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:


Sunday, April 26, 2009


In CONTEMPLATION, written by Luciano Somma, we feel the sentimental spirit of one of Italy’s foremost poets. You can find Luciano Somma at:

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

Sulla tomba
dei miei sogni
non ho deposto fiori
e non ho pianto.
Ma nel sepolcrale silenzio
ho udito un grido.
Era l’anima mia!
Luciano Somma

On the tomb
of my dreams
I didn’t place flowers
nor did I weep.
But in the silent sepulcher
I heard a wail.
It was my soul!
Pamela Allegretto Franz (translation)

Thursday, April 23, 2009


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Connecticut is a plein air artist’s paradise. In addition to the vibrant hues that dominate the fall landscape, an explosion of pink, yellow, violet, and rose proclaim spring.
Last May, I attended a plein air class taught by Elizabeth Sennett. The painting above is my attempt at painting Elizabeth’s spring garden.
Although the ability to identify most flowers by their proper name eludes me, and my lack of floristic knowledge is often times manifested when for example, I paint rose leaves on a daisy, still, I love to paint flowers and will continue to do so, be they authentic reproductions or flowers that reside only in my mind’s eye.
You can find this acrylic on canvas painting on my art website:

Lo stato di Connecticut è un paradiso per gli artisti di plein air. Oltre ai colori vivace dell’autunno, un esplosione di rosso, giallo, violetto, e rosa dichiarono la primavera.
Il maggio scorso, ho dipinto il quadro sopra durante una classe di plein air con la maestra Elizabeth Sennett.
Benchè mi elude l’abilità identificare i fiori coi nomi giusti, e si vede la mia mancanza della conoscenza floreale quando dipingo una margherita con le foglie d’una rosa, tuttavia, mi piace dipingere i fiori e li dipingerò ancora, se sono veri oppure fiori che vivono solamente nella mente.
Il quadro sopra, dipinto con l’acrilico su tela, si può trovare sul mio website:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


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I know May Day is still more than a week away, but it’s pouring outside and I’m dreaming of all those beautiful May flowers these rains will bring.
During my ten years in Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii, I had the good fortune to devote myself full-time to painting. Guided by “Auntie Carol” at the Kona Art Center, I followed my inner-artist’s voice to paint what I loved. Artist, Roseanne Ng, taught me to “kiss” each painting with a splash of red. And without critiques from fellow artists: Nicolina Rinaldi, Barbara Gleason, Lisa Bunge, Christina Elliston, and Carmela Brooks, I would still be dabbling in the dark.
In the painting above, titled LEI DAY, I chose a whimsical style to portray the aloha spirit of the May 1st holiday.
Limited edition prints of this watercolor can be purchased on my art website:

Lo so che ci sta ancora più d’una settimana prima che la festa di 1 maggio, ma il piove d’oggi mi fa i sogni d’oro dei fiori di maggio.
Durante i miei dieci anni in Hawaii, ho avuto la buona fortuna dedicarmi a dipingere. Coi consigli di “Zia Carol” alla Kona Art Center, ho seguito la mia voce di artista interna a dipingere quello che amavo. L’artista, Roseanne Ng mi ha insegnato di “baciare” ogni quadro con una pennellata di rosso. E senza le critiche delle artiste: Nicolina Rinaldi, Barbara Gleason, Lisa Bunge, Christina Elliston, e Carmela Brooks, sarei ancora dipingendo nel buio.
Nel quadro di sopra, ho dipinto lo spirito di aloha quando tutti festeggiano Lei Day (1 Maggio).
Si può comprarne delle stampe sul mio website d’arte:

Monday, April 20, 2009


Poet Bruno Mancini, who lives on the Island of Ischia, alleges that his poetic inspiration originated from ancestral impulse and was nurtured by the rich history and raw beauty of his beloved island.
You can find Bruno Mancini at: http://emmegiischia.googlepages.com/

Bruno Mancini risiede ad Ischia dall’età di tre anni. A lui piace dire che l’origine della sua ispirazione o forse solo un iniziale impulso ancestrale ed istintivo, il vero basilare momento poetico della sua vita, si è concretizzato nell’incontro, propriamente fisico, tra i suoi sensi acerbi, infantili, e le secolari, immutate, tentazioni autoctone dell’Isola d’Ischia, dove le leggi della natura sembravano fluire ancora difese da valori di primitive protezioni.
Si puo` trovare Bruno Mancini a: http://emmegiischia.googlepages.com/

