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edited June 2017 in General Discussion
My wife and I just returned from 16 days in Italia.  We flew in to Milan, then did a loop through Varenna, Castelrotto, Venice, Florence, Assisi, Tivoli, Rome, the Tuscany region, Cinque Terre, and back to Milan. Wonderful country and I would highly recommend making the trip.  The scenery we passed through left me with enough source material to paint for the rest of my life.  However, the paintings, sculpture, and mosaics we saw made me feel like an insignificant speck as a mere painter.  We took in a few galleries and cathedrals while we traveled, and the sheer volume of incredible artwork was mind-numbing.  The cathedrals are literally encrusted with art.  Pictures cannot do complete justice to these locations, but I would like to share a few.

San Marco mosaics in Venice.

The Doge's Palace in Venice. Each room was more spectacular than the last.  The paintings measured in tens of feet.
The Gallerie Dell' Accademia in Venice.  I didn't photograph much in here, but was enthralled by the amount of ornamentation they put on this 3 foot tall crucifix.

Two newer sculptures out on the Punta Della Dogana in Venice.



  • edited June 2017
    Awesome photos, quality fantastic! I especially like the photo statue of David. Almost as good as being there with you, getting the sense of the rooms. Thank you @WIKEN, such incredibly beautiful artwork!
  • The Vatican Museum collection and The Sistine Chapel.  No photos in the Sistine Chapel, but it was magnificent.

    The Raphael room.  Yes, that is Napoleon Bonaparte.  What level of arrogance he must have possessed. 

    Sylvester Stallone?

    St. Peter's Basilica

    Those are real diamonds.

    We then walked to the Borghese Gallery.  Our ticket said no photography, so I checked my camera bag in.  Once we were in the gallery, everyone was taking pictures.  I decided to just walk through and enjoy.  Another phenomenal collection.  Some excellent portrait artists. 

  • The Refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.  Each group is given 15 minutes to view The Last Supper and The Crucifixion frescoes.  Limit is 1200 people per day.
  • @WIKEN I envy you! I went to Italy in 2005 and it was mind boggling. Every corner of Rome, Venice and Milan had art in it (I couldn't go to Florence)! I grew up watching photos of the masters in Italy, buildings by great artists and architects and then old historic music much later. Some of my most favorite paintings are here in this post.

    You are right in one thing. After a point your mind cannot take it! There are so many. Billions of these. Even Vatican building is study job for a year or more! It surely showed that what Italy was between 13th-17th century.

    We went to Milan from Latina by bus. It was an amazing journey. The towns and villages on the hills were so old and it seemed that they never grew. Sunlight and open sky - a must visit for every open air artist. You could feel the shadows of those old landscapes that were used as backdrops.
  • My mother went there when I was a kid. She would cry when she tried to describe the beauty she saw. The 3x4 Kodak prints she brought back were her pride and joy. These photo's you've brought back  are wonderful and your memories of it and the stories you'll tell will be wonderful too, @WIKEN. Thanks for posting them and sharing with us.
    edited June 2017
    From the outset, let me be clear.  If you see something that tickles your fancy, and feel the urge to put it to canvas or board, you have my complete permission to use any image I post here as a reference.  I can email you the actual photo file, if you wish.

    One of the amazing times on our trip was accidental.  We had visited the sanctuary at La Verna, and were trying to get south towards Assisi.  We hit a road block due to some sort of road race, and had to turn around.  After rerouting on Google Maps, we ended up passing through Caprese Michelangelo, the birthplace of Michelangelo.  It is a small hill town, and we figured we'd go up and have a look.  Midday and nobody there except two young employees.  5 euro each, and we had the grounds to ourselves the entire time we were there.  

  • The Sanctuary at La Verna is high up in the hills.  Cool, shady and very peaceful.  Saint Francis lived here for some time.

  • There are many portrait artists on the streets of the bigger cities if you want a sitting.   My wife and I went all out and had ourselves chiseled in marble. :p :p :p
  • After landing outside Milan, we drove up to Varenna for our first taste of Italy.  We were not sure we were going to top Lake Como after we left there.

    The view from our bed and breakfast, Eremo Gaudio, a former hermitage in the hills.

    Everywhere you looked there was another beautiful scene.

  • From Varenna, we headed northeast towards Castelrotto and the Dolomites.  We stopped at Trauttmannsdorf Gardens along the way.  The drive through the passes was fun in a little Fiat.

  • The Dolomites are so massive and dotted with towns and outposts begging to be explored.

  • Fantastic photos to work from whether drawing or painting. Thank you so much for your generosity.
  • On to Venice.  I believe the city needs no introduction.  The best way to see the city is set your alarm for 5 AM and take a walk.  Just you and the street sweepers.

    edited June 2017
    High speed train to Florence.  Our B&B was 1/2 block from the Duomo.  The old city is easy to walk through, distance-wise but crammed with people.  The evening and morning were better.  We walked over to the Palazzo Pitti, and low and behold, they were performing Verdi's "La Traviata".  We bought tickets and enjoyed an outdoor Italian opera.  

  • One quirky thing I noticed when leaving the Uffizi Gallery.  Apparently there was a Dr. Seuss long before Dr. Seuss.  Ceiling paintings in the exit foyer.

    edited June 2017
    From Florence, we grabbed another Fiat and drove to Assisi.  It is somewhat ironic that Saint Francis spent his life telling the church to simplify and get back to what was important, then they build this massive basilica, really two basilicas, to honor him.  Very picturesque, and again, get up early to beat the crowds. 

    edited June 2017
    We had the unique pleasure of being in Spello on the one day a year they celebrate Le Infiorate di Spello.  Groups work through the night creating elaborate designs and pictures using mainly flower petals.  The next day, the clergy march through the streets, across these creations, so the art is only complete for an hour or two before it is destroyed.  It was breezy that day, so they had erected awnings over the design areas.  I will never see anything like it, again.

