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:


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!

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