offers vistas for every genre of artist to enjoy. The seascapes are breathtaking, the landscaped verdant hills are luscious, and the cliff side dwellings are mind-boggling.
A visit to the cloister at Chiesa di San Francesco will not only delight floral artists with its flowering-vine studded garden, but the convent is also an art school offering exhibits that all artists will enjoy.
Pack light, bring some water, and take a walk down to Capo di Sorrento. To get there, take Via del Capo that originates in Piazza Tasso, the main square. Along the Via del Capo, after passing a sign “Cani Mordaci” (biting dogs) posted on the gate of the villa where Maxim Gorky lived, on the right is a dirt path that will take you down to the sea. The views from here, with Vesuvius in the distance, are magical. It’s an idyllic location to paint.
Between Napoli and Sorrento, Vico Equense is a beautiful spot to stop and paint. The locals boast that they have “one foot in the boat and one foot in the vineyards.” For me this translates to awesome seascapes and landscapes. This town is an often-overlooked little gem that lies in a lovely position on a tufa promontory on the north coast of the Sorrento peninsula. Set up near the Duomo where from high above the sea the views will knock your socks off. It can get fairly breezy there, so be sure to anchor down your canvas.
Spending a day to explore Pompeii and paint among the ruins is just about the most amazing experience you’ll ever have. With Vesuvius hovering in the background, there’s nowhere else I can think of where you can paint amidst the “destroyed’ and the “destroyer.” Some artists who don’t enjoy painting buildings or ruins screw up by not bringing paints or sketchpads to Pompeii. Don’t make that mistake. The views are fabulous in any direction from anywhere in the city.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Since I have been writing about painting in the Campania Region of Italy and on Tuesday I discussed painting in Napoli, I thought this would be an appropriate space to insert one of Luciano Somma’s poems. In VOGLIO DI TENEREZZA / TENDER FEELINGS, Luciano’s words about Napoli are like delicate brushstrokes that paint a rich, mental image. VOGLIO DI TENEREZZA is an excerpt from Luciano’s dual-language poetry book: “L’ALBA DI DOMANI/TOMORROW’S SUNRISE.”
You can find Luciano Somma at:

Siccome sono stato scrivendo delle località che preferisco dipingere dapertutto L’Italia, e recentamente ho scritto di Napoli, pensavo che allora sarebbe il tempo giusto mettere la poema VOGLIO DI TENEREZZA di Luciano Somma. Luciano ha abitato tutta la sua vita a Napoli e nella poema, le sue parole per quanto riguarda Napoli sono come pennellate delicate che dipingono nelle menti gli immagini intensi. VOGLIO DI TENEREZZA è un brano dal suo libro di doppia lingua: “L’ALBA DI DOMANI/TOMORROW’S SUNRISE.”
Si può trovare Luciano Somma a:

Questa sera
profuma d’estate
profuma di te
un’aria di mare
e volo confuso
con la fantasia
verso lidi lontani
il ricordo mi porta
un sorriso
e cresce
come la pioggia in un fiume
questa dannata voglia
che ho dentro
d’un soffio di tenerezza
una carezza
per vivere.
Luciano Somma

This evening
summer’s perfume
your perfume
a sea air
inebriates me
and I fly confused
with fantasy
toward distant beaches
the memory brings me
a smile
and it grows
like rain in a river
this cursed desire
I have inside
of a warm whisper
a caress
to be alive.
Pamela Allegretto-Franz (translation)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


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I recently completed the painting above in Elizabeth Sennett’s Fall Workshop. There are 2 reasons I chose the title “Venetian Table” / “Tavolo Veneziano”: The bowl filled with onions made me think of Venice’s celebrated “fegato con cipolle” / “liver with onions.” And the difficulty I had painting the onions made me cry enough tears to fill the Grand Canal.
Had it not been for Elizabeth’s expert guidance, laudable patience, and infectious joy of painting, I would have flown to Venice and dumped the canvas into the drink. You can view details of the painting in my Trompe L’oeil Gallery on my art website:
Ho dipinto il quadro sopra in una classe di trompe l’oeil con la maestra Elizabeth Sennett.
Il titolo del quadro è “Tavolo Veneziano” / “Venetian Table.” Ho scritto il titolo così perchè m’ha fatto pensare del famoso “fegato con cipolle di Venezia.” Anche perchè è stato così difficile dipingere le cipolle che ho pianto abbastanza lacrime a fare il pieno il Canal Grande.
Senza la guida di Elizabeth, avrei andato a Venezia e gettato il quadro nel Canal Grande. Si può vedere i particolari del quadro nella galleria di Trompe L’oeil Gallery su mio website d’arte:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


The Neapolitan “soul” is guaranteed to squeeze your heart into submission. “Goethe wrote: “Naples is Paradise. Everyone lives in a state of intoxicated self-forgetfulness, myself included.”
No painting excursion into the Campania region is complete without a visit to Naples. Yes, Naples is a big city and one of the most populace cities in Italy, but don’t forget that it is also the city that boasts the infamous dictum: “See Naples and die.” My only caution is: “Don’t see Naples by car, and live.” This is about painting in Naples and so I won’t discuss driving in Naples; just don’t do it. If you have a car, I suggest staying in nearby Sorrento or Vico Equense. You can leave your car at the hotel and take the Circumvesuviana, a commuter railway that also stops at the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii. The forty-five-minute rail trip to Naples from Sorrento is easy and scenic; most of all, it is traffic and stress free.
If you’re looking to set up in a piazza, the city offers a plethora to choose from and I’ll leave that long, detailed list to the travel writers. One of my favorite piazzas to paint in (at least for a few hours until the crush of humanity drives me away) is Piazza del Plebiscito, the city's main piazza and traffic free pedestrian zone. It is paved with black cobblestones and is among the country's grandest spaces. Clustered around the piazza are Teatro San Carlo, Italy's largest opera house; the ornate Galleria Umberto I, the 1887 shopping gallery; the vast Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace); and across from the palace, a sweeping semicircular colonnade to rival St. Peter's. Talk about artistic inspiration!
When you’re ready for a break from city noise and congestion, or if you’re a landscape artist hungry for vegetation, visit the Santa Chiara Cloisters. These cloisters are a sanctuary of hyacinth and white daffodils, small vegetable plots, and fruit trees. But for me, it’s the hand painted, blue-and-mustard-colored majolica tiles that cover every wall, pillar, and bench that make this verdant cloister a painter’s Mecca. The Monks at the cloister will let you set up an easel, but ask first. It’s also a nice idea to add a few Euros to their collection box to help defer the cost of maintaining this little jewel. Keep your workspace small and clean; the monks WILL be watching you. They have a posted notice that reads: “If you think you will be immortalized by signing your name on our walls, you are mistaken: it will be removed shortly after.”