    The sunflowers were blooming in Umbria.  My wife was very happy.

    edited June 2017
    We departed and headed southwest to Tivoli to see Villa de Este, a large water garden.  There is something very soothing about fountains.

    edited June 2017
    We dropped the car in Tivoli and took a taxi into Rome.  Well worth the money.  Do not attempt to drive in Rome.  Our B&B was just up the street from the Colosseum.  What can you say about Rome that hasn't already been said?

    The Colosseum and The Roman Forum

    edited June 2017
    The Victor Emmanuel Monument

    edited June 2017
    edited June 2017
    Trevi Fountain.  We tossed the coin.

    Piazza Navona

  • Breathtaking! @WIKEN you have an excellent eye for composition in photography Thanks again for sharing these awesome pictures. Don't disappoint me by only painting the goose.
  • The next day was spent touring Vatican City.  
  • The following day, we hopped a train to Orvieto, grabbed a Toyota Yaris, and headed out into Tuscany.
    Orvieto, Civita de Bagnoragio, and San Gimigniano.  Picturesque towns and countryside.

    edited June 2017
    We dropped the rental off in Pisa, then headed out onto the coast by train to Vernazza, one of the five towns that make up the Cinque Terre.  Our room had a balcony on the cliff face overlooking the sea. Landscape upon seascape.  

  • Great photos, @WIKEN. What a wonderful experience.
    edited June 2017
    Sorry, the thread got a little too large, and takes so long to load. Hard to whittle down.  I took over 2000 pictures, and have whittled that down to around 1700. 

  • Last stop before flying out was Milan.  The Duomo is one of the five largest cathedrals in the world, and is constructed of solid marble.  No flying buttresses or other supports needed like other gothic cathedrals which are made of brick with marble facade.  Over 2000 statues grace the exterior of the building.  Truly an awesome sight.

  • And that, my friends, is a quick trip through parts of northern Italia.  Thanks for looking.
  • New challenge!  Paint something from Wiken's incredible travel log.  I get dibs on the ballerina.  a perfect composition as shot.
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    edited July 2017
    @WIKEN, that's a fantastic collection.  Thank you for uploading all those beautiful photographs.  There are a couple in there I would like to paint.  First: acquire skills to do it justice.

    @MikeDerby that's a great idea, if we didn't have a challenge already in play.  I want to paint that Cinque Terre aerial shot on a giant panel, the detail level speaks to me.  I think @BOB73 already has dibs on the goose.
  • Beautiful photographs!  :o  <3
  • So incredibly beautiful! By the way, isn't that a white swan? LOL!
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    So incredibly beautiful! By the way, isn't that a white swan? LOL!
    Yes, a male swan.
  • I am writing this as I wait for all these photos to download!! ;)  For those who are interested, there are many, many "art schools" (usually run by a solo painter) and retreats for artists. One in particular is a place in the mountains of Tuscany called "Peralta". It was started from ruins by sculptor Fiore de Hanriquez (with the help of my Uncle ;) ) in the 70's and remains to to its conception as a place for artists to stay and create. Supposed to be spectacularly beautiful - I've only seen photos. (My Uncle died in 1990; Fiore in 2004.

    By the way, when I saw the Sistine Chapel back in the 60's (I was 11 or so), I was absolutely horrified by the commercialisation, the noise, the and ugliness of the room - people were even smoking there. It has since been restored to what you now see - fabulous restoration (which I haven't seen, YET ;) )

    Thanks for this incredible travelogue!! Not to mention inspiration!!

  • Fabulous restoration indeed! clearly seen in these photos, fantastic.
  • Thank you, everyone, for the feedback.  I love photography as a way to chronicle my experiences, but what can you do with all the photos except share them.  A couple clarifications.

    Yes, that is a male mute swan.  There was a pair of them.  One of my first amazing experiences in Italy was with these swans.  I was up early, and our room was high on the hill overlooking Lake Como. I was drinking in the scenery from our terrace.  No boats on the lake and no wind.  Very still.  These two swans came winging by far below me, right over the water.  Very beautiful thing to see on a calm morning.  

    The ballerina is interesting.  At most of the major sites we went to, there were professional photographers shooting models.  That little ballerina had just finished shooing away some tourists from her background before she pranced back to her photographers, It was around 6 AM in the square of San Marco.  I'm not sure how they get the pictures they want, because you never know who will be in the background.  Here's three more examples.

    Milan's Fashion Center

    San Marco, just a few minutes before the ballerina.

    The Spanish Steps in Rome. 

    @Forgiveness, sorry, no pics of the Sistine Chapel, not allowed.  It would have been very difficulty to photograph due to the sheer volume of frescoes adorning the walls.  It is a very holy site for the Roman Catholic church, so the rules are strict.  I didn't want to get the boot.   
  • edited July 2017
    I know just what you mean about  these white swans early in the morning like that. When I previously was more active in plein air painting where I live, I used to go right into the river, knee high to visit and witness these swans right up close, 5:30 AM as the sun is coming up. Took photos as well for painting later, it's quite an amazing experience. There's nothing like that morning sunlight that make such a beautiful scene to witness, experience and to capture.
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