Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sketchbook Journeys - Italy: Day 15 (Scenes from Manarola)

We were only in Cinque Terre for about 24 hours, but it felt like much more, since we spent most of our time relaxing and pursuing the fine arts of ambling, meandering and wandering. The major sites to see there aren't museums and cathedrals, but rather sparkling water, rugged cliffs, colorful houses, and terraced hillsides.

10" x 7" ink & watercolor, Stillman & Birn Beta series sketchbook, sketched on location in Manarola, Italy

When I went out exploring early in the morning on our last day in Manarola, I followed a set of winding stone steps up toward the terraced gardens and vineyards above the town. I was curious to see what kinds of plants were growing there. But as I climbed higher, the steps became narrower and steeper, and I began to grab hold of anything I could to steady myself. 

The path went straight up the hillside, and I continued to inch my way higher and higher, feeling more wobbly by the moment. I finally had to give in to a growing case of vertigo and slowly make my way back down the trail, breathing a huge sigh of relief when I was back at street level.

The rest of the time, I contented myself with looking at the stone walls, orchards and vineyards from below. This old stone garden hut caught my attention, and I sketched it while sitting safely on solid ground in town.

Colors from the sketches are echoed in the painted lettering.

I spied this beautiful vine-covered doorway just opposite the church of San Lorenzo...

10" x 7", Noodler's Lexington Gray ink & watercolor, Stillman & Birn Beta series sketchbook

The two elderly women sitting next to me chattered in Italian the entire time I was sketching. They probably sit there every day doing the exact same thing. And why not?

The interior of the church is not as fancy as some, but the light streaming in through the windows was gorgeous.

I snapped a photo of this pretty little brook as I walked back to our hotel to pack up and check out. The sketch was added later to the pre-drawn box on this page.

It was our last full day in Italy, and I felt a heightened awareness of how little time I had remaining. Every shuttered window and line of laundry hanging in the sun made me smile. Every old Italian man slowly making his way up the street looked so adorable! The deep blue sky, the craggy cliffs, the turquoise water - I soaked it all up, took it all in, and appreciated every moment.


  1. I've really enjoyed seeing your watercolour sketches from your trip to Italy. I can understand you wanting to capture every little moment in your sketchbook journal. Loved the one of the two ladies sitting outside the church and although you didn't show one of an old man meandering up the street, I'm sure the image will always be imprinted in your mind.

  2. I love your sketches from Manorola. It was such a lovely spot. I was amazed to watch them work in those gardens on the steep hillside. I think you need to be part mountain goat to do that without falling. lol


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