Un sorriso di mare smeraldo
un profumo di ortensia maculata
lo scampanare di turisti pascolanti
lo sciacquio di graniti biancastri,
la sposa non mi chiede altro
i miei ingorghi pazienteranno ancora
tra un’onda senza fine al tramonto
nel poggio di agrumi e di ninfee.
non rubate la mia vita,
prendete i sogni.
Bruno Mancini

The smile of an emerald sea
a scent of speckled hydrangea
the swell of grazing tourists
the splash on whitewashed granite,
my wife asks nothing more
my inner quarrels remain serene
on an endless wave to sunset
where citrus and water lilies convene
don’t steal my life,
take my dreams.
Pamela Allegretto Franz (traduzione)

Sunday, April 19, 2009


My family lives in Faicchio a province of Benevento, which is one of the oldest towns in Italy. The region has been said to be "paradise on earth." The Roman writer Pliny, a victim of Vesuvius, described the Campania countryside as “so blest with natural beauties and riches, it is clear that when nature formed it she took delight in accumulating all her blessings in a single spot”. I am lucky to spend regular visits in such an idyllic location. And you will be equally fortunate to visit and paint this slice of heaven.
In addition to the countryside, the Campania Region includes the Amalfi Coast. My suggestion is to drive south on the Amalfi Coast, (believe me, it’s not as harrowing a drive as guidebooks describe, especially now that those oversized tourist buses are prohibited). Take the turn-off to the medieval town of Ravello, set high on a mountainside above Amalfi. Andrè Gide wrote that Ravello is “closer to the sky than it is to the seashore.”
If this wild and romantic locale doesn’t get your artistic juices boiling, then I suggest you shred that canvas, pitch those brushes off the nearest cliff, and go drink a liter of vino; you’re not an artist.
Buon Viaggio!

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Fine-tuning a manuscript or a painting can present needless aggravation if the writer or artist doesn’t know when to stop.

In a TV interview, an artist was asked why none of his paintings were hung in his home. He replied: “I would go mad. I would never stop finding flaws and touching them up.”
Oh boy, talk about being able to “relate.”
I know a writer who finished her novel 5 years ago, but considers herself still in the “revision” process.
Once again, I can “relate.”
So when can artists and writers “move on”? Obviously, there must be a point when an artist or a writer says, “Basta! Enough!”
For writers: maybe you’ve revised to the point where your story is becoming weaker, or perhaps the manuscript you’re revising ad infinitum is flawed and beyond revision. What to do? Seek out feedback from your writer’s group, and in the meantime, get out of your rut and write something else.
For artists: the same rules apply as for writers. Maybe you’ve dabbled so many times you’ve lost the unique “life” of the painting. Perhaps your original drawing or layout wasn’t what it should have been.
Or maybe you all need a shot of tequila and to get the hell over it and move on.

Monday, April 13, 2009


If you’re driving from Florence toward Pisa, plan to stop and set up your easel for a few hours at San Miniato, which is about midway between these two popular cities.
Climb the hill from the Prato Del Duomo, (wear sensible shoes, no flip-flops), the vistas are outstanding, and on clear days the view extends from the hills of Fiesole to the sea, and from the Apuan Alps to the cliffs of Volterra. You can set up next to the tower, which is a post-WW2 reconstruction of the last remnant of a fort Emperor Frederick II built in 1240. How’s that for “Painting on Location?”
Bread, cheese, prosciuto, fruit, water, and wine are available in town if you want to enjoy a Tuscan-style picnic while you paint. Try to catch either a sunrise or sunset; you will not be disappointed.
As usual, pack smart (translation = pack light).
San Miniato has an exciting and colorful Kite-flying festival the first Sunday after Easter; so there's still 6 days left for you to make it this year. Go for it!
Buon Viaggio

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Okay, I’ve decided to utilize my subtitle: “Now and then, my two cents on just about everything else.”
I don’t mean to rain on the Pope’s Easter Parade, but I read that the Pontiff sent a vial of holy oil to L’Aquila. Give me a break! These people have lost everything. They need food, water, clothing, housing, jobs, etc., etc., etc. For starters, why not send a vat, not a vial, of olive oil? (Extra virgin if that would make him feel better) How about reaching deep into those gold-lined pockets and sending some cash to buy food to cook in that oil? These people have plugged the collection plates for centuries; it’s high time for the “Church” to give back. If the “Church” can spend millions to defend predatory priests, then they can spend millions to help the followers who fund their responsibility-free lifestyle.
I suspect my letter of excommunication is in the mail.
Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 11, 2009