My favorite neighborhood to paint in Naples is Spaccanapoli, in the heart of the city. There is always new inspiration in the midst of laundry flapping from overhead balconies and black-clad signoras hawking contraband cigarettes up and down the maze of narrow, zigzag, dead end streets.
A note to writers and book lovers: On the edge of Spaccanapoli, near the Archaeological Museum, is the refreshingly green and relaxed Piazza Bellini, a nexus of the city's flourishing booksellers: Naples is one of Italy's great bibliophile centers. Bookstalls like the ones along Paris' Left Bank, selling both new and used books, line the streets on and leading from the Piazza.
A sharp contrast to Spaccanapoli is the Vomero neighborhood. If the pace in the city center becomes exasperating, board one of the funiculars from the center up to Vomero in the hills above town. This city within a city is unexpectedly calm and the views of the Bay of Naples and Vesuvius are truly “paint worthy.” If you get hungry and are looking for some “finger food” so you don’t waste good light by sitting at an indoor restaurant, go to the tiny Friggitoria Vomero (via Cimarosa 44). For just a few euros you can buy brown-paper cones filled with fritters made of eggplant or cauliflower or boiled wild greens or rectangles of polenta, all of them sprinkled with coarse local sea salt. Who said artists have to “starve?”
Certainly, you will want to take time out from your own painting to view some of the heavy hitters that Naples has to offer. The guidebooks can give you the full run down; here are my picks:
Il Museo e Gallerie di Capodimonte/ among other notables, don’t miss the works here by Botticelli, Bellini, Raphael, and Caravaggio.
A church officially named Sant'Anna dei Lombardi but commonly called Monteoliveto for the square on which it sits. Inside you’ll find a sacristy frescoed by Vasari, with eye-popping trompe l'oeil marquetry panels along the walls, and also, Guido Mazzoni’s awesome life-size group of terra cotta figures.
And finally, Caravaggio fled to Naples after he killed a man in Rome and although he didn't stay long he painted several important paintings, including the "Seven Acts of Mercy" which is in Pio Monte della Misericordia in the Centro Storico. It is an amazing, complex work, commissioned as an altarpiece for the church in which it has remained for 400 years.
The Neapolitan spirit of dolce far niente (living from day to day in a devil-may-care sort of way) is instantly contagious and it reaches to the artist’s canvas. If you paint “tight” and yearn to free up your strokes, then Naples is the city to visit.
Buon Viaggio!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


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Luciano Somma, one of Italy’s foremost poets, writes not merely with a keen sensitivity, but also with an artist’s eye. In his poem “SEAGULLS” his colorful vocabulary all but lifts the reader airborne to join in the flight of gulls.
“SEAGULLS” can be found in Luciano Somma’s dual language poetry book: L’ALBA DI DOMANI/TOMORROW'S SUNRISE. It gave me great pleasure to write the English translations in this book, as well as to paint the cover for the book and CD.
You can view more of Luciano Somma’s poetry at:
The painting above is the book and CD cover for L’ALBA DI DOMANI. You can view this and more of my paintings at my art website:

Luciano Somma è un poeta molto noto in Italia che scrive non soltanto con sensibilità, ma anche con un occhio d’un artista. Nella poema “I Gabbiani” il suo vocabolario, ricco di colore, quasi solleva il lettore nell’aria ad unire nel volo dei gabbiani.
Si può trovare “I Gabbiani” nel libro di Luciano Somma: L’ALBA DI DOMANI. Mi ha fatto un grand piacere scrivere le traduzioni in questo libro ed anche dipingere il copertina.
Si può trovare Luciano Somma a:
Il quadro sopra è la copertina del libro ed il CD L’ALBA DI DOMANI. Si può vedere questo ed altri dei miei quadri sul mio website d’arte:

volano nell’aria
cercando prede
per la loro fame
cercando spazio
per le loro fughe
sfiorano il mare
vanno verso il cielo
per poi scendere giù
per poi toccare
la vela giusta
mossa un po’ dal vento
i gabbiani
sanno il momento esatto
dove andare
e il loro grido spesso si confonde
con il suono dell’onde alla risacca.
Disegnano nell’aria
nel gelo d’un inverno sempre nuovo
preghiere mute per un’altra estate
la’ dove l’abbondanza d’altri cibi
placherà i morsi della loro fame
i gabbiani
lotta continua di sopravvivenza
battiti d’ali pieni di poesia
agli occhi di bambini
che additano alle mamme
quel gioco di aquiloni senza fili.
Luciano Somma

they fly in the air
searching prey
for their hunger
searching space
for their escape
skimming the sea
they go toward heaven
then later descend
to touch
the proper sail
waving slightly from the wind
the gulls
know the exact moment
where to go
and their screams are often confused
with the sound of waves at the backwash.
Outlining in the air
in the frost of a winter forever new
silent prayers for another summer
where abundant food
will pacify the grip of their hunger
the gulls
struggle for survival
flapping wings bursting with poetry
to the eyes of children
that point up to their mothers
that game of kite flying without string.
Pamela Allegretto Franz (translation)

Saturday, October 31, 2009


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The diverse villages along the Amalfi Coast have been compared to a constellation, if this is the case, then the town of Amalfi is unquestionably the brightest star. The Amalfitani like to boast: “The sun, the moon, the stars, and - Amalfi.” You’ll get no argument from me.
Sandwiched between verdant and craggy mountains and the intense blue of the Mediterranean Sea, the town’s vibrantly tiled cupolas and pastel-washed houses beg the artist to capture their pose.
Landscape artists shouldn’t miss the Valle dei Mulini (The Valley of the Mills). To get there, start at Piazza del Duomo (By the way, Architectural artists take note: The Duomo, with a façade inlaid with glazed and colored tiles, is one of the more beautiful religious monuments in Southern Italy). Head up Via Genova where you’ll pass fragrant gardens, citrus groves, and waterfalls that feed the oldest paper mills in Europe. There are numerous places to stop and set up sketchpad or easel along this route, and believe me, you’ll want to do just that. When you reach the Museo Della Carta, I recommend taking time out from painting to tour this Paper Museum. Amalfi was among the first cities in Europe to manufacture hand-made paper and it continues this highly specialized art to this day. What watercolor artist or journalist hasn’t dreamed of going to Amalfi to select a few prize sheets of handmade Amalfi paper?
If you’re hungry, but don’t want to stop painting, take a patio table at the Conca Azzura Ristorante that over looks the Cape Conca Dei Marini. This scenic bay is the natural entrance to the Emerald Grotto. The colors and view from this belvedere are unparalleled. It’s a great place to sip wine, swirl forkfuls of pasta, and paint. Does it get any better than that? I don’t think so.
For centuries, poets and writers have sung Amalfi’s praises, but it’s not easy to find the right words to do justice to its beauty. For artists, I think Margaret Drabble said it best: Amalfi clusters, the cliffs aspire, the sea extends. It is a living view, of living rock and living light. It changes minute by minute of an evening as the light changes. Like a moving painting, like a wall of slowly evolving time, a perfectly composed combination of safety and danger, distanced, marginally landscaped by man, inviting the artist.”
The painting above: La Veduta D'Amalfi is an original acrylic on canvas and can be purchased on my art website:
Si può comprare il quadro in sopra, La Veduta D'Amalfi al mio website d’arte:

