Sunday, October 25, 2015

Day Trip to San Gimignano and Saying Goodbye to Tuscany

It had been a fantastic week at Fattoria Bacio and our final days gave us more of the same. The sunrise Thursday morning was spectacular...

and the skies cleared by breakfast time, forecasting a perfect day for our trip to San Gimignano.

But as we ate our breakfast, a stealthy fog began to fill the valleys, gradually covering all but the tops of the hills. A trio of hot air balloons moved silently overhead, their view of the countryside obscured by a blanket of white...

Lucky for us, though, when we gathered an hour or so later for our trip to San G, the views were back, beautiful as ever...

We stopped on the way to take a photo of our group, with vineyards, hills, and a view of the towers of San Gimignano in the distance.

(Left to right) Debbie, Rebecca, Candy, Suzanne, Linda, Eric, Saundra, Leslie, Joann, Geraldine, Nancy, Larry, & Maurice

600-year-old walls still surround the medieval hill town,

and most of the city is pedestrian-only, making it a pleasure to stroll the narrow lanes.

We visited on market day...

and after meandering through the market for an hour or so, we rewarded ourselves with a gelato from the award-winning Gelateria Dondoli. As expected, it was amazing!

There were plenty of opportunities for sketching things both big...



and small...

Shopping was a lot of fun, with leather goods, ceramics and clothing being the specialties.

We made it back to Fattoria Bacio in plenty of time for another one of Patrizia's extraordinary dinners. This one was accompanied by the estate's special dessert wine known as Vin Santo.

To make Vin Santo, white grapes are harvested and then laid out to dry in a well-ventilated attic area where the flavors and sugars in the grapes are concentrated before pressing. Fattoria Bacio's Vin Santo is then aged for fifteen years, so the wine we enjoyed at dinner had been made in the year 2000. It was served with almond biscotti which we dunked in the wine. Heavenly!

Our final day in Tuscany started with one last lesson in the studio.

I gave everyone some pointers on designing a title page for their travel journals, and we all worked on finishing up some pages that had been started earlier in the week.

Larry used a color box to push the subject forward on this page about San Gimignano

Joann's colorful composite page about a trip to Certaldo

Use 1/4" painter's tape to mask off boxes for a gridded page like this one from one of my students

We had an optional trip to the medieval hamlet of Barberino in the late morning, but some of us opted to hang around the villa for some quiet time.

I decided to stay behind and spend some time painting...

After all the busyness of the week, I really enjoyed grabbing an hour or two for myself.

I'll add some journaling to this page later

Geraldine attracted a crowd as she sat nearby. Who knew cats would be so interested in someone eating an orange? It's not like she had an open can of tuna fish, after all. Silly kitties!

We had a gelato party outdoors under the chestnut tree in the afternoon. A day in Italy just isn't complete without enjoying gelato at least once!

After a little more time painting, and a final dinner, we said our farewells and promised to keep in touch. The students gave me a gorgeous handmade scarf from San Gimignano as a thank you gift.

They must have read my mind, because I almost bought myself the exact same scarf on Thursday when we were in town! Imagine my surprise when I opened the package and saw the scarf I had been yearning for.

They were a great group of people, and I count myself blessed to have had a chance to get to know each one of them. I hope they enjoyed the trip as much as I did. I was inspired by their artwork and their upbeat attitudes every day. Thanks, guys! I couldn't have asked for a better group of friends to accompany me on my first teaching trip to Europe.

And now I'm looking toward the future! I'll be announcing details for my 2016 workshop in Tuscany next week. The dates will be September 24 - October 1, 2016. I am also working on arrangements for a watercolor workshop in Provence in 2017, so watch for information coming soon!


  1. What a wonderful trip! I've loved seeing all the photos and sketches. I see you used your setup inspired by Marc Taro Holmes. How did you like it? Did you also take your Dr. Ion pencil case? Do you think you've finally found your ideal travel sketch kit?

  2. I liked the Coroplast setup a lot, and I used the Dr. Ion pencil case every day. It holds everything I need and more. I will definitely take it again next year.


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