Night had fallen. The December air had become quite cold without the Italian sunshine, and everyone in the family was anxious to get back to the warmth of our rental apartment. But we had to make one more detour – I had to walk down Via Dello Studio in Florence.
I didn’t explain why but instead herded everyone yelling “This way. We’ll take this street” which confounded those with the street map because we were definitely walking in the wrong direction. But they followed me anyway.
It has become a recent tradition of mine to walk towards the Duomo on this street whenever I’m in Florence as it was the subject of one of my first (and favourite) travel sketches – a sketch that led me towards my art practice and a new career. I have visited it every year since, not only out of sentimentality but also out of appreciation. The street also houses one of the best art shops in Italy (Zecchi) and once was home to several artist studios, a connection that I wasn’t aware of until after I started drawing and painting again. Hmmm… a coincidence?
And it’s a street that keeps on giving, because on this particularly chilly night, I came across this doorway scene outside a shop in a building that was once Florence’s university. It had “Marion, paint me” written all over it – a decorative bike (which I can’t resist), vegetable crates with poinsettia flowers, sparkling lights, a medieval stone wall, and a lantern. These are some of my favourite things to paint! I stopped to take several photos for the inevitable future painting.
Then someone in the family yelled “we’re going the wrong way” and everyone turned around to go back down to Via del Corso. I quickly checked my photos, whispered my thanks to the spirits of artists past, and rejoined my shivering family.
I think this year I’ll send them a Christmas card with this painting on it as a way of making amends!