Sunday, June 29, 2008


On Saturday night...the group ventured for an optional trip to the city of Orvieto.
This was another sweet villiage, with a Duomo Mosaic to die for! The entire front of the town's main church is a masterpeice of mosiac artwork. The entire place glistened in the sunlight(folks must have thought angels lived at the top. There was also some interesting brickwork involved, the entire building looked like something from Tim Burton movie, covered in horizontal stripes....

We also got to venture into more Etruscan structures, this included another well type device, and also their pigeon farms. Apparently, wealthy citizens and clergy would own large pigeon farms, used mostly for food (not messages). Deep within the earth the Etruscans would well for oil and water... a very advanced civilization for it's time.

The rest of the afternoon was spent doing my favorite activity...SHOPPING and the DINING... I finally had a REAL italian pizza... OMG! It was nothing short of amazing... fresh fresh fresh dough, tomatoes, basil... melted in my mouth...!

The Evening in Assisi

I was so thrilled to be in the land of St. Francis of Assisi, the Patron Saint of Animals and Poverty (two things I know pretty well!!)
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This town was very beautiful... with winding hilly streets and the magnificient Duomo constructed in honor of St. Francis, I was in awe of everything I saw.

The church itself was breathtaking. Unfortunatly, we couldn't take pictures inside...but you can take my word for it, the place was gorgeous. Not only were there frescos on every wall, but there were exhibits were displaying his original robes and shoes, examples of his writing, and his tomb where his bones & ashes were placed.

Of all the places so far, I found Assisi to be the most spiritual for me. As everyone knows my deep connection to animals and nature, and I felt honored to be in the presense of such a gentle saint whose ideals followed some of my own.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Pottery Stop....

In one of the nearby villages is the most amazing pottery shop! Our teacher took us there on Friday morning, and we not only were able to shop and admire this beautiful artform that italy is known for, but the owner of the shop gave us a great demonstration!

He threw pots like I chew gum, it was so amazing to get to watch him work. We also got a tour of the process, and made friends with the adorable shop dog who promptly stole everyone's hearts....!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Making Friends

One of the best "italian experiences" I've had so far was making a friend in this small village, Casa Vieto, we painted in this week.

An adorable italian woman (I think her name was Genevieve?) Came out to look at our paintings... throughout the day she took care of us. Though there was a huge language barrier, we managed to communicate. She offered us coffee, water, and opened her home to us to use the bathroom. During our critique, she brought the entire class a pot of coffee, and though the temperature was close to 100 degrees, we took it happily. Never turn down italian coffee!!

I've also managed to make tons of "animal" friends while I've been here. The dogs and cats are plentiful in Corciano and elsewhere, and due to the laid back lifestyle... they all seem so content. Some of them wander off-leash, and the"alley" cats are very friendly. The italians seem to really love thier pets.

We also made a painting buddy in Casa Vieto, I didn't learn his name, but he decided to hang out with us while we painted until his owner came around the bend. There was also the most adorable boxer hanging out over the edge of the wall. I wanted to scale it and take him home!!!

While painting on Thursday here in Corciano, I made another friend...a wee kitten who jumped out of his/her window! She came right up to me, and layed at my feet while I painted. I couldn't have asked for a better way to end the week....

Down Time...

When we aren't painting or sight seeing... there's plenty to do in Corciano. One of my favorite activities is to swim in the pool! The main villa has a great little pool, and the afternoons here are so insanely hot, all of the students take advantage of the facilities.

There is also a sweet local bar that's open til midnight... but unlike American Bars, this caters to everyone. They not only have great local beers and wine, but you can get soft drinks, sandwiches, what have you. They also have tables set outside along the wall which is great for an evening nightcap.

This past thursday evening, one of our painting teachers hosted a wine & snack potluck party. It was so great to gather around after a hard week of painting and relax.

Second Week of Painting....

I had my second week of painting this week, and it started out rough. Landscape and Cityscape painting is much harder than I had ever anticipated...but even in one week I've made lots of progress and discovered new things about plein air and watercolor.

