Posted in Food in Italy, Italy, Orvieto, Orvieto Italy, Travel, Travel to Italy, Umbria, Uncategorized | Tagged olive oil harvest in Italy, picking olives, raccolta delle olive, Umbria | 13 Comments »
The clock tower bells ring out to announce it’s six o’clock. I jump up, grab my coat, obligatory scarf and run out the front door towards the main street of town! No one loves Sunday passeggiata (evening stroll) more than I do!
All over Italy this ritual plays out as streets swell with well-dressed residents parading about to show off their new shoes or newest love affairs. Back and forth, up and down, back and forth.
I merge into the flow, but unfortunately find myself stuck behind three generations of a family: Grandparents, parents, children, baby buggy and even the dog. Linked arm-and-arm they’ve spread themselves across the width of the street like an Italian game of Red Rover. I wait for a slight opening in the chain and squirm my way around the group, rushing to secure a place on the bench in front of the gelateria – my absolute favorite spot for people watching.
It’s here at the intersection of Corso Cavour and Via Del Duomo that foot traffic builds to critical mass, bottlenecking to create a kind of pedestrian gridlock.
I’m so happy to have scored a front row seat for La Passeggiata d’Orvieto. All that’s missing is the popcorn.
It goes without saying that painters of landscapes love the out of doors, but for one American-turned-Roman resident, Plein air painting isn’t only a passion it’s a way of life. Riding around the Eternal City on her “tricked out” bicycle – two saddle bags swinging in the wind and trusty easel strapped to her back – it’s just another day at the office for artist Kelly Medford.
I met Kelly outside a book event in Rome last fall and mistakenly took her for a college student studying abroad. Perhaps it was her fresh face and wide-eyed exuberance that makes Kelly seem much younger than her 36 years, but make no mistake about it – this petite powerhouse of a woman is an accomplished painter with serious credentials.
Kelly Medford grew up in Washington, D.C., the only child of two left-brained scientists. Her emotional, expressive and free-spirited nature set her on a different path with its share of serendipitous forks in the road and twists of fate along the way.
Fortunately for us Kelly’s travels eventually landed her in Italy where she was accepted into the prestigious Florence Academy of Art. It was in the Renaissance capital that she spent a year of intensive training in classical figurative drawing, honing her skills and developing her techniques. But painting indoors made Kelly feel isolated and itching to spread her wings so, in 2010, she traded the dimly lit, heavy-curtained and controlled environment of Florence for the warm, golden sun-soaked locations of Rome. You’ll most likely find Kelly on a tiny lane or hidden piazza painting beautifully evocative canvases of Roman life or the surrounding countryside.
Kelly loves to paint. Kelly loves the outdoors. Kelly loves to share her love of painting outdoors so Sketching Rome Tour was born. “I created the tour so that people could have a different way of experiencing and remembering Rome. It’s such a beautiful place with so much history, that to take a photograph doesn’t really capture how you feel about a place.”
No Experience Necessary. No Erasers Allowed
I recently met up with Kelly and her sketch group at their morning classroom, the Pincio balcony adjacent to the Villa Borghese gardens. My fellow students were Joanie, a teacher from Palm Springs (paints in her spare time) and daughters Becca (likes art a lot) and Vanessa (an excellent doodler).
Following a brief but enlightening lesson on technique and tips for using our handmade-by-Kelly sketchbook and kit, we fanned out to draw…rocks, leaves, sign posts, statues…I was having so much fun I didn’t want the tour to end, but sadly it had to end…but not before gathering as a group for a little “show and tell”.
Kelly urged us to continue our visual travel journals after the tour was over. “When you look at those drawings”, Kelly explained, “you’ll have a recall about the day, what it was like, who was there, the weather – just the place – and that’s why sketching is important.”
Memories, as I learned from Kelly, are extra-special when you can hold them in your hand.
