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:


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!

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful post again! Really if I could, I would pack my travel & painting stuff right now and fly there! I would love to visit all these places you describe, stop everywhere and sketch!
    The best would be, of course, to have YOU personally as a travel guide...
    Anyway, one day I am sure, I will go and paint Italy, and be sure that I will have a printed version of all your posts. This blog is such a marvellous idea, especially for artists.


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