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:


Monday, December 27, 2010

Mexican Serenade

Posted by Picasa


Here's a quick detour from Italy to Mexico. In the painting above, I wanted to keep the background in the muted adobe hues so the colors on the guitarist would "Pop."
The original painting can be purchased on my art website: http://www.pamelaallegretto-franz.com/ Giclee prints can be purchased at: http://pamela-allegretto.fineartamerica.com/

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Posted by Picasa


While I’ve been busy traveling to and writing about Italy, my good friend from the UK, Kev Moore, recently completed a two-month journey through the southern states of the U.S. His goal: seek out and be inspired by the music heartland of America and then return to his home in Spain and compose a killer music CD.
Kev’s CD: Blue Odyssey, is a masterful blend of jazz, blues, rock, soul, and even gospel. Kev not only captured the heart of the music heartland, he seized its soul.
I recommend checking out Kev’s website: http://mooremusic.biz to learn more about his journey and to find out how to purchase this amazing CD.
While Kev jammed with jazz and blues greats in New Orleans and Nashville, his partner, French artist Miki, sketched and painted these southern music legends. You can see her wonderful music paintings at: http://www.paintingthemusic.com

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bongo Man

Posted by Picasa

Bongo Man

This painting above has nothing to do with painting in Italy but it is all about my love for music and bold colors. You can veiw the original acrylic on canvas painting on my website: http://www.pamelaallegretto-franz.com/ or purchase a giclee print at: http://pamela-allegretto.fineartamerica.com/ Other music paintings can be viewed at: http://www.paintingthemusic.com Questo quadro mostra mio passione dei colori vivaci e la musica. Si puo` vedere il quadro originale dipinto con acrilico sul mio website: http://www.pamelaallegretto-franz.com/ Oppure si puo` comprare delle stampe a: http://pamela-allegretto.fineartamerica.com/

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


If you’re driving from Florence to 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. If you are in Tuscany during the Easter time, you should make a point to catch this event. At that time of the year he countryside is ablaze in spring colors which add to the vibrant colored kites.
Buon Viaggio!

Monday, November 8, 2010


In addition to the Alpi Apuane, there are various other reasons to visit the Riviera Della Versilia. One reason is the beach resorts that run unbroken between Viareggio and Forte dei Marmi. Much of the sand is leased to various hotels and establishments who rent out chairs and umbrellas. But you needn’t be sucked in; there are numerous public access areas where you can sit and paint seascapes all day without paying rent on a lounge chair.
My favorite town for people watching and sketching is Viareggio. Passeggiata Margherita, the long, palm lined seafront promenade presents an air of elegance without being pretentious. Numerous bars and restaurants offer outdoor seating. For the price of an espresso or limonata, you can sit undisturbed for hours and sketch or paint.
I don’t often recommend restaurants, but here I will make an exception. Grab a bite in the pergola at Ristorante Michele. While you’re enjoying your meal, you can sketch or painting the vine-choked trellises that enclose the patio and hover overhead. If you have one too many glasses of their marvelous, and cheap, house wine, you may envision the broad twisted vines as tree snakes, threatening to drop into your minestrone. Now there’s a great idea for a painting.
Certainly, you can’t possibly be in the area without a trip to Carrara, the “Marble Capital.” Set in the hills, the town offers many prime locations to set up and paint, not only the excellent seascapes below, but also the town itself. Peeling pastel stucco houses and side streets lined with green shutters make excellent subjects.
And then of course there are the marble quarries. One of the more accessible is the site at Colonnata, the Cave di Colonnata. If you’re driving, follow the yellow signs from town up to the twisting road. Don’t worry; you can’t miss it. You’ll see a huge, blindingly white marble basin. It’s floor and sides are perfectly squared by the enormous wire saws used to cut the blocks that are scattered about.
Michelangelo spent eight months in Carrara. So while you’re setting up to paint in the village, on the convenient outlooks to the sea, or at the quarry, you’re likely to be standing in a spot where Michelangelo stood to contemplate his next sculpture or to chose his next block of marble. Does it get any better than that?
Buon Viaggio!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


On the northern coast of Tuscany, the Alpi Apuane Mountains dominate the Riviera della Versilia. Well-marked footpaths that offer huge rewards for plein air artists crisscross the mountains, a forty-kilometer span of indisputably alpine spectacle.
Due to their location and elevation, the Apuane are an ideal blend of assorted ecological habitats, from tundra through Alpine meadow to Mediterranean grassland. An extraordinary assortment of wildflowers makes this one of the country’s richest botanic enclaves. However, the most noticeable vegetation is the vast forest of chestnut and beech, which cover nearly all the lower slopes. These trees offer shelter to many of the mountains’ three hundred species of birds. (If you like to paint birds, you may never want to climb down from this mountain.)
The main approach to the northern group of peaks is from Levigliani. Detailed trail maps are available in town. Be sure to pick one up before you head out. The best-detailed and easiest to read is the Multigraphic-Wanderkarte. Trails #9 and #126 are the most popular and have well-situated clearings for setting up to sketch and paint.
Stazzema is the best access to the southern peaks and trail #5, which is a gentle climb (the best type of climb in my mind) through chestnut woods to the Procinto, a huge tabletop crag mention by Dante. Of all the walks, I prefer this Procinto walk; not only because it’s an easy walk, which is helpful when you’re toting art supplies and food and water, but it allows time to walk up Monte Nona, have a picnic lunch and paint some out-of-this-world scenery, and return to Stazzema in time to view the sunset from an outdoor café` in the town’s charming piazza.
Even though the Alpi Apuane are on the cusp of the Versilia Riviera, don’t think the temperature will be the same. At first, it may feel like a cool relief from the blazing beach, but it can cool down quickly, so never venture up into these mountains without a jacket on hand, ditto, water and snacks.
As always, carry out what you carry in. Your reward will be the opportunity to paint scenery that few artists have the chance to paint. And the icing on the cake: Michelangelo hiked some of these same trails while visiting Carrara to select marble for his David!
Buon Viaggio!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Jazz Drummer