For more information about how you can sketch your own Roman memories, contact Kelly Medford at Sketching Rome Tour
See Kelly’s artwork at Kelly Medford.com and her Adventures in Painting Blog
Posted in Artists in Italy, Italy, Living in Italy, Orvieto Italy, Rome, Travel | Tagged florence academy of art, Kelly Medford, Pincio, plein air painting, Rome Italy, Rome Plein Air artist, Sketching Tour of Rome, tours of rome, Villa Borghese | 10 Comments »
I live on a quiet little vicolo (alley) just off the main piazza in town. It’s very private – the entrance to my apartment is the only one on the lane. No cars are allowed to drive down this street, however, foot traffic, motorcycles and scooters are permitted. The motorcycle riders love to park their bikes here (rather than in the designated parking spaces just a few steps around the corner). Italian motorcycles are the iconic epitome of power and sex appeal: Ducati, Aprilia, Vespa. Motorbikes and their owners are immediately deemed “cool” in my book, so I figured living on a street where they congregate makes me cool by association.
…I came home last week to find a motorcycle parked directly beneath my kitchen window making it impossible for me to water my geraniums. I left the guy a note on his windshield.
Yesterday I discovered two girls sitting and smoking on my stoop – their scooter helmets lying in the street. Okay fine, young girls need a secluded place to commiserate about boys, but did they have to leave behind their plastic orange juice containers and a bunch of cigarette butts on the ground? Who do they think I am, La Mamma?
The cigarette butts are starting to pile up. Do you have any idea know how long it takes to sweep up a month’s worth of discarded butts between the cobblestones? Forty-five minutes. That’s right, forty-five minutes! And the thin, hand-rolled ones are the worst!
Is it really necessary to rev your engine for what seems like FOREVER, before driving away?
Today was the final straw…
This is war!
I don’t like the word “Expat” – it feels exclusionary, divisive and, dare I say it, a bit elitist.
I never liked being a member of a clique in school either, preferring to spread myself around, hopping from one social and ethic circle to another.
1ex·pa·tri·ate verb \ek-ˈspā-trē-ˌāt\
1: banish, exile
2: to withdraw (oneself) from residence in or allegiance to one’s native country
…Nope, that doesn’t quite define me.
Look, it’s perfectly obvious that I am not from around here (especially when I open my mouth) so I see no real need to announce it, label it, or hide behind it.
Go ahead and call me an “American”, call me a “Straniera” (foreigner), call me “crazy”, but don’t call me “Expat”.
Photograph “American Girl” by Ruth Orkin, 1951
Yeah, I know, I’ve been in a lot of film and video lately. Fifty-six years of relative obscurity and then, all of sudden, a rash of media exposure.
House Hunters International came calling in January to film this segment shortly after my move to Italy. The episode airs this Tuesday, July 9 at 10:30 p.m. Eastern/Pacific on HGTV.
The best moments filming the show …
Appearing with my son, Andrew Todd.
Working with the fabulous U.K. crew: Director Ben, Cameraman Gordon and Soundman Martin.
…and the wrap party that followed.
I can’t watch it from Europe.
What I hope for…
Sincere and special thanks to…
The City of Orvieto, Italy
Mayor Toni Concina & Riccardo Caracciolo Di Forino
David Tordi and The Bartenders
Textile Conservator, Igor Honkanen
Painters, Massimo Chioccia & Olga Tsarkova
Marbled paper artist, Lamberto Bernardini
Steve Brenner, Linda Martinez, Giulia, Paloma, Viola & Goji Martinez-Brenner
Daniela Tordi, Darya Tordi & Federica Romagnoli
Giulia Donato & Nick Magliulo
Consular General, Italian Consulate of San Francisco & Jeffrey Capaccio, Esq.
Biordi Imports, San Francisco
Ristorante Ideale, San Francisco
Manuela Calvet, Maya & Anais Bette
Marisa Huber, Carol Carol Solfanelli, Suzee and Volker Ackermann & Dionne Garcia