The earthquake at L’Aquila in the Abruzzo Region of Italy stunned the world. And for those of us with friends and family in Italy the anguish bites a little deeper.
This morning, my friend, Poet Luciano Somma, sent me this thought-provoking poem:
"6 APRILE 2009"
You can find Luciano Somma at:

Il terremoto a L’Aquila nel Regione d’Abruzzo sbalordì tutto il mondo. E per noi con gli amici e le famiglie in Italia l’angoscia ci morde più profondo.
Stamani, mio amico, il Poeta Luciano Somma, mi ha inviato questa poema, "6 APRILE 2009," che spinge i pensieri.
Si può trovare Luciano Somma a:

6 APRILE 2009

L’aria profumava di primavera
Con Pasqua alle porte
La terra che già da tempo tremava
Per inghiottire
Uomini donne bambini
(e secoli di storia)
Anche il ciliegio
Coi frutti perduti
Non bastarono “gloria al padre”
Ed “Avemaria”
Per l’Abruzzo non ci fu pietà.
L’eco di quelle urla
Se arrivò fino al cielo.
La distesa
Di azzurro
Una beffa
Di vite lontane…
Luciano Somma

6 APRIL 2009

Springtime scented the air
with Easter at the door
the ground that for a time had trembled
opened itself
to swallow
Men Women and Children
(and centuries of history)
even the cherry tree
was swallowed
with the lost fruits
the hymns “Glory to God” and “Avemaria”
weren’t enough
for Abruzzo there was no pity.
The echo of that scream
who knows
if it reached to heaven.
The expanse
of blue
a farce
to distant lives…
Pamela Allegretto Franz (translation)

Thursday, April 9, 2009


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San Gimignano is a feast for artists who seek diversity. The views from this Tuscan hill town are breathtaking, especially the explosive red sunsets. In town, the Piazza della Cisterna and it’s connecting Piazza del Popolo are the most idyllic spots to set up easels and paint the town’s medieval architecture of towers and palaces, which are almost unchanged since the 13th century.
But if the crowds in the square become too distracting, seek out the quiet back streets where you’ll find a happy surprise at each turn. Such was the case when we stumbled upon the whimsical toy store that I depicted in the painting above. The life-sized puppeteer enchanted me, as did all the hand-carved and hand-painted toys.
Limited edition prints of this watercolor can be purchased at my art website:

Siccome mi piacciono tanto i burattini, mi ha incantato questo negozio di giocattoli nel quadro sopra. Si può comprare delle stampe al mio website d’arte:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I don’t mean to step on toes or ruffle feathers of any “true believers”; I’m merely writing a simple observation based on a proverb I recently translated.
“La fede sta nel credere, e non nel vedere.” Literally, this means: “faith rests in the believing, not in the seeing.”
If you want to sound more lyrical, you might say: “Faith is the vision of the heart.”
That sounds lovely, but let’s pull our heads out of the clouds and get real. When you buy a car, do you have faith in the salesman when he says, “it runs like a dream”? Or do you take it out for a spin to see for yourself? If the salesman has an oversized crucifix dangling from his neck, are his words more credible?
If you can’t see it, hear it, touch it, taste it, or smell it, do you believe whatever you’re told because your heart just had a vision?
I probed deeply into the meaning of this proverb and this what I concluded, “Faith is believing what you know isn’t so.”
This is the true meaning of the proverb.
Believe me.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Art and writing parallel each other in many ways. Today I want to highlight a “crowd scene.” I’m not talking about a painting that depicts a crowd or a crowd scene written into a story.
In a painting, a crowd scene could be: a painting with too much going on, no pathway to lead the viewer in and around and out, no focal point, and no value changes. These paintings are too much “in your face,” and more often than not chase the viewer away from the chaos and on to another canvas.
A crowd scene, or more appropriately a crowded scene in a story can happen when there are too many characters jabbering on the same page and the reader ends up dropping the book so he can cup his hands over his ears to stifle the din.
My biggest pet peeve crowded scene is when the author refers to his characters sometimes by their first name and other times by their last name. This occurs in the book I’m presently reading, which happens to be a best seller written by a best selling author. He regularly flip-flops first and last names on the same page and often in the same paragraph. Last night I read a scene with a conversation between two men, but with the first and last name switcheroo going on, it was as though there were four characters in the scene rather than two.
My advice, whether you're a renowned artist, a best selling author, a dabbler, a scribbler, or anyone in-between: stick to the basic rules and avoid crowds.

