Cinque terre – the 2nd week of the Art Tour

Please forgive how late this post is...after my backpack was stolen in Rome with all my Artworks, Journals and Materials from the whole trip I kinda lost my step a little...

Day 8 Travel Day-

Today we loaded up the van (yep thats someone lending a hand in there) and headed for the Cinque terre... From Dolceacqua to Monterosso is about 260 ks and we had a lovely 2 and a half hour drive with lots of dozing and snoozing, subdued chatting and laughter.

As sad as it was to leave our hideaway in the hills, we were excited about the next part of our adventure...

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Arrive Monterosso

Our arrival in Monterosso was ushered in by Police keeping the Tourists out of the old town streets. We had to ditch the van and the driver and head off on foot to the Hotel Margherita...and boy, what a place to call home for the next 5 days! Perfect location, great views, awesome staff, lovely food and comfy rooms...gotta love that!

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This pic was taken from my balcony...tehe...
Free afternoon to wander and shop, sightsee and generally ease ourselves into the new is such a pretty place and we are in the heart of the village (good choice Diana). After we were allocated our rooms and unpacked we headed off to discover what we could, as luck would have it there was a festival on tonight with a big bonfire on the beach, free spaghetti at the town hall and a 'slippery pole, get the salmai first' challenge with all 5 towns on the Cinque terre competing. What a hoot!

Now back to the Art stuff...

Day 9 Riomaggoire- the southernmost town on the Cinque terre

A short train ride from our new digs in Monterosso and our painting location for today. Once we arrived at the little harbour we headed straight for the action where we found a great little cafe perched up high, away from the crowds of tourists and with an uninterrupted view of curved stone walls beside angled steps that hugged the coastline all the way to the gorgeous unexplainable blue greens of the crystal clear water.

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The water is so transparent we can see the hull of the fishing boats under the waterline...they dance and sway on the surface, seeming to float above the rocks and sand of the seabed below...truly exhilarating to see!

Day 10 Vernazza- our favourite so far...

What a beautiful square, after another short train ride we wandered off in the direction of the ocean and meandered through cobblestone streets, past permanents shops and market stalls only open this time of the morning to cater for the tourist trade. The summers here would be very different from the winters...the locals seem tolerant but somewhat overwhelmed by the swollen population the warm weather brings.
As with all these amazing places, and even the not so outstanding, the pots of insane coloured flowers combined with the architecture and the incredible Mediterranean light give rise to a joy and gasps of wonder.
Riomaggiore wide
When we reached the square we were overcome with the beauty of the location. Directly in front of us was the beautiful, clear water accessible by a small boat ramp and a sea wall lead that lead the eye directly to a stunning old church. The other 3 sides consisted of multi storied, multi coloured buildings with peeling paint and typical green shutters all on the mad Italian crookedness that is so familiar and endearing.
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Inside the square was a barrage of colours dominated by yellow umbrellas and chairs, seriously yellow...but not too much. There were boats lined up in striped covers, chairs and closed orange and blue umbrellas waiting for a time later in the day when they would spring open and shelter the revellers underneath from the hot sun.

The open cafes sprawled across the space, with people enjoying the food, the drinks, the company and the space, the whole feel of this square in quite unique and special! What a sensational place to spend our Art Class blessed!

Day 11 Monterosso & Corniglia- two paintings sessions today... (lucky ducks)

No rush this morning, no trains to catch, we just painted in front of the hotel Margherita, our home for the moment. Via Roma (the street were on) is a bustling little thoroughfare that provides a path for all kinds of activities. Since we have been here we had seen shopkeepers set up and pull down their stalls, cafes appear out of nothing, a constant stream of tourists, local families catching up, couples openly embracing, people going to and coming home from work, religious figures hurrying on their way, cleaners and garbos cleaning up each morning, and even butchers carrying sides of beef over their shoulders.
There is a real rhythm in this little town, church bells reminding us of the time mingle with the hum of Italian passion presented in animated conversations and singing workers. The shopping, sightseeing and sampling are all at our fingertips, the beach and train station a short walk away, and the people are embracing us as locals...
Monterosso Demo
These old towns are set on steep slopes and when it rains the streets act like chanels that fill with water and a raging torrent happens very quickly. There have been many floods that prompted the building of deep drains covered with metal grates and connected to a complex drainage system, its easy to pass over them without even noticing...
Two years ago there was an usually high rainfall here and the mudslides that followed contained matter too thick to pass through the grates so the sludge couldn't go down the drains and there was major damage to both the old town and the spirit of the people. In some places there were still marks above the height of the first floor on buildings where the debris sat until it could be cleaned away...we saw pictures of the interioris of majestic medieval churches with upended and destroyed priceless furniture and relics creating devastation, it was heartbreaking to see...we could only imagine how the locals found the courage to rebuild.
Anyway, the location offered many interesting subjects to occupy our time and imaginings and the morning slipped away. Many focused on an interesting little pink house, 3 times taller than it was wide with a noticeable tilt, a cute staircase and colourful flower boxes bathe in morning light...

After lunch and siesta (a practice we're all growing to love) we caught a train to Corniglia with an intent to do another painting session followed by dinner then catch a train home later.

After Europe 1311The really dedicated stepped up to their easels and enjoyed a southern view along the coast where Manarola clings to the cliffs and sprawls along the ridge.
I must admit it was a bit of a marathon but we did it! Weary and willful we went the distance and created some lovely little images and vivid memories of this lovely place. After we finished, we found a cafe and had a wine, and changed our dinner plans because of limited transport from here to the train station where we headed back to Monterosso to dine.

