Monthly Archives: September 2014

Florence, Day 20-22: From Student to Tourist — No, Make That ‘Traveler’

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Since school ended, I’ve been playing teacher — or trying to, at least. I’ve been attempting to share all I have learned with my love, knowing that teaching, in fact, teaches the teacher; or better put, you learn by teaching.

We’ve visited Santa Maria Novella, the Accademia, the Uffizi, Bargello and a few other museums, and we’ve been walking the city, all of which has so beautifully taken us on this journey from the ancients (Renaissance inspiration) to the Dark or Middle Ages (Gothic) to the Renaissance, Mannerism and Baroque. Florence’s art history peters out a bit after that, but does not fade completely.

If all of this art history fascinates you, welcome to my world. If it’s enough about “-isms” and history, join me as I try my best not to drown my husband in “too much” and we escape off to the countryside. From a walled city with a tower growing trees to a Vespa in the countryside, even I can only take “so much.”

Here’s a tip: Visit Florence off-season, from late October to early May. If you love art, January is ideal, and if you desire lots of sun, closer to the spring and fall. But this time of year, I have to escape on the weekends; the crowds thicken and my need for trees grows.

So this weekend, it was Lucca and Chianti. Lucca is delightful, they say; it’s not touristy, but show up on a September weekend and you won’t be alone. Delightful? Yes, but please, please take me to the countryside.

This is partly me; my heart and soul and art belong to the country. The rolling hills, the agriculture, the sound of the birds and the wide open spaces call my name. And it’s not a quiet call.

So Sunday, for my hubby’s birthday I booked a Vespa tour of Chianti. Yes, I did this last weekend but my love did not, and, after all, I am a landscape painter.

I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story and leave you with this thought: Love your farmers, eat local whenever possible and breathe deep the air of nature when ever you can!

XO,

SS

Florence, Day 18-19: Travel, the Great Teacher

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Working in “my office” today

It’s not just the sheer joy of it; it’s the expansion inside you. The growth of knowing something different. Simply put, I have never met a seeker who sets out on a journey and ends up regretting that choice.

My sweetie arrived yesterday. I was so genuinely giddy to see him. Not that I minded my time alone; in fact, it’s something I have come to understand about myself, that I need and completely enjoy time by myself, but with someone fantastic, the sharing is oh-so-sweet as well. Catching up, sharing “my city” and what I’ve learned with my partner — what a gift. As I poured through my sketchbook with him, he commented, “It’s got to affect you — I mean, your work.” Yes, indeed, it has, and it will.

Today was also my last day of class. I guess I’m feeling reflective. Three weeks and three fantastic teachers later, I’m affected. And with little time to think of it, it’s now as I type that I ponder. Tonight is a great and simple example. We were both tired, my love and I. A city can wear you out. So I offered to go to the grocery store to pick up ingredients for dinner in. Walking the route to my grocery store was wonderfully simple and familiar. I’ve come to form an intimacy with this city. A slight peeling beyond the surface.

The sun was shining low in the sky and the shutters, tabernacles, frescos and architecture I passed along the way were fondly familiar. It occurred to me that it’s this becoming acquainted with the new, this change in culture and routine and way of working — that, that, is the best bit of going away. To be able to see your passion, your life and work in that new context is a gift. The gift of shaking it all up so you can rearrange things back in place on your terms with the backdrop of the new, the knowledge. Each journey in life both near and far is a teacher; it’s only our job to be good students. I hope I have been that.

I’ve certainly had great teachers. To Enrico, Bennedetta and Francesca, a deep bow of gratitude: You’re all wonderfully talented, and I have big respect for each of you. thank you!

To the city of Florence, you also are a teacher of all who seek to know you. I’m not leaving the city for several more days; I’m not done here. And I’m not yet ready to come home (no matter how much I miss my sweet pup). It’s off to clear my head in the mountains and the sea, reflect and watch where these new seeds will take me, with my partner by my side. The seeking and learning is not over, but to all the teachers who so generously give of their knowledge — in particular, my teachers on this particular journey — a deep, deep bow of appreciation!

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The grand old king of cities, Florence