Saturday, October 24, 2009


If you’re driving on the Strada di Capodimonte, the breathtakingly scenic coastal road, stop at Sant’Agata Sui Due Golfi. This charming mountain village is settled on hillside dripping with bougainvillea and terraced with vineyards and fruit orchards.
The name of the town is derived from its location that commands excellent views of the two gulfs of Salerno and Naples. There are numerous locations throughout the village to set up and look out over the Mediterranean. This should keep landscape and seascape artists happy for several hours. If you want to plop a cherry on top of this stunning confection, take the narrow, uphill road behind the Bar Orland to the Deserto. From this Franciscan monastery you not only survey the two bays, but you can enjoy the bonus of an excellent view of Capri. Architectural artists should enjoy painting the monastery and its bell-tower on which is inscribed: TEMPUS BREVE EST. Time is short; use it wisely by spending some of it painting at Sant’Agata Sui Due Golfi.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Positano is a hillside town on the southern strip of the Amalfi Drive. This Moorish-style village overlooks a small bay washed by the emerald Mediterranean and is backed by mountain buttresses that offer views of the Sirenuse Islands, Homer’s siren islands in the Odyssey. The white and pink houses perch from terraces submerged under bougainvilleas that drip down to the sea. Now that’s my idea of an excellent location to paint.
John Steinbeck wrote: Positano bites deep. It is a dream that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” What artist wouldn’t be lured to Positano after having read those words? And when you add Artist Paul Klee to the Positano devotees, then it’s an inescapable conclusion to spend time painting in Positano. Paul Klee once said: “I like to take a line for a walk.” Klee took great pleasure in “walking his lines” in Positano, and so should you.
There’s no driving in the town: you park up top and walk down, and down, and down. At times, the streets seem almost impossibly steep. My advice: don’t lug heavy paint boxes or cumbersome easels. Always remember: what goes down, must come up.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


The Apulia (Puglia in Italian) region forms Italy’s “heel.” Although somewhat off the beaten track, this region is a “must-see” for artists. If time is not on your side, at least in addition to the Trulli in Alberobello of which I’ve previously written (see March 17th entry), a trip to Lecce is not to be missed.
Referred to by some as the “Florence of the Italian South,” Lecce is a city of Baroque run wild. The palaces, churches, balconies, courtyards, and even modest side-street houses are embellished with gargoyles, eagles, monkeys, dragons, saints, fruit, and flowers. But unlike the Baroque style found elsewhere in Europe, Lecce Baroque isn’t massive or imposing; quite the opposite, it’s airy and joyful. This ornamental explosion is mostly due to the “Pietra di Lecce,” the honey-colored stone quarried in the region that is so malleable it can be cut with a knife. Nothing was too intricate or delicate that it couldn’t be carved from this stone. It would have been impossible to achieve the Lecce Baroque out of marble.
Piazza Sant’Oronzo is an excellent location for setting up your easel. When you feel the need to take a break so as not to suffer a Baroque overload, visit the below ground-level remains of the 1st century BC Roman amphitheater that Adjoins Piazza Sant’Oronzo. It’s most remarkable for it’s illustrations of chiseled gladiators fighting back lions with spears and less successful gladiators being gored by bulls.
Artists who like detailed paintings will delight in painting the Church of the Rosario on Via G. Libertini. The entire façade is a riot of carved birds and flora. At one time the monks at this cloister, which now houses a tobacco company, manufactured “polvere Leccese,” (Lecce dust) the famous snuff that Napoleon used throughout his career until his last days on St. Helena. Maybe that explains the pose with his hand inside his jacket: he was reaching for his snuffbox.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Calabria forms the toe of the Italian “boot.” Most travelers consider the region of Calabria to be uncivilized and dangerous, and to be used only as a stepping block to and from Sicily. That’s a gross error in judgment, and these folks need to get their heads out of their Mario Puzzo novels.
First of all, the Calabrian people are as warm and inviting as the June sun that splashes across their tiled rooftops. If you’re an artist, you’re really in for a treat. Artists at any level are venerated and fussed over. If you’re sitting in the piazza barely doodling, you’ll get the “Look” (the nod and the smile) that says: “I’m honored to be in the presence of such artistic genius.”
Seascape artists can enjoy the beaches, pristine, golden, and aquamarine, around the Tropea Peninsula, while plein air artists may prefer the scenic hinterland. The charming village of Tropea huddled on a cliff above the sea, won’t disappoint artists who are drawn to architecture. The Calabrians call the town: “Nobile Tropea,” as it is considered to be one of the most picturesque in all of Southern Italy.
The only uncivilized and dangerous things I’ve ever encountered in Calabria are the two unexploded American bombs, left over from WW2, that hang in the back of the Cathedral in Tropea.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


For artists and writers (or anyone for that matter) who hesitate to travel to Sicily because of the Mafia “Thing”, get over it. Not everyone who lives in Las Vegas is a gambler nor is every New Yorker a mugger; and likewise, not every Sicilian belongs to the Mafia. If you ignore Sicily, you miss Italy. If you don’t want to take my advice, take the advice of Goethe who wrote: “To have seen Italy without seeing Sicily, is not to have seen Italy at all. For Sicily is the key to everything.”
Writers doing research on the Italian consciousness would do well to spend time in Sicily. For as Luigi Barzini wrote in The Italians: Sicily is the schoolroom model of Italy for beginners, with every Italian quality and defect magnified, exasperated, and brightly colored...Everywhere in Italy, life is more or less slowed down by the exuberant intelligence of the inhabitants: In Sicily it is practically paralyzed by it.”
I consider the Sicilian sensitivity to be a fascinating subject to research. I mean, come on, here’s a land where, in the local dialects, there is no future tense for the verb “to be”, and where a distinctly joyful expression states: “Finchè c’è morte c’è speranza.” (Where there’s death there’s hope.) Say what? Lay that one out on Freud’s couch!
For artists, Sicily’s unique natural beauty challenges your brain to make that seemingly impossible decision of what to paint first: rugged mountains, vine and olive-clad slopes, fields of daisies and sunflowers, countless lemon, lime, and orange orchards, craggy sea-cliffs, sandy coves, Mount Etna. If Sicily’s natural beauty doesn’t totally thrust your brain into overdrive, certainly Sicily’s man-made wonders will finish the job: The Baroque façades on Campania’s churches, Apulia’s Romanesque cathedrals, the ancient Greek ruins in Calabria, the castles, palaces, and churches built all over Southern Italy by Norman, Aragonese, and Spanish invaders – all of these are found on the microcosm island of Sicily.

Friday, October 9, 2009


In THE COLORS OF AUTUMN, Luciano Somma’s words are like delicate brushstrokes that paint a rich, mental image. THE COLORS OF AUTUMN is an excerpt from Luciano’s dual-language poetry book: “L’ALBA DI DOMANI/TOMORROW’S SUNRISE” You can find Luciano Somma at:
http://www.partecipiamo.it/Poesie/Luciano_Somma/1.htm http://www.scolastica2000.it/MUSICALMENTE/somma/somma.htm
Nella poema: I COLORI DELL’AUTUNNO le parole di Luciano Somma sono come pennellate delicate che dipingono nelle menti gli immagini intensi. I COLORI DELL’AUTUNNO è un brano dal suo libro di doppia lingua: “L’ALBA DI DOMANI/TOMORROW’S SUNRISE.”
Si può trovare Luciano Somma a: http://www.partecipiamo.it/Poesie/Luciano_Somma/1.htm

L’ultimo palpitare
delle foglie
che qui in montagna
assumono colori
dai toni accesi
vivi come lampe
portano l’eco assurda
della tua voce padre
duro come una roccia
tu da generazioni taglialegna
sembravi senza tempo.
Ero legato a te
come un ramo alla quercia
ed ora sono solo
nella foresta
del tuo ieri vissuto
in questo immenso.
Ma parleremo ancora
ti sentirò
nell’aria immacolata
tra i colori dell’autunno
nel nostro paradiso
di silenzio.
Luciano Somma

