Art Dump Before Travel

August 17, 2014 § 1 Comment

This will be short and sweet, because I still have an entire backpack to fill up with woolen socks and scarves before hopping on a train in the morning and flying out to Scotland in the evening.  So… I will leave you with this week’s artistic endeavors.

The first watercolor sketch is of Ancona’s grotte (little caves in the side of the cliffside that serve as boat storage and BBQ/wine nooks):


The next two are depictions of this season’s opera productions at the Sferisterio.

Ecco, the dark and mighty Aida:


And my most-beloved Traviata:

La Traviata

I can’t believe that this summer’s beachtime lounging (OK, wine-sipping and paint-splattering) has already come to an end… I don’t know if I will actually miss it, but, it did kind of grow on me.

Oh well… I will have time to ponder on trains tomorrow, as Mr. Italian and I embark on a 13-day adventure through Scotland.  (But first, the even more adventurous Ancona-Treviso Airport route!) I’m looking forward to cloudy skies and dramatic skylines and some writing inspiration.  And, hopefully, empty, desolate stretches of road and sea, away from the highness of high season.

But, most importantly, cliffs.  And whiskey.

You can’t go wrong with that combination (well, I guess that you can go drastically wrong with that combination, but, uncombined, it’s perfect).

See you all in a couple of weeks!

Se Dico Aria

August 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

I am happy to announce that something artistic is finally going on in Ancona!  Well, not exactly in Ancona, but in Camerano, the next hill over.  Which is close enough.

Camerano is currently hosting Caleidoscopio, a type of art fair consisting of three separate art exhibitions.  I am not sure how they decided to pick the three exhibitions- and neither are any of the workers there, it seems.  So, as an art festival, there’s not much to promote.  There is a single painting by Carlo Maratti inside the Chiesa di Santa Faustina, which Camerano is very proud of- probably because the artist was born in Camerano.  And then there are two seperate spaces dedicated to Quirino Ruggeri, another marchigiano.  One is a collection of portrait statues, which is cool because the display is in an underground cave, la Grotta Ricotti,  which is creepy and strangely fitting for the atmosphere of eyeless faces.  The second part of Ruggeri’s work is a random assembly of contemporary paintings in one of the rooms of the Palazzo Comunale, which comes with a docent that seemed even more confused than I.

However, the main (only?) attraction of this year’s festival is Se Dico Aria (“If I Say Air”).

Se Dico AriaBW

It is a collection of six international artists which were presented with the challenge to create an installation inside the Chiesa di San Francesco, depicting the essence of the element of air.


Walking in to the church, you are greeted with the work of Kaori Miyayama, a Japanese artist who used thin fabric to explore the relationship between air and space, and the leyers inbetween here and there:


Walking deeper into the church, you find yourself under the work of Angela Glajcar.  From Germany, this artist has an extensive resume from her country and plays with different layers of solid forms puts together; a gradual transition of form and shadow:


From the United Kingdom is Chris Gilmour, who is known for his renditions of various objects out of cardboard.  At this exhibition, we were graced with a couple of paper airplanes:


, and a piano:


Medhat Shafik, an Egyptian who studied at Brera and won the Biennale di Venezia in 1995, put together a piece that mirrors Italo Calvino’s Le città invisibili:


Next, there is Marcello Chiarenza, an Italian, whose floating sparkles shed little diamonds of light throughout the entire space (pity that you couldn’t lay under it- silly alter in the way):


Last, but not least, is my favorite addition to the show: Gianluca Quaglia‘s Da lontano ma vicino.  This up-and-rising Italian artist, based in Milano, takes on installations that change the environment of the room, and allow you to interact with the new matter that has been placed out-of-context:


In the background was Giovanni Allevi’s Aria on loop, which worked well with the theme of the exhibition, but didn’t really capture the feel of the individual pieces.  However, it was still a strong flow of notes that allowed the spectators to float through the different nooks of the church and sit (or stand or lay) in front of each installation piece and seclude themselves from the rest of the world for a few minutes.

If you’re around these parts, I highly recommend this exhibition.  I’m not sure why six artists of international fame decided to come together and transform an empty church of this secluded town into a labyrinth of currents and lights, but I am very glad that they did.

