For the first time, we conducted a 3 week tour with Ev Hales in September 2017. The tour consisted of one week of Tuscan/Emilia Romagna Hills, one week of Venice and one week of Bay of Poets (Cinque Terre).
We met in Bologna the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, ready for our cultural and painting experience.
We were collected by private bus and passed the busy city to meander up into the Apennine mountains. It was a clear day so the beauty of the small villages, farmhouses and woodlands could be seen on the mountainside.
First day of painting was in Riolunato. Although cloudy and cool from the disturbing weather pattern along the Ligurian coastline, we managed to paint in the village. The mayor hosted us in their Country Singer museum, which had just opened. They are very proud of all their memorabilia in the 15th century building.
It is amazing that in this region how we find treasures in the middle of nowhere. One such treasure was the fresco painting of “Madonna of the Milk” in a small hidden Oratory near this town called Castello. Silvio took the walkers to the Bridge of the Moon (which has a real interesting folk story attached to it) and other various tracks.
The next day, we travelled to Lucca, where the sun brought out the festival nature of this tourist town. In the afternoon, we travelled to Castelnovo, after a short walk over the Devils Bridge (accompanied by another folk story).
In Castelnuovo, there was a market and our plans for painting this beautiful Tuscan town was damped by the rain that did not want to stop. Luckily, we found a closed restaurant, which had protective covers and tables, where we could sit and paint. Problem solved!
We drove back through the ancient Pellegrino routes to Castel Garfagana. The weather was lovely and the sun warmed the atmosphere, so everyone enjoyed their time. We had a ‘light’ lunch at Casa Rosa. The restaurant, which is set in the forest, fed us with so much that we sort of rolled out of the door! We decided to walk to the village of Sasso Rosso where we admired the views and explored the narrow pathways.
We then had time to visit an 8th Century, St Pellegrino Hospice, where the local saint is encased in glass and the views were crystal clear all the way to the Carrara Marble mountains.
In Fuimalbo, the city of Art, there was a great opportunity of meeting with Father Luciano who enjoyed explaining St Rocco Oratory’s history. Light rain fell while we were having lunch but disappeared in time for the painters. We went to a double donkey bridge called “The Fola” and the non-painters to see the cheese factory.
On Sunday, the weather had not recovered from the cold change from France but we still ventured to the beautiful Borga called Cutiliano. The mayor and his artist wife greeted us in the 14th century palazzo. Our group photo was organised with their city’s flags behind us. We had a lovely café owner who gave us a warm place to paint from while we enjoyed his freshly baked foods and coffee.
We painted at Sestola the next day. It was cloudy and the tower castle on the rocky outcrop was a great setting for our painting.. The non painters had a great opportunity walking to the lake of the Ninfa. It is said that on a full moon, a vision of a young woman is seen dancing across the waters.
After lunch we were allowed into the castle and explored its many rooms filled with history and frescos.
The next day we packed our suitcases and left Riolunato to head to Modena. I hope everyone enjoyed this city as much as I did! We had the opportunity of visiting the Duke of Este Library and viewing the most beautiful book in the world and then visited the Este Art Gallery. The weather cleared to allow us to explore the rest of the city, the Duomo as well as the bell towers which are world heritage listed.
We all had free time to explore. My uncle Don Guiseppe (a priest) wanted to spend some time with me so we all sat in the main square, saying our farewells to Pauline and Tham, who left by train from Modena. Then, our bus driver took the rest of the group to Venice.
For the first time, we conducted a 3 week tour with Ev Hales. The tour consisted of one week of Tuscan/Emilia Romagna Hills, one week of Venice and one week of Bay of Poets (Cinque Terre). This is part 2 of our trip…
We arrived late afternoon in Venice. Our porter was there with his trolley and all suitcases where delivered to our accommodation. After settling we walked to St Margareta square for our dinner.
Venice is always magnificent. The weather warmed up so we enjoyed the quiet canals nearby.
Our three day ferry ticket allowed us to enjoy a trip to Murano (island of glass), the market, St Maria della Salute, Burano (island of lace) and through the grand canal to St Mark square by night. We painted and painted. Wilma sold her painting to a lady from Germany who was watching the process.
Sadly we had to say our farewells to Annie and Sid who had to return home for family reasons.
We were very fortunate that the weather was nice for us. However, it also showed how miserable it can be on the last day, when we wanted to paint the ghetto area.
That day the skies opened and we had to take protection under some shop awnings. Luckily I found a café/restaurant, who cleared their tables so we could all have some space and coffee while we waited for the weather to pass.
Eventually it did but the will to paint had disappeared because the will to explore the busy streets of Venice called.
Then we headed to the Bay of Poets. We had a pleasant drive to San Terenzo, where we were staying.
On arrival the weather was beautiful. We painted all day in front of our location and then tickets were organized to visit the Cinque Terre by boat. The sunlight shone on the towns of Monterosso, Vernazza and Riomaggiore. The brave walkers were Helen, Ian and Andre who went with Silvio to walk the ancient pathways from Monterosso to Vernazza.
The next day we went by local bus to Tellaro. This beautiful quiet fishing village is just as the Cinque Terre use to be without the crowds. We were able to paint all day with no noise or confusion.
I planned Saturday for Lerici because there is a large market to tempt the group and we still had time to paint in the morning and plenty of time for the afternoon in the shade of a large magnolia tree with lovely views of the town.
The last day was Sarazana, the morning it was drizzling but it gave us a chance to visit the craft fair and some entered the castle museum. We all left for a tea and cake stop at the most beautiful establishment. The mother fussed over us as we sat and enjoyed the atmosphere.
We arrived back to San Terenzo for some free time in the afternoon for a great show and tell. We took out all of our art work for all to view.
Ev has been a wonderful teacher and she has taught how to enjoy plein air painting. It is the best way of coming out of the studio to see the world around you. I hope you have received the confidence to continue and that one day I will see each one of you again.