Posted by Picasa

Jazz Drummer

This painting is all about my love for music and bold colors. You can veiw the original acrylic on canvas painting on my website: http://www.PamelaAllegretto-Franz.com or purchase a giclee print at: http://pamela-allegretto.fineartamerica.comQuesto quadro mostra mio passione dei colori vivaci e la musica. Si puo` vedere il quadro originale dipinto con acrilico sul mio website: http://www.PamelaAllegretto-Franz.com Oppure si puo` comprare delle stampe a: http://pamela-allegretto.fineartamerica.com

Friday, October 1, 2010

To Market

Posted by Picasa

To Market

This painting is all about bold island colors. You can veiw the original acrylic on canvas painting on my website: http://www.PamelaAllegretto-Franz.com or purchase a giclee print at: http://pamela-allegretto.fineartamerica.com
Questo quadro mostra mio passione dei colori vivaci. Si puo` vedere il quadro originale dipinto con acrilico sul mio website: http://www.PamelaAllegretto-Franz.com Oppure si puo` comprare delle stampe a: http://pamela-allegretto.fineartamerica.com

Piano Man

Posted by Picasa

Piano Man

This is Guido, one hot pianista. He rocks Jazz and wails the Blues on his funky purple piano. You can veiw this original 20"x20" acrylic on canvas painting on my website: http://www.PamelaAllegretto-Franz.com or purchase a giclee print at: http://pamela-allegretto.fineartamerica.com
Ecco Guido. Lui suona il Jazz con brio sul pioanoforte violetto. Si puo` vedere il quadro originale dipinto con acrilico sul mio website: http://www.PamelaAllegretto-Franz.com Oppure si puo` comprare delle stampe a: http://pamela-allegretto.fineartamerica.com

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Certainly if you’re an artist who enjoys painting architecture, Pisa should not be missed. The Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles) is as spectacular today as it must have been to medieval visitors. The Duomo, Bell Tower, and Baptistery are set within a vast, meticulously manicured lawn that entices artists to set up and spend a few hours painting. If you’re a true-to-life, detailed artist, don’t get frustrated if what you see doesn’t jive in your over-analytical brain; don’t accuse your t-square of playing tricks on you; and don’t blame that second glass of wine you drank at lunch: not only does the Leaning Tower “lean,” but the Baptistery is inclined out of the vertical and the façade of the Duomo is also a few degrees out of true.
Before you leave the Campo dei Miracoli, you must take time to visit each of these magnificent buildings and definitely take time to visit Camposanto, which Ruskin described as one of the three most precious buildings in Italy, along with the Sistine Chapel and the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice. It wasn’t its tombs but rather its frescos that he praised. Unfortunately, in July of 1944, Allied planes dropped incendiary bombs that set the roof on fire and drenched the 2000 square meters of frescos in a river of molten lead. Fortunately, a few patches of the magnificent frescos remain, including works by Maestro del Trionfo della Morte (Master of the Triumph of Death); which have been detached from the wall and put on exhibit in a room opposite the entrance. Also at the entrance is a photographic display of the Camposanto before the bombing.
On the south side of the Campo, sandwiched between the tourist stalls, you’ll find the Museo delle Sinopie. I love this high-tech museum. After the Allies bombed the Camposanto, the building’s restorers removed its sinopie, the monochrome sketches for the frescos. These great plaster plates are now hung from the walls of the Museo delle Sinopie, where you have the opportunity to inspect up close the painter’s preliminary ideas.
Don’t leave Pisa until you’ve visited and sketched all “three” leaning towers. The 2nd leaning tower is at the end of Via Santa Maria. It’s the 13th century campanile of San Nicola. The base is cylindrical and changes into an octagon and then a hexagon. Inside, take a peek at the paintings by Nino and Giovanni Pisano. You can get to the 3rd leaning tower, the campanile of San Michele dei Scalzi, by walking along the riverbank upstream from Ponte di Mezzo. Everything in this building is severely out of kilter: the columns in the nave tilt this way and that, the windows in the apse are every which way but loose, and the walls set up a dizzy contrast to the tilt of the tower.
After your brain has maxed out on the crooked, tilted, and leaning don't despair, like Florence, Pisa has its Lungarno that boasts a splendid line of riverside palaces that will please every “t-square” enthusiast.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


The island of Elba is a favorite among European travelers and Germans in particular. But for some reason it hasn’t yet caught on with Americans. Although it’s the third largest Italian island after Sicily and Sardinia, until about thirty years ago it was known mostly for its mineral resources (it was Elban iron in the Roman swords that conquered an empire), and as Napoleon’s place of exile. Oh, what a difference thirty years can make. Now tourists choke the island from the first of June until the first of September, with August being the most popular month. But if you can go in May or September, when the hotels and restaurants are open but the tourist traffic is down, you’ll understand why Napoleon never bemoaned being in exile.
To get there, take one of the car ferries (Toremar or Novarma) from the port at Piombino. I recommend booking in advance. When you get to the docks, you’ll see their offices. Once inside, you may be lucky and get right up to the counter, or you may walk into a crowd. If you encounter the latter, don’t be shy. The crowd is really what the Italians call a line, and if you aren’t aggressive and nudge your way to the front, you may miss the boat, (literally).
The car ferries are an ideal location for capturing on canvas the mainland and island shorelines from a sea perspective. I recommend debarking at Portoferraio, the most popular debarkation point on the island.
Before you leave Portoferraio to explore all the amazing vistas the island has to offer, take a walk up Via Garibaldi to visit Napoleon’s home in exile, the Villa dei Mulini. The villa was built especially for the ex-emperor on a site chosen for its killer views of the bay. There are multiple sites at the villa where you can set up and paint.
Elba’s landscape is rich and varied, featuring deep gulfs and long headlands. The coastline combines high, sheer cliffs, gentle bays with pebble beaches, or broad expanses of sand as white and fine as talcum powder. On the southern slops, cactus plants show that this is a Mediterranean climate; while to the east you’ll find vine-covered hills.
The water around the island is crystal clear and the most beautiful color of blue you will ever see. From the mountainous interior, Monte Capanne in particular, the views will take your breath away. Bus service is excellent, but you’ll be glad you have a car, so you can slip in and out of those out-of-the-way side roads that zigzag here and there, leading to ideal clearings to set up and paint or sketch.
You don’t want to miss west-facing Bagnaia, off the road to Rio nell’Elba, It’s famous for its sunsets and rightly so. You’ll see shades or reds, purples, oranges, and yellows that you’ve never seen before. If you have the fortitude to drive the coiling road beyond, the twin mini hamlets of Nisporto and Nisportino mark the beginning of the most unspoiled beaches and coastline on Elba’s north shore. You can hike into the hills behind, where you’ll find tiny clearings just right for setting up an easel.
If at all possible, plan to spend at least three days painting on Elba. If it’s three, you’ll wish it were four. If it’s four, you’ll wish it was five, etc., etc. In other words, once you arrive on Elba, you’ll wish you were sent there to spend time in exile.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Posted by Picasa