*As always, click on the artist name to learn more!

Driftwood, driftwood, everywhere…

August 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

And the driftwood adventures continue!  After crafting up a lamp for the living room, I decided to keep the trend of nature-y accents going.

It was time for me to tread foot into the bedroom- the last nook of the house that still looked like a cluttered hospital room.  Ironically, as I called upon supernatural powers to nudge the bed away from the wall so that I could prep it for painting, I realized that three years ago, I was doing almost the same exact thing: mixing white paint to give the bedroom a fresh coat as Mr. Italian was laying on the couch with a twisted ankle and I was still a mere Couchsurfer, happy to lend a hand in exchange for the shelter I was receiving.

This year, the white was layered with a couple of shades of grey for an elegant, textured accent wall behind the bed:


With a piece of driftwood, painted white, hanging from the ceiling and taking the focus (as long as you ignore Wolg’s competitive presence, sprawled in the middle of the pillows).

Then I took out horrible photos from picture frames, gave the frame the same shade of off-white, and created a simple collage that incorporates dried flowers from Mr. Italian’s and my travels (and Ancona adventures):


And then, the really fun part: driftwood shelves!  I found a couple of beat up, flat pieces of wood that I painted the same texture as the wall.  Since IKEA is experiencing a nationwide lack of ekby stilig (ie: really plain white shelf brackets), I opted for slightly heavier wooden corners, painted them ‘driftwood white’, managed to avoid any water pipes while drilling them into the wall, and attached the shelves to the brackets with the same white twine I used for the driftwood lamp.  And, voila!

Shelves Profile

We have functioning shelves.

Shelf Strings

With hooks.

Shelf Hook

And meaningful decorations, most of them collected from various travels.

And now, I came to the realization that I am out of rooms to decorate in this flat.  Not sure how  I feel about that.  Although, methinks that I am going to Dream Big and stay on the lookout for new places to remodel- and more driftwood : )

Driftwood, in new light.

August 4, 2014 § 3 Comments

Today, I played with driftwood and ended up with a new lamp:


A couple of months ago, there was a huge flood in Senigallia.  Mr. Italian went out to volunteer cleaning out the debris and came back with a car full of driftwood that has been blocking our entire entrance corridor since.  I was afraid to open the looming IKEA-tarp-covered mound– mostly because I knew that I would fall in love with the wood.  Which is the exact opposite of what needs to happen when one is trying to clear out the house.


…  and yet, it did.

I was going to throw the thing out the window, but I couldn’t lift it.  So, I opened it and planned to move it out of the house piece-by-piece… except that every branch, I fell in love with.  Twenty minute later, all of the surfaces of this little flat were covered by branches that ranged from as small as my finger to as big as my entire height.

The damage was done.  It was officially useless to attempt to resist any longer the temptation to play with it.

So, I selected twelve branches, painted them white and yellow, sealed them with a clear glaze, and then tied them all together.


Hung a lightbulb from one of the branches and looped a wire down the branch and through the side of the basket.  Plugged it in, and ta da!

There was light.

This was a lot of fun.  I’m wondering, if I put “Made in Italy” and “Eco Design” stickers on it, could I sell it for hundreds of dollars and make a 100% profit?  Each piece completely one-of-a-kind and customized for color!  Choose the amount of light bulbs!  And probably plant pots for the base.

Oooh, I’m inspired.

Gonna go tackle the rest of that wood… I’m gonna have an entire furniture line by the end of the week! ; )

Wandering, Wondering, Stumbling, and Finding.

