Tuscany -1998
(with flashbacks to 1975)
In May of 1998 I went with a college friend, a painter, Mary Barnet Large,
and her friend Sally to spend three weeks painting,
mostly in Tuscany--Florence, San Gimignano, Siena,
with a sidetrip to Vernazza and a long stay in Venice as well.
Here are some highlights of this trip and my dreams and
flashbacks to a sabbatical I spent in Italy in 1975.

I had heard enough of these stories about Americans buying Tuscan villas.

I too would like a villa outside Florence--

I too want to live near the Ponte Vecchio--

On May 1, we three lovers of Italy found Florence totally full, but somehow we found miniscule rooms near the Duomo, with terrace views ! A friend of Sally's invited us to Sunday dinner, where we had visions of living in a suburban villa on a typical Tuscan hillside. I painted a few views of Florence from our terrace and again in the Bargello.

 

And the Duomo, and

To dine with friends in Florence

And play in the streets of Florence

And sketch at the Bargello

Just my own little villa in Tuscany---

That Easter 1975 in the Piazza del Duomo, I witnessed the Scoppio del Carro. First came flags and dignitaries , then came

My love affair with Florence began on a 1975 sabbatical in Italy.

I fell in love with this magical city on the Arno, at sunset.

After a few days in Florence, we set forth in our rented car heading south to Siena, stopping by Villa Sciffinoia, where Mary studied painting. In Siena we stayed at a convent near San Dominico and Santa Caterina, with wonderful views of the duomo and the hillsides.
Siena was just beginning to rehearse the pageantry for the Palio in July and many windows displayed the flags of the quarter's mascot--ours was oke, the goose.

Four white oxen drawing a huge cart laced with fireworks up to the door. A bird flew out at noon, and--hit the cart just right, and

The cart exploded! A good year was assured for the farmers of 1975.

Or perhaps I could settle in Siena, among artists and musicians?

From my balcony I saw the Siena cathedral sailing like a great white ship above the waves of small buildings and painted it.

Catherine of Siena,
patron saint of Italy

San Domenico rises on the hill behind the convent with its arched balconies where we stayed.

Preparing for the Palio

The oke, the goose

Did medieval paintings like this inspire the Sienese love of contests and heraldry?

Geese on the flags--

Geese on the doorways

This jeweler sold me a golden goose.

From my balcony I painted this hillside-- 

I painted il Campo, Siena's town square

while sitting at this outside bar

We visited Cortona and San Gimignano before heading north up through Lucca to Vernazza.
Lucca has a crucifix with a miraculous image of the Holy Face (Volto Santo), as we discovered when we went into the cathedral.
Vernazza is a colorful fishing village that has too many tourists and not enough rooms. The coast is beautiful.

 

San Gimignano

Lucca

Vernazza--the Square late in the afternoon.

Lucca--San Michele
Vernazza harbor and Quinqueterre--see me painting on the jetty? Vernazza calls out to be painted

From Vernazza I headed for Venice.

Come with me to Venice

 
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