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:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


If you yearn to spend time on an island but boats make you sea sick and you can’t figure out how to swim and carry your easel, canvas, and paints at the same time, then don’t despair, Tuscany has an island you can drive to: Monte Argentario. This peninsula is connected with the mainland by three dams which form two lagoons, the Laguna di Ponente on the west side and the Laguna di Levante on the east side of the middle dam. The promontory was an island in the past, but the sea currents and the Albegna River joined it with the mainland through two tomboli (sand spits, stretches of land), The Tombolo of Giannella and the Tombolo of the Feniglia.
The two main villages on Monte Argentario are Porto Santo Stefano, facing north, and Porto Ercole facing south. Drive the Strada Panoramica, which starts in Porto Santo Stefano and runs along the coast. From here there are several pull-off points where you can paint sea and mainland coastal views in addition to the fabulous views of the Tuscan Archipelago (Isola di Giglio and Isola di Giannutri). At one time, Monte Argentario was a part of this Tuscan Archipelago until this island that’s not really an island used to be an island.
Porto Santo Stefano is charming, but a bit touristy. If you enjoy painting boats and harbors, a few fishing boats still huddle in the town’s smaller harbor, while mega–yachts now choke the main port. There are many waterfront bars where for the price of a limonata or a glass of beer, you can sit and paint for hours without a hassle from the waiter. Although when you do pack it in, don’t stiff the help. Come on, no one’s going to believe that if you can spring for airfare and a rental car you can’t afford to leave a decent tip.
My preference is Porto Ercole, with its charming old quarter and a more authentic fishing-village atmosphere. Although the Romans founded it, the principal historical monuments are two Spanish fortresses, Forte Filippo and Forte Stella, which face each other on opposing sides of the harbor. Most days you will see artists set up along the docks, painting the fortresses, or the weathered fishing boats, or the quaint village from a sea vantage point. My favorite part of town to paint is the lower town (old town), where steep flights of steps are cut into rock, with low arches and dark passages that end with breathtaking views of the turquoise Mediterranean Sea.
At the entrance to the old town, look for a plaque on the stone gate that commemorates Caravaggio, who in 1610 keeled over with sunstroke on a nearby beach, taken to a local tavern, and soon after died of a fever. He’s buried in the parish church of Sant’Ersmo. I guess he should have stuck to painting in Venice.
Take a drive up to the summit, Punta Telegrafo (635m). Coming from the sandy beaches and fishing ports, this interior portion is an unexpected mix of mountainous terrain and the 360-degree views are spectacular.
Avoid going to Monte Argentario on weekends, since the access is limited, traffic jam are typical. If you plan to stay for a few days, which I highly recommend, book a room early if you’re going during the summer months.
Buon Viaggio!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


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.
If you would rather not travel up and down the boot and prefer to concentrate your Italian painting experience in one region, then you may be interested in checking out The Tuscan Renaissance Center at Borgo San Fedele. This ex-monastery dating back to the 12th century is situated in the Chianti hills, 12km north of Siena. Owners Nicolò and Renata, lovingly restored San Fedele, spending six years to its resurrection. They employed traditional Tuscan building methods and used all original building materials to restore, rather than refurbish the structure.
The views from the large terrace are outstanding, the architecture unique, and the gardens are impeccably maintained. You can even enjoy a refreshing dip in the outdoor pool after a day at the easel.
For complete information on San Fedele, including help with hosting an artist’s workshop or how to sign up for the many exceptional artist’s workshops that are listed on their website, visit:



Tuesday, May 25, 2010


If you’re driving from Florence to 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. If you're in the area at that time, go for it!
Buon Viaggio

Friday, May 21, 2010


Posted by Picasa


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 a: http://www.PamelaAllegretto-Franz.com

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Regretfully, too many artists 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.
The 19th-century Tettuccio spa has beautiful gardens in which you can set up and paint while sipping the curative waters.
For an unruffled day of painting 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. Dotted across this multihued landscape you'll see olive groves, vineyards, Florentine castles, and hillside villa estates.
If landscape painting isn’t your thing, the narrow streets will lead you to the picturesque main piazza, named for the poet Giuseppe Giusti. 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. There are a few bars in the piazza with outside seating where you are welcome to sketch at a table while munching panini and sipping a glass of the local wine, which, by the way is excellent. Wine bottled for export, must, by law, contain nitrates that work as a preservative. The local wine doesn't contain those pesky nitrates that result in a "wine headache."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