July 29, 2014 § 1 Comment

The past week found me wandering around the Marche region to vent some of my growing restlessness and entertain my rambling thoughts.  The adventures started out on an ominous note, as walking up the first hill out of the city, I found this gem of a dead fish lying in the middle of the fields:


I’m not sure how a raw fish head bigger than my own ended up a few kilometers from the sea, but I just took it as proof that you never know what you are going to stumble upon around these parts, and that sometimes things just don’t make sense and it’s useless to ponder on them.  Which was a good mentality to accompany me on my first town, Varano.  Guess that I can’t complain about boring people here:

Look at all of these art additions throughout the entire village!  There’s even fake cats:


From Varano, I retraced the steps of my favorite route around the region, which starts at the top of a hill, surrounded by vineyards and with Monte Conero in the background:


And then trudged through a few sunflower fields.  These flowers (especially their quantity of) never fail to make me grin:


Until I reached the edge of the cliffside and had a view of il Trave on one side:


And Portonovo on the other:


So, I scaled down and ended up stumbling onto a nude man, who was sprawled belly-up and basking in the afternoon sun.  Looking around, it seemed to have turned into a nudist beach for the day.  Unexpected.  I felt very out-of-place with my multiple layers and tennis shoes, so I walked in the opposite direction, toward makeshift shelters and strange arrangements of sticks:


I kept walking until this stretch of flat, pebbly beach:


turned into a very steep cliffside of sharp rocks and mud that kept avalanching down.  Finding  myself hanging over the edge of a rock, stuck, with waves that kept crashing against me and that gave me a thorough bath, I decided that I got a little bit too stubborn in my “continue next to the sea” mission.


Eventually, waist deep in the water and backpack high over my head, I gave up and traced the way back to the now-deserted beach and climbed back up the mountainside on a marked path.  It’s good though, to have a few tough situations and get splashed with salty water every once in a while, methinks.  It wakes you up.  And makes you feel thankful for sunny days.

The next morning, I accompanied Mr. Italian to his business meeting, which was in an underground chamber in this lovely abbey in the middle of le Marche:


I left him there for his four hours of education and went to go frolic through more fields:


Complete with violet flowers, more sunflowers, and general masses of flora:

And occasional stretches of nothing:


And a tiny hilltop town (or two or three):


And the mandatory isolated cemetery:


And yet, at the end of the day, despite the beauty all around, I was still restless and suffocating a bit from these gently rolling hills and waves.  It’s lovely, but I was craving something wilder, colder, more desperate.

And then came an invitation to a trio of operas at the Sferisterio in Macerata, and after I saw three damsels have their heart broken and die, I felt better.  And inspired.  And am back to appreciating these landscapes (and craving more dramatic deaths).

Guess that we all need some balance in life.

Roman Rooftops

July 21, 2014 § 1 Comment

Okay, okay, I know that I said that I will not participate in any more of these mandatory Weekend Beach Lounging sessions, but… in the end, it does allow me to swim, take infinite cold showers, and go through several buckets of ice for my water.  Also, I am forced to read and make art and talk to little kids in Italian, so maybe it’s actually more productive than I feared it would be.  Plus, it has gotten to that point where it is equally unbearable to be sitting at home and underneath a little beach umbrella; serious summer sizzling has started.

So, third full day on the beach, third couple of beachtime sketches.

Today, we are shifting from the eastern coast to the western coast of Italy: Roma!

More specifically, Roman rooftops:

Roman Rooftops

And Roman rooftops during sunset:

Roman Sunset

In the end, it’s always these Italian rooftop silhouettes that I miss the most.  I wonder if, one day, one of them will be mine?

Il Sud, pt.II: Simba non si è fermata a Eboli

July 18, 2014 § 3 Comments

Continuing my spontaneous travels that began with a weekend full of opera and world championships and lots of skeletons in Napoli, I woke up on Monday to grey clouds and a generous drizzle.  Which did not do much in helping to inspire me to linger in southern Italy, instead of getting on a train back to Ancona.

Still unresolved, but ready to leave the city, I put on my backpack and started walking to the train station.  About halfway there, the skies cleared out, and I took advantage of the momentary glimpse of blue to make my decision: maybe I could take a little detour around the Amalfi coast before coming back to Napoli in the evening and taking a night bus back to Ancona.  That sounded like a good compromise, so I bought a ticket to the endpoint of Napoli’s circumvesuviana, outwitted a pair of gypsies that wanted to steal my bag of change and cookies, and emerged in Sorrento an hour later:


Since I had already been there, however briefly, years ago and the place was swarming with tourists, I didn’t linger long, but instead bought a giornaliero, a 24-hour ticket valid for the entire stretch of the Amalfi Coast.  The first bus ride was spent talking to a boy from just outside of my former town of Monza; hah, had he gone to the other liceo in the town, I would have been his teacher.  After 45 minutes of chatting and weaving around cliffside roads, I jumped off at Positano:


Yes, it’s touristic and fancy and clichè … but for good reason.  It’s one of those places that seems surreal until you leave, and then it seems more real than the road you are walking on.

