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, August 11, 2011



Although the Cinque Terre region is no longer considered “off the beaten path” it’s definitely a “must visit” for artists who hunger to capture cliff-hanging, whitewashed buildings set ablaze by ruby sunsets. This fantasy gratifying stretch of the Italian Riviera, or as the Italians call it the Riviera Di Levante, lies between Genoa and Pisa.
The Cinque Terre are five small villages at the ends of narrow valleys that cut through a steep coastal range and are backed by green-terraced slopes of ancient vineyards. Flights of steps occupy narrow alleyways and bougainvillea filled pots spill red, purple, and aubergine petals from mini balconies.
Only the outer villages of Monterosso and Riomaggiore are easily reached by car, but it is exactly this restriction that adds to the regions charm.
Each village has its own flavor. To sample them all, you can follow the fragrant trail through sunny vistas from Riomaggiore to Monterosso.
For decades, Riomaggiore has seduced artists into becoming residents. The tunnel next to the train tracks takes you to a fascinating tangle of multicolored homes. Riomaggiore's beach is a small cove that is a two-minute walk from town. The swimming isn’t the best, but on a hot day, a refreshing dip will rejuvenate your creative juices. From Riomaggiore, the Via Dell'Amore (walkway of love) leads to Manarola where rustic stairways lead to remote rocks where you can set up an easel or sit with a sketchpad. If you’re a figure artist you may be in luck, as nude sunbathing is tolerated. Picturesque Manarola ends in a rocky promontory with a harbor so tiny the boats need to be hoisted out of the water and onto a jetty.
Corniglia is the only Cinque Terre village not on the water. The town center sits on a hill atop 377 stairs (the “Ladarina”) that zigzag up to the town where the view will knock your socks right off the cliff and into the aquamarine sea below. The vista includes not only the coastline and seascape, but also all the other four villages of the Cinque Terre.

The 90-minute hike on to Vernazza is rugged but you will be rewarded with outstanding views of sun-soaked terraced vineyards that blanket the region. Secluded coves and invigorating waterfalls are tucked away along the coast between Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare and beg to have their images preserved on your canvas.
Monterosso al Mare is the most important center and the only one with a broad, sandy beach. Translation: the most tourists. However, Monterosso deserves a visit to sketch its vestiges of old walls, towers, and bastions.
When you arrive at the Cinque Terre, take time to study the footpath maps that are available in all five villages. The Cinque Terre are crossed by a dense network of coastal and interior footpaths. The "Sentiero Azzurro", Blue Path, is the coastal trail while the "Sentiero Rosso", Red Path, or High Path, climbs from Portovenere to Levanto. The "Via dei Santuari", Sanctuaries Path, is more challenging and leads to places of religious interest upon the five villages.
The panoramas from many points of the trails are amazing especially along the coast path. All the paths are of low or moderate difficulty, they say, but I never trust “they.” Who are “they” anyway? Have “they” ever hiked the trail with an easel on their back? My advice, pitch the flip-flops and tie into some sturdy shoes with healthy tread. A sudden rainstorm can make for some very slippery cliffs.
If time is not on your side, I recommend the "Sentiero Azzurro", “Blue Path” which is the most famous and evocative trail of the Cinque Terre. The course has been traced through the centuries, when it was the only way of communication for the inhabitants of the Cinque Terre. In some points, it is a real mule track that winds waterfront offering fabulous views.
As always, bring water and some snacks, an umbrella, and plenty of enthusiasm.

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