The painting below depicts a deserted calle in Venezia, just a few steps from the tourist-choked Piazza San Marco. You can view this painting on my art website:
(Originale acrilico 36x28cm dipinto su tela) Un calle tranquillo a Venezia, pochi passi dalla Piazza San Marco. Si può vedere il quadro al mio website:


Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 22, 2010


Posted by Picasa


Certainly a trip to the Umbrian region would not be complete without a visit to Perugia, the capital of Umbria. Home to Perugina chocolate, (a reason in itself to visit the city), Perugia has retained much of its Gothic and Renaissance charm, which makes it appealing to artists who enjoy painting architecture.
Piazza IV Novembre is the hub of Perugian life and a top contender for being one of Italy’s most beautiful piazzas. At one end of the piazza is the Palazzo dei Priori, one of the finest secular buildings in Italy. Yes, you read it correctly, a spectacular building in Italy that’s not a church!
In the heart of Piazza IV Novembre is the Fontana Maggiore, and as it name states, it is truly a Grand Fountain. If you want to test your drawing skills, here’s the place to do it. The fountain’s artistic triumph stems from sculpture work by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano. Included are allegorical sculpture, saints, biblical characters, statuary that symbolizes the arts and sciences, Aesop’s fables, the months of the year, the signs of the zodiac, and scenes from the Old Testament and Roman history.
After you’ve run out of paper drawing the marvels of the fountain, take the escalator to the Rocca Paolina. The gardens around the old fortress are perfect for setting up to paint the breathtaking views.
Deruta remains one of my favorite towns in Umbria. Since the days of the Renaissance painters, it has boasted the densest concentration of shops and factories that sell the distinctive hand-painted glazed terra cotta. Even Raphael commissioned ceramic-ware with the now famous motif of dragons cavorting with flowers and vines.
As soon as the shops open for the day, the town explodes with color. Baskets and racks and tables are set outside and stacked and filled and hung with vibrant ceramics. Plates and platters and tiles decorate ancient walls. The Piazza dei Consoli is an excellent place to set up and capture this “ceramic” garden on canvas.
Save a little time to shop and appreciate the artistry. You simply must at least buy a spoon-rest; if you don’t you’ll wish you had, once you’ve returned home. If you travel “carry-on only,” as I do, don’t despair; the shops ship worldwide. Hey if it’s good enough for Raphael...
The original and limited edition prints of the painting above can be viewed and purchased at my art website:
Si può comprarne delle stampe e l’originale del quadro in alto al mio website d’arte: http://www.PamelaAllegretto-Franz.com

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Pinturicchio’s magnificent frescos and the stunning Deruta majolica floor in the Cappelle Baglioni aren’t the only reasons to visit Spello. The town itself, with its limestone houses, narrow, winding cobbled streets, covered passageways, and startling views begs to be captured on canvas. Mini piazzas offer excellent set-up locations. Or if you’re a landscape artist, you can kill two birds with one stone by lunching on the terrace of the reasonably priced Cacciatore, while you paint the views around Mount Subasio.
You can walk off lunch by climbing Via Belvedere that leads to the Belvedere. At the top of the hill, on the site of a Roman acropolis, the views of the Topino Valley are amazing. If you can be there at sunset, you’re in luck.
From a distance, the medieval town of Assisi resembles a cascade of churches, houses, and campaniles. Within the town, narrow alleyways link up and kiss in quaint little piazzas and then diverge, maybe into another piazza, maybe to a dead end, whatever the case, the final destination is guaranteed to be paint-worthy.
Certainly, the central square, Piazza del Comune, is a favorite artist’s site. No matter the time of day, you’ll see artists standing at easels, sitting on steps, perched on walls, or balancing on the edges of fountains.
If you prefer a less chaotic atmosphere in which to paint, or are looking to paint landscapes, visit the Rocca Maggiore. To get there on foot, begin at the Duomo and follow the picturesque Via Maria delle Rose. This secluded lane will take you up the grassy slope. Take time out to tour the fortress before settling down to paint the killer views.
My favorite site at Assisi is L’Eremo delle Carceri. Situated on the slopes of Mount Subasio, this was where St Francis of Assisi yakked it up with the animals. The light that filters through this densely wooded area prompts interesting paintings, and evidently, appealing conversations. In one little nook, outside a cave, you come across, almost stumble over, three life-sized statues lying on their backs and gazing at the sky. This is supposed to be St. Francis and his fellow monks meditating. Most people think this is inspiring; I find it kind of creepy.
After you’ve painted the changeable lights in the forest and chatted up a few animals, take the road past St. Benedict’s Abby up to the summit of Mount Subasio where the views are stunning.
Buon Viaggio!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Jam Session

Posted by Picasa

Jam Session

The above painting is my stylized version of jazz musicians jaming it up. The painting is a 20"x20" acrylic on canvas with 2" finished painted sides. You can see this painting on my art website:
Il mio versione dei musicisti di Jazz. Il quadro e` dipinto con acrilico su tela di 52x52cm, coi lati dipinti di 6cm. Non ce la necessita` di incaricarlo. Si puo` vedere il quadro sul mio website d'arte;

