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Our 2014 Italian Adventure with Ev Hales

By Janette Garbuio

2014 will be the most memorial year for me because of the opportunity of bringing two special groups of people to the Apennines and another group to Venice and Bay of Poets (Cinque Terre region).

The Appenine Mountains (Emilia-Romagna & Tuscan Hills)

I have admiration to the local people who gave us the same consideration and assistance with both of the groups. The Mayor of the towns, we stayed at, welcomed us with open doors. We felt part of their community, as the locals greeted us with ready smiles and curious looks.

The local parish priest of Fiulmalbo greeted me and told me a funny story about the school children in their area. He said the teachers asked the students to write about an important event, which had occurred in Fiulmalbo. The teachers were surprised to find many wrote about the Australian artists who came to stay and paint in their town instead of an historical event!

The Appenine mountains have a very special aura, which stays with the painters and cultural participants. You never know what will happen. For example, early one morning at 4am, it started to hail. Hailed hard and fast. It hailed so much that all the locals lamented there would be no wine this year (which would have been a travesty). When I woke the ground was covered in a carpet of ice and the clouds looked dark. At breakfast, I informed Ev that we would have to cancel Gombola, where the old watermill is located.  However, after visiting the cheese factory in the morning, the skies started to clear and the sun came out bringing back the warmth. The day was just perfect. The light was incredible, highlighting all the ancient aspects of the 15th century water mill located in the glen.

Ev with her suitcase, prior to departure
Ev with her suitcase, prior to departure

Inconvenience did happen, when landing in Bologna. The suitcases of Ev Hales and three others ladies were lost in transit somewhere in Dubai. It is a traveller’s nightmare! Luckily, I had a reserve of watercolour paper and the group pitched in to lend some art equipment and I was able to direct them to some local boutiques to purchase some emergency clothing. Fortunately, three suitcases arrived at the hotel but not Ev’s. She had to purchase again.

Another incident was another participant who arrived at Melbourne airport with her new passport issued by the Australian Government. However, when she arrived at the airport, the airline wouldn’t allow her to check in as her new passport still had the old passport number. With the assistance of my travel agent, Angela from Modica Travel and her son, the flights were rearranged and her new passport was issued in 4 days allowing her to finally fly. To help her get to our group, I had sent a very special friend from Modena to meet her so she had a safe drive to the mountains.

Despite some unexpected and uncontrollable hiccups, we still managed to enjoy ourselves learning new painting techniques and exploring the mountains, towns and villages. Ev was just wonderful as she encouraged and guided the painters on their journey. On the last day, we found our castle on the hill and sat in a field with a view to capture our imagination while we picnicked with fresh food purchased from the local market. On our return we had time to finish our paintings and hang them in the foyer so the town people who came for dinner that night could see our works before packing them away for the return journey home.

But my work was not done. As Ev when on to Portugal, I travelled to Venice by train and two days later I greeted Michael Goff.

To view my rendition of Venice & Bay of Poets, click here.

My next trip will be September 2015 with Ev and it is already  fully booked but plans are in place for Regina Hona to come to see the mountains and capture her memories from 28th May–11th June 2016 and I am in the process of planning a painting trip beforehand – possibly to Venice and Bay of Poets. I will keep you informed.

If you are interested in Regina Hona’s Painting Workshop in Emilia Romagna/Tuscan Hills, Italy 2016 – please click here.

If you are interested in Ev Hales Watercolour Painting Workshop in Venice and Bay of Poets, Italy 2016 – please click here.