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, January 19, 2011


I lived in Florence for two years and believe that I still only scratched the surface of “paint-worthy” locations.
Certainly, before you even pick up a brush, you’ll want to visit the “heavy hitters”: Michelangelo’s David, Il Duomo, The Baptistery, The Uffizi, Palazzo Vecchio, Palazzo Pitti, The Ponte Vecchio, etc., etc. There are a whole host of guidebooks available that offer in depth information on these sites and the multitude of piazzas that are all worthy of your attention and your paint time. My purpose is to tell you about my favorite, lesser-known sites where you can set up your easel or sit with your sketch pad.
Florence’s city center is situated on the “Right Bank” of the Arno River. On the “Left Bank,” known as the Oltrarno, and behind the Palazzo Pitti, you’ll find the Giardini Boboli. It is said that the Marquis de Sade preferred the enchanting Boboli Gardens to Florence’s women whom he considered “arrogant, impertinent, ugly, dirty, and gluttonous.” Well, given his reputation, I suppose the Florentine women should have counted themselves fortunate to have been able to keep the Marquis at a safe distance.
The Boboli Gardens extend over eleven acres and occupy a hilltop position with awesome views over the city and its surroundings. The Boboli Gardens offer an overall impression of a refined integration of art and nature. Secluded paths lead to numerous resting places equipped with stone benches for sitting with a sketchpad or Pochade box. Surrounding these little tranquil pockets you’ll find grottos, fountains, and statues in close harmony with the emerald backdrop of cypresses, pines, laurel hedges, and lemon trees. Take time to visit the Grotta del Buontalenti where it’s fountains, frescos, and statues (Giambologna’s Venus in particular), are guaranteed to inspire you.
At the top of the gardens is the Giardino del Cavaliere with incredible views and more than enough convenient places to set up. You shouldn’t miss the fountain island, Isolotto, at the far end of the gardens. The most dramatic approach is along the central cypress avenue, Viottolone. Be aware that many of the statues along this path are Roman originals.
If you neglected to pack a picnic or drinks, don’t despair. There’s a charming little snack bar at the top of the gardens with lots of tables to sit and eat and drink and drink in the spectacular panorama. It’s also a great place to sketch or paint. But unlike other bars where you can get away with sitting and painting for hours for the price of one espresso, if you’re there on a busy day you’ll be encouraged to buy something more to eat or drink, or else pack up that Pochade Box and move on down the line. You can’t blame them. Given the plethora of artists who visit the city, the bar would quickly go belly up if every artist who sat at its tables only ordered one coffee and then proceeded to sit for four hours.
Buon Viaggio!

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