Friday, September 28, 2012

En Plein Air: Pizzale Michelangelo

On 10/09/2011, we climbed the Rampe from the San Niccolo' Tower to the Piazzale Michelangelo, where we saw several artists painting en plein air. These two were painting the view of Boboli Gardens.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dali and Dante

With our friends Beth Rene' and Hajro, we saw a wonderful exhibit, "Dali' Illustrates Dante's Divine Comedy" right here in Athens GA prior to going to Florence, Italy, where Dante was born. Florence had commissioned Dali' for this work, but it was not shown at the time due to protest by Italians, since Dali' was not Italian.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Do Not Offend Your Sommelier

This is Zeno. While we waited with another couple for the wine tasting to begin, I said I'd read a story on TripAdvisor about a couple who had come in here, ordered lunch but declined wine because they don't drink before dark - and someone kicked them out. Zeno said, "That was me. Don't come into an enoteca if you don't want wine. Go to a restaurant." The wine tasting he gave us included 12 wines, 4 cheeses, and lasted 3 hours. I painted it in brighter colors than reality because I remember it through wine-colored glasses.

On the wall is a TV where he showed us visuals of the vintners who made the wines we sampled, and of the vineyards. Below the TV is a map of Tuscany and he showed us where the vineyards are.

(I painted this while listening to an opera cd my friend Hajro gave me.)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tuscan Wine Tasting

Mitch and I went to a wine tasting in Florence. It was in the cellar of an enoteca and lasted three hours! We tasted 12 wines, more than was stated in the tour description, plus 4 cheeses. I'm amazed I wrote down all the wines in my journal during the tasting. My descriptions of them got rather Spartan towards the end, blotto! I listed all the wine names with this painting.

Friday, September 21, 2012


I like to try new foods when I travel. Here's a small sample of what we had in Florence.

Pizza with zucchini blossoms and anchovies at Mastro Ciliega in Piazza San Pier Maggiore; gnocchi with gogonzola sauce at Ristorante Castelvecci in Piazza della Signoria; battered and fried zucchini blossoms at I'Brindellone in Piazza Piattellina; vin santo and cantuccini at Osteria Dell'Agnolo on Borgo San Lorenzo.

Vin santo is a sweet dessert wine that tastes like brandy, and cantuccini are small biscotti and it means "little corners".

Thursday, September 20, 2012

IL Porcellino

From a blog post I wrote about this...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Some of It Feels Like a Dream

At night the streets took on an eerie, dream-like quality. The streets are so narrow and dimly lit, the buildings towering with no space between. The crowds thin. Scowling statues look down on you from above with disapproval. You can really get a feel for the medieval quality of the city.

One of the traditions in Florence is to go to the Mercato Nuovo and rub the nose of this brass pig...either for luck, or to ensure a return trip to Florence. That's what we did one night...

It was while visiting Il Porcellino (his nose is shiny from all the people touching it) that we were accosted by Il Tomistico, who wanted to engage us in a conversation about the existence of God. In Italian.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

IL Tomistico

More watercolor journaling of photos I took during a trip to Florence, Italy.

This man came up to us when we were visiting the brass wild boar statue, "Il Porcellino" (painting of that to come next), in the Mercato Nuova in Florence. He tried to start a conversation wih us - in Italian. Mitch gathered that the guy was asking philosophic, Socratic type questions. Because Mitch speaks Spanish, he could sometimes get the gist of Italian being spoken around us. Mitch dubbed him "Il Tomistico" after the followers of Thomas Aquinas.
The photo was taken on my phone by a tall, male Japanese student who was with a group of friends. I didn't place Mitch and myself in the painting, because I didn't think I could capture Mitch's hilarious facial expression. After this photo was taken, we walked on to the nearby Ponte Vecchio, a famous bridge over the river Arno.

The Loggia del Mercato Nuovo, in the daytime.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


We walked over the Ponte Santa Trinita (Holy Trinity Bridge) in Florence, October 2011 and saw the statues of the seasons. This is Primavera, Spring. In 1944 the bridge was destroyed by retreating Germans. Primavera lost her head and the rumor was that a black American GI had stolen it. Her head was recovered in 1961 from the bottom of the Arno river. Primavera created by Pietro Francavilla.
Ponte Santa Trinita is a Renaissance elliptic arch bridge constructed by Bartolomeo Ammanti from 1567-1569. Seasons statues were added in 1608 for the wedding of Cosimo II de Medici with Maria Magdalena of Austria.
After being destroyed by the Germans in 1944, the bridge was reconstructed in 1958 with original stones recovered from the Arno and from the same quarry, under direction of architect Riccardo Gizdulich.   My journal page of the statue...

