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:


Friday, January 14, 2011



On three sienna-colored hills in the center of Tuscany lies the walled city of Siena (Sena Vetus). Planted solidly back in the Middle Ages, this show place of Italian Gothic preserves its original character perhaps more strikingly than any other city in Italy.
In the heart of Siena sits Piazza del Campo. This concave piazza makes for perfect viewing and sketching of the infamous Palio delle Contrade held each summer on July 2 and August 16. If you’re in Siena at this time, it’s impossible to not get caught up in the grip of Palio fever. For those unfamiliar with Il Palio: it’s a wild and thrilling horse race dating back to the Middle Ages and it maintains all the pageantry, costumes, and celebrations of that specific period. It’s a “no rules” event where even a horse with no rider can win the race. (Yes, riders do get knocked off their mounts. Try suggesting that scenario at the Kentucky Derby.) Personally, I find the race itself to be cruel to the horses, but the pre-race pomp and ritual with heralds, child drummers, flag-bearers, and Renaissance costumes make great quick-sketch muses for future paintings. Hang onto your hat, your sketchpad, and your wallet, as the rowdy crowd can swell to uncomfortable numbers.
Clearly, your guidebooks will lead you to all the big-hitter, must-see museums, galleries, and churches, so let me lead you off the beaten path, especially if you have survived intact a day at the Palio. If you’re a fan of painting architecture, Siena will fill your cup to over flowing. At each turn of the city’s undulating streets you will find a paint-worthy scene. And don’t forget the streets themselves, which are all brick-paved, and that imitate the dominant building material of brick at it’s very warmest and most subtly toned. Stairways lead to more stairways and arches frame spectacular views.
One of my favorite sites to sit and paint and drink wine (what else could one ask for?) is at the Enoteca Italica Permanente. Located at the Fortezza Medicea, Viale Maccari, this Italian government owned and operated establishment lies just outside the entrance to an old fortress. Here, you’ll find several sunny terraces for outdoor wine tasting. You can sit at a table, order a glass, and paint undisturbed for hours. The out-laying vistas will knock your socks off. Just don’t let that wine do it first.
Buon Viaggio!

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