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, 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


Posted by Picasa


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


Posted by Picasa


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)