The last fluttering
of leaves
that here in the mountains
assume colors
in vivid tones
alive like lightening
they carry the absurd echo
of your voice father
hard like a rock
you from woodcutter
seemed timeless.
I was bound to you
like a branch to the oak
and now I’m alone
in the forest
of your yesterdays lived
in this vastness.
But we will speak again
I will feel you
in the pure air
among the colors of autumn
in our paradise
of silence.
Pamela Allegretto Franz (Translation)

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Situated at the foot of Mount Etna, Catania’s fate has always been at the mercy of the Volcano. The eruption in April 1983 lasted seven weeks, with the lava flow licking at the heels and toes of the city. Some refer to Catania as the Pompeii of modern times. Should this fiery threat stop you from painting in the Catania region? Not at all. Just wear good running shoes, keep your ears peeled, eyes opened, and paint fast.
A nice place to set up your easel is in the Piazza del Duomo, one of the most beautiful squares in Sicily. In the center, is the Fontana dell’Elefante: the Elephant Fountain. It’s carved from black volcanic rock and is surmounted by an Egyptian obelisk of granite. The magnificent Duomo looms at one end of the piazza. Six of the granite columns that adorn its Baroque façade were stolen from a Roman theatre: I never could “get” vandalism in the name of Christianity.
The remains of the Roman Amphitheatre, made entirely out of black lava, are absolutely sketch-worthy. The theatre dates from the 2nd century AD and its arena is one of the largest after the Colosseum in Rome.
Botanical and plein air artists should enjoy painting in the Giardino Bellini. In addition to a myriad variety of flowering vegetation, these public gardens are filled with palm, banana, and Ficus trees. From the heights of this luscious garden you are provided an outstanding panorama of Mount Etna.
3 kilometers south of town, seascape artists can set up on the Lido Plaia, a long, sandy beach lined with pine trees. For non-seascape artists, you may still want to keep this Ionian Sea beach destination in mind should Mount Etna decide to wake up.
Buon Viaggio!

Friday, October 2, 2009


If you happen to be an artist/history buff, you won’t want to miss painting for a few hours in Syracuse and it’s environs. En route to the Greek Theater you’ll pass the 3rd century BC, Hieron’s Altar, which is said to be the largest man-made altar. They say (whoever “they” are) that up to 450 bulls were sacrificed on these stones every day. In my mind, that’s a lot of bulls and a lot of bull, but nevertheless, worthy of a visit and at least a quick sketch.
This Greek Theater is hewn entirely out of rock and considered to be the largest Greek Theater in Europe. The view from the theater, (the town, the harbor, the Ionian Sea) especially at sunset, is magnificent.
If you’re a fan of Caravaggio, (and what artist isn’t and if you’re an artist and you’re not, you should be) visit the grotto, Orrechio di Dionisi. Caravaggio was struck by the cave’s resemblance to an ear and gave it this name. (In Italian, Orrechio=ear)
If you’re a plein air artist, you might enjoy the southern stretch between Syracuse and Noto. This stretch of citrus groves and olive trees passes the scenic Anapo and Ciane Rivers. If you don’t speak Italian, be sure to have a good dual-language dictionary handy in case you get lost. Americans who “assume” everyone in the world speaks English always amaze me.
Buon Viaggio!

Saturday, September 26, 2009


No painting excursion in Sicily is complete without a visit to Agrigento. Don’t ignore the modern city; But if your time is limited, at least focus on The Valley of the Temples, which is the most important archaeological site on the island. The site is best viewed in the early morning, not only because of the light, but also, it’s before the crowds descend and impede your artistic concentration. The site boasts no fewer than twenty temples, each worthy of a painting.
The surrounding landscape is replete with grain farms and there are few trees in sight. The colors range from green or yellow, depending on the season. Poets of ancient times, like Pindar and Virgil have praised the beauty of the region. And modern poets, like Salvatore Quasimodo deemed it “idyllic.” Pindar wrote: “Agrigento, loveliest of mortal cites.” Pirandello, A native of Agrigento wrote: Agrigento is where people eat as if they were having their last meal on earth and they build their houses as if they were going to live in them forever. In other cities, between December and February you have fog, ice, and at best, a pale ray of sunshine; here the almond trees are in full bloom, warmed by the breath of the African Sea.”
Okay, so tell me you’re not interested in painting this region!
Buon Viaggio!

Saturday, September 5, 2009


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When I think of Sicily the first color that comes to mind is gold. The Sun God must have a special place in Her heart for the island; why else would She so generously lavish every field, mountaintop, building, monument, pillar, and ruin with Her precious golden kisses?
Another color would be gold’s kissing cousin, yellow. Not only do yellow sunflowers and daisies sparkle against one of the bluest skies you’ll ever see, but the profusion of lemon trees, with fruit the size of baseballs, scent this sunlit island with an aroma that will make your head spin (in a good way). And when that lemony smell finally triggers your taste buds, yellow drinks are where it’s at. Fresh-squeezed lemonade is served in every bar and pasticeria and it’s guaranteed to spoil you forever to only drink Sicilian lemonade. If you’re looking for a little more “kick” order a Limoncello, that wonderful lemon liquor made from the zest of those amazing Sicilian lemons.
My recommendation for ending a day painting in Sicily would be to sit outside, sip some liquid gold i.e. Limoncello, and watch the Sun paint the sky golden as She settles down for the night.
I painted “SUNLIT,” the monocromatic painting above, because I wanted to capture on canvas my sensitivity to the Sun-kissed Island of Sicily.
This painting is available for purchase at my art website:
Si può vedere e comprare questo quadro al mio website d’arte: http://www.pamelaallegretto-franz.com/

Friday, September 4, 2009


While planning one of our visits to Sicily, I did a little research on Enna. One guidebook labeled Enna as a “dreary city.” And yet further assessment indicated otherwise. I decided to find out for myself.
Well, let me tell you, Enna is anything but “dreary.” If you’re looking to paint “killer views” a trip to Enna is a must.
One of the oldest cities on the island, Enna has been called “the navel of Sicily,” by the Greek poet Callimachus, but is usually known as “the belvedere of Sicily”, which seems a better-suited title considering its stunning views. Enna is also the highest capital in Italy.
You can set up in Piazza Crispi and either paint the impressive view over Calascibetta, the Madonie Mountains, or a remarkable view of Etna.
For architecture sketchers and painters, you’ll love the Castello di Lombardia. Six of its twenty towers are still standing and it’s considered one of the most imposing buildings of it kind in Sicily. Byzantine in origin, it contains Norman and Swabian add-ons. Bring your camera and sketchpad up into the tower, called the Eagle or Pisan tower, where there is a far-reaching view over the surrounding countryside.
The public gardens on the outskirts of the city, not only burst with prismatic delights, the octagonal tower that Frederick II built in the 13th century is a must see.
Dreary city, my ass!
Buon Viaggio!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


If you want to spend more than one day painting the honey colored stones at the ancient site of Selinunte, you may want to book a room in the nearby seafront village of Marinella that lies about a mile east of the ancient city. This little hamlet offers up excellent beaches, and an early morning dip in the Mediterranean is guaranteed to wake up any creative juices that may still be lumbering from jet lag. When you’ve finished painting at Selinunte, I recommend setting up for at least a few hours on the beach. If you happen to be with artists of varied interests, you can all still paint together: seascape enthusiasts have the Mediterranean as their muse, while artists who prefer painting architecture can turn backs to the sea and paint the delightful sienna and yellow ochre village.
If you do spend the night in one of Marinella’s few hotels, keep the windows closed at night. Don’t worry; I’m not about to warn you of cat burglars. It’s the bats. Marinella’s bats have a tendency to pay midnight visits through opened windows and balcony doors. Do they bite? I don’t think so. But I can tell you from experience that having bats flapping overhead can spoil a good night’s sleep.
Buon Viaggio!