I took this photo of the Ponte Santa Trinita from the Ponte Vecchio, another bridge.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


We saw this madonnaro in the Centro Historico district of Florence, Italy in 2012. A madonnaro (madonnara for women) is an street artist. Historically, they were itinerants who worked in churches painting sacred art. When their job was done, they would create sidewalk art to support themselves. In Florence, these are done in chalk and they are washed away every night by the street cleaners. If you see one, remember to tip!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Italian Cat

I'm having fun working on my travel journal watercolor skills. Today I tried a "blind contour" drawing. That's when you don't look at the paper, and you draw what you are seeing without taking the pen off the paper. All one continuous line. I used a photo I took last year on our trip to Florence, Italy. I put my journal under the table on my lap so I couldn't see it, and drew the cat in ink without looking. I think I captured "cat essence". Then I watercolored it. It was MUCH faster than drawing while looking at the page. I look forward to trying it while traveling.

I saw this sleepy cat on a bench next to the gift shop in the Boboli Gardens, Palazzo Pitti, Firenze. I hope to return one day.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Watercolor Journaling

I'm learning how to watercolor journal. I'd like to be able to do this while traveling. I think it would be fun and would slow me down while traveling so I can really take it all in.

Best invention ever! A water brush. It has a hollow barrel that holds water. You squeeze it and it drips down on the brush. Perfect for travel, it does not leak.

A plaque high up on a courtyard wall at Pitti Palace, former home of the Medicis, in Florence, Italy. My husband and I went there in 2012 and I snapped this photo using a zoom lens.

I think, not bad for a first try! I look forward to watercolor journaling on my travels in the future.

In the Boboli Gardens of the Palazzo Pitti.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Savannah's Trinity Methodist Church

During our visit to Savannah, we went inside Trinity Methodist Church, the oldest Methodist Church in Savannah, built in 1848. It was designed by John B. Hogg of Savannah in the Greek Revival style. Inside, we met the organ player who shared history of the church and Savannah with us, and who played for us too!

Scenes of Savannah

From our Labor Day weekend trip. We did a lot of walking, which we enjoy.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

People We Met in Savannah

We met a lot of people in Savannah this past weekend. I wasn't able to get photos of all of them. Here are photos of the ones I did.

We met Captain Jack Sparrow.... :)

Met up with someone I went to high school with, Tamara.

Ran into the president of the Savannah Home Brewer's club, I meet him a few years ago during the craft beer festival. That's what happens when you strike up conversations with random strangers.

Mitch's friend Ronnie and his son Donovan drove to meet us from another part of Georgia, bringing their beautiful new puppy, Jade.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Savannah Scare

Last Thursday we drove to Savannah to spend a few days and to go to the Savannah Craft Brew Fest. When we arrived, we checked in and as we parked the car I saw a bar called Isaac's. I suggested we go in and have a beer in solidarity with my parents who were at that moment still sitting under Hurricane Isaac in New Orleans.

We went inside, sat down at the bar and ordered. Mitch crossed his foot over the other knee and right away he thought something was on his leg. He brushed it off, and it was bleeding. And it kept bleeding...and bleeding, and BLEEDING. I saw it pumping out with the beat of his heart. It was very frightening! We got napkins and they kept getting was all very fast. He had blood on both feet, on the floor...

Since it was literally pumping, we were afraid. I told the barmaid to call 911. Instead of doing it, she screamed and ran to the back for her manager, who came out and scowled at us as if we were doing some sort of setup for a lawsuit. No one helped us. Finally the barmaid did call 911 and am ambulance arrived.

By the time the ambulance arrived, the bleeding had stopped due to keeping pressure on it. I filled a plastic ziplock with the blood saturated napkins. It was horrible. The EMTs said there was nothing they could do and they went away (no charge).

The cut is really tiny, it looks like a kitten scratch. Best we can figure, he got cut on something sharp under the bar. We were so freaked out, we never did find it. He was fine for the rest of our trip. It was very scary though and we were both afraid, it has taken some time to get over it.

Here's Mitch outside Isaac's bar right before we went inside.