As the world opens up to travellers again, where’s the first place you’ll go?
I’ve seen this prompt a lot lately on social media, as vaccinations roll out and we’re perhaps feeling our collective hope rise. I’ve resisted thinking about this question, but thanks to my latest miniature painting, I have found myself in the thick of some incredibly rich memories about one specific place. So right now, I believe I have an answer to that question – I want to go first to the town of Montepulciano in Italy.
I’ve been there a number of times, the last time for a 2-week solo holiday. On that trip, I rented an apartment, signed up for language lessons, and relaxed into the rhythms of the town. I loved mornings in the apartment, opening up the balcony doors to the sunshine and the medieval street below. I’d take my coffee onto the teeny-tiny balcony and get lost in observing the activities of the neighbourhood.
Further up the street from my apartment was Piazza di San Francesco, a popular piazza for its historic church, jazz restaurant and this fantastic panoramic lookout – the subject of my painting. I’d frequently walk up here during my evening passeggiata to lean on the warm stone wall and get lost in the action of the valley below or watch Monte Amiata on the southern horizon fade in and out with the changing light.
Or I’d lose myself again and again in this same southwest vista from a new friend’s garden further up the hill or from my favourite restaurant terrace (Osteria del Borgo) at the very top of the town – I can pinpoint both in this painting. So while I was painting, I was recalling these transcendent moments, the conversations, the glasses of wine, the clouds of birds that came out over this valley at 6 pm for their insect buffet, the buzz of the cicadas and the hum of farm tractors in the distance, and just feeling the most peaceful and grounded I’ve ever been.
I long for that peace and, if I can, I want to go back to Montepulciano first.
And I want to draw and paint it WHILE I am there, and once again, get lost in those views.
Original available in my online shop here.