Monday, August 31, 2009


On this last day of August and the eve of autumn, I felt it appropriate to share the poem SEPTEMBER FIRST written by Luciano Somma. As in all of Luciano’s poetry, we feel the sentimental spirit of one of Italy’s foremost poets. You can find Luciano Somma at:

In quest’ultimo giorno d’agosto e la vigilia d’autunno, ho sentito che era adatto offrire la poema IL PRIMO SETTEMBRE scritto di Luciano Somma. Come tutte delle sue poesie, sentiamo lo spirito sentimentale d’un poeta molto noto in Italia. Si può trovare Luciano Somma a:

L’ultimo sogno d’Agosto
Si sveglia col primo Settembre,
questa sera è un incanto!
Il cielo è amaranto, uno spiffero di vento
dolce come la carezza d’un bene
amaro come il fiele del pianto
mi porta una ciurma di pensieri
Che affollano la mente
e mettono in croce questo cuore.
Vorrei che piovesse e non piove…
Vorrei tante nuvole intorno
ma la luna è d’argento
Vorrei che un sogno tornasse
ma il sogno non torna.
Questo sogno è partito
sulle onde
dell’ultima sera d’Agosto
un grappolo di stelle
lassù nel cielo amaranto
in questa sera incantata
del primo Settembre.
Luciano Somma

The last dream of August
awakens with the first of September,
this evening is enchantment!
The sky bleeds red and purple, a light breeze
soft like a lover’s caress
bitter like malicious words
brings me a crew of thoughts
that crowd my mind
and crucify this heart.
I wish it were raining and not rain…
I’d like a cloud-filled sky
yet view a silver moon.
I wish the dream was ending
But the dream doesn’t end.
This dream has departed
on the waves
of the final August evening
leaving me
a cluster of stars
far-off in the bleeding sky
in this enchanted evening
of September first.
Pamela Allegretto Franz (translation)

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Situated on a hill on the southwest coast, Selinunte, founded in 628 BC, was one of Sicily’s most important ancient towns. Within the archaeological site, “Temple G” is one of the greatest known monuments of Greek antiquity.
Fortunately, for artists like myself who like to sketch and paint ancient ruins but are distracted by hordes of tourists, Selinunte remains one of the less-frequently visited.
If you arrive promptly at the 9am opening you can usually have the entire city pretty much to yourself until the tour buses roll in around 10:30-11am. But even then, this “village of pillars” as the 11th century Arab writer, Idrisi, referred to it, is large enough to find an out of the way spot to set up. If you don’t want to waste time wandering around to locate “just the right spot,” tell the men at the main gate that you’re an artist and ask them for directions to the best sites. They are intensely proud of Selinunte and the fact that you want to paint there will bend them over backwards to accommodate you.
It can get hot there in the summer so bring water. And of course carry out what you bring in. Yes, the gatekeepers love artists; no, they won’t tolerate artists who litter. Remember what I said in my last blog about “sleeping with the fish?”

Friday, August 21, 2009


Homer told the story of the Lotophagi who once inhabited the island of Sicily. All new arrivals were required to eat of the lotus tree and at once forgot their homes and lost all desire to return to their native lands. When you’re in Sicily it won’t take a bite from the lotus tree to cloud your dreams of home and hearth, just stand outside and look in any direction. The inhabitants claim you need four eyes to fully appreciate Sicily’s beauty. I say six!
Goethe praised the road that leads from Palermo to Monreale. “It is,” he wrote, “a wide road, lined with trees, sloping gently, full of fountains, some with jets, others flowing, but all beautifully decorated with ornaments and friezes.” Monreale is such an idyllic spot that the Palermans have a saying: Chi va a Palermo e non vede Monreale, asino va e asino torna. (Whoever goes to Palermo without seeing Monreale – goes as an ass, and returns an ass.) So don’t be an ass. Spend a day painting at Monreale.
Visit the cathedral, built in 1174; it is one of the wonders of the medieval world. Don’t be fooled by the relatively drab façade, the interior is covered throughout with shimmering gold mosaics.
After you’ve caught your breath and still have that glitter of “gold” on your mind, you can set up and incorporate those rich golden hues on your canvas, inspired by sweeping rooftop scenes, valley landscapes, or coastline views.
As always, carry out what you bring in. If you’re an oil painter, don’t dump your mediums. Yes, the Mafia is alive and well and living in Sicily, especially in the vicinity of Palermo. But don’t let that deter you. The Mafia families are great lovers of art and artists, but they don’t like anyone despoiling their beautiful island. Go to Sicily to paint the fish, not sleep with them.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


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Since cheese is my favorite food, I felt it was high time I painted a nice ball of aged provolone. Then I had to decide what to add to it. That was easy. What better accompaniment than wine, tomatoes, and olive oil? Buon appetito!
The above painting can be purchesed at my art website: http://www.PamelaAllegretto-Franz.com
Siccome il formaggio è il cibo che preferisco più di tutto, ho deciso è già tempo che faccio un quadro di un pallone di provolone. Poi ho deciso che non ci sta un accompagnamento meglio che vino, pomodori, ed olio di olivi. Buon appetito!
So pou` comprare il quadro al mio website d'arte: http://www.PamelaAllegretto-Franz.com

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Rent a car if you intend to take full advantage of this color splashed island. The highway system is relatively uncluttered; and the well-maintained, secondary roads are often times traffic free especially from October through March.
Although touristy, one of my favorite sites is Taormina. (Stay as far away as possible during the month of August) Taormina’s mountaintop location is unequaled, its Greek Theater the most dramatically positioned, and its temperate climate ideal for plein air artists. If you go in the springtime it’s nearly impossible to omit the purple explosion of bougainvillea from your canvas.
Goethe said the Greek Theater commanded one of the most spectacular views in the world. I’ve not traveled the entire world, nor do I think Goethe did, but I’d wager his comment is dead on. To the right, citadels precariously perch on cliffs; to the left, the coastline stretches as far as Catania or even Syracuse; below, lies the town of Taormina awash in bougainvillea; directly ahead, the long ridge of Etna, whose mouth spews its fiery admonition. What’s not to love? Set your alarm or request a wakeup call at your hotel so you can get to the Theater at dawn, when the sun rises from the sea to plant a fat pink kiss on Etna’s snowy peak.
Buon Viaggio!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Importance Of An Artist's Website