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Umbria is known as the “Green heart of Italy.” This landlocked region boasts the soft landscape that inspired paintings by Perugino and Raphael. Its vineyard and olive grove peppered hills roll into the distance, small villages are silhouetted on the crests of knolls, and the mountains are ever-present in the background. A Mecca for plein air painting, Umbria should be on every artists “must see” list.
About five miles outside the town of Terni, taking the State Road "Valnerina", the Cascata delle Marmore (Marmore Falls) offers a spectacular introduction to the region. The 540-foot falls that drop in three tiers is the highest in Italy and the largest manmade waterfall in Europe. Created by the Romans in 271 BC in order to make the stagnant waters of the Velino River flow down the Marmore cliff into the River Nera in the Rieti Valley below, this calcium rich water forms deposits that resemble marble, thus the name. Rather than eroding the ground like most falls, the Marmore calcium deposits actually build up the underlying surface.
Statistics aside, Marmore Falls, where clouds of white foam embrace lavish vegetation, is a magical location to paint. The local population prefer to give it a mythological origin: the story goes that the nymph Nera had fallen in love with a shepherd, Velino, but Juno to punish her transformed her into a river, the Nera. Velino, anguished, threw himself down from the Marmore cliff in order to be united with his beloved: that mortal jump would continue for eternity. How’s that for a bittersweet love story to translate to canvas?
As is sometimes the case, nothing as beautiful as Marmore Falls comes without a hitch. In this case, the snag is that the waterfall has been converted to energy production. So what’s good for the planet is challenging for the artist. Don’t despair, plan your trip to the falls on Saturdays or Sundays, or 11:00 to 1:00 and 4:00 to 6:00 on summer weekdays when the Velino River that feeds the falls gets a break from its energy producing job and is allowed to flow free, cascade, foam, and splash for lucky viewers to ooh, ah, and paint. Just to be safe, check first on the Internet or at the tourist office in Terni for times.
The park at the Marmore Falls has numerous viewing platforms with plenty of room to set up an easel. At the lower outlook (Byron Square) you’ll most likely encounter fellow artists from Italy and other European nations. Many are regular visitors to the falls and will happily provide tips on where to set up at various times of day to take advantage of the best lighting.
If you prefer to hike from the lower level to the upper level, rather than drive, there is a historic trail you can take. To do so, you’ll need hiking or tennis shoes and allow 40 minutes to reach the summit and 25 to get back down. It’s a beautiful hike that has natural ground and in some parts wooded stairs and small wooden bridges. During the walk you’ll be in an extraordinary world of vegetation and caves, but you can’t see the falls until you reach the tunnel called the “lover’s balcony.” When you arrive there, you will be under the highest drop of the falls and appreciate the freshness of the water, having a shower! Bring a raincoat, umbrella, or trash bag. I know this isn’t the ideal condition for painting, but it is one wild and beautiful, unforgettable experience.
If you’d rather remain dry, you can drive between the upper and lower lookouts. At the entrance, (the current fee is 3 euros) you can pick up a map of all the hiking trails and lookout posts. The upper belvedere is an observatory, a small building which stands at the summit above the first and most impressive tier of the Marmore Waterfalls. The view from here is fascinating as it enables you to appreciate from close up the enormous mass of plunging water, and in particular conditions the appearance of a rainbow due to the refraction of the sun’s rays on the rising drops of water.
There are ample restrooms, picnic tables, a bar/deli, and a restaurant, so you can go early and stay late.
If your time is limited, I recommend driving to the upper belvedere first and then driving back to the lower level and taking “route 4” (the trail maps have numbered routes) It takes about 35 minutes (uphill and downhill), which allows more time to paint. This route is isolated as opposed to the others because it’s on the facing side of the falls of Monte Pennarossa and it is reachable crossing the State Road 209 Valnerina at the lower outlook (Byron Square). Via these stone steps you have access to two different panoramic points and you can admire and paint the frontal view of the falls. This is also the widest view of the falls.
In every era the beauty of the Marmore Waterfalls has inspired poets and artists, and numerous paintings and reproductions of Italian and foreign artists exist. Virgil referred to the Marmore Waterfalls when he quotes in the Aeneid, VII book: “a valley of dark woodlands and between the trees a river which thunders and falls over big stones.”
“Horribly beautiful”
is how English poet George Byron defined Marmore Waterfalls. In his Childe Harolds Pilgrimage, Byron sings the praises of the Marmore Waterfalls describing it as one of the most fascinating spectacles ever seen during his numerous journeys.
“The crash of waters! From its rocky heights the Velino ventures through the water flushed precipes. Waterfalls! As fast as light, the shimmering mass of water foams, shaking the abyss. Hell of waters! There where they cry out and hiss and bubble in their eternal torture; while the sweat of their immense agony squeezed by their Flagstone, embraces the black rocks that surround the abyss, spread with tremendous horror..”
George Byron “Childe Harolds Pilgrimage”

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Painting In Italy / Abruzzi

Posted by Picasa


Most travelers often overlook the Abruzzi/Abruzzo region of Italy, which in my mind makes the area all the more inviting for a serene painting excursion. The mostly mountainous region also claims fine sand beaches that face a milky blue sea on its Adriatic rim.
If you enjoy painting wildlife, you’ll get your fill in the Abruzzi National Park, which is one of the oldest wildlife preserves. The wealth of protected animal life includes: more than 300 species of birds, 40 species of mammals, and 30 species of reptiles and amphibians. The most noteworthy animals are the Abruzzi bear, but also in abundance are wolves, deer, wild cats, otters, squirrels, and snakes.
If you’re looking for adventure, but prefer your subjects to be a bit less robust, drive the mountainous roads that twist and climb and dip and drop. From innumerable vantage points you can stop and paint seascapes to the east, the rivers Tronto and Trigno to the north and south, and the highest peaks in the Italian peninsula that include the Grand Sasso d’Italia, which gleam pink at sunset.
For landscape artists, vineyards flourish throughout the region, including on hillsides so steep the idea of harvesting is unimaginable, but accomplished just the same. In the fall the vines seem to explode into fountains of copper and red.
If you have your heart set on painting the typical flat red roofs with wide sweeps of countryside beyond, take a drive up the sharp curved road to SantAgostino Basciano. Whatever breath hasn’t been taken away from the white-knuckle drive, will be subsequently blown away by the views this hill-town offers.
The Abruzzi region presents something to satisfy any artist’s fancy: flora, fauna, seascapes, landscapes, river and glacier views, red-tiled rooftops, and villages that perch on seemingly unreachable mountain peaks.

