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:


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.