This was the very first open air painting I did in Italy. I walked about one block up from the Arrioto (block, they don’t really have blocks. There’s basically one road that runs through town and it may split off and run around a couple central buildings and then merge back together futher along). When I first saw the building I just stared at it for a while. It was just to the right of where the road split away like a Y, so all there was to sit on was the stoop of the building at the center of that Y (literally).
I always felt like I was in the way, though no one ever came out or entered that doorway. On my first day painting an older woman came by wearing a dress that came to mid shin, and a drab colored sweater. Her greying hair was pulled back in a low, loose bun with wisps that floated on the breeze. “Buon giorno,” she said smiling with her heavily lined cheeks. She watched over my shoulder a moment and then waved her hand in the direction of my subject and conversed as though she had as much interest in the building as I had. I smiled pleasantly although I couldn’t understand what she was saying. She complimented me as she walked away with her cloth shopping bag draped over her bent arm.
The next day another woman in a dress came by with a satchel of paperwork over her shoulder. She pulled out a brochure and handed it to me. It had something to do with art and architecture but it was all in Italian and she talked on about it pointing to pictures. I cursed myself for being such a naive midwestern farm girl. But there was no way I was going to be able to learn Italian in a couple weeks. The study of my phrase book helped when we were out to eat and looking at menus, but it was of no help to have been able to appreciate the people and information around us.
On our very last day Glen and I dined for supper in the beautiful old part of the Arrioto. Our gracious host, Graciosa (spelling?pronunciation?) came to our table on the balcony to ask how our meal was so I showed her some paintings from my notebook. She cooed over her beloved Arrioto, and when I showed her the painting I had done on my first day and inquired as to any info about it she called it the Villa Demartini (spelling?) and went on about there being beautiful paintings all over the walls inside. I said “oh why didn’t you tell us that earlier, I would have loved to see them.” “Next time,” she said and moved away to her other guests.
Will there be a next time… who knows.
There are many more storys to share from Italy, and I will share them as I work on creating paintings and drawings from the stack of pictures that I took on our journey.