We traveled to many great places to paint this week. First we went to a town a little bigger than Corciano, called Todi. It was another adorable hilltop village with great shops, beautiful vistas, and very friendly people. I've found it very interesting that while painting, the italians and other europeans have no real sense of personal space. They all come up to you and talk to you (usually in a different language). At first it was a little disconcerting, but I've come to appreciate it and enjoy trying to speak italian.

I also had some creative breakthroughs this week concerning watercolor. The Teacher's Assistant who is attending several of the classes is a proficient watercolorist and has been giving me a lot of tips. His advice combined with the more general landscape and cityscape hints, have helped my work grow even within the week.

So much more painting and growing to do....

Sunday, June 22, 2008


On Friday we had a required field trip to the larger city of Perugia. This place was beautiful...! Originally inhabited by the Etruscans, and later taken over by Romans, this place is rich in history... makes America seem like a baby!

Two of the coolest things we saw were some of the original aquaducts, now used as walkways. And we also went down to an original Etruscan Well and walkways. It was amazing. My teacher told me that the sidewalks were newer, as in 13-14th Century!!

We spent the entire day exploring the city, looking at art, going to museums, and eating GELATO!! At the end of the day, my friends and I found an outside cafe, split a bottle of vino, and reflected upon what was another amazing day in Italy.

I took far too many pictures, but I hope to come back to paint and to SHOP!!

Corciano Music Festival

We are here just in time to experience the music festival of Corciano... what a blast! They had everything from folk music to line dancing. Great food, good wine... and old italian men who could take over Dancing with the Stars!!

My roommates and I were taught a few moves by our host, Gabrielle, and his friends...!

This was a blast...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Pad

The place that I'm staying at is amazing.... Molto Bello! I have my own room which overlooks the mountains and olive groves. We have a nice kitchen with all the fixin's (except a toaster and microwave... I actually have to COOK!) The living room has a TV with CD & DVD player... not that we ever use it... AND a balcony that overlooks the hill with the old Monestary at the top (folks are staying there, too)
We have no internet or phone at our place, but it actually makes it a nice retreat. I just come down the main villa to get online (and use the pool!!)
We live above a super sweet Italian family, and their Gato, Silver... who like to
One of my favorite things about my place are the SOUNDS... We live next to a school, chill on our I hear children laughing and playing all day. I can also hear the birds chirping, the donkey's baying (there are animals at the monestary), the clock chimes every hour.

My roommies are super great. One is my friend Sola from back at the Academy, and the other is a new friend, Alison, a photography student. We are all in Graduate school and enjoy Vino, makes for a good combination....!

First Week in Italia!

Ciao Americanos!!

Well I've only been in Italy for less than a week, and I feel like I've been here a month! It's so beautiful, and the people in Corciano are really nice... (most of them don't speak English, so I need to study my Italian... PRONTO!)

Corciano itself is gorgeous, I feel like I'm in a fairy tale or a Shakespearean play as I walk the medieval streets. It's a small hilltop village, so everything is clean and's hot, but the air is fresh and wonderful. There is a great gelato/coffee place, L'arte Del Gelato at the piazza that serves the best of both. My favorite so far has been the honey dew melon (melone) combined with strawberry(fragole) though the tirimsu is nothing to scoff at! Their Latte's are indeed the best I've had yet...

Speaking of eating... the food is outstanding! My first day in Corciano the class went to lunch at this wonderful restaurant that used to be a Convent. I split the ravioli with my roommate & friend Sola....Molto Buono!! Also... in Italy nobody orders wine by the glass... it's always by the bottle. The Italians know how to dine....

We painted for 2 days... and we've all discovered that landscape painting is HARD!! The group that is here are all very talented, and with that perfectionists. Nobody seems happy with their work so far, but it's just the beginning. The teachers are all very knowledgable, and I'm excited to absorb what they have to teach me.
I miss my dog, and stores being open more than 1/2 day... but it's nice to be forced to relax. Americans work WAY to hard.... Now, for some CAFFE!