I recently returned from a visit to my home state of Colorado. (Yes, that’s the reason for the gap in blog-postings) While there, I had the pleasure of attending an art festival in the mountain town of Breckenridge. The art, which was primarily southwestern, reminded me of the importance of an artist’s website.
Here in Connecticut, the majority of art exhibited in galleries and festivals is New England landscapes and seascapes. When I lived in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, tropical art was the preferred art form. Clearly, regional art is the preferred subject matter at most galleries and art festivals.
But what if your taste in art fluctuates? What if you, like me, get easily bored? Can you eke out a living painting New England landscapes in Colorado? Can you survive trying to sell tropical paintings in Connecticut? Is there a large market for Italian landscapes in Massachusetts? Probably not. So what can you do to keep coins in your pocket and creative juices flowing? Create a website.
Now, this is not a “paid for programming” ad for the host website in which I belong. But I do advocate a website if you want to reach art-lovers around the country and around the world. Selling via the Internet allows artists the freedom of diversity. No longer will you be constrained to a limited subject. Your only restrictions are those you inflict on yourselves.
My advice: Set up an art website and paint what you love.
My art can be viewed at: http://www.pamelaallegretto-franz.com/ the host site is ArtMajeur. If you go to this site, you can click on “home” and follow the instructions to setting up a website. It can be free, or if you want a few perks, it’s a minimal amount. There are numerous other artist websites available. Check them out and get connected. Don’t limit yourself to the few visitors each day in a gallery or the one-time art festival shoppers. Of course they are important, but their numbers are miniscule to the visitors you’ll get on the Internet.
Happy painting!!!

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Lake Como (Larius, as it was known to the Romans) has been called “the looking glass of Venus,” and Virgil pronounced it “our greatest lake.” Not to be out quoted, Stendhal characterized Lake Como as “everything noble, everything evoking love.” With these dazzling recommendations, how can any artist resist this idyllic local?
I recommend not setting up in the town of Como, as it is a busy industrial town. It’s not that there isn’t a plethora of squares and charming buildings to paint within the town, but if your time is limited you may prefer the smaller, more picturesque villages that line the lake.
Bellagio, which is labeled the “pearl of Larius,” and has also been called “the prettiest town in Europe,” is the perfect spot to set up for a day. Be sure to clamp down your canvas as a gust off the lake can kick up unexpectedly. If your canvas ends up face down in your pallet, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
My personal favorite is Tremezzo, on the west shore of the lake. Landscape artists will love the luxuriant vegetation that includes citrus trees, palms, cypresses, and magnolias.
Buon Viaggio!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


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The Chianti Region in Italy runs along the state highway SS222 between Florence and Siena. The Chianti region not only boasts rolling hills and mountain top villages, but a wealth of castles. Some of the towns to look for:
Verrazzano (You might recognize the name as Giovanni "da" Verrazzano discovered the NY Harbor and the Island of Manhattan. The Verrazzano Bridge that runs to Staten Island was named after him.) Castello di Verrazzano, Giovanni’s birthplace is an ideal location to set up an easel, (just make sure to ask permission first). If you get thirsty while painting, you can sample and buy wine here.
The medieval town of Greve, which is the capital of Chianti, is one of the more colorful towns in Tuscany. Set up your easel in the Piazza del Mercatale and have a blast painting and smoozing with art-loving locals.
If painting gardens is your forte, don’t miss Vignamaggio where you’ll find the Renaissance villa that was once the home of La Gioconda, who sat for Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. The gardens, replete with classical stautes and towering hedges, were featured in Kenneth Branagh’s film, Much Ado About Nothing.
If painting architecture is your preference, visit Castellina in Chianti. This hilltop village still has its fortified walls intact with little houses constructed into the walls and nesting on top of them.
Don’t let the seemingly tortuous, winding roads keep you from setting up in the village of Radda in Chianti. The main piazza is an ideal location to capture on canvas a village unchanged from the Middle Ages.
I have only touched on a small number of villages in this Chianti Region that are worthy of a painting outing; certainly there are many other villages: Badia a Coltibuono, San Sano, Castello di Brolio, and Gaiole, to name a few more.
Don’t forget to always take out what you bring in when painting en plein air. Not all open space is public land; so whenever you’re in doubt, ask first before setting up; trespassing is against the law and fines can be steep. I’ve never know an artist who’s been turned off private land when they asked permission first.

The painting above, La Sera, is an original watercolor and acrylic 12”x16” on 140 pound paper. This is my whimsical version of shop and bar lights spilling into an Italian piazza at dusk. The original painting and limited edition prints can be purchased at my art website:
Il quadro sopra, La Sera, è un’originale acquerello e acrilico 31x41cm dipinto sulla carta di 300g/m2.
La mia idea di sogno d’una piazza Italiana al tramonte, quando le luce si riversarono fuori dei negozi.
Si può comprare l’originale oppure le stampe al mio website d’arte:

Friday, June 26, 2009


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Whenever I get painter’s block (that’s what I call it when my mind hits a snag and can’t come up with a subject for my next painting) I revert to what I call fun art. I use the term fun art because aside from layout and pathways, there are no rules to follow. I’m free to use my imagination with the subject and color pallet.
In “VINNY AND THE VAN GO’S (PIANO MAN)” I combined my love of music and art with a playful nod to Vincent Van Gogh.
The above painting can be purchased on my art website:
Nel quadro sopra: “VINNY AND THE VAN GO’S (PIANO MAN)” ho unito mia passione d'arte e l'artista preferito, Vincent Van Gogh, con mia passione di musica.
Si può comprare il quadro sul mio website d’arte:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Plein Air Painting in New England/Fishing at Gay Park

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In the poem, “DA DOMANI IN DOMANI,” written by Luciano Somma, we feel the sentimental spirit of one of Italy’s foremost poets. You can find Luciano Somma at:

The painting above: “Fishing At Gay Park,” can be purchased at my art website:

Nella poema, “DA DOMANI IN DOMANI,” scritto di Luciano Somma, sentiamo lo spirito sentimentale d’un poeta molto noto in Italia. Si può trovare Luciano Somma a:

Si può comprare il quadro sopra: “Fishing At Gay Park,” al mio website d’arte:

A togliere il fiato
al mio cuore bambino
è stata l’attesa
di giorni monelli
e le arrampicate
lassù tra i cancelli
a darmi paura
di tutti e di tutto
donandomi un’alba
vestita di lutto
domani in domani
speranze sospese
cadute nel mare
ne ho fatto le spese
la vita che corre
sul filo di seta
laggiù all’orizzonte
s’è accesa una luce
ancora un’attesa
ma qual è la meta?
Luciano Somma

To take away the breath
to my child’s heart
that’s been lingering
on impish days
of scrambling
up and over gates
to make me afraid
of everything and everyone
bequeathing to me a sunrise
dressed in mourning
from tomorrow into tomorrow
suspended hopes
fell into the sea
I paid the price
the life that runs
on silk thread
there at the horizon
a light ignites
once more a pause
but to which finale?
Pamela Allegretto Franz (translation)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

St. Clement's Castle

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In May, under the expert tutelage of Artist Elizabeth Sennett, our plein air class was granted special permission to spend two painting sessions at St. Clement’s Castle in Portland, CT.
The name “Saint Clement” was chosen for the date of the manor home’s completion, November 23, the Feast of St. Clement. An early bishop of Rome, Clement became the patron saint of mariners and ironworkers, especially blacksmiths, because he was martyred by being tied to an iron anchor and drowned at sea. In his honor, elaborate ironworks decorate the castle gardens.
In a wisteria-bordered courtyard, I was enticed by a stone gazebo that frames a charming well. Since I love painting stonework, this gazebo was too fun to pass up.
The castle can be found off RT66 in Portland, CT
The painting above, St. Clement’s Castle, is an 11”x14” original acrylic on canvas board and can be purchased on my art website:
Si può comprare il quadro in sopra, Il Castello di San Clemente, (l’originale acrilico su tela di 28x36cm, senza cornice) al mio website d’arte:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bicycle 2 Painting

