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, 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.

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