Today the sun shines but we have had some great thunderstorms and we were glad we could borrow umbrellas during this past week. On a particularly miserable day, while we were tucked into our apartment that is part of an old Farmhouse on the outskirts of Florence Italy, I read advice in a travel guide on how to see four towns in a day while traveling by train in Europe.
(Farmhouse courtyard Florence Italy – acrylic plein air painting sketch. Art Prints available HERE)
Let’s just say we are slow travelers in Europe. Our minimum stay is three nights. Our more lengthy settling-in-visits are up to fourteen days. We have done some long days on the train a couple of times but mostly a five-hour trip is enough.
What does this really mean as far as being able to say we have been someplace?
Well, it means that we actually live like we would at home in the communities we are staying. We buy groceries, mail letters, go to the pharmacy and run out of toilet paper, garbage bags and coffee. We need to do our laundry and hang it out in the sun to dry. That is the best part. Clothes that flap in a hot breeze under the Tuscan sun can never be taken for granted again. That white cotton nightgown of mine with the tiny bit of embroidery around the neckline knows that it will be worn until there are only tatters left for painting rags.
It means we don’t make it to all of the highlights and sometimes we hardly make it to even a few. Instead, I can be found painting on a hillside.
The painting sketches are a quick way to deepen my understanding of the light, the land and a place.
(Valley in Galluzzo southern part of Florence Italy – acrylic plein air painting sketch. Art Prints available HERE)
It means there is time to be given not only to a lemon but a cedro which is not a lemon and about the size of a grapefruit.
There is time to find a recipe by Elizabeth in Rome on how to make a salad using the sweet pulp of this fruit while the rind and dry center are composted.
There is time to do a composite painting sketch in a makeshift studio that combines five different experiences that happened over about as many days.
(Spring in Tuscany – acrylic painting sketch. Art prints available HERE)
I begin to become familiar with the changing light in the narrow stonewall-lined lanes where the walls of homes sometimes converge with the pathways.
The fields and the hills start to speak in clear notes of recognition.
The courtyard becomes well worn with memories of breakfast, lunch and afternoon painting.
(Garden Pots – acrylic plein air painting sketch. Art Prints available HERE)
There is time to use different photography editing tools to express the light’s dramatic effect on the courtyard
or a curved building at the top of the hill on the road out of town.
Whether it is a villa
or a more humble dwelling
Florence or Firenze is so much more than crowded streets in the old town or the lookout over the city. The Village Road painted by Italian Macchiaioli leader Giovanni Fattori in 1904 is very little different from the village roads here today.
(Village Road by Giovanni Fattori)
We have only today and tomorrow left in our two-week visit to Florence. David has headed off on his own to do a bit of shopping. I am considering if I have time for one more painting sketch. But mostly, it is time to start packing up our belongings and our hearts. It is time to say good-bye to the Tuscan hills, the fields and the narrow village roads. We promise, as good visitors sometimes do, to return. It is a sign of our love and appreciation rather than a true commitment. That is okay too, for such a possibility will be a welcomed gift during the short daylight hours of heavy rain back at home on the west coast of Canada.
We leave for Rapallo Italy on Wednesday from which we will then do a day trip into the Cinque Terre. From May 13th – 16th we will be in Nice France. The primary intent of our stay there is to see the museums of Matisse and that of Chagall. On May 16th we will travel to Aix en Provence where we will wander (and I shall paint) in the footsteps of Paul Cezanne until May 20th. We follow this up with three days in Narbonne France which will be our last stop before Barcelona Spain and our next longer stay of ten days where we will spend time with the work of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi who we have both long admired. This will take us to June 3rd with slightly more that three weeks left until we return home. As you can see, we have some shorter visits in this next stretch as we travel towards one of our major goals to visit Barcelona Spain. We will not know these places in between nearly as well but we can say that we gave them more than one-quarter of a day on high-speed town hopping European excursion. Yes, it is work to book trips independently, to plan each stay and each train trip and each meal that must be made. But I wouldn’t trade it for a fast trip. No that would never do. For it is not what we see with our eyes that sustains us but what we visit with our hearts. This is what drives my creative will, my desire to interpret and translate and this is what leaves me just a little sad with each good-bye.
Where have you most not wanted to say good-bye but instead promised – until we meet again?
© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.
Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.
Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch
From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada
For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com