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Plein Air Painting With Acrylics

For plein air artists who are new to acrylics I’d like to offer a few suggestions gleaned from many a frustrating outing. Someone recently asked if I recommend painting en plein air with acrylics. My response was, “yes and no.”
I know that sounds like a lame answer, but let me explain.
A few of the pros to painting en plein air with acrylics are: They dry fast, the brushes clean up easily with water, there are no toxic mediums to discard, and quick color washes can be applied to capture tone on days beset with fast moving clouds.
Some cons to painting en plein air with acrylics are: They dry fast not only on the canvas but also on the pallet. Drying retarders can help, but I find them to be gooey and leave an unnatural sheen on the canvas. And if you use the retarder on some areas but not on others, your canvas ends up spotted with glossy patches. Flo-aid is a must for a wetting solution and works better than retarders to keep the paint on the pallet moist. But be careful not to get too heavy handed with the flo-aid or your paint won’t grab properly to the surface of the canvas and a subsequent wash will pull that underlying color off the canvas.
Whether painting with acrylic, oils, or watercolor, painting en plein air can be fun. I don’t claim to call myself a plein air artist; I refer to myself as a "fair-weather" plein air artist. As long as the day is warm, dry, sunny, and wind-free, I’m all for it. If it’s cold, windy, or damp, I’m content to sip hot chocolate and schnapps while painting in my heated studio.
My favorite acrylic paint: Brerra by Maimare (Italian made of course.)
The bicycle painting above is an unframed 11”x14” acrylic on canvas board that can be purchased on my art website:
It was such fun painting my first bicycle scene, and just as much fun selling it, that I decided to paint it again. This time the background hues are a bit warmer and the stones are slightly rearranged, so as not to be identical to the first painting.
La bicicletta in sopra è un’originale acrilico su tela 28x36cm senza cornice. Si può comprarlo sul mio website d’arte:
Mi ha piaciuti cosi tanto dipingere il primo quadro con la bicicletta, ed ho piaciuto anche vendere il primo quadro, che ho deciso dipingere un altro. I colori sono un pò diverso siccome non volevo averli uguali.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


In May, two of my Italian village paintings were reproduced in the anthology “Ischia, Un’Isola d’Amore.” This compilation of Italian poetry, photographs, and paintings was assembled to commemorate the eighth anniversary of the “Festa del Delfino” on the Island of Ischia. The festival, sponsored by the Delphis Mediterranean Dolphin Conservation Association, also paid tribute to the organization founder and president, Katia Massaro.
One function of the organization is to educate the Ischitani about the presence of sea mammals in the vicinity of the Island of Ischia and to conserve this key area for the Mediterranean dolphins.
The protection of the dolphins’ natural habitat allows the dolphins to swim freely, rather than be rounded up and herded into over-crowded tanks for water park visitors to gawk at. When the dolphins’ natural environment is protected, the money-grabbing water parks can’t use their lame excuse that they have the dolphins’ best interest in mind. I believe the United States can learn a lesson from the Ischitani.
If you find yourself swimming among dolphins, look but don’t touch. Would you like some stranger swimming up and putting his hands all over you?
“Ischia, Un'Isola d'Amore" è un’antologia di autori di poesia, con i loro versi accorati e ricchi di pathos, si alternano a dipinti, fotografie, e disegni.
Il libro è sposorizzata da Katia Massaro, la fondatrice e presidentessa dell’associazione Delphis. (Delphis Mediterranean Dolphin Conservation Association) Tale associazione opera allo scopo di divulgare e proteggere la presenza dei cetacei nelle acque dell’isola ed a sostegno e conservazione di quest’area chiave per i delfini del Mediterraneo.
Vi consiglio, non nuotate con i delfini! Non è gentile cercare di toccarli. Ci piace uno sconosciuto appena arrivato cercasse di allungare le mani sul nostro corpo?
Ischia, Un’Isola d’Amore (con pubblicità Delphis)http://www.lulu.com/commerce/index.php?fBuyContent=666976 9http://www.lulu.com/services/buy_now_buttons/images/blue.gif
Ischia, Un’Isola d’Amore (senza pubblicità) http://www.lulu.com/commerce/index.php?fBuyContent=6722426 http://www.lulu.com/services/buy_now_buttons/images/book_blue.gif

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Red Vespa

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A while back, I wrote about my preference for painting the architecture in Rome’s back streets rather than some of the heavy hitters, i.e. Trajan’s forum, Caracalla’s Baths, the Colosseum, and Hadrian’s Pantheon. But let’s face it; if you’ve made the journey to Rome to paint, it would be unforgivable to not capture at least one of these gems on canvas.
Even though these monuments are all within walking distance of each other, it can be an unpleasant trek if you’re hoisting a paint box, easel, and canvas.
Bus service is available, but you could waste precious sun light while standing at a bus stop. And I don’t recommend climbing onto a crowded bus with all your art paraphernalia. Roman bus commuters love artists, but loathe sharing their cramped space with excess baggage.
Driving a car in Rome is not as harrowing as it seems. The problem comes when you need to find a parking place close to your destination. So then, what’s the logical alternative?
A motor scooter! Preferably a Vespa, and if you’re going to do it, you might as well go all the way and rent a Red Vespa. (There’s something about the color red that makes it more exhilarating.) Parking is easy and you can strap all you equipment on the back rack. You’ll spend more time painting, less time getting to and from your chosen locations, and it’s way too much fun!
Buon Viaggio!

The Red Vespa painting above can be purchased on my art website:

Si può comprare il quadro della Vespa rossa al mio website artistica:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Painting in Italy / Val d'Orcia

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If you’re searching for medieval villages to paint, set aside several days and drive south of Siena to the hill towns of Montalcino, Montepulciano, and Montecchiello. These hilltop villages in the Val d’Orcia offer innumerable vistas in all directions. If it’s medieval architecture that intrigues you, each village is replete with Renaissance palaces and steep cobblestone alleys that run beneath vaults and arches.
In this region, my favorite spot to lay down my brush at the end of the day is the Castello di Ripa d’Orcia. Ripa d’Orcia is a medieval hamlet that has remained just as it was during the Middle Ages. To get there, leave the road at San Quirico (you’ll see a road sign) and drive into the countryside for about 5 kilometers. The road isn’t in the best condition but the Castello makes the bone-jangling ride worthwhile when you see it rising up from behind a wall of cypress trees. The Castello offers 6 rooms and 7 apartments, each with a view guaranteed to knock your socks off. If you decide to stay here, I recommend drinking a large brandy at bedtime and sleeping with earplugs so the “otherworldly” moans and groans and footsteps across the room don’t scare your socks off.
Buon Viaggio!

