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:


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.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting and certainly useful post for artists and travellers, Pamela.Thanks for that!
    I have been in Pisa, some hours, at a time of my life when painting was not a priority... unfortunately! If I remember well, they were just fixing the tower (I heard the tower was threatening to fall down...), a lot of building work was going on, it was really not the best moment to visit!


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