I did not know that the entire town is nestled in a steep valley, so I had a fun hike down zig-zag roads for an hour before a brief hop on the beach and another hour of zig-zagging back up stairs with my red backpack on.  When I reached the beach level, the black skies that had been holding off let loose and drowned all of the tourists out, so that was nice (though made for a slippery trek back up).


At the top of the next hill, I squeezed myself on a passing bus and got off at the next clichè -but-breathtaking stop: Amalfi:


First thing’s first: the mandatory stroll around the harbor:


And romantic gazing at boats off on the horizon:


The next two hours were spent seeking refuge in a restaurant on the sea as the skies let down another attack of rain.  This forced restaurant arrest was very much approved, as I ordered the best seafood pasta dish of my life, had a large glass of Vesuvian wine, and enjoyed an open view of the town with winds that blew and blew and blew and made it all seem a bit more real:


When the rain stopped, I put my backpack on again and continued walking along the coast for a couple of hours, falling under the spell of practically every corner and building:


But, how can you not, when you are walking on the edge of these cliffy shores?


After a couple of hours, it was time to stop the stroll and hop on another bus that took me to Salerno.  There, I accepted the fact that I was not going back to le Marche today, so I checked into a B&B, and then headed out to look for a granita al limone.  I found it, as well as a pretty atmospheric sunset over the harbor (and got caught in another downpour at the end of the pier, of course):


Early the next morning, I took a bus from Salerno, through Eboli, to Potenza, deciding to go back home a different route.  From Potenza, public transportation seemed to be non-existent and I felt restless anyways, so I started walking out of town with a cardboard sign that said MATERA on it; my next destination.  Within a few minutes, an old man pulled up and offered me a lift.  I get in, without any real idea of where he was taking me (as much I love the south, I still have a hard time understanding old southern grandpas sometimes).  I still am not sure where he took me, as he dropped me off in a place that could very well be described as the middle of nowhere in the Basilicata:


Without very much traffic.  But, hey, pretty views!  I was still amazed at how mountainous and green this region was.  After a while, a mechanic drives by and I pretty much throw myself into his truck, desperate to get to anywhere but there.  We stopped by his work to change cars and then he offered to take me to a larger intersection… a short drive during which we established a good friendship, so he ended up taking me on a detour to show me the diga naturale di San Gulliano and then brought me all the way to the Matera city center, which as an hour away and in the opposite direction of where he was going.  After buying me a cappuccino, he waved and parted ways, and I turned to the next stop of my day’s itinerary: Matera:


Another city that completely took my breath away; a huge hill of stone houses and caves carved into the side of the mountain:


So, I walked around for a while and poked my head into all of the little alleys:

And admired the architecture:


And went into the old cave houses:


And smelled the cacti:


From Matera, I took a kinda sketchy rail system from underneath the biglietteria to Bari.  Before getting on the night train back to Ancona, I managed to squeeze in one more adventure: sunset at Pulignano a Mare, a very quaint little town perched on drastic cliffs, about thirty minutes south of Bari:


It’s hard to think that this is the same coastline that Ancona is on, five hours to the north.  Completely different!


Then, a juice dinner from the main piazza, which was decorated and had a full-scale brass band performing some sort of symphony in it.


And then, back to Bari, train switch to an InterCityNotte, and back to my little town that drives me crazy, but yet I somehow love so much.

I can’t believe that I had only explored north of Ancona so far…  it’s like two different worlds, the north and the south.  I was absolutely charmed by all of the colors and the people, and am full of inspiration to go back and thoroughly explore.  Can’t believe that it took me so long to tread foot there, as it’s been on my Travel List for a while now.   I cannot wait for the next jaunt down yonder!


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