Italy…I’m IN LOVE!
Paint Tuscany exceeded my every expectation for our trip. Sure, I had high hopes. I mean, we are talking ITALY, here, folks. Who wouldn’t have high hopes? Even if we just stood around and LOOKED, we would have fun.
Gina, of Gina’s Italy, and I collaborated for this fantastic trip. She organized and led our tours, booked our restaurants, and hotels/villas, drove us (yikes…the drivers in Italy are a little…crazy!) and generally held our hands. I organized and taught watercolor/art lessons each evening.
It was, in a word, fantastic.
But then, you have to consider Gina’s Italy. Gina thoughtfully planned our trip to fabulous restaurants, hillside towns, and wineries on meandering roads through this amazing country. Her knowledge of the area’s history, her guided tours, her thoughtful insight and preparation made our experience rich with culture, wonder, and history. Not to mention shopping.
So let’s recap. Not only did 8 women (and one husband, who, I might add, seemed..surely…to enjoy our mere presence and our gift to gab) enjoy Tuscany and its medieval towns, people, arts, art galleries, and culture, but we also ate amazing food at wonderfully quaint restaurants, SHOPPED (omg, the shopping is fantastic), and drank wine (uh…of course…and plenty of it), but the ladies also learned the basics of watercolor painting.
There is something to be said about touring with a bunch of women. You don’t have to convince anyone to go into shops. We stopped in a scarf boutique in Siena, full of beautiful textures, colors and patterns of scarfs, all made in Italy. We found a woman who hand-made books (leather-bound, watercolor paper, albums, journals…beautiful). We browsed through the most amazing linen store I’ve ever been to, offering luxurious table linens, blankets, scarves, window treatments, napkins, and robes. There was a cashmere store (yep, I purchased a very finely woven warm yummy, soft, did I mention yummy, sweater). We visited art galleries as well as viewed art from the masters (just…wow). And, of course, we had to enjoy the authentic gelato experience. Tasty.
Every evening, in a converted stable building at the villa, I taught lessons on watercolor technique. Everyone created a painting that I had put together before the trip, as well as filled their journal with splashy watercolor and items/words in which to remember their experience. Funny thing: The last day, the ladies were given a choice to tour another town or go back to the villa and finish their journal. They opted to go back and paint and finish their journal! What?! I’m so happy! I may have had a small hand in the development future artists!
I must be upfront, here, okay? I LOVE art. In case you hadn’t noticed. Art and anything to do with art is a passion, a drive, and a constant companion in my life. Having taught art lessons now for about 15 years, I must say, Italy is THE BEST place to teach art. Just sayin’.
I had my camera on the trip (of course). Not really knowing what would inspire me to paint when I returned back home, I took about 1,000 photos. Here are just a few of my favorite subjects.
First, there were the windows:
We visited an 5th generation women-owned winery:
And, of course, we painted!
In a word, AMAZING. Italy was more than I could imagine it to be. It almost seems like a dream to me. And the 1,000 photos? I need more! Guess I’ll have to go again.
Plan to go with us next year and learn basic watercolor and journal techniques while you tour, shop, dine, visit, and meet the locals.
Look for new paintings from my trip to Italy. I have two drawn out on my canvas, all ready for paint. More to come!
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All photos copyrighted by Sarah B. Hansen, artist.