The original and limited editions prints of the painting above can be viewed at my art website:
Si puo` vedere il quadro sopra e le sue stampe sul mio website d'arte:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Posted by Picasa


I get excited each time I begin to translate a new poem by Luciano Somma. "Danzano" ("They Dance") has always been one of my favorites. All of us have thoughts that dance inside our heads. Sometimes they dance with feet as light as feathers, other times they dance with feet made of hot coals. In his poem “Danzano” Luciano Somma invites us to watch the performance.
“Danzano” 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 an original acrylic on canvas. You can view this and more of my paintings at my art website:

Mi eccita ogni volta che inizio a tradurre una poesia scritta da Luciano Somma. “Danzano” è stato sempre una delle mie preferite. Noi tutti ne abbiamo i pensieri che danzano intorno nelle nostre mente. Ogni tanto danzano coi piedi leggeri come piume, ed ogni tanto danzano coi piedi fatti di carboni ardenti. Nella sua poema “Danzano” Luciano Somma ci invita guardare lo spettacolo.
Si può trovare Luciano Somma a:
Il quadro sopra è un’originale dipinto d’acrilico su tela. Si può vedere questo ed altri dei miei quadri sul mio website d’arte:

come ballerini i pensieri
sulla stanca pedana della mente
dispettosi fantasmi
nell’avida bocca della notte
nell’alitare silenzioso
della tenebre
sadici e indifferenti
all’agonia del tempo
al respiro affannoso di paura
con ritmo di rabbia
nell’infernale suono
tra le quattro pareti
d’una stanza
in quest’incendio mio
di solitudine.
Luciano Somma

Thoughts dance
like ballerinas
on the mind’s tired stage
spiteful spirits
in the greedy nightfall
in the silent breath
of darkness
they dance
the sadistic and indifferent
to the anguish of time
to the wearisome breath of fear
they dance
with angry rhythm
to the fiendish sound
among the room’s
four walls
they dance
in this my
fiery solitude.
Pamela Allegretto Franz (Translation)

Friday, January 29, 2010


If you enjoy painting fountains, a visit to Viterbo will easily quench your passion. Enclosed within a triangle of sturdy walls, Viterbo retains a magical medieval air. The medieval district of the city is an almost intact 13th century quarter with towers, steep houses, raised walkways, outer stairs, and mullioned windows. The 12th century fountain in the appropriately name Piazza Fontana Grande is a good place to begin. Another paint-worthy fountain can be found in the inner courtyard of the Palazzo dei Priori. In Piazza della Morte a 13th century fountain fronts the loggia of St. Thomas that houses the Museo delle Confraterite. Please do take time out to visit this museum.
The lion is the symbol or Viterbo, and if you didn’t know that before arriving at the city, it would only take about a three minute “look around” to figure it out. Lion statuaries adorn fountains, carved lion heads embellish doorways, wrought iron shaped lion sconces grip streetlights, and lion friezes abound in restaurants and bars.
Outside the city walls, at Porta Fiorentina, there is a lovely public garden for plein air artists to enjoy.
If Viterbo doesn’t fully satiate your desire to paint unique fountains, take the road toward Vignanello and then turn off up toward San Martino al Cimino. As you pass through this high village, you may want to stop to view, and or paint, the excellent view of Lago di Vico. Continue the circular tour around Monte Cimino until you reach Soriano where you can paint the extraordinary fountain at Palazzo Chigi. The next stop is Bagnaia, where you can visit the Renaissance palace, Villa Lante, which stands above the village and is surrounded with a park that is a masterpiece of landscaping. It contains a superb Italian garden with fountains that include an excellent Lantini fountain. After you have completed this circular loop, drive around Lago di Vico to Ronciglione to paint the fountain of unicorns by Vignoli.
If painting all these fountains leaves you thirsty, don’t despair. Each village has enotecas where you can buy local wine. These are also great places to buy cheeses and panini to snack on while you paint.