Day 12 Villa Adriana grounds

Today we moved hotels but stayed in the same town so it was afternoon before we were settled in and ready for our Art session to start. The new hotel didn't have the same charm as our last one but there was a pool, free bikes to ride and a new part of town to discover...

Villa Adriana (11)

It turned out to have some interesting subjects for us to concentrate on, like buildings with pretty arches and shuttered windows, staircases featuring pots of riotous colour, town views with pine nut trees and typical Tuscan buildings.
We had a lovely session, both Watercolours and Pastels were done on the day and most chose a staircase with strong leading lines, backed by very interesting buildings and flanked by the beautifully lit pots of flowers as the subject matter. It was the perfect time to study perspective and to notice the angles stairs take on whether they were above or below the eye...
Its one of the most important benefits of coming on an Art Tour... the necessary and sometimes difficult areas of study need awe inspiring subject to fill the imagination. While in full engagement with what lies before us, noticing the shapes, the angles, the spaces and the contrasts, moving our hand in line with what we see... an unconscious, automatic reflection appears on the paper.

This was the first afternoon session we had done with close up forms and the low strong afternoon light that cast long dark shadows just added to the sense of place and drama. So with the backdrop of arches and circular topped cut glass windows nestled in typical Tuscan Ochre colours and sanctioned by local stone walls the crackle of Creativity filled the air. It was nice to stay 'home' today...

Day 13 Manarola last painting day

Another short train ride beginning at 9 am took us to the only village we hadn't been to on the Cinque terre and the location of our last painting day of the Tour. There are many walks along this rugged coastline and the views are unique and magnificent, many of us wanted to participate while we were here but were unable to as they were closed due to landslides. What we discovered when we arrived in Manarola and had a little wander was that a walkway that meandered along a ridge through gardens and orchards and eventually lead down to the sea was open and we could take the long way to our location...we were stoked!

After Europe 1338It was a beautiful day and a sensational way to see the village and the sea from such a high vantage point as well as using all those steps to work of some of the Italian foods we had been partaking in...yep we were all noticing a little voluptuousness...
We walked along a trail and marvelled at the terraced lemons and grapes, the religious icons in olive groves, the stunning Poppy's and bright berries, and the fresh air coming on a gentle breeze that accompanied us. Soon we started moving downwards and popped out at a spot where we could see the snaking coastline with the villages clinging tenaciously to the mountains and we wondered how they didn't tumble into the sea...lots more climbing down and we found another path that lead to a covered picnic area that over looked the port with its cascading colourful houses and tiny harbour.
What a spot! There were tables and chairs and shade and water and a toilet...what more could we want? Alright food and coffee/wine would be great but what we had was enough to have a great session until lunchtime when we would wander down into the town and find a restaurant for sustenance...
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The view was stunning, the water so clear and blue it defied belief, little boats with sparks of bright colours floating on the water surface bordered by rough rocks that grow into tall rugged grey cliffs, the greens of the terraced hills that melt into the earth coloured buildings make us sigh with wonder and the colour wheel spin. We just get lost in Art and Colour, line and shape, tone and space and time disappears...the session is over, suddenly we are hungry, we Oh and Ah at the images that have become in the time frame today and sadly pack up, no one can really believe this is the last Art day!
This afternoon we will have a review and cocktails but probably not in that order...'show & tell' is a time for reflection, a time for encouragement and a chance to look at the body of work that was achieved in the section of the trip. It really is fun and fundamental to the confidence of us's what we do!!!
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Lots of celebrations...

Day 14 Pisa...our last night of the Art Tour

Tomorrow we all go our separate ways and the mood is somewhat subdued...although we're all having a great time, there is that awareness that the time draws near...Our hotel was a grand old dame right in the middle of Pisa with many hideaways and loads of character, there was a beautiful roof garden and a terrace right on the river to view the Festival. Yes, there was yet another festival on the night we arrived, a 'chest beating' man challenge to take the main bridge from last years winners...thats a whole other adventure! Many of us had never been to Pisa before so hadn't seen its wonders, the most widely known leaning Tower...What no-one told me was how beautiful it is. The marble is the most exquisite Champagne colour and the intricate marble features combined with it meanings and history blew me away... 
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Day 15- Departure...very early morning transfer to Pisa Airport!

Would we all do it again?

You bet we will...if you'd like to come with us, just keep watching, there will definitely be another...soon!

8 thoughts on “Cinque terre – the 2nd week of the Art Tour

  1. Jeanne

    Ah Carolyn, your beautiful words brought it all back for me. I loved the Cinque Terre! Such a beautiful week immersing ourselves in the art of Italy – how blessed! Would I do it again? In a heartbeat Sista!!! You bring to our art tours a lightness, a deep appreciation of art, a new view and loads of laughter. When’s the next one? x Jeanne

    • admin Post author

      Funny you should say that…I started working on the next one last night…talk about setting a goal straight away! Which I see you have done as well, so smart, you sassy thang you! Thank you for all you bring as well, your gracious spirit and sense of humour, your talent and passion…can’t imagine life without you…xxx

  2. Lyndall

    Thanks for the memory jog! What a marvellous, wonderful, fantastical 2 weeks. The friendship of women, sponteaneous song and ART; what a visual feast we had to choose from …oh, not forgetting the food & wine!


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