Monday, April 6, 2009


In “Dreams, Luciano Somma carefully selects a minimum amount of words to create a maximum punch for this thought provoking poem.
You can find Luciano Somma at:

Nella poema “SOGNI, Luciano Somma sceglie attentamente la minima quantità delle parole a creare il massimo pugno per questa poema stimolante.
Si può trovare Luciano Somma a:

fette di luna
sul cuscino della vita
dove angeli e dèmoni
si alternano.
fedeli compagni
della notte
destinati a morire
come un giorno noi.
Luciano Somma

slices of moon
on the pillow of life
where angels and demons
loyal companions
of the night
destined to die
at sunrise
as one day shall we.
Pamela Allegretto Franz (translation)

Sunday, April 5, 2009


For botanical artists who need a massive floral fix, spend a day painting at Giardini Botanici at Villa Taranto on Lago Maggiore. The gardens are spread over more than 50 acres of the Castagnola Promontory that juts into the lake. In this remarkable setting between the mountains and the lake, you’ll find more than 20,000 species of plants from all over the world: from Dutch tulips to Japanese magnolias, giant water lilies to rare varieties of hydrangeas. If floral paintings aren’t your “thing,” don’t nix the trip to Villa Taranto, as there are more than enough ornamental fountains, statues, waterfalls, and reflection pools to keep those paintbrushes in motion.
The gardens are open from the end of March through the end of October. You can drive there or take a round-trip boat ride from Stresa, which happens to be my favorite town on the lake.
Bring water and snacks, and don’t forget the bug spray if you go during the summer months, as the mosquitoes have an insatiable appetite and are especially partial to artists.
Buon Viaggio!

Saturday, April 4, 2009


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Yesterday, I stepped away from Italy to honor my Hawaiian friend, Beth Cooper, who at this moment is scaling Mount Everest. In honor of Beth, I posted “Island Love,” the animated painting pictured above. We all send our most heart-felt “ALOHA” to a great artist and dear friend who lives the Aloha Spirit each day.
The original painting and limited edition prints can be purchased at my art website:

Friday, April 3, 2009


Today I want to tip my hat to a dear friend and an amazing artist, Beth Cooper. Beth, who lives in Hawaii, has temporarily stepped away from her easel, set aside her brushes, and traded her sarong and flip-flops for a parka and hiking boots. Why? Beth is climbing MOUNT EVEREST! Whoever said, “artists are all fluff,” don’t know Beth Cooper.
CHEERS TO YOU, BETH!!! Stay dry, warm, and safe.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Saint Paul de Vence

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Painting in France / Saint Paul de Vence

The acrylic on canvas painting above is from a photograph taken in the French village of Saint Paul de Vence. My artist friend Colleen Collin was kind enough to share the photograph with me. I love the contrast between the brightly colored bicycle and the ancient wall. The Painting is for sale on my Art Website:
Il quadro sopra e` fatto in acrilico su tela. E` dipinto da un foto che la mia amica Colleen Collin ha fatto nel villagio di Saint Paul de Vence in Francia. Mi piace il contrasto fra la bicicletta colorato vivamente ed il muro antico. Si puo` comprarlo al mio Web Site d'Arte"

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I decided since today is April Fools Day, I would share a few Italian Proverbs regarding fools. There’s nothing tricky or food related about them, as we’ve found in other proverbs; they’re just a little fluff for a light-hearted holiday.
“I pazzi crescono senza innaffiarli.”
“Fools grow without watering.”
“I pazzi inventano la moda e I savi la adottano.”

“Fools create the fashion and the wise adopt it.”
“I pazzi per lettera sono I maggiori pazzi.”
“Learned fools are the greatest fools.”
“Quando no dice niente, non è dal savio il pazzo differente”.
“When no one speaks, the fool and the wise are equal.”

“Ognuno può far della sua pasta gnocchi.”
“Everyone can make his own recipe for pasta.”

OOPS! That doesn’t have anything to do with fools. APRIL FOOLS!
I couldn’t resist adding one of those “food-related” proverbs. What does it really mean?
“If it’s yours, you can do as you like.”