Monday, January 18, 2010


What artist wouldn’t be inspired to paint in the “playground of ancient Roman emperors?” Tivoli, located 20 miles east of Rome, is this idyllic location.
Horace wrote: “So numerous were the villas here that the Tiburtine soil no longer has any plough land.” At that time, none of the 3 villas that today form Tivoli’s principal attraction had been built.
Cardinal Ippolito d’Este of Ferrara believed in heaven on earth. In the mid-16th century he ordered Villa d’Este built on a hillside. The gardens below the Renaissance villa dim the luster of Versailles.
You enter at the front of the villa; yes, there is a charge, but the best things in life aren’t ALWAYS free (unless you’re a child under 17 years or an adult over 60 years). After a visit inside the villa -- you will want to view the paintings -- begin the descent down a series of terraces and flights of steps, flanked by cypress, to the spacious gardens.
Pack light. All those descending steps must sooner or later be climbed back up. On your way, there is ample room to set up on these terraces and paint lilies, gargoyles spurting water, torrential streams, and waterfalls. I think the prettiest fountain is the Fontana del’Ovato that was designed by Ligorio. Nearby is what some deem the most spectacular achievement – the hydraulic organ fountain with its water jets facing a baroque chapel. And certainly, Bernini’s Fountain of Glass and Ligorio’s Fountain of Dragons are both paint worthy. When you get to the promenade, and after you’ve caught you breath, both from the steps and the spectacle, you will face the dilemma of where to set up amid the 100 spraying fountains! (I told you it out-shines Versailles.) The whole system of fountains, with its playful sculptural forms, is designed to please the eye and delight the senses.
If you’re still wearing your socks, that is, if the vision of 100 fountains hasn’t already knocked them off, the rhododendron-filled garden will surely leave you scalzo (barefoot).
Less than 4 miles from Tivoli you’ll find “The queen of villas of the ancient world,” otherwise know as Villa Adriana (Hadrian’s Villa) that was built between the years 118-130. Of all the Roman emperors dedicated to La dolce vita, it was the globetrotting Hadrian who spent the last 3 years of his life in the grandest style. A patron of the arts, a lover of beauty, and a dilettante architect, Hadrian built one of the greatest estates in the ancient world and filled a good portion of its acreage with recreations of the architectural wonders he’d seen on his many travels. He erected theaters, baths, temples, fountains, and gardens all bordered with statuary. Unfortunately, as was always the case with such opulence, barbarians, popes, and cardinals mercilessly looted the villa in subsequent centuries and carted off much of the marble, statuary, and mosaics. Fortunately, their voracious lust to acquire finery that was not their own was not fully satiated, and enough of the fragmented ruins remain for us to evoke a complete picture. If your imagination isn’t working to its full capacity, there’s a plastic reconstruction at the entrance that offers a glimpse of what the villa used to be. There’s also a museum on site that contains some of the items excavated.
You are allowed to set up throughout the acreage, but use good sense. If your easel impedes foot traffic or blocks major photo ops, you might not simply be asked to move, you could easily be refused to set up anywhere else on the premises. My advice is to ask at the ticket counter where you can set up. Another option would be to forget the easel, sit on one of the numerous stone benches, and use a laptop pochade box.
I rarely give hotel advice, but if you’re aching to spend a few days painting in this region, I highly recommend the Albergo Ristorante Adriano. This mini villa sits in a lush, peaceful setting just a few steps from Hadrian’s Villa. The views from the guest rooms are amazing and the food is divine. In good weather, you can dine al fresco on their lovely terrace and imagine yourself an honored guest at Hadrian’s table.
I mentioned 3 principle villas. The 3rd villa is Villa Gregoriana. While Villa d’Este takes your breath away with its man-made glamour, Villa Gregoriana relies on nature for its shock and awe. Pope Gregory XVI built the gardens in the 19th century. At one point on the zigzag walk carved along the slope, you can look out onto Aniene, the most panoramic waterfall at Tivoli. The trek to the bottom on the banks of the Anio is studded with grottos and terraces that open onto the ravine. Any landscape artist worth his or her weight in brushes will find paint-worthy vistas at any of the multiple belvederes. One word of caution, the views are like Sorrento’s sirens, they will lure you -- in this case down, down, down. Keep in mind that at the end of the day you must return up, up, up, and believe me the climb back is brutal.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Anagni holds a special place in my heart. It was during a time when I was doing research for a novel, which included a character that was an artist skilled at intarsio (the art of inlaid wood), that we visited Anagni.
To my surprise, and great pleasure, we stumbled across the studio of Tarsie Turri. We weren’t able to meet with Mastro Carlo Turri, whose tarsie have been purchased by kings, popes, galleries, and museums worldwide, but happily Carlo’s daughter, Rita, gave us an in-depth tour of their workshop/gallery that has been in the same location for over 30 years. We thought it fitting that the studio is housed in the medieval center of Anagni, since intarsio is an art form relating back to the Renaissance period.
The procedure involved in this work consists of joining and fitting thin pieces of natural wood (which vary in thickness from 5 millimeters) in various shapes and essence onto a surface, and thus, forming a certain design or scene. The wood is not tinted; the tonality of color is extracted from nature. Consider the difficulty we artists face when we paint a still life with multiple folds and shadows in the tablecloth. Now imagine composing that same still life out of paper-thin shavings of wood! I highly recommend a visit for both artists and art lovers. The location, Via Vittorio Emanuele 11, 291 is easy to find, as it’s the main road that runs the length of the town.
After you visit Tarsie Turri, your artistic juices will be bubbling over. Stay on Via Vittorio Emanuele 11 until you reach Piazza Cavour, which offers a killer panorama over the neighboring hilly countryside. The piazza is a painter-friendly location to set up. Pizzerias and bars that circle the picturesque little square offer enough nourishment to keep you painting for hours. It’s also a fun location to smooze with other enthusiastic artists set up throughout the piazza.
After you leave Anagni and are heading back toward Rome, stop at Palestrina. This medieval hillside town is situated on the slopes of Monte Ginestro and overlooks a wide, picturesque valley. Palestrina is notable for its Fortuna Primigenia. At one time the greatest pagan temple in the world, this Temple of Fortune, once spread over the whole area of the medieval town. If you enjoy painting architecture, the town abounds with narrow streets, often stepped, and remains of ancient town walls.
Do not miss the drive up the hill to Palazzo Colonna-Barberini to view the Nile Mosaic. The mosaic is a well-preserved ancient Roman work, considered the most remarkable one ever uncovered. The mosaic details the flooding of the Nile, a shepherd’s hunt, mummies, ibises, and Roman warriors, among other things.
The museum is open until an hour before sunset, so if you time it right, you can leave the palace and have time to set up you easel just in time to capture the burnt sienna sunset over the valley far below.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