While driving through Italy’s Val D’Orcia region, we spied the cart in the above painting overflowing with flowers, the colors of which mirrored the explosive sunset. Or was it the other way around? Hmmm...
A limited number of 8”x10” matted prints of this original acrylic on 140-pound watercolor paper can be purchased from my art website:

Val D’Orcia:
Nel regione di Val D’Orcia, ho visto la scena nel disegno sopra, dove il tramonto si specchia nei fiori. Oppure, i fiori si specchiano nel tramonte? Hmmm...
L’originale di acrilico è nella collezione d’artista. Si può comprarne delle stampe di 21x26cm al mio website d’arte:

Saturday, May 16, 2009


We all know the importance of color to a painting. Whether it’s an abstract, a still life, or a landscape, color sets the mood. Color also sets a mood in writing. I don’t mean the “word” color, as in: “The color drained from her face,” “The colors of autumn,” “colorful language,” etc. I’m talking about specific colors. Here are some examples of colorful descriptions, including a few in which the colors seem more like nouns than adjectives:
Green with envy
Saw Red
Blue mood
White fear
Black despair
Rosy disposition
Blond mentality
Redhead temperament
White knuckle
Crimson faced
In the Pink
Still Green at the job
Golden years
Grey day
Black cloud
Sky Blue (Here's an example of a noun "sky" and an adjective "blue" trading roles.)
Emerald sea
Turquoise sea
Ashen faced
White heat
We visualize the Devil in a Red cape and angels with White wings. We mourn in Black and wed in White. Baby boys are wrapped in Blue and girls are swathed in Pink. We try to keep our White teeth from turning Yellow and tint our Gray roots. We fertilize to turn our Brown lawns Green.
The “girl-next-door” has Honey Blond hair; the "sex kitten" is a Bleached Blond; the “surfer-girl” is a Sun-kissed Blond; and the "waif " is a Dishwater Blond or Dirty Blond.
The next time “writers block” has you sitting Ashen-faced in front of that blank White page and wondering where the next Greenback is coming from, blow away that negative Black cloud of doom and think PINK!

Sunday, May 10, 2009


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Happy Mother’s Day!
On Mother’s Day, rather than posting a poem about Mothers, I decided to post this poem:
FIGLI / SONS & DAUGHTERS, because let’s face it, without sons and daughters there would be no Mothers.
In SONS & DAUGHTERS, Luciano Somma’s words are like delicate brushstrokes that paint a rich, mental image. FIGLI is an excerpt from Luciano’s dual-language poetry book: “L’ALBA DI DOMANI/TOMORROW’S SUNRISE.”
You can find Luciano Somma at:
You can purchase prints from the above watercolor: LA MAMMA, at my art website:
Buona Festa di Madri!
Invece di una poema sulle madri, ho deciso publicare:
FIGLI / SONS & DAUGHTERS, perchè diciamocelo chiaramente, senza i figli non ci sono madri.
Nella poema FIGLI, le parole di Luciano Somma sono come pennellate delicate che dipingono nelle menti gli immagini intensi. FIGLI è un brano dal suo libro di doppia lingua: “L’ALBA DI DOMANI/TOMORROW’S SUNRISE.”
Si può trovare Luciano Somma a:
Si puo` comprare le stampe dell'acquarella in sopra LA MAMMA, al mio website d'arte:

Non eravate ancora materia
eppure vi sentivo ondivaghi
venire su questa spiaggia
della mia vita
ad un breve intervallo
polposi frutti
della nostra carne
al ritmico pulsare d’un amore
ora debbo alzarmi sulle punte
per baciarvi
miei piccoli giganti
che a vostra volta
avete generato
e sento ancor più forte
il palpitare
al grido d’un miracolo
la vita.
Luciano Somma


They were not yet present
even so I felt their waves
rise up and spill over onto
my life’s beach
for a moment
I would meet them
meaty fruits
of our flesh
with the rhythmic beat of love
now I must raise myself on tiptoe
to kiss them
my little giants
that our union
and I hear even louder
the pounding in my heart
at the first wail from a miracle
Pamela Allegretto Franz (Translation)

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Long before Hilary, I’ve always pushed for a woman President (yes, I was a Hilary supporter), but I never thought I would be that President. No, I’m not talking US President or Italian President or the Presidency of any other country or potentate. Nor am I referring to the Presidency of any company, conglomerate, or corporation.
This is an ART & WRITING blog, so I’m referring to what’s important to me as an artist.
Three years ago, when we first moved to Connecticut from Hawaii, I barely had my meager bags unpacked before I was chomping at the bit to seek out fellow artists. What a lucky and happy surprise to have discovered the East Hampton Art Association: a lively, friendly, and educational organization practically in my back yard.
Now it’s an honor and a privilege to have been elected President of the East Hampton Art Association.
What do I hope to achieve as President? I can’t lower taxes, fix healthcare, or ban the bomb; but I can paint oceans and rivers and streams that are tax-free to contemplate. I can paint healthy children romping through a meadow. I can paint quaint villages still untouched by the ravages of war. And if I have trouble painting any of the above tax-free, healthy, and peaceful subjects, I know I can turn to members of the East Hampton Art Association to guide me, and I intend to not only offer the same courtesy, but to maintain the respect the East Hampton Art Association holds within the immediate region and throughout the state.
In past blog postings I’ve written about the benefits of a good art or writing organization. I’m lucky to have found one of the best. Now, all I have to do is check my infamous 4-letter-words at the meetinghouse door, or else I’ll become the first East Hampton Art Association President to be impeached for profanity.
Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


As I’ve stated previously, translating proverbs can be tricky. Here are 3 Italian proverbs that relate to conscience.
The first is straightforward:
“Alla coscienza nessuno può sottrarsi.” This means: “You can’t escape your conscience.”
The next one is still easily translated: “Una buona coscienza è un buon cuscino.” Literally, this means: “A good conscience is a good cushion,” but it’s meant to imply: “A good conscience is a soft pillow.” That makes sense. If your conscience is clear, you’ll sleep without difficulty.
This third proverb, which I’m told is of Tuscan origin, is the brain-squeezer: “Lui ha la coda di paglia.”
Literally, this means: “He has the straw’s tail.” Say what?
What does having the tail of a piece of straw have to do with conscience?
In Tuscany, to be accused of having “la coda di paglia” means you have a guilty conscience. Maybe the guilty person in question is playing at drawing straws: he draws the short straw but instead of revealing this “losing” straw, he conceals the short end (tail) of the straw; however, the contrite look on his face exposes his guilty conscience. I don’t know if this conclusion is correct, but it’s the only one I could come up with. If you have a different one, let me know.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Regretfully, too many artists and writers who travel to Tuscany neglect the Florentine environs. One of my favorites is Montecatini. Montecatini Terme, located 19 miles NE of Florence, is a charming Tuscan town set among the verdant hills of the Valdinievole Valley and known primarily for its thermal spas, mud baths, and the finest mineral waters in Europe.
This town is all about cleansing the body and mind, so it’s the perfect environment to get those creative juices flowing.
For an unruffled day of painting or writing drive up to Montecatini Alto. If you are without wheels, you can take the funicular cable car from Viale Diaz. The Tuscan panoramas from this scenic hillside town are hard to beat. On a clear day you can see Florence.
If landscape painting isn’t your thing, the narrow streets will lead you to the picturesque main piazza, named for the poet Giuseppe Giusti. Here you can set up and paint or sit at an outdoor café and work on that next great novel. It was in this piazza that Verdi wrote the last act of Otello / Othello so you know it’s a setting conducive to great works.