If Rome’s energy begins to overwhelm you, but you still have an extensive list of “must see/paint” locations to visit, don’t despair, or worst -- toss in the towel. Take a break and head for the hills.
In this case, I’m talking about the Alban Hills where the enchanting landscape is varied, with cascading vineyards and olive groves. The region is called Castelli Romani (Roman Castles), because castles that originally belonged to popes and Roman patrician families are scattered across the slopes of the Alban Hills.
You can begin in Frascati, which is only about 13 miles from the city. Yes, that’s the same Frascati that you see printed on labels of wine at your local liquor store. Certainly, those bottled wines are delicious, but don’t forget, imported wines are required to contain nitrates. If you need a reminder about nitrates: they are those nasty preservatives that keep hotdogs from going all green and gooey for at least 100 years. At Frascati, you can visit a cantina where the wine is served, nitrate-free, direct from the casks. Many Romans drive up on Sundays just to drink the vino. And after all, “when in Rome...”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sending you to Frascati so you can spend the day sampling wine, although that can certainly be a part of it. I’m recommending this lovely hill town as an idyllic location to set up and paint.
In the heart of Frascati, on Via Massala, is the Villa Aldobrandini, whose garden containing grottos, yew hedges, statuary, and splashing fountains is a wonderful place to set up. The gardens are only open in the morning and are free to visit, but you must first obtain a free pass at the Azienda di Soggiorno e Turismo located in the adjacent Piazza Marconi.
My recommendation is to paint at the gardens in the morning and then visit the Cantina Comandini right off Piazza Roma. The Comandini family will take you on a tour of their wine cellar where you can take reference photographs for future paintings. Oh yeah, and you get to taste their golden white wine that is guaranteed to make you swoon. This is not a restaurant, but they sell fresh panini that you can munch on the way to your next destination. If you’re wondering, no, I don’t get a kickback for each glass of wine or sandwich sold; I’m just crazy for their wine and their fresh mozzarella panini.
About 3 miles from Tivoli you’ll come to the ruins of the ancient Latin city of Tusculum. Here you’ll be rewarded with one of Italy’s most panoramic views that extend as far as Rome. There are numerous convenient spots to set up and paint this incredible spectacle: my pick is from the top of the acropolis hill. At some point, drag yourself away from your easel and visit the amphitheater that dates from about 1st century BC. And not to be missed is the famous Tusculanum, (Villa of Cicero).
On you way back to Rome, you may be tempted to stop and indulge in another glass or two of Frascati vino. Be careful. The Polizia Stradale (State Police) are in abundance throughout this region, and driving while intoxicated, even just a little, will get you in more trouble than I have space to write about.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


How much time should you budget for an excursion in Rome? The Italian writer Silvio Negro said, “A lifetime is not enough.” If it’s to be a painting excursion, I say, “Two life times are not enough.” After you’ve toured the obligatory heavy hitters, i.e.: Trajan’s Forum, Caracalla’s Baths, the Colosseum, Hadrian’s Pantheon, Castel Sant’Angelo, Via Appia, Trevi Fountain, Piazza di Spagna, and the Vatican, it’s time to get down to the business of painting. Back in March, I wrote about my penchant for painting the back streets of Rome. Here are a few of my picks if you prefer not to stray off the beaten path, but still seek a variety of subjects that differ from the norm.
The Villa Borghese is the largest and most beautiful public park in Rome. Impeccably maintained, the park covers approximately a four-mile perimeter, which is more than enough trees, flowers, shrubs, ponds, fountains, and statuaries to keep even the most persnickety plein air artists satisfied. Be sure to bring some water and munchies: Panini, cheese, and fruit can be purchased near all park entrances. Depending on the weather and the time of year, drinks, ice cream, and snacks are sold within the park, but don’t count on it, go prepared.
If you’re not an early riser, be one for at least one day to capture Rome’s silhouette at dawn from across the Tevere (Tiber) at the Gianicolo (Janiculum Hill). With a sky fringed with mauve, the vivid and unforgettable images of bell towers and cupolas are well worth delaying that cup of morning “Joe.”
Rome purists unanimously concur that the Trastevere District is the most authentic Roman district in the city. Some call it a “city within a city.” I call it the most picturesque area of the city and ripe for painting. The architecture is as replete with humorous touches as the dialect of the inhabitants. An artist’s biggest dilemma is deciding where to set up within its charming narrow and irregular streets and its pictorial squares. When in doubt, begin at Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere. Chances are, as soon as you get your easel set and your palette dotted with paints, a helpful Roman will attempt to lure you to a “special spot.” No, he’s not trying to snare you into a back ally with designs on your wallet and watch; he’s simply making an effort to show an artist (Romans, like all Italians, hold artists in the highest esteem) the best location to get the best angle with the best light. Trust him, follow him, and paint Rome as it was intended.
Try to plan your excursion into the Trastevere District on a Sunday. That way you can include time at the Porta Portese open-air flea market that is held each Sunday from 8am until 2pm. This sprawling market offers great bargains: In addition to the usual clothing and household stalls, you might find anything from termite-eaten Il Duce wooden medallions to pseudo-Etruscan hairpins. And there are bountiful flower stalls with enough flowers to honor each fallen Roman soldier since 300 BC, and fruit and vegetable stalls that are stacked with the most colorful produce imaginable. If you’re a portraiture or caricature artist, the assortment of human subjects, both buyers and sellers, is inexhaustible.
If you prefer to paint a more traditional market scene that is encircled within a piazza, you’ll find none finer than the flower and vegetable market at Piazza Campo di Fiori. Get there early, as the vendors usually close their carts around noon and you shouldn’t miss this explosion of colors. If you enjoy bartering, a quick colored pencil sketch can always be traded for a loaf of bread still warm from the ovens and a kilo of grapes cut ripe off the vine.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Italian Poetry / PRIMO GENNAIO by Luciano Somma

In “January 1st” 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 “PRIMO GENNAIO” Luciano Somma sceglie attentamente la minima quantità delle parole a creare il massimo pugno per questa poema stimolante.
Si può trovare Luciano Somma a:

Ancora stordita
da tanto frastuono
la notte sbadiglia
perchè è già domani.
Avrà il volto nuovo
quest'alba che spunta
neonata speranza
d'un anno sereno?
Laggiù all'orizzonte
Io vedo una luce
più intensa e più chiara
sarà forse inganno?
Soltanto chimera?
Oppure aria pura
è questo l'augurio
per tutti quaggiù
Vogliamoci bene
la vita è una sola
teniamola cara
vivendo in amore
Con tutte le razze
da veri fratelli
sarà un'utopia?
Può darsi, chissà!
Luciano Somma

Still dazed
from so much racket
the night yawns
as it's already tomorrow.
Will it have a new face
this sunrise that awakens
newborn hope
for a peaceful year?
There on the horizon
I see a light
powerful and radiant
Will it be a fraud?
Only illusion?
If not, this greeting
is a pure manifestation
for everyone on earth
to love each other
life is unique
we hold it dear
living in love
with all races
from true brothers
will it be utopia?
It's possible, I wonder!
